Israel was once ruled by a very evil King by the name of King Ahab. Scripture goes as far to state that King Ahab did more to provoke God than any other of King (in Israel) before him (1 Kings 16:30-34).
Thankfully, during these periods, God used individuals called “prophets” to speak to Kings/ Rulers of Israel on His behalf. These individuals were called be representatives of God to the people of Israel. Moreover, they were used by God to instruct Kings and Rulers of Israel on how the land ought to be ruled, according to His ways
Elijah vs 450 False Prophets
Elijah was a well known prophet, during the time of King Ahab’s rule, who was instructed by God to show himself to the King.
Upon meeting each other, the dialogue between Elijah the prophet and King Ahab went like this:
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel.1 Kings 18:17-19 ESV
Just to provide some clarity, Baal and Asherah were false gods whom the people of Israel were now worshiping rather than the true God of Israel (YWH).
Now let’s continue reading…
21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”1 Kings 18:21-24 ESV
So here we are…
The showdown was now set in Mount Carmel.
One prophet of God against 450 false prophets of Baal.
The competition: Who is the true God? (YWH or Baal)
- Both Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal were to be given one bull
- Both bulls were to by laid on the wood as a sacrifice
- Elijah would call upon the name of YWH, the prophets of Baal were to call upon the name of Baal
- The God whom consumed the bull in fire IS God
Now…we all know how this is going to turn out…but just have a listen at the details:
26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.1 Kings 18:26-29 ESV
I mean you would think it was harsh enough for the 450 prophets of Baal to discover the hard truth about their “god”, that in fact he was not a God at all.
But pay close attention to the tone of Elijah in verse 27…
Mocking them, teasing them by claiming that Baal was either musing himself or asleep.
The confidence, the amusement, the hilarity.
He showed it all.
Moreover, the tone of Elijah spoke volumes concerning His faith in the God of Israel
Once the prophets of Baal had failed in their efforts, Elijah called onto God, pleading with Him to make it known that He is the God of Israel (1 Kings 18:30-39 ).
And as expected,
The bull is consumed in fire, the people see it, they fall on their faces, and declare that YWH is the one and true God.
After the people Israel fell on their faces and worshiped God, they captured the prophets of Baal and killed them.
And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there1 Kings 18:40 ESV
If that wasn’t enough, Elijah continued by fulfilling a prophecy he stated years ago; that rain would not fall on the earth again until he uttered the word (1 Kings 17:1-7; 1 Kings 18:41-46)
A beautiful testimony of boldness and faith in God.
….well there’s more to it.
Elijah Runs Away in Fear
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 31 Kings 19:1-2 ESV
So King Ahab essentially snitches to his wife, Jezebel, about all that Elijah did to the prophets of Baal.
Now considering the amount of boldness and faith Elijah displayed in the previous scenario against the false prophets, you would think that he would approach this situation with a similar attitude.
However…that’s not what happened.
3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”1 Kings 18:3-4 ESV
I think this was the first passage of scripture that made me laugh out loud.
I mean we go from an amazing story of how one man of God stood up against hundreds of false prophets causing Israel to turn back YWH, to a story where the same man literally ran a day’s journey in the wilderness, fearing for his life based on an accusation by one individual.
James 5:17-18 ESV
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit
Elijah was man with a nature like ours
This statement became more clear to me when I read the story from 1 Kings.
What made the works of Elijah great was not the man Elijah, but rather the God he served.
We see this replication all throughout scripture from people like Moses (Exodus 3:7-12), King David (1 Samuel 16:4-12), Gideon (Judges 6:11-16), etc.
These men all had two things in common.
1) They were seen or thought themselves to be nobodies/ small.
2) They had Faith in God.
So what’s the lesson?
Live your life with no confidence in yourself and all the confidence in the God you serve.
This doesn’t mean demeaning yourself, but rather rejoicing in God and living every bit of your life through the faith which He has given you.
Don’t demean your value in His eyes because of your inadequacy.
Elijah ran away for his life, yet this was the same man which God used to shame 450 false prophets…AND prevented rain from falling in all the earth for almost years!!
Whatever your heart is desiring to do for God, approach it with all the faith in the world, because He’s for you.
With that being said, what excuse are you sitting on?
Soli Deo Gloria