Monday, October 4, 2010

Bible Story - King Ahab and Elijah (Part 3)

On the day appointed a great crowd gathered on Mt Carmel. The 450 prophets of Baal were there on one side with the king. Elijah stood alone as a prophet of the living God. He stood up boldly and said to the people, "How long are you going to be undecided? If the Lord is God then follow Him, but if you believe that Baal is god, then follow him." The crowds of people were quiet. Perhaps some of them hung their heads in shame that they had turned from the God of their fathers, but they said nothing, and none of them stood with Elijah. Then he said again, "The prophets of Baal are 450 but I am the only prophet of the living God. Let us take two animals for sacrifice, one for them and one for me. Let us put it on the altar, cut in pieces, with wood to burn but no fire. Then call on your god to send fire and I will call on the name of the Lord. The God that answers with fire, He will be God." All the people answered loudly, "Yes, that is right. That is a fair test."

Elijah said to the prophets, "You choose your bullock and be first." The people watched with great eagerness as the 450 prophets fixed the animal, cut it in pieces, and placed it on the altar with the wood. Then they began to pray. Baal was called the "fire god" so they must have felt certain that he could send fire. From early morning until noon time they prayed, "O Baal, hear us; O Baal hear us." They became so excited so excited that they leaped and danced around the altar, but there was no fire.

At noon time, when the sun was high in the sky, Elijah stepped out and began to mock them, or make fun of them. He said, "Cry louder!" And they did cry louder. They even took knives and cut themselves till blood gushed out. They thought that this would surely please their god and cause him to answer them. They kept doing this until the sun went down.

Then Elijah said, "Come near to me." All the people who had been watching the priests of Baal all day now turned to watch what Elijah would do. First he took twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes, and built them up into an altar. Then he dug a great trench around the altar, fixed the wood. Then he said to some of the people, "Fill four barrels of water and pour them over the sacrifice." Mt Carmel was near the sea and they could easily get water there.

Then he said, Do it a second time," and they did. Again he said, "Do it a third time," and they did. Twelve barrels of water were poured over the altar. They filled the trench. Elijah wanted the people to know that the God who could send fire could send it where everything was soaked with water just as surely as when everything was dry.

Then Elijah prayed. The prophets of Baal had prayed from early morning till early evening. Elijah's prayer was very short but it was very solemn. He prayed, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done these things at Thy command. Hear me, O God, hear me, that these people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou has turned their hearts back again."

Immediately God answered this prayer. The fire of the Lord fell from Heaven and burned up the animal sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench. When the watching people saw this, they fell on their faces and they said, "The Lord He is God; the Lord He is God." When they saw the power of the living God and the foolishness of the worship of Baal, they turned back to the God of their fathers.

Elijah commanded that the wicked prophets of Baal be put to death so that they could no longer deceive the people. Elijah had great power with God. Elijah prayed that it would not rain and it didn't. Then he prayed and it did rain. After this contest he prayed for rain. Then he watched to see it come. First there was just a tiny cloud but soon the heavens were black and there was rain. The people know that this was the living God who had sent the rain after they turned back to Him.

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