Verse one says it has been three years since it rained (James confirms in James 5:17) since Elijah proclaimed that the Lord would shut the heavens up; and the Lord sent word to Elijah to go to Ahab and he would make it rain. Obadiah was the head of the house of Ahab and Jezebel, but he feared the Lord, and had hidden a hundred prophets from them. But he is afraid that Elijah is setting a trap for him. Elijah reassures him, and Obadiah tells Ahab of Elijah’s requested meeting. Elijah lets him know in verse 18 that the crisis they are in is the result of his abandonment of the Lord to worship Baal. He then challenges Ahab to meet him at Carmel with their Baal prophets.
At Mount Carmel Elijah challenges the people and the prophets of Baal, as he points out that it only he against the 450 of them. The challenge is for each side to be given a bull and some wood but they may use no fire themselves. Instead, Elijah will call upon the Lord, and they will call upon Baal; and the God who answers by fire is God. The people agree that this is a worthy challenge, and they begin. Notice Elijah’s rebuke of the people “limping” between serving God and Baal (trying to hedge their bets?) in verse 21. Then in verse 26, the Baal prophets were described as “limping” their altar, as they call out to a god that does not exist. Elijah’s mockery and taunting of the false prophets efforts in verses 26-27 is amusing.
Elijah builds an altar with twelve stones (for the twelve tribes of Israel that God would rather be still united), and digs a trench around it. Then he has the people pour water from 4 jars onto the sacrifice three times, filling the trench with water. Then, Elijah called upon God and fire consumed the bull, the wood, the stones, and the water (verse 38). The people fell on their faces as they realized the true God was the Lord, and Elijah had them seize all the prophets. The fact that Elijah slaughtered the prophets of Baal in verse 40 was necessary, and is best explained by the law in Deuteronomy 13:13-15.
(Side note: There are good photos of the area around Mount Carmel in this article at Ferrell’s Travel Blog)
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.3