Mt. Carmel: Elijah and the False Prophets

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Mount Carmel
Great Showdown Between Elijah & the False Prophets of Baal

Location

 

1. The place marking the great showdown between Elijah and the false prophets is known as Deir Al-Mukhraqa Carmelite Monastery. The Discalced Carmelites are made up of Catholic men and women who dedicate themselves to a life of prayer. The Carmelite nuns live in monasteries and follow a wholly thoughtful and reflective life.

 

2. Mount Carmel is located about 9 miles (15 km.) east of the Mediterranean Sea in the Carmel Mountain Range which is in the northern part of Israel. It’s also about 28 miles (44 km.) southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

 

3. Mount Carmel was a High Place of worship to the false god of Baal and Asherah during the period of Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings.

 

4. It has a spectacular view of the Jezreel Valley which is also known as the Valley of Armageddon. Armageddon is where part of the last battle on earth takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation Period.

 

5. From Mount Carmel, Nazareth and Cana can be seen to the northeast.

 

Historical Background

 

1. The great showdown between the Prophet Elijah and the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah begins around 100 years earlier when King Solomon sowed the seeds that would destroy Israel morally.

 

2. Against God’s clear commandments to the Israelites, Solomon married many foreign wives.

 

3. These foreign wives worshipped false gods, and in order to honor them, Solomon built high places of worship all over Israel where these false gods could be worshipped. 1 Kings 11 recounts this tragic reality.

 

4. As a result, the worship of false gods became rampant in the land.

 

5. Because of the worship of false gods, God pronounced judgment on the nation of Israel, and it was divided into two kingdoms after Solomon’s death.

 

6. Rehoboam, one of Solomon’s sons, took the Southern Kingdom of Judah which consisted of 2 tribes, and Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials, took the Northern Kingdom which consisted of 10 tribes.

 

7. Because Jeroboam was afraid many of his people would defect to Rehoboam’s kingdom by going to Jerusalem to worship God in the temple there, he introduced false gods into the northern tribes of Israel.

 

8. Jeroboam erected two golden calf altars at Bethel and Dan for his people to worship at instead of going to the temple in Jerusalem. He told his people that these golden calves where the gods who led them out of Egypt.

 

9. Several kings later, King Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom, married a foreign wife named Jezebel who worshipped the false gods of Baal (a male god) and Asherah (a female god). Jezebel promoted worship to these false gods by employing countless prophets of Baal and Asherah. She even supported them financially and fed them at her royal table.

 

10. Mt. Carmel was one of the key high places in Israel where the people worshiped Baal and Asherah.

 

12. Baal and Asherah were the gods of the weather. It was for this reason God sent a drought, and then later sent rain. By doing so, He showed He was the true God of the weather and everything else. Baal worship was originally from the Canaanite nations God drove out because of their extreme wickedness.

 

Places of Interest (Please See Maps Above)

 

1. Mt. Carmel

2. Kishon Stream

3. Jezreel Valley

4. Tel Jezreel

5. Mediterranean Sea

Mount Carmel in the Bible

 

1. The showdown between Elijah and the false prophets takes place during the reign of Ahab, King of Israel.
1 Kings 16:29-33” In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

 

2. Because of Ahab’s great sin, God sent a severe drought over all the land.
1 Kings 17:1: Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.

 

3. After these 3 years had ended, Elijah confronts Ahab and promises God will send rain.

Kings 18:1–2: After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth." 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.

 

1 Kings 18:17–19: 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.”

 

4. The great gathering of all the people.
1 Kings 18:20–21: So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 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.

 

5. The great contest between Elijah and the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah.
1 Kings 18:22–24: 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.”

 

6. The false prophets of Baal and Asherah go first.
1 Kings 18:25–29: Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 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 [evening sacrifice], but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.

 

7. Elijah takes his turn.
1 Kings 18:30–35: Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs [about 1 foot deep by 1 foot wide] of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

 

8. God miraculously answers.
1 Kings 18:36–39: And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

 

9. Elijah then slaughters the false prophets below the hill right here in the Kishon Stream.
1 Kings 18:40: 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 there.

 

10. Afterward, God sent a massive rainstorm which brought a deluge of rain to Israel and ended the drought.
1 Kings 18:41–46: And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while, the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. 

Jezreel is about 15 miles (24 km.) directly east of Mount Carmel.

 

11. Unfortunately, this great miracle and spiritual revival didn’t last long. Soon afterward, the country fell back into the worship of false gods and idols.

 

Faith Lesson from Mt. Carmel

 

1. Do we fall away easily from the Lord and neglect Him?

 

2. Does spiritual revival in our lives rapidly fade?

 

3. Are we undisciplined in our time with God and fail to read His Word and grow in Him?

 

4. Have we witnessed miracles in our lives where we know that God is real and that He has shown Himself powerful to us?

 

5. After seeing miracles and experiencing God’s help, do we forget and fall away from God later on?

 

6. Are we steadfast in our relationship with God or are we like the Israelites who were unstable with big ups and downs?

 

7. Are we in need of coming back to God today and getting right with Him once again?

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