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Summary: Events in the Bible that took place on a mountain

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Mountain Moving Faith:

“Mt. Carmel”

1 Kings 18

I’ve never gotten to see a shuttle launch live, but I have got to see it on TV. They begin to countdown and as the countdown hits zero, smoke drifts from the pad and then the main engines and the solid rockets lifted the shuttle into the sky. It’s a sight to see and even just by watching it on TV you can see the power of the rockets as it lifts the shuttle into the sky. The explosion of energy required to lift the shuttle beyond the chains of gravity provides a contemporary picture of God’s power severing the chains of complacency that held the nation of Israel in bondage. Chapter eighteen of 1 Kings contains the story of Elijah’s bold stand against the 450 evil prophets of Baal who assembled to challenge his faith in the one true God. It is a story that has captured the attention of the saints of God for generations. Some love to cheer for the outnumbered underdog. Others are intrigued by the awesome display of God’s power as fire rains down from heaven.

Mount Carmel is described in Scripture as a symbol of beauty and fertility. The prophet Isaiah and King Solomon used Mount Carmel as an expression of divine blessing (Is. 35:2; SS. 7:5). The Hebrew word Karem El means God’s vineyard or fruit of God. The mountain is really a thirteen mile ridge along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea with the highest peak of only 1,742 feet. Its location by the sea, not its height, is of major significance for this battle with the prophets of Baal. “Here is where the effects of the drought would be least apparent and the power of Baal to nurture life would seem to be the strongest.”1 In the midst of a severe drought, Mount Carmel stood as the lone testimony promoting fertility worship. It was Baal’s “ace in the hole.” Mount Carmel provided the 450 evil prophets with a home field advantage, but the prophet of God was ready for the challenge.

This event is more than a Super Bowl contest between God and the false god, Baal. It is a challenge for God’s people to move off of the fence of complacency. Elijah is not fighting the prophets of Baal. He is fighting the lack of conviction from God’s people. Baal was the agricultural god. The context of this story reveals that the word of God came to Elijah saying, "It will not rain for three years." Through the lack of rain, God had already proven that Baal was powerless. The challenge on this mountain provides an illustration for a powerful message preached by Elijah. A contemporary political term that accurately describes the condition of Israel is “mug wump.” The term pictures a person seated with his coffee mug on one side of the fence and his wump on the other. Elijah’s message is simple and straightforward, “God is putting an end to mugwumps. No longer will you be allowed to put your mug on one side of the fence and your wump on the other in an attempt to worship two gods.”

Almighty God is holy. God demands complete allegiance. The first of the Ten Commandments states, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Throughout Scripture, the fire of God reveals His judgment, His power, and His glory. When the fire fell at Mount Carmel, it was a fire of judgment upon the people. It was a call for immediate repentance. Israel knew that they would receive the same fiery judgment if they did not honor the one true God.

Before proposing a strategy for effective change, we must examine what causes us to sit on the fence. Why do we fail to stay committed? One of the greatest obstacles to fulfillment in life and experiencing the joy and peace that God desires for His people is the tendency to drift toward mediocrity or complacency. God did not create you and I for mediocrity. He created you for extraordinary contribution in the kingdom of God. Most achievement has been inaccurately measured by academic grades, athletic awards, or acquiring possessions. While those may be accepted standards of accomplishment, they are not measures of genuine success. For example, Steven Spielberg was a failure as student, and Rush Limbaugh dropped out of college; yet both men have been incredibly successful in their chosen field. Mother Teresa made very little income, yet her achievements surpassed those of the world’s richest men. The extraordinary achievement that God desires brings an extraordinary amount of benefit to others. He calls people to get off the fence, to stop selfish indulgence, and to start honoring God by adding value to others.

The saints of God who gathered on that historic day at Mount Carmel failed to realize that almighty God had far better things to offer them than the gods of this world. They settled for what was easy, what was comfortable, and what was complacent, instead of choosing commitment to the LORD. The text of 1 Kings 18 identifies several chains that kept God’s people stranded on the launch pad of life, and the Scripture reveals powerful engines that enable the saints to blast-off on an incredible journey of faith. Read I Kings 18:20-39.

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