Summary: I Kings 17:1, 18:1. One type of movie that this story of Elijah reminds me of is those old western movies that we used to watch on TV. You remember those movies. Many of them had the same story.
I. I Kings 17:1, 18:1.
A. One type of movie that this story of Elijah reminds me of is those old western movies that we used to watch on TV. You remember those movies. Many of them had the same story. The bad guys would come in and run the town, hold the townspeople in terror, and do whatever they please. Then the good guy, either a Marshall, sheriff, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood would ride into town, make a vow to make things right, the bad guys threaten to get him, then the stage is set for the climax of the movie, the showdown. The good guy and the bad guys face each other in a shootout. The good guy wins, the townspeople rejoice, and the good guy rides off into the sunset, sometimes with the girl.
1. It’s a pity they don’t make too many westerns anymore. In those movies, you can tell the good guys from the bad guys. In a lot of movies today, you can’t tell who the good guys are. In some of them, you find yourself rooting for the bad guys.
a. This Bible story is similar to those western movies because you have a bad guy terrorizing the town, a good guy who vows to clean it up, and a final showdown. This is why I titled my message "Showdown at Mount Carmel," or if you prefer a shorter title, "Showdown."
B. Our story begins when Ahab, the king of Israel, steered his people away from the Lord by worshiping Baal. He was more evil than any of the other Israelite kings who ruled before him. He married Jezebel, a woman from an enemy land, who brought her own prophets with her. Not only that, but she was responsible for killing off the Lord’s prophets in order to promote her religion to the people of Israel.
1. As punishment for Ahab and Jezebel’s sin, God sent the prophet Elijah to announce to them that there would be a drought across the land for several years. Nothing for the people or animals to drink, plant crops or bathe on a regular basis. No rain, no dew, nothing. Three years later, God told Elijah to present himself to Ahab.
II. II Kings 18:16-19.
A. Despite Ahab trying to put the blame on the prophet for the drought, Elijah calls the king out for bringing Israel under God’s judgement because of following other gods rather than the true one.
1. Elijah then offers Ahab a challenge. "If your gods are so great, if your Baal is so bad, then let’s have a contest. You tell everyone in Israel and all your prophets (I don’t care how many, I’ll take them all on) to meet me upon Mount Carmel for a showdown at high noon."
a. Elijah might have seemed arrogant, he might have seemed cocky, but he was confident that his God was the one in charge of Israel.
b. We need to be that confident about our God. There are hundreds of people who read their horoscopes in the daily newspaper before they start their day, and believe what it says. If other people are willing to let their life be guided by a couple of riddles that may not come true, then we can be cocky for God.
III. I Kings 18:20-24.
A. Before the contest began, Elijah offered the Israelites a challenge. "How long will you dance between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal is God, follow him." He was challenging them to make a choice. Either worship Baal or worship the Lord, make up your mind.
1. One of the biggest problems in the church today is that we waver, and we dance between two opinions. We teeter between what is right in the eyes of the Lord, versus what is popular or "politically correct" with everybody else, never mind whether it’s good for the church or not. We need to decide concerning what or who we need to follow.
B. Elijah then gave the ground rules for this contest. We’ll take two bulls, cut them up, then we each call on the name of our God. Whoever answers by fire will settle the matter once and for all who God is.
IV. I Kings 18:25-29. Now the showdown begins.
A. Let me set this up for you. We have our hero, the good guy, the prophet Elijah all by himself with his offering, against not one, not two, not ten, but four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal with their offering, plus 400 prophets of Asherah. They weren’t just 850 prophets, but they were the queen’s prophets who also had the backing of the king and most of the people of Israel. You couldn’t ask for worse odds than that.