Summary: There are times when Christians must stand up and speak out.
SHOWDOWN ON MT. CARMEL
Tonight we are going to talk about the fight against evil, and we will be looking at 1 Kings chapter 18, verses 17-40.
Trouble comes to us in many forms. It can be health problems or money troubles. It can be family squabbles, or trouble with our neighbors.
For one lady, trouble came in the form of a 4-legged furry intruder.
A lady called the police department and screamed, “Sir, you’ve got to help me. We have a skunk in our basement. How can we get it out?”
The police dispatcher calmly told her to take some bread crumbs and make a trail from the basement out to the back yard. Then leave the basement door open.
A few hours later the lady called back and said, “ Sir, I’m the lady who called about the skunk in my basement.”
The dispatcher said, “Ma’am, you didn’t have to call back and thank me. I’m just glad I could help a citizen in need.”
“That’s not why I called,” said the lady. “ Now I have two skunks in my basement!”
The lady found herself with more trouble than she started with.
That is also what happened with the man we’ll talk about tonight. The prophet Elijah had a whole wagon load of trouble.
For starters, Elijah had been the messenger of bad news. God had sent him to Ahab, the king of Israel and his wife Jezebel, with a message.
Elijah was to tell them that because of their disobedience, a drought was coming – no rain, no dew – until he said so.
This message from God didn’t cause Ahab to turn from his wicked ways, though. Instead, Ahab blamed Elijah and came after him. Somehow, he felt that killing Elijah would end his problems.
So Elijah became Israel’s most wanted fugitive. From the time Elijah delivered God’s message to the king, until the Scripture reading for today, he has been a wanted man. Now, it is time for Elijah to face Ahab.
It’s time for the showdown, and it’s going to be a big one. The man that Ahab has been chasing is now standing in front of him. Let’s begin reading 1 Kings 18:17-40 and see how this showdown shapes up.
(Vvs. 17-21) “ 17Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals. 19“Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. 21And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.”
Ahab starts off by calling Elijah the “troubler of Israel.” He blames Elijah for causing the drought by making Baal angry. But Elijah isn’t bothered by Ahab’s false accusation.
He tells Ahab that the troublemakers are those who don’t follow the commandments. The real problem wasn’t the drought.
The real problem was Ahab’s disobedience to God. Elijah challenged Ahab to obey God.
So Elijah challenges Ahab and the false priests to a contest. He says I want the nation of Israel and all the false prophets to meet me on Mt. Carmel. He tells Ahab that it is time to stop straddling the fence.
He told Ahab that he couldn’t be for both God and Baal. There can be no middle ground, and it was time for Ahab to choose.
He had been trying to worship the true and living God, but he also worshiped the false gods of Baal and Asherah.
He had tried to make everyone happy by worshiping all the Canaanite gods, but instead, he made the true God angry. So Elijah threw down the challenge.
He told Ahab to meet him on Mt. Carmel for a showdown.
Now, Elijah gives him the rules of the showdown. Look at verses 22-24:
(Vvs. 22-24) 22Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 23“Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24“Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”