Summary: The odds may looked stacked in the favor of evil, but Elijah is about to experience the truth that one plus God is a majority.
This passage has it setting when the spiritual tide in Israel is at an extremely low ebb. The people have, for the most part, turned their backs on the Lord and have gone after the Canaanite god Baal. It is against this backdrop of apostasy and idolatry that the prophet Elijah strolls onto the stage. He is introduced in 1 Kings 17:1 (quickview) . When he makes his appearance, he comes with a message from the Lord. It is a clarion call for repentance and for a renewal to loyalty to Jehovah.
In this passage, things come to a head. On the one hand there is Ahab, Jezebel, the prophets and priests of Baal and an entire nation, less 7,000 people of God, 1 Kings 19:18 (quickview) . On the other, there is Elijah and Jehovah. The odds may looked stacked in the favor of evil, but Elijah is about to experience the truth that one plus God is a majority.
As we spend a few minutes looking into this great passage this evening, I want you catch a glimpse of the spiritual peaks that jut from the clouds of this dark setting. A few that come to mind now are:
There is a desperate need for spiritual heroes who will stand against the tide of heresy and apostasy.
There is a need for the people of God to gage their allegiance to the Lord and to determine where we really stand when it comes to being on the Lord’s side.
There must be a willingness to flee the evil that surrounds us and be a separate people for the glory of the Lord.
There must be a willingness to renew our commitment to the Lord and place Him above all other pursuits, interests and loyalties.
With these truths plainly given to us in the text before us, let’s take a closer look at this great day when there was a showdown on Mt. Carmel. As we look into this passage, let’s take the time to allow the Lord to speak to our hearts and to reveal things that might not be as they ought to be whether it be in our personal, private lives, or whether it be in the life of our church. Then, let’s be quick to see that for those who are willing to obey the Lord and follow Him single mindedly, there is the great promise of His presence, power and personal ministry in and through our lives. With all this in mind, let’s join Elijah and consider The Showdown On Mount Carmel.
1. THE DILEMMA OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD
A. Their Waywardness (V. 21a)
This verse tells us that the people of Israel were possessed of a divided allegiance. On the one hand, they enjoyed their name as God’s people, but on the other hand, they loved the sensual, fleshly appeal of Baal worship. Elijah described their condition as "one limping along a fence." They were torn between two ideas and as a result, they were accomplishing nothing!
1. That is the way of compromise!
2. Baal was the principle deity of the Canaanites. He, along with his associate, Ashtoreth was worshiped through such abominable practices as human sacrifice and sexual immorality. In some places, women were forced to serve as prostitutes in the groves!
3. These people had fallen a long way from the nation that had entered and conquered Canaan hundreds of years before. Now they are a politically divided and apostate nation.