16Obadiah left and told Ahab where to find Elijah.
Ahab went to meet Elijah,17and when he saw him, Ahab shouted, “There you are, the biggest troublemaker in Israel!”
You're the troublemaker—not me! You and your family have disobeyed the LORD's commands by worshipping Baal.
19Call together everyone from Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. Be sure to bring along the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel's table.
20Ahab got everyone together, then they went to meet Elijah on Mount Carmel.21Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you try to have things both ways? If the LORD is God, worship him! But if Baal is God, worship him!”
The people did not say a word.
22Then Elijah continued:
I am the LORD's only prophet, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.
23Bring us two bulls. Baal's prophets can take one of them, kill it, and cut it into pieces. Then they can put the meat on the wood without lighting the fire. I will do the same thing with the other bull, and I won't light a fire under it either.
24The prophets of Baal will pray to their god, and I will pray to the LORD. The one who answers by starting the fire is God.
“That's a good idea,” everyone agreed.
25Elijah said to Baal's prophets, “There are more of you, so you go first. Pick out a bull and get it ready, but don't light the fire. Then pray to your god.”
26They chose their bull, then they got it ready and prayed to Baal all morning, asking him to start the fire. They danced around the altar and shouted, “Answer us, Baal!” But there was no answer.
27At midday, Elijah began making fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “Baal must be a god. Perhaps he's daydreaming or using the toilet or travelling somewhere. Or perhaps he's asleep, and you have to wake him up.”
28The prophets kept shouting louder and louder, and they cut themselves with swords and knives until they were bleeding. This was the way they worshipped,29and they kept it up all afternoon. But there was no answer of any kind.
30Elijah told everyone to gather around him while he repaired the LORD's altar.31-32Then he used twelve stones to build an altar in honour of the LORD. Each stone stood for one of the tribes of Israel, which was the name the LORD had given to their ancestor Jacob. Elijah dug a ditch around the altar, large enough to hold almost fourteen litres.33He placed the wood on the altar, then they cut the bull into pieces and laid the meat on the wood.
He told the people, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it over the meat and the wood.” After they did this,34he told them to do it two more times. They did exactly as he said35until finally, the water ran down the altar and filled the ditch.
36When it was time for the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed:
Our LORD, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Now, prove that you are the God of this nation, and that I, your servant, have done this at your command.37Please answer me, so these people will know that you are the LORD God, and that you will turn their hearts back to you.
38The LORD immediately sent fire, and it burnt up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones. It scorched the ground everywhere around the altar and dried up every drop of water in the ditch.39When the crowd saw what had happened, they all bowed down and shouted, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!”
40Just then, Elijah said, “Grab the prophets of Baal! Don't let any of them get away.”
So the people captured the prophets and took them to the River Kishon, where Elijah killed every one of them.
It starts to rain
41Elijah told Ahab, “Get something to eat and drink. I hear a heavy rain coming.”
42Ahab left, but Elijah climbed back to the top of Mount Carmel. Then he stooped down with his face almost to the ground43and said to his servant, “Look towards the sea.”
The servant left. And when he came back, he said, “I looked, but I didn't see anything.” Elijah told him to look seven more times.
44After the seventh time the servant replied, “I see a small cloud coming this way. But it's no bigger than a fist.”
Elijah told him, “Tell Ahab to get his chariot ready and start home now. Otherwise, the rain will stop him.”
45-46A few minutes later, it got very cloudy and windy, and rain started pouring down. So Elijah wrapped his coat around himself, and the LORD gave him strength to run all the way to Jezreel. Ahab followed him.
In the showdown at Mount Carmel an epic struggle unfolds between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Everything is on the line. It’s a power encounter second to none. One man against the apostasy of a nation. One resolute prophet boldly defying public opinion by challenging the people to stop wavering between two opinions and either worship God or worship Baal.
In some ways Elijah’s world was very similar to ours. Israel had relegated God to the sidelines and the spiritual wellbeing of the nation was at an all time low. God was very small in the eyes of the people. There had been no rain in the land for several years, yet they’d placed their faith in Baal, the god of storms and lightning!
Who will call on God for revival? God can use a man or woman to change a nation. Elijah called on God and received fire from heaven. In faith he believed that God can start a fire even with water drenched wood. As the prophets of Baal collapse exhausted from their frenetic dancing and blood loss, Elijah takes centre stage. He’d spent three and a half years in isolation, praying and meditating on God’s Word. Now his prayer for revival is emphatically answered by a demonstration of God’s power.
Prayer moves the heart of God. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power” (James 5:16 ESV). Elijah prayed fervently and God sent showers of blessing. There were two outcomes: the people turned back to God (vv 39-40) and the drought came to an end (vv 41-45).
Do you want to see this nation turn to God? “Prayer alone can release that power which would shake the hearts of men. This cultured paganism at our doors, those idol temples, those fear gripped, sin mesmerized millions can only be moved to God as the church is moved of God for their lost condition” (Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries).
Lord I know that when I pray I’m linked with you, and when I’m in union with you then Satan is bewildered and beaten. Hear my prayer for revival – for the people of this land to cry out “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” Amen.