Elijah’s Encounter with the 450 Prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
Text: I Kings 18:18-40 — Background Text: I Kings 18:1-17
This was a lesson I gave a few years ago in an adult class during VBS.
Introduction: Our faith is in a Person, not in doctrine, a church, traditions, these are important though! Believing in God and having faith in God is of vast importance to the Christian. In Heb 11:6 We read “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” . John McArthur writes of this passage: “impossible to please God. Enoch pleased God because he had faith. Without such faith it is not possible for anyone to “˜walk with God.” Rewarder. A person must believe not only that the true God exists, but that He will reward men”s faith in Him with forgiveness and righteousness, because He has promised to do so.”
So, we have learned that if we want to be pleasing to God, faith has a part in that. We also know that we must put our faith in the right Person. We must have confidence that the One in Whom we put our faith deserves it. We must believe and know that He can be counted on. There are many instances in Scripture that tell of the True God of Israel. These passages show that God has kept His Word by providing for and taking care His People. No matter how they have treated Him, He is faithful, can we say the same?
A great example of the faithful God and one of His followers is found in our text tonight. The subject of our study tonight lived in one of the darkest times in Israel (Northern Kingdom) history. None of the kings of Israel were God fearing and righteous, but the king in our story along with his wife, were one of the worst ( refer to I Kings 16:30-34).
Elijah felt that he, alone, was serving Jehovah, but God told him that there were still 700 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. The background of tonight’s lesson is that Elijah had told King Ahab that there would be a drought in the land of Israel (3 ½ yrs); cf James 5:17 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.”
Our story tonight starts with God telling Elijah that the drought will soon be over. Verse 18ff Elijah tells Ahab that the time has come to show that Jehovah is the True God, not the gods of the baals whom Ahab and Jezebel have led the people in believing and forsaking God. V. 18 Elijah tells Ahab to get the people together and go to Mt Carmel and bring your 450 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of Asherah.
Verse 19 Ahab did as Elijah had said – I’m sure he was confident of victory 900- 1 is great odds for a victory. In v. 21, Elijah confronted the people there and asked them “how long shall you falter between 2 opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” No answer from the people.
Next we have the great contest . Elijah lets the false prophets go first. Verses 22ff note vs 24 all these verses show the futility of false religions to stand up against the true God of history.
The attempts of the prophets of Baal go on thru verse 27 then we get to the important part of the contest. V. 30 says that he had to first of “repair the altar of the Lord.” Talk about verse 30-38. Verse 39 is the clincher for Who is really God! V 40 tells us the fate of the false prophets.
We have seen how one man stood true and believed in the true God despite the odds. Despite the fact that almost everyone in the land had turned their back on Jehovah. How can we make application for today and for us in regards to this passage and what happened ?
Application to us today! Faith is belief put into practice! Hebrews 11 is called the “Faith Hall of Fame.” Let”s look at this passage and get some encouragement for today.
- Hebrews 11:1-3 – Introduction
- Hebrews – 11:4 Abel
- Hebrews 11:5-6 Enoch
- Hebrews 11:7 Noah
- Hebrews 11:8-17 Abraham
- Hebrews 11:17-22 The Patriarchs
- Hebrews 11:23-29 Moses
- Hebrews 11:24-39 Others
The Old Testament was written for our instruction 1 Cor 10:11 “All these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
Use summary of Faith in notes for Hebrews 11:39 Here are some quotes about faith that might be helpful:
- “Saving faith is not merely some firmly held persuasion, but unwavering confidence in what God’s word specifically states, whether promise or warning, a blessing for this life or for the life to come, actually made by the word of God, will as certainly be realized, if specified conditions are honestly met, as that His throne is to endure. Scriptural faith leads to no future regrets or disappointments”. – Ben J. Elston, DeRidder Enterprise, DeRidder, La., 6- 3, 1949.
- “The faith we need is the faith that surrenders to God because of an absolute truth in Him. It will not always mean healing in answer to prayer, but it will mean confidence in Him, and therefore, submission to Him. – Edwin R. Errett, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, 7- 23, 1938.
- “Faith is making room in one’s understanding for God’s way. David Holland, Beauregard Daily News, DeRidder, La., 9- 30, 1988.
- “Our manner of life, worship, deeds are to be according to God”™s instruction. We “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and “faith comes from hearing the word of God.” (Romans 19:17.) Therefore, it follows that any act in which we are not directed by the word of God, we are not “walking by faith” nor pleasing God. It is presumptuous for man to offer God something which God has not authorized.” – David Holland, Beauregard Daily News, DeRidder, La., 2-12. 1993.
“Faith come by hearing by the Word of God.” -Do we really believe that? If so, we will live our lives in way that will bring glory to God. We will live our lives in a way that we look to the Word of God for our constitution. We will seek to “practice what we preach. We will seek to live out the admonition found in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, in 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Jesus is coming again – how shall we then live in eager anticipation of that coming? Living for Jesus involves putting our belief and faith into practice – it must be practical. Let’s close with 2 passages in Paul’s Pastoral letters.
- 2 Tim 4:2-8 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
- Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Closing Remarks Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith,” (Heb 12:2) So, if we have faith in and believe in and upon God, we will put that faith into action and will strive to help others find the way into Christ “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. Col 1:13-14.
Let us enjoy the marvelous light of the Gospel and help others find the faith and belief in the True God and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.