Victory on Mount Carmel
In I Kings 17, Elijah went to Ahab to tell him there was going to be a big drought. There would be neither dew nor rain for three years.
God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith where he stayed and was fed by ravens until the brook dried up. After that, God sent Elijah to the widow of Zarephath. There God miraculously provided for this widow, and she fed Elijah many days until the Lord sent rain again upon the earth.
When the three years were ended, God sent Elijah to go tell Ahab that it was going to rain. On the way there, Elijah met Obadiah, the governor of Ahab’s house. I Kings 18 explains that Obadiah feared God greatly. He had taken one hundred of the Lord’s prophets and hid them by fifty in a cave. There he fed them bread and water. Obadiah did this at the risk of his own life. Most likely the food and water he used to feed these prophets came from the king’s store. One does not lightly go into the storehouse of the king and take the king’s substance to feed the king’s enemies. Obadiah was a courageous man.
When Elijah met Obadiah, he asked him to go tell the king, “Behold, Elijah is here.” Obadiah was terrified! He knew that if he did this, and Elijah went and hid himself before Ahab came back to him, that Obadiah would be put to death. Nevertheless, he did as Elijah told him to do, once more risking his life to do the Lord’s work. Ahab went out to meet Elijah, and Elijah told him to go gather all Israel and all the prophets of Baal and bring them together to Mount Carmel. Ahab went and did so.
There were 850 prophets of Baal. These all met together and selected a bullock for themselves and cut it in pieces and laid it on the altar with no fire under it. All morning long they called upon Baal, “O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.” (18:26)
When their was no answer, Elijah began to mock them, saying, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” (18:27)
So, they did as Elijah said, “28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” (18:28,29)
Then Elijah called the people to come near to him. He repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down and took twelve stones and “built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. 35And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
“36And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
“38Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
“39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. 40And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” (See verses 30 - 40)
What a victory! Elijah was so excited when the Lord showed the people that He alone was God. The people then confessed, “The LORD, he is the God;” and they caught the 850 prophets of Baal and brought them to Elijah. He took all the prophets to the brook Kishon and put them to death.
After this, Elijah sent Ahab home, telling him, “Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.” (18:41) So, Ahab got himself up to eat and drink while Elijah prayed. God heard the prayer of Elijah, and soon “the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.”
At Elijah’s word, Ahab prepared his chariot and raced home as fast as possible to Jezreel. “And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (18:46)
God had done another mighty miracle, and He had given Elijah supernatural strength. It must have seemed as if everything were going great. The people had declared that the LORD was God, the prophets of Baal were dead, and now it was raining. Life was good!