Sermon Notes • February 27

Elijah on Mt. Carmel I Kings 18:26-39

Elijah boldly proclaimed his faith in God. One event in his life that we are all familiar with was his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. It is recorded for us in I Kings 18. Read I Kings 18:26-39. 

To appreciate the challenge made to the prophets of Baal to meet on Mt. Carmel we should review the events that led up to it beginning in I Kings 17.

Elijah had been told by God to tell King Ahab that because of his sins and those of the nation He was going to withhold rain from the land. I Kings 17 details Elijah’s life following that and the attempts of Ahab to find and punish him because of his prediction. God protected Elijah so Ahab was unable to find him. 

Read I Kings 18:1. The prolonged drought of almost 3 years had brought famine to the land and instead of repentance on the part of Ahab he had become more and more angry with both God and God’s servant Elijah. God’s intention, as with all His chastening  was to bring sinner to repentance. That was not the case with Ahab. He was furious and wants Elijah’s head. See the response of Ahab’s servant to the prospect of telling Ahab that Elijah wanted to see him. Witnessing for Jesus or calling sin, “sin” in our society can be dangerous. Like Elijah, our obedience is expected by God.

Read I Kings 18:16. I’d love to know what the emotions of that meeting involved. I wonder what Ahab thought. Remember that the prophet is the one seeking Ahab. I suspect that Ahab was the one who feared and maybe rightfully so.

Read I Kings 18:17. What a picture of the human heart! Ahab was the sinner, but he tried to blame Elijah. Genesis 3 records the same response of Adam when he sinned. We need to accept responsibility for our sins and honestly confess them to God. We cannot make excuses and Elijah would not accept them from Ahab either.

Note the accusation. You are the one who troubles. Is anyone ever troubled by your righteous presence? Amos was accused of this according to Amos 7:10. In Luke 23:5 we read that Jesus was accused of the same thing. In Acts 16:6 we read that Paul and Silas were accused of disrupting things in Thessalonica and in Acts 17:6 we read that Christians in general were accused of turning the whole world upside down. The church needs to be so active for justice and righteousness that we literally turn our community upside down for Jesus.

Read I Kings 18:18. Elijah called sin “sin” and puts the blame where it belonged. Our society blames sin on everything but the sinner. There is always an excuse and seldom personal responsibility for sin.

We read in verses 19-20 that Elijah demanded that Ahab call the people together. The very fact that Ahab agreed is an indication of how serious the drought was and perhaps the realization that he could not ignore Elijah. So, we read that Ahab did as he was told.

Read I Kings 18:21-22.  Elijah issues two challenges. First, he challenges the people to decide between Jehovah and Baal. He said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” If ever there was a message that needs to be proclaimed in America it is just that. If Elijah were here today, I believe he would say to America, “How long are you going to play church? If God is God, then live for Him each day. If you think you can make it without God, go ahead and try but stop trying to be both a Christian and a full-fledged, card-carrying person of the world.”

Elijah then issued a challenge to the false prophets. Read I Kings 18:23-24. It was a legitimate challenge since Baal was the god of fire as far as the people are concerned and if anyone can send down fire from the sky it should have been Baal. 

I Kings 18:26-29 records that Elijah watched the uselessness of false gods, who, according to various places like Psalm 135:15-18, can neither hear and speak and certainly cannot respond to prayer requests. So, we read in verse 26, “There was no response; no one answered.” 

Read I Kings 18:27 on Elijah mocking them. One of Elijah’s taunts literally says, “Maybe he is sitting on the toilet.” The world is always making an excuse for sin and the failure of false gods to do as it claims they can. Just a little more or whatever will turn the tide.

I Kings 18:28 is a picture of “works” at its wildest that do no good. Read that verse. Few Christians are that committed. We hear people say it does not matter what you believe as long as you seriously believe it. This proves that is not true. They fully believed Baal could answer but he didn’t because he couldn’t. 

I Kings 18:30-39 records what happened when Elijah took his turn. In verses 30-33 we read that Elijah carefully prepared the sacrifice exactly as God had told His people to prepare for worship. The we read that Elijah asked that 4 large jugs of water be poured over the sacrifice. This was repeated twice more so a total of 12 jugs were poured on the wood. If you have ever tried to light wet firewood you know what adding 12 large jugs of water to that sacrifice meant. The water made it impossible to ignite apart from God.

Read I Kings 18:36-37. 

The time of his prayer is important to note. It was the very hour that worship should have been taking place in the Temple.

Likewise, the reason for his prayer is important. His concern was the glory of God, not his. Too often we do things for their own glory and God does not honor that. Elisha’s call for fire to come down from heaven would be answered because its purpose was God’s glory. Read Luke 9:51-56. 

Read I Kings 18:38. What a powerful answer. Nothing was left. We worship and serve a powerful God.

Sinners assume they control their own destiny and not even God can touch them. The encounter on Mt. Carmel, however, is a testimony to both the total helplessness of idols whether they be made of wood or stone or if they are well thought out philosophical gods versus the real power of God. Only the true and living God can answer our prayers and vanquish our enemies.

I assume you know the rest of the story. Seeing God’s power led to belief. People seeing God’s power in our transformed lives will know He is truly God. 

Elijah believed God even though Ahab didn’t, so without a sign that it was going to rain after 3 years of drought, he told Ahab that it was going to rain. How did he know that? Because God promised it and that was all he needed. And it rained!

Wish you could be an Elijah? Listen to what James wrote in James 5:17, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are.” The story of Mt. Carmel is not a story about Elijah but about Elijah’s God. And He is our God and can work through us in the same way if we want and allow Him to do so.