Elijah And The Prophets Of Baal

by David Padfield

Elijah at Mt. Carmel, Israel

The photograph to the left is of a statue near Mount Carmel in Israel, commemorating the victory of the great prophet Elijah over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-40).

After a drought of three years, Elijah presented himself to Ahab, the king of Israel, with the promise that the Lord would provide rain. Elijah then challenged 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah to a contest on Mount Carmel. "Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.' But the people answered him not a word.'" (1 Kings 18:21).

Each side made sacrifices to their God without building a fire. The lighting of the fire was to be performed by the strongest god, and would thus reveal Jehovah as the true God.

Baal was silent. Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal and said, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened" (1 Kings 18:27). Elijah poured a large amount of water over his sacrifice and asked Jehovah to reveal Himself by consuming the sacrifice. "Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench" (1 Kings 18:38). When the people saw the clear victory of Jehovah, they fell on their faces and said, "The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!"

Elijah then commanded the people to seize the prophets of Baal and to not let one of them escape. The prophets of Baal were then seized and "Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there" (1 Kings 18:40). God then sent the rain he had promised and the drought ended (1 Kings 18:41-46).