The prophet Elijah, whose Hebrew name eliyahu means, “My God is the LORD,” had the unenviable job of being God's spokesman during the reign of wicked King Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel. The wimpy Ahab was under the domination of his wicked wife who sponsored Baal worship like none before her. She had a total of 850 false prophets on her payroll, and she set her sights on getting rid of Elijah, who would not compromise his service to Jehovah God to curry her favor or save his own life.
Israel was quickly becoming an apostate kingdom when Elijah came on the scene pronouncing God's judgment upon the land. According to the word of the Lord, it would not rain for three and half years. During this time, Jezebel had slain the true prophets of the Lord, but Obadiah, the governor of Ahab's house who feared the Lord greatly, had hidden 100 in a cave where they subsisted on bread and water.
Meanwhile, God was providing water for Elijah from a brook and twice daily, morning and evening, ravens were feeding him bread and meat. We know Elijah would not have eaten raw meat, so the ravens had to get cooked meat from somewhere. Maybe angels prepared it, or maybe the birds flew in the window and stole it off of Ahab and Jezebel's table. God always takes care of His children in time of judgment and economic lack. Later, when the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to a poor widow of Zarephath and blessed her house for the rest of the famine, providing a miraculous supply of flour and oil to feed them all.
The Troubler of Israel
The famine that resulted from the drought was so severe that King Ahab himself and his servant Obadiah had gone out to search for grass to feed his horses. When they had divided up, Obadiah ran into Elijah who told him to go to Ahab and tell him, “Behold, Elijah is here.” But Obadiah was not keen about these instructions, because he feared that as soon as Ahab would come, Elijah would disappear, and then Ahab would kill him. But Elijah assured him he would show himself to Ahab that day. When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him: “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”
Elijah answered: “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim. Now therefore, gather to me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the groves, which eat at Jezebel's table.”
The spineless Ahab, without his wife Jezebel to bolster him, did as Elijah had instructed, and gathered the false prophets of Baal and the leaders of Israel to Mount Carmel. Elijah stood forth and declared: How long will you halt between two opinions? If the LORD (when spelled with all caps in KJV it is Jehovah) be God, follow him. But if Baal, then follow him.
I am always stunned by what the Scripture says next: “And the people answered him not a word.” Can you believe it? Not one person lifted his voice to say, “Jehovah is God, and I am going to follow Him”! No wonder Elijah responded: “I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord.”
Elijah refused to compromise, and God used him to expose the impotence and foolishness of Baal worship. He had been hidden away with God, fed by ravens and then by the unlikely source of the poor widow of Zarephath. He did not have to play nice with Ahab and Jezebel to put food in his mouth. His dependency was on God, not man. He did not need Ahab and Jezebel's approval, financial aid, or protection. He was a man of God on a mission to boldly declare to them, and to all of Israel their sins. A man of prayer and intercession, he was defiant against the tide of apostasy sweeping the land.
We are seeing corresponding events in America today. Those who stand for God's Word and against same-sex marriage are viewed as troublemakers—haters. Those who stand for God's Word and against abortion are considered troublemakers who want to strip women of their rights. Those who stand for the living God of the Bible and His truth, and against the infiltration and indoctrination of Islam in our public schools, court rooms, civil policies, and the revision of American history, are seen as troublemakers who are intolerant and politically incorrect. Those who stand with Israel against her jihadist neighbors are painted as troublemakers who persecute innocent victims.
Rather, it is as Elijah said: They are the ones who trouble our nation by undermining the very foundations upon which it was formed and has stood for over 250 years. They have turned from worshipping God to atheism, hedonism, and imported false gods to provoke the Lord. And trouble that is homegrown and festers within the soul of a nation is a greater detriment than foreign enemies whom we all stand against.
The Contest at Carmel
This is one of the most exciting accounts in Scripture. A favorite of preachers, it is underscored by a comedic picture of the day-long failure of the false prophets to connect with Baal, their absentee God. From morning to evening, they prayed, cried, begged, and even began cutting themselves with stones until the blood gushed out, in an effort to get Baal’s attention. But it was to no avail. He never answered, and they were exhausted from their futile efforts.
Elijah had made it hard on himself and his God: He had soaked the wood of the altar three times with water, filling the trench he had dug around it. Then he prayed one 63-word prayer:
“Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and all 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. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou has turned their hearts back again” (1Kings 18:36-37).
Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said: “The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God!”
This was the high point of Elijah's life, and he commanded all the false prophets to be slain. Then with the offenders and false worshipers removed from the nation, Elijah could call for blessings to be restored, and he went to the top of the mountain to pray for rain, and God opened the heavens and poured out rain upon the parched land, ending a devastating drought.
Whenever there is evil in a nation, blessings are cut off. Elijah challenged the nation to denounce Baal and declare Jehovah is God, and he prayed that God would turn the people's hearts back to Him. He lived up to his name and submitted himself to the LORD in the face of wicked leaders who threatened him with death. When the people saw the power of God, they turned away from their useless, deaf and dumb idols to the living God who answers by fire.
Whenever we stand boldly against the forces of darkness, we can expect fierce pushback, especially after a great victory over the adversary. When Ahab told Jezebel what Elijah had done at Carmel in slaying her false prophets, she was furious. She sent a messenger to Elijah, saying: “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” Her threat was clear: If by that time tomorrow, Elijah was not killed like he killed her prophets, then let her be killed with the sword. What Scripture says next is curious: “And when he saw that, he arose and went for his life…” I have emphasized saw, because it would seem to make more sense if it said, “And when he heard it…” In English we use the expression “Oh, I see what you mean” to convey the idea “I understand.” This is what is meant here. Elijah understood her message: “I can't kill you today, because you won the battle on Mount Carmel. Today you are the Victor. But in time, the people will forget and will return to the god of Baal, and then I will kill you.”
In that moment, even after such a prodigious feat over the false prophets, Elijah felt defeated and feared Jezebel would kill him. Convinced that his work on earth was done, he fled to the wilderness where he requested God to take his life. He was dejected, depressed, and discouraged. Once again he felt all alone and sure that there were no other true worshipers of God to stand with him. But he was wrong. Very wrong. After dealing with him and ministering to his physical needs, God rebuked him: “What are you doing here, Elijah? I have 7000 in Israel who have not bowed their knees unto Baal!” God will always have a remnant who are faithful to Him.
The irony is, not only did Jezebel not kill Elijah as she threatened—but Elijah never actually died! He was caught up in a Holy-Ghost whirlwind to Heaven (2Kings 2:11).
In a day of gross darkness and wickedness, Elijah was God's agent to stand before the wicked leaders and declare the word of the Lord. We too are called to be God's agents of truth, light, and salt in this day of perversity and false worship of other gods; to be troublemakers to the spirit of antichrist unleashed in the world.These are the days of Elijah, and we are the Elijahs of this day. God has our back, so we can stand in the face of false gods and say: “The LORD, He is God! And there's no God like Jehovah!”