The Showdown on Mount Carmel Part 1

1 Kings 18:26 – And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.

We’ve finally come to the showdown between Elijah and Ahab, God and Baal, good and evil. Ahab challenges Elijah’s God, the God of Israel, to a public battle at Mount Carmel as each side tries to bring about rain after a three-year drought. It’s 850 against one, which aren’t good odds unless the one is the Holy One, God the Father. 

The 850 demonic false prophets of Baal and Asherah were invited to go first. As we have noted, Baal was worshipped as the god of the crops, rain, and fire. He had failed at the first two for three years and now had one final chance to prove himself publicly by bringing down fire to consume a bull as a sacrifice. The prophets of Baal danced, shouted, and cried out to their demon god for hours. 

This entire scene is witchcraft, the human attempt to control the demonic realm for personal benefit. Despite all the magic and witchcraft, nothing happened because the Lord of all is also Lord of the demons, and He did not permit them to appear. 

Elijah then mocks the entire spiritual structure of all of Israel under the rule of Baal, accusing their “god” of being constipated and tied up on the toilet all day, unable to make an appearance. One Bible commentary says, “Elijah was saying that Baal could not respond to his worshipers because he had gone to the toilet.” (1)

The false prophets respond by cutting themselves and shedding their blood. This scene is a grotesque counterfeit of what God would do by sending His Son to shed His blood in our place for our sins. The real God does not demand our blood, but rather gives His own. The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that this counterfeit was trying to deceive people, as Jesus shed His blood and then sent fire down from Heaven on Pentecost. His blood and fire are the truth, and this scene is the demonic counterfeit. 

Tomorrow, we will see what Elijah and God do in response to the false gods and demonic counterfeits.

What do you see in today’s culture where false gods are trying to mock the one true God? 

  1. Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 136.

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