1 Kings 17:1 - 24
NKJV - 1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, " As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word. 2 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying.
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As indicated in the verse cited in the question, Elijah was a man from Tishbe (sometimes spelled Thisbe), which was located in the region of Gilead, east of the Jordan River, in the tribal allotment of the half-tribe of Manasseh. As recounted in 1 Kings 17-19; 1 Kings 21:17-29; and 2 Kings 1-2, Elijah was raised up or appointed as a prophet by God to the northern kingdom of Israel during the reigns of the wicked king Ahab (who, along with his pagan non-Israelite wife Jezebel, had led Israel into idolatry) and of Ahab's evil sons and successors Ahaziah and Jehoram. Elijah's main mission was to lead Israel back to God. In God's name, he pronounced a judgment against Israel's idolatry in the form of a 3-1/2 year drought, which caused a great famine in the land, during which God cared for Elijah by causing him to be fed by ravens, and subsequently by a widow in the non-Israelite region of Zerephath (in the modern-day country of Lebanon), whose supply of cooking oil was miraculously continuously replenished by God during the time that Elijah was there. (Jesus referred to this in Luke 4:24-26.) Elijah also arranged a contest between God and the pagan deity Ba'al on Mount Carmel that is recounted in 1 Kings 18:16-41. After God miraculously sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice that Elijah was offering, Elijah killed all the false prophets who had been serving Ahab and Jezebel, and the prolonged drought was ended by God. Elijah is only one of two people (along with Enoch in Genesis 5:21-24) mentioned in the Bible as being taken to heaven by God without experiencing death. In Elijah's case, after he had followed God's direction to appoint Elisha as his prophetic successor and Jehu as the new king of Israel, he was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire, as recorded in 2 Kings 2:11. (Moses was also apparently translated to heaven at some point (as indicated in Jude 9), but that was after he had died and had been buried by God Himself, as recorded in Deuteronomy 34:5-6.) Hundreds of years later, Elijah appeared as the representative of all the Old Testament prophets (along with Moses -- representing the Law that God gave to Israel through him -- and Jesus) at the Transfiguration, as recounted in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36.
I would like to focus on just the best known event of Elijah's life, his contest on Carmel with the false prophets of Baal. The one verse I memorized in my youth about this challenge was 1 Kings 18:21 KJV. (The verse itself was challenging, too). He challenges the people of Israel The King James Version of 1 Kings 18:21 says, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” He challenges Baal and his prophets 1Ki 18:20-29,36-38: ELIJAH was “as a mighty intercessor, praying with faith “and intensity (1 Kings 17:20, 22; 18:36-38; Jas. 5:17).” This man of iron is presented in many ways: As a fearless, bold and dauntless reformer (1 Kings 18:17-46). Elijah confronts the evil king, Ahab, about being the cause of problems for the people of Israel. Elijah challenges Ahab to a demonstration of his deity, Baal, versus the God of Elijah at Mount Carmel. 1 Kings 18:21 NET © Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? 1 If the Lord is the true God, 2 then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!” But the people did not say a word. NET © Notes 1 tn Heb “How long are you going to limp around on two crutches?” (see HALOT 762 s.v. סְעִפִּים). In context this idiomatic expression refers to indecision rather than physical disability. 2 tn Heb “the God.” The challenge is to offer sacrifices to their respective deities and see which starts a fire to prove their divinity. Ahab's prophets pray for hours to Baal but nothing happens. When it is Elijah's turn, he boldly drenches the sacrament with water to display his supreme trust in God to start a fire despite being wet. Then Elijah began to pray: “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” God then sent down a fire that completely engulfed the sacrament in flames and the people of Israel rejoiced with a newfound faith in God. He asked the challengees in 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? 1 If the Lord is the true God, 2 then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!” But the people did not say a word. NET © Notes 1 tn Heb “How long are you going to limp around on two crutches?” (see HALOT 762 s.v. סְעִפִּים).). In context this idiomatic expression refers to indecision rather than physical disability. 2 tn Heb “the God.” Fire flashed from the sky, incinerating even the stones. Jews watching fell on their faces, and Elijah ordered the false prophets rounded up and executed in compliance with God’s law: “Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed” (Exodus 22:20). --Miller [1Ki 18:38] How The Fire Fell O I love to tell the blessèd story Since the Lord sanctified me; For my soul received a flood of glory When the Lord sanctified me. Refrain O I never shall forget how the fire fell, How the fire fell, how the fire fell. O I never shall forget how the fire fell When the Lord sanctified me. All my doubts and fears are gone forever Since the Lord sanctified me; For His peace flowed o’er me like a river When the Lord sanctified me. Refrain To the world no more my heart is turning Since the Lord sanctified me; For on me His Spirit fell with burning When the Lord sanctified me. Refrain There’s a crown awaiting me in Heaven Since the Lord sanctified me; For a heart made clean to me was given When the Lord sanctified me. Refrain The prophets of Baal are sentenced to death and executed See also 1Ki 18:40 Elijah ordered the false prophets rounded up and executed in compliance with God’s law (Exodus 22:20).
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