PROBLEM: Doesn't this seem like an example of religious intolerance? Further, wasn’t it contrary to Jewish law to kill the prophets of Baal because of their beliefs? VOICE Elijah: Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one of them escape! So everyone grabbed hold of the prophets of Baal, and Elijah gave instruction for them to be taken to the Kishon Valley and killed immediately—no exceptions.
1 Kings 18:40
ESV - 40 And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape." And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
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Elijah was not being too severe. Far from violating the Mosaic Law, he was applying the standard that God Himself had commanded long before in Deuteronomy 13, requiring that anyone who attempted to lure or guide the people of Israel away from worship of Him was to be put to death by stoning, even if that meant a man having to kill members of his own family, including his wife and children. (In fact, in such a case, Deuteronomy 13:9 even commanded that it be the man himself who had to cast the first stone at them to kill them.) In the theocratic society of biblical Israel, in which God Himself was the ultimate ruler of the people, following other gods was the equivalent of treason, which (even in modern times) carries the death penalty. Civil society does not tolerate traitors in its midst, nor did the God of Israel.
No, the killing of the false prophets was not too severe. What God did through Elijah was express His jealousy over His people. He protected them. This action removed the liars, false teachers, deceivers from influencing God's chosen people. Now they still had the enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil. But they no longer had the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah trying to lead them away from the Lord of Hosts.
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