Study Guide

1 Kings Chapter 18

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Chapter 18

My God Can Beat Up Your God

  • After three years of drought, the Lord tells Elijah it's time to confront Ahab and make it rain.
  • Meanwhile, Ahab's getting pretty desperate to find some water. He calls a guy named Obadiah, the governor of his house.
  • Obadiah's a really good guy. He hid one hundred prophets in a cave when Jezebel was hunting down and killing all the prophets.
  • Ahab sends Obadiah to look for a place with some living grass for their horses and mules.
  • To Obadiah's surprise, he bumps into Elijah while looking.
  • Elijah tells Obadiah to go tell Ahab he's there, but Obadiah's like, "Are you kidding me? He's been looking all over for you, and as soon as I tell him where you are, the Lord's Spirit will carry you away somewhere, and he'll kill me."
  • But Elijah promises to stay put, so Obadiah tells Ahab, and he comes running.
  • "Are you the guy giving us all this trouble?" he asks.
  • Elijah answers, "You're the one who brought trouble when you forsook God's commandments and worshipped Baal, fool. So here's what we're gonna do: Gather all of Israel to mount Carmel, and make sure those 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 that eat at Jezebel's table come, too."
  • Everyone gathers on mount Carmel, and Elijah says, "Why don't you people make up your minds? If the Lord is God, follow him. If it's Baal, follow him."
  • The people say nothing.
  • So then Elijah says, "Look, there are 450 prophets for Baal, and there's just me for the Lord. Let's have a little contest. You guys take a bull and put it on a pile of wood. I'll do the same. We both pray to our gods, and whichever god sends fire to burn the bull is the real deal."
  • This sounds good to the people, so they set to it.
  • The priests of Baal call to their god from morning until noon, but nothing happens.
  • Elijah's all like, "Louder, boys! He's probably just meditating, or he's out of the office, or maybe he's asleep, that's all."
  • The priests go totally nuts, screaming super loudly and cutting themselves, as was customary. They get super bloody and gross, but still nothing happens.
  • Finally, the priests give up and Elijah says, "All right everybody, check this out."
  • He takes twelve stones (one for each tribe of Israel) and fixes up the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. He puts wood on top of it, cuts up the bull and lays it on top of the wood, and digs a trench around the altar.
  • Then he tells the people to dump four barrels of water all over the altar not once, not twice, but three times.
  • The meat and wood are soaked and the trench is filled with water when they're through.
  • When evening comes, Elijah prays to God and says, "Let everyone know today that you are God in Israel, and that I'm your servant."
  • And the fire of God falls down and eats up the bull, the wood, the stones, and all the water in the trench.
  • The people fall down to the ground saying "The Lord is God. The Lord is God."
  • Elijah's like, "Yup. Seize the prophets of Baal."
  • And he brings them down by the brook Kishon and kills all 850 of them.
  • Elijah tells Ahab to head home and eat and drink up, because it looks like rain.
  • So Ahab heads toward his house, and Elijah goes to the top of mount Carmel and prays.
  • He tells his servant who's with him to go look toward the sea. He does, but doesn't see anything.
  • Elijah tells him to look seven more times, and finally on the seventh time the servant sees a little cloud rising out over the sea as small as a man's hand.
  • The sky turns black with clouds, and a huge rainstorm bursts over the land.
  • Elijah hightails it to the city of Jezreel, getting there just before Ahab does.

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