1 Kings 18
Elijah and Obadiah
1 Three years after that, the word of the LORD came to Elijah. ‘Go and meet Ahab. Then, I will send rain on to the land.’ 2 So Elijah went to meet Ahab. It was a time when there was almost no food for the people in Samaria to eat. 3 Ahab had asked Obadiah to meet him. Obadiah was the leader of the servants in Ahab's palace. Obadiah was really afraid of the LORD (in a good way). 4 Jezebel had killed many of the LORD's prophets. While she was doing this, Obadiah had hidden 100 prophets. He had put them in two caves, 50 in each cave. Also he had supplied them with food and water. 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, ‘Go through all the country. Go to all the valleys and to places where there is usually water. Maybe we can find some grass to feed the horses and other animals. If we do, we will not have to kill our animals.’ 6 So Ahab and Obadiah went through the country. Ahab went in one direction and Obadiah went in another direction.
7 While Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognised Elijah and he bent in front of him. Obadiah said, ‘Is it really you, my lord Elijah?’ 8 ‘Yes!’ Elijah replied. ‘Go. And tell your master that Elijah is here.’ 9 ‘Have I done something wrong?’ Obadiah asked. ‘Is that why you are sending me, your servant, to Ahab? Ahab will certainly kill me! 10 As surely as the LORD your God lives, my master Ahab has sent people to look for you everywhere. Every country and kingdom has said that you were not there. He caused them all to say it. It really was true that you were not there. 11 But now you want me to go to my master. And you want me to say, “Elijah is here!” 12 I do not know where the spirit of the LORD will carry you next. Where will you go when I leave you? I may go to tell Ahab where you are. But if he does not find you, he will kill me. I am your servant. I have worshipped the LORD since I was a young man. 13 Have you not heard what I have done? While Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD, I hid 100 of the LORD's prophets in two caves. I put 50 prophets in each cave. And I supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you want me to go to my master. And you want me to say, “Elijah is here!” He will kill me!’ 15 Elijah said, ‘I am the LORD's servant. As certainly as he is alive and powerful, I will surely show myself to Ahab today.’
Elijah and the prophets of Baal
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab. He told Ahab where Elijah was. And Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that really you? You are the person that is bringing trouble to Israel.’ 18 ‘I have not brought trouble to Israel’, Elijah replied. ‘You and your father's family have done that. You threw away the LORD's rules. Instead, you have become servants of the Baals. 19 Now, fetch people from all over Israel. Say that they must meet me. They must meet me on the hill called Carmel. Also, bring the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat with Jezebel at her table.’
20 So Ahab sent the message through all Israel. He brought the prophets to the hill called Carmel. 21 Elijah stood up in front of the people and he said, ‘You should not have two ideas still about what you should do. If the LORD is God, worship him. If Baal is God, worship him.’ But the people said nothing. 22 Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only prophet of the LORD that is still here. Baal has 450 prophets. 23 Fetch two male cows for us. The prophets of Baal can choose one for themselves. Then they should cut it into pieces and they should put it on the wood (on the altar). But they must not light the fire. I will prepare the other male cow and I will put it on the wood. I will not light the fire. 24 Then, you pray to your god and I will pray to the LORD. The god who sends fire for an answer, he is God!’ Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.’
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Choose one of the male cows. Prepare it first, because there are so many of you. Pray to your god, but do not light the fire.’ 26 So the prophets of Baal took their male cow and they prepared it for the altar. Then they prayed to Baal from morning until noon. ‘Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no answer; nobody replied. And they all danced badly round the altar that they had made. 27 At noon, Elijah began to laugh at them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘He is a god! Maybe he is thinking about something. Or maybe he is busy (in the bathroom), or he is away from home on a journey. Or maybe he is asleep and you must wake him up!’ 28 So they shouted louder. And they cut themselves with swords and knives, as they often did. Soon, there was blood everywhere. 29 They continued what they were doing through the afternoon. They did it until the time came for the evening sacrifice. But nothing happened. Nobody answered them. None of the false gods replied.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here, near to me.’ When they came, Elijah mended the altar of the LORD. Somebody had broken it into small pieces. 31 Elijah found 12 stones, one for each of the tribes that Jacob's sons started. Jacob was the man to whom the word of the LORD came. It said, ‘Your name will be Israel.’ 32 Elijah built an altar in the name of the LORD with these stones. He dug a hole all round it. The hole was big enough to contain 15 litres (4 gallons) of seeds. 33 He put wood on the altar. He cut the male cow into pieces. Then he put the pieces on to the wood. Then he said to the people, ‘Fill 4 large jars with water. Pour it on to the male cow and on to the wood.’ 34 ‘Do it again’, he said. So they did it again. ‘Do it a third time’, he said. So they did it for the third time. 35 The water poured down from the altar. It even filled the hole that was round the altar.
36 The time came for the evening sacrifice. Elijah came to the front of the altar. He prayed these words. ‘LORD, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Cause people to know today that you are God in Israel. Cause them to know that I am your servant. I have done all these things because you ordered me to do them. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me! So these people will know that you, LORD, are their God. And they will know that you have changed their minds back to you again.’ 38 Then fire came down from the LORD. It burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the ground. It even boiled the water in the hole round the altar until it had all gone. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell flat on the ground. They shouted, ‘The LORD, he is God! The LORD, he is God!’ 40 Then Elijah said, ‘Catch the prophets of Baal. Do not let any of them run away!’ So they caught them and Elijah brought them down to the Kishon Valley. There, he killed them all.
Elijah waits for rain
41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go. Eat and drink. Do it quickly, because there is the sound of a lot of rain.’ 42 So Ahab went to eat and to drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel. He bent down to the ground. He put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, ‘Go and look towards the sea.’ So his servant went and looked. ‘There is nothing there’, he said. Elijah said 7 times, ‘Go back and look.’ 44 The 7th time, the servant reported, ‘A cloud is rising up from the sea. It is as small as a man's hand.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and say to Ahab, “Make your chariot ready to go. Then, return down before the rain stops you.” ’ 45 As he said this, the sky became black with clouds. The wind started to blow and heavy rain started. So Ahab rode away to Jezreel. 46 Then the LORD made Elijah strong. Elijah tied his shirt into his belt and he ran in front of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Notes about chapter 18
18:46Verse 2. There was almost no food because the plants had not grown well. Here, it was because there had been no rain.
18:46Verse 3. ‘Obadiah’ is the Hebrew word for ‘servant of the LORD’.
18:46Verse 4. Prophets wore special clothes that people would recognise.
18:46Verses 9-15. Obadiah was afraid that Elijah would hide again. But Elijah promised Obadiah that he would not hide again.
18:46Verse 18. Baals is plural because there were many false gods.
18:46Verse 22. There were 100 more of the LORD's prophets, but they were hiding in caves!
18:46Verse 24. Elijah asks for fire, because Baal was a sun-god. The sun can cause things to burn.
18:46Verse 29. ‘what they were doing’ was this: They were throwing their arms and legs about while they danced. They became like wild animals! The evening sacrifice was not an animal. They mixed flour, oil, salt and incense. Then they burned it as a sacrifice.
18:46Verse 32. ‘in the name of the LORD’ means that the altar was for the LORD. It was not for Baal.
18:46Verse 40. The River Kishon went through the Kishon Valley. It was there that Barak beat Sisera. The river carried away the dead bodies (Judges 5:21). Maybe the same happened here!
18:46Verses 42-44. From the top of Carmel, you can see the Mediterranean Sea. The rain was coming from the sea. The rain came in verse 45.