1 Kings 18

Elijah and Obadiah

1 When there had been no rain for three years, the Lord told Elijah, ‘Go and meet King Ahab. After that, I will send rain to make the ground wet again.’ 2 So Elijah went to meet Ahab.

At that time, the famine in Samaria was very bad. 3 King Ahab told his officer Obadiah to come and meet him. Obadiah had authority over the king's palace.

Obadiah obeyed the Lord very faithfully. 4 At one time, Ahab's wife Jezebel was killing many of the Lord's prophets. While she was doing this, Obadiah had kept 100 prophets safe. He had hidden them in two caves, with 50 prophets in each cave. He had also given them food and water.

18:3The name Obadiah means ‘servant of the Lord’.

5 Now Ahab said to Obadiah, ‘Go through all the land to where there are valleys and springs of water. See if we can find some grass to feed the horses and mules. Then we will not have to kill our animals.’ 6 So Ahab and Obadiah went to different parts of the country. Ahab went in one direction and Obadiah went in another direction.

7 While Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized Elijah. He bent his body down towards the ground in front of Elijah. Obadiah said, ‘Is it really you, my master, Elijah?’ 8 Elijah replied. ‘Yes! Now go and tell your master that Elijah is here again.’ 9 Obadiah said, ‘Why are you sending me to my death? What have I done to hurt you? Ahab will certainly kill me if I tell him you are here! 10 As surely as the Lord your God lives, my master, King Ahab, has sent people everywhere to look for you. He has looked in every nation and every kingdom. When they say, “Elijah is not here!” he makes them promise that they are speaking the truth. 11 But now you are telling me to go to my master. You want me to say, “Elijah is here!” 12 When I leave you, I do not know where the Lord's Spirit will take you. I may not be able to find you again. Then if I tell Ahab that I have seen you, he still will not find you. So he will kill me.

But I have served the Lord faithfully since I was a young man. 13 You know, sir, about what I did when Jezebel was killing the Lord's prophets. I hid 100 prophets in two caves. I put 50 prophets in each cave. I gave them food and water. 14 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, “Elijah is here!” I know that he will kill me!’

15 Elijah said, ‘I serve the Lord Almighty. As surely as he lives, I promise that I will meet with King Ahab today.’

Elijah and Baal's prophets

16 So Obadiah went to Ahab. He told Ahab where Elijah was. So King Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that really you, the man who brings trouble to Israel?’ 18 Elijah replied, ‘I have not brought trouble to Israel. But you and your father's family have done that. You have refused to obey the Lord's commands. Instead, you have worshipped the false gods of Baal. 19 Now, tell people from all over Israel to come and meet me. They must meet me on Mount Carmel. Also, bring the 450 prophets who serve Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah that Jezebel provides with food.’

20 So Ahab sent men to take that message to all the Israelites. He brought the prophets to meet together at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah stood up in front of the people and he said, ‘You must now decide who to worship! If the Lord is the true God, worship him. But 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 who is still here. Baal has 450 prophets here. 23 Now fetch two bulls for us. Baal's prophets can choose one bull for themselves. Then they must cut it into pieces. They must put the pieces on the wood on the altar. But they must not light the fire. After that, I will prepare the other bull and I will put it on the wood. But I will not light the fire. 24 Then, you pray to your god, and I will pray to the Lord. The god who answers and who sends fire to light the wood, he is the true God!’ All the people agreed that this was a good idea.

18:22There were more of the Lord's prophets, but they were not at Mount Carmel.

25 Elijah said to Baal's prophets, ‘There are many of you, so choose one of the bulls and prepare it first. Pray to your god, but do not light the fire.’ 26 So Baal's prophets took a bull as Elijah had told them. They prepared it and they put it on the altar that they had made. Then they prayed to Baal all the time, from morning until noon. They shouted, ‘Baal, answer us!’ But there was no voice that answered them. They jumped and they danced around the altar. 27 At noon, Elijah began to laugh at them. ‘Shout louder!’ he said. ‘He is a god, isn't he? Maybe he is thinking about something else! Or has he left the room for a moment? Maybe he has gone away from home on a journey. Or perhaps he is asleep and you need to wake him up!’

28 So Baal's prophets shouted louder. They cut themselves with swords and knives, as their customs taught them to do. Soon, there was blood all over them. 29 They continued to shout and dance all the afternoon, until the time of the evening offering. But there was no voice to reply. There was no answer at all.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come nearer to me.’ When they came, Elijah mended the Lord's altar that had broken into pieces. 31 Elijah picked up 12 stones, one for each of the tribes that were Jacob's descendants. Jacob was the man that the Lord had given the new name ‘Israel’. 32 Elijah used the 12 stones to build an altar that would give honour to the Lord. He dug a hole in the ground all around it. The hole was big enough to contain 15 litres of seeds. 33 Then he put wood on the altar. He cut the bull into pieces and he put the pieces on top of the wood. Then he said to the people, ‘Fill four large jars with water. Pour the water all over the offering and the wood.’ 34 After they did that, Elijah told them, ‘Do it again!’ So they did it again. Then he told them, ‘Do it a third time!’ So they did it for the third time. 35 The water poured down all the sides of the altar. It filled the hole that was around the altar.

36 The time came for the evening offering. Then God's prophet Elijah came to the front of the altar. He prayed, ‘Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Show people clearly today that you are the God who rules over Israel. Show that I am your servant. Show that I have done all these things because you commanded me to do them. 37 Please answer me, Lord! Answer me so that these people will know that you, Lord, are the true God. They will know that you have caused them to turn back to serve you again.’

38 Then the Lord sent fire down from above. It burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the dirt. It made all the water in the hole around the altar disappear! 39 When all the people saw this, they threw themselves down on the ground. They shouted, ‘The Lord is the true God! Yes, the Lord is God!’ 40 Then Elijah said, ‘Take hold of Baal's prophets! Do not let any of them run away!’ So they caught them. Then Elijah took the prophets down to the Kishon Valley. There, he punished them with death.

Elijah waits for rain

41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go now and have some food to eat. Go quickly, because there is the sound of heavy rain that is coming.’ 42 So Ahab went away to eat and to drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel. He bent low down towards the ground. He put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, ‘Go up and look towards the sea.’ So his servant did that. He said to Elijah, ‘There is nothing to see there.’ Elijah told his servant seven times, ‘Go back and look again.’ 44 The seventh time, the servant said, ‘I can see a small cloud above the sea that is coming this way. It is only as big as a man's hand.’ So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, “Prepare your chariot now! Go back down quickly before the rain stops you.” ’ 45 As Elijah said this, the sky became very dark with black clouds. The wind started to blow and there was a heavy storm of rain.

18:44From the top of Mount Carmel, you can see the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The rain was coming from that direction.

King Ahab rode away towards Jezreel. 46 Then the Lord gave Elijah special power. Elijah tied his robe into his belt and he ran all the way to Jezreel. Ahab followed him.