Royalty and Ruin


God Vindicated on Mount Carmel

This chapter is based on 1 Kings 18:19-40.

Standing before Ahab, Elijah commanded, “Send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” RR 51.1

Ahab obeyed at once, as if the prophet were monarch and the king his subject. He sent swift messengers with the summons. In every town and village the people prepared to assemble at the appointed time. As they journeyed toward the place, a strange dread filled the hearts of many. Why this summons to gather at Carmel? What new disaster was about to fall? RR 51.2

Mount Carmel had been a place of beauty, its streams fed from never-failing springs and its fertile slopes covered with flowers and flourishing groves. But now its beauty withered under a curse. The altars to Baal and Ashtoreth stood in leafless groves. On the summit of one of the highest ridges was the broken-down altar of Jehovah. RR 51.3

Carmel’s heights were visible from many parts of the kingdom. At the foot of the mountain were vantage points from which people could see much of what took place above. Elijah chose this elevation as the most conspicuous place for God to display His power and vindicate His name. RR 51.4

Early on the morning of the appointed day, the people of Israel gathered near the top of the mountain. Jezebel’s prophets marched in impressive array. In regal pomp the king appeared at the head of the priests, and the idol-worshipers shouted his welcome. But the priests remembered that at the word of the prophet the land of Israel had been destitute of dew and rain for three and a half years. Some fearful crisis was at hand, they felt sure. The gods in whom they had trusted had been unable to prove Elijah a false prophet. The objects of their worship had been strangely indifferent to their frantic cries, their prayers, their revolting ceremonies, and their costly sacrifices. RR 51.5

Facing King Ahab and the false prophets, and surrounded by the assembled people of Israel, Elijah stood, the only one who had come to vindicate the honor of Jehovah. He was apparently defenseless in the presence of the king, the prophets of Baal, the men of war, and the surrounding thousands. But around him were angels that excel in strength. RR 51.6

Unashamed, unterrified, the prophet was fully aware of his commission to carry out the divine command. In anxious expectancy the people waited for him to speak. Looking first on the broken-down altar of Jehovah and then on the crowd, Elijah called out in trumpet tones, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” RR 52.1