Saul the first King of Israel (ruled c.1045-1011 BC)
God rejects Saul 1 Samuel 15
Samuel anoints David to be King 1 Samuel 16
David and Goliath 1 Samuel 17
Saul kills the priests and consults a medium at Endor
1 Samuel 22 and 28
David the greatest King of Israel (ruled c.1011-971 BC)
David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem 2 Samuel 6
Uzzah is struck dead vv6-7. David danced and Michal despised him vv16-23
God’s Covenant with David and David’s Prayer 2 Samuel 7
David and Bathsheba 2 Samuel 11
Nathan the prophet rebukes David 2 Samuel 12
King Solomon (ruled c.971-931 BC)
Solomon asks God for Wisdom 1 Kings 3
Solomon builds the Temple 1 Kings 5:1-8:21
(see parallels in 2 Chronicles 3-4)
Solomon dedicates the Temple 1 Kings 8:22-66 (parallels 2 Chronicles 6)
The Division of the Kingdoms 1 Kings 12 (division in c.931 BC)
When the Temple was completed God warned Solomon, ‘If you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, “Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?” People will answer, “Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshipping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.” ’ (1 Kings 9:6-9)
The Northern Kingdom of Israel from 931 BC
Jeroboam leads the people into idol worship 1 Kings 12:25-33; 13:1-6, 33-34
An even worse King – Ahab and Jezebel
God’s Prophets Elijah and Elisha 1 Kings 17ff.
Contest on Mount Carmel 1 Kings 18.
Jehu – a good and bad King 2 Kings 10:28-31
The Fall of Samaria in 722 BC in 2 Kings 17 marked the end of the Northern Kingdom and God’s judgment on their sins.
The Southern Kingdom of Judah from 931 BC
Asa was a Good King 1 Kings 15:9-15; so was Jehoshaphat 1 Kings 22:41f.
Joash repaired the Temple 2 Kings 12
Warnings from the Prophets Micah and Isaiah
Good King Hezekiah brings Judah back to God
2 Kings 18 and repents 2 Kings 19
Bad King Manasseh reinstates Baal worship, makes an Asherah pole and sacrifices his own son in the fire 2 Kings 21:1-9 bringing judgment on Judah 2 Kings 21:10-16.
Josiah discovers the Book of the Law (Deuteronomy) and renews the covenant 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34-35
More warnings this time from Jeremiah
The Fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC in 2 Kings 25.
Solomon’s Temple is destroyed and the whole nation is taken into exile by
the Babylonians as God’s punishment on Israel for worshipping foreign gods.
In the midst of these good and bad kings some like the prophet Elijah called Israel to remain faithful to God = as we thought about in 1 Kings 18.
The contest on Mount Carmel was not just about proving that Yahweh, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, actually exists. The contest was a demonstration of the greatness of God Almighty, the Living God, over all the other spiritual beings, principalities and powers which hide behind all false religions then and now. It is the story of how Almighty God demonstrated his superiority over the false god Baal which was seducing away God’s chosen people Israel. It began with Elijah’s concern for God’s glory and his example of faith in the God who answers by fire.
WE SEE ELIJAH’S CONCERN FOR GOD’S GLORY
1 Kings 18 18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
The first of the Ten Commandment was unambiguous. God demanded loyalty from His chosen people, the people He had redeemed.
Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3“You shall have no other gods before me.
But now in the time of Elijah the people of Israel were being led astray by a very bad King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and by his wife Jezebel, the daughter of the King of Tyre and Sidon. Jezebel murdered the prophets of the one true God. Instead of serving God, the Israelites were choosing to worship and follow the false gods the Baals and the goddess Asherah. The Israelites had to make their minds up – as people still need to do even today. If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” That choice had eternal significance. And God’s honour and God’s glory were at stake on Mount Carmel.
God had demonstrated His power in the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea and God would demonstrate His power on Mount Carmel for His glory.
WE SEE ELIJAH’S FAITH
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
Did you notice Elijah the prophet’s courage? Outnumbered 450 to 1. “I am the only one left.” Yet Elijah still steps out and speaks in God’s name. That is true faith. Going out on a limb for God. Elijah put his trust in the God of Israel. We put our trust in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and in Jesus, Lord of all, Name above all Names! It was that kind of faith which had led Elijah to prophesy a period of drought as God’s judgment on the sins of the people. That example of amazing faith is commended in the New Testament.
James 5 16 … The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
God calls us to show that kind of faith. To go out on a limb for Him, proclaiming the gospel, even bringing healing and deliverance in Jesus’s all-powerful Name. Praying that even “lost causes” will be gloriously saved, all for the glory of God and the honour of His Name.
That is the kind of faith we see here on Mount Carmel. Faith believing God to do the impossible. Faith that was not afraid to mock the false gods in front of their passionate followers.
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Elijah even made things more difficult for himself!
33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
And the God who is God, God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth,
WE SEE THE GOD WHO ANSWERS BY FIRE
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
Here we see the awesome power of God Almighty. In contrast to the puny powers of the false gods, the demons behind Baal-worship. Compared to Almighty God even the devil is weak and feeble – although the devil tries to deceive people so that they believe otherwise. In the presence of Elijah the false god Baal had been powerless. But the fire of God fell on Elijah’s sacrifice. God brought his judgment on the prophets of Baal and their master, the false god called Baal.
“If the Lord is God then follow Him,” said Elijah. And God answered by fire. He demonstrated His power and his glory and the people did turn to follow the Living God once again. They repented of their idol-worship. And God showed his mercy on the drought-
The world today needs the rain of God’s blessing. The world needs God to show again that He is God – even the God who answers by fire! The world needs God to show His glory against the evil powers which are dragging men and women to their deaths. For God to show His power we need to become like Elijah. The man of faith who asked God for the impossible and was not disappointed!