a) The contest at Mount Carmel (1 King 18:17 – 46).
Carmel refers to the vineyard of the Lord. King Ahab brought trouble to Israel because of worshipping the idols of Baal. Elijah told Ahab that the problemsIsrael was facing were due to worship of Baal, The decision. Elijah requested king Ahab to call a meeting at Mt Carmel. In attendance would be all Israelites, 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah who were supported by Queen Jezebel and Elijah.
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Elijah told Israelites it was decision time. They had to choose their God. Would it be Yahweh, the God of Israel or Baal the god of Jezebel of Phoenician/Tyre. If it was to be Baal, then they were told to follow him, if they select Yahweh as their God then they were to follow him (1kings 18 vs. 21).
Elijah proposed a contest between him and Baal prophets. He asked for two bulls one for him, the other for 450 prophets of Baal. The contest was who can light fire? Yahweh or Baal? He proposed that Baal prophets and himself be given each a bullock. Both shall cut the bull into pieces and put them on wood without lighting fire. The Baal prophets shall pray to their god and Elijah shall pray to the Lord. The one who sends fire to consume the sacrifices. He is God. The people of Israel accepted Elijah’s proposal.
The prophets of Baal prayed first because they were many. They took the bull, prepared it and prayed to Baal until noon (vs. 26). They prayed louder, and cut themselves with knives and daggers; but there were no answer. The prophets of Baal kept on ranting and raving until evening but there was no answer (vs. 29).
Elijah asked people to gather near him. He prepared the altar of the Lord to repair work. He took 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel (who were named after the 12 sons of Jacob or Israel) and used them to rebuild the altar.
He then dug a trench around the altar.
This trench could hold 14 litres of water.
He placed the wood on the altar; cut the bull into pieces and laid them on the wood.
He asked for four barrels of water and poured it on the offering and wood.
He poured water on the altar three times until the water overflowed, run around the altar and filled the trenches.
Elijah then called on the Lord “O Lord, the God of Abraham, …prove now that you are the God of Israel and that am your servant and have done all this at your command” (vs. 29). The Lord sent fire down and it burnt up the sacrifice, wood, stones, and dust and licked up the water that was in the trench. When people saw this, they proclaimed ‘The Lord, is God; the Lord alone is God”. Elijah asked people to arrest the prophets of Baal, led them down to the river Kishon and killed them. And after this there was rain in Israel (vs.40).
Lessons learnt from Mt. Carmel.
Israelites acknowledged that Yahweh is:
i Is their only God and that Baal was not God
ii Is powerful
iii Is a merciful God
iv Is a jealous God as He will have no other gods but him
v Is a God of justice who punishes idolaters and sinners
vi Answers prayer
vii Is a forgiving true God
viii Protects his servants
b) Elijah’s fight against corruption (1 Kings 21: 1 – 29)
Corruption is defined as dishonesty. It’s a form of injustice when dealing with either an individual or the community for selfish gain and benefit. In a corrupt society people in leadership or with wealth take advantage of the weak, and the poor. The powerful exploit the poor and the powerless by denying them their rights. An example of corruption in Israel is the story of the Naboth’s Vineyard.
Naboth’s vineyard. Ahab wanted Naboth to either sell to him his vineyard or exchange it with another vineyard. Naboth refused to sell his inheritance. Jezebel, on seeing that Ahab was sorrowful told him that she will get him Naboth’s vineyard. Jezebel sent out letters in Ahab’s name to the elders of the city. She found two witnesses who could bear witness that Naboth had blasphemed God and king Ahab. Witnesses testified that Naboth had blasphemed God. He was stoned to death. God then sent Elijah to meet with Ahab as he went to possess the vineyard of Naboth.
God’s sentence to Ahab.
God pronounced to Ahab through Elijah that (1) dogs shall lick his own blood from the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth
(2) His sons shall be killed
(3) Dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel
(4) Evil shall be brought upon Ahab’s house.
This was because Ahab had broken these commandments:
- The 6th commandment – which forbids murder
- The 9th commandment which forbids bearing of false witness.
- Ahab allowed his wife to bear false witness against Naboth.
- 10th Commandments – you shall not covet your neighbor’s property.
Elijah’s encounter with Yahweh at Mt. Horeb (Mr. Sinai) 1 Kings 19 After killing the prophets of Baal, Elijah was threatened by Jezebel.
She vowed to kill him. Elijah ran away to the wilderness. The angel of God fed him with a loaf of bread and a jar of water. After eating and drinking Elijah walked to Mt. Sinai – the holy mountain of God. He stayed there for 40 days and 40 nights. In the mountain God appeared to him. There was a strong wind, an earthquake, a fire but the Lord was not in them. Then the lord spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.
God told Elijah “return and anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha as a prophet and your successor. Self-assessment question.
How can Christians help reduce corruption in your country?
First is to recognize the various forms of corruption like: tribalism, bribery, cheating in business, stealing, misuse of public funds, grabbing public land, robbery with violence and dishonesty Self-assessment question.
How can Christians fight corruption? Christians can fight corruption by:
a). Employing life skills
- a) Applying their critical thinking.
This is the ability to make appropriate decisions; by weighing in the consequences of actions before taking decisions.
- b) Creative thinking and being imaginative.
This is the ability to explore new ways of handling issues.
- c) Decision making
Which is the ability to make the right choices?
- d) Assertiveness.
- This is the ability to express ones opinion with confidence.
- e) Praying for the corrupt to change their behaviour.
- f) Setting a good example by acting as a good role model.
- g) Educating people on the evils of corruption.
- h) Reporting those who are engaged in corrupt dealings / practices to the relevant authorities.
- i) Obeying the laws of the society /country.
Voting for morally upright leaders.
African Moral Values Introduction