Showdown on Caramel Mountain

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Elijah: The Desert Prophet

Read at beginning of service:

Matthew 6:19-24 (NIV)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

INTRODUCTION

  • Today we continue our series on Elijah, the Desert Prophet and I?d like to pick up his story in 1 Kings 18?

Read 1 Kings 18:1-46

Pray

  • This story that I?ve just read to you is the big event, the moment that everything in Elijah?s life has been leading up to, the huge shebang! I like to call this event, “Showdown on Caramel Mountain”. I remember the first time I heard this historical lesson I was in a Sunday School class and with due to my poor hearing I was sure I heard my teacher say Mt. Caramel, not Carmel!! Of course since then I?ve realized that the name is Mt. Carmel and this is not the place where caramel grows! However this is the place where one of the most significant events in Israel?s history occurs. It was here that Elijah declared that the complete sovereignty, lordship, majesty, and glory of God is to be shared with no one or nothing else! It was here that God reiterated the lesson He had been revealing throughout the Bible that He alone is God and there is no other! That is the main point of this story, that is the key idea, that is the all important principle and it was made in a very powerful way.
  • But prior to this significant event we have already seen this point being made in Elijah?s life:
    • God provided for Elijah through the raven?s and the brook of the Kerith Ravine.
    • God continued to provide for Elijah in the midst of enemy territory, in the home of a destitute widow, and in the miracle of an inexhaustible supply of flour and oil.
    • Elijah consistently demonstrated God?s Lordship over his circumstances?
      • from the journey that began in Ahab?s presence?to the hiding place of the Kerith Ravine? the heart of enemy territory.
      • from the drying up of the brook of the Kerith Ravine?to the death of the son in the house he was staying.
      • from a place of obscurity to the position of infamy
      • in all these places ? Elijah yielded to the Lordship of God and His control over his life.
  • The greatest strength of Elijah?s life was his dependence on God and his surrender to God?s purpose. In Elijah?s life we see that God truly is God and there is no other Lord.
  • Now remember that the chief reason why the Israelites were experiencing this time of drought was because of their sin in abandoning God and his commands and following other Gods. When Elijah came once again to Ahab in obedience to the Lord?s command Ahab accused Elijah of bringing the troubles on Israel but Elijah quickly turned that back to Ahab saying, “?you and your father?s family have [made trouble for Israel]. You have abandoned the Lord?s commands and have followed the Baals” Baal was the “god” that Ahab and Israel had been worshipping and it is interesting to note that the word Baal means “lord”. This word is plural here because there were many different Baals or “lords” that the people would follow in Baal worship. Different towns would have a different Baal, even different homes would have a different Baal. Ahab and the Israelites had polluted their worship of God and even in some cases abandoned their worship of God to their worship of Baals or other lords.
  • Elijah told Ahab to assemble the people of Israel, 450 prophets of Baal, and their support staff of 400 prophets of Asherah (who were plump and well-fed at the expense of the wicked queen Jezebel) to Mt. Carmel. Ahab did as Elijah requested and the people assembled on the mountain.
  • When Elijah stood up in front of the people he confronted them with their sin, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” The people must have expected Elijah to stand up in front of them and bless the land and pray for rain ? but he had other work to do first. For the people must be brought to repent and reform, and then they may look for the removal of the judgment, but not till then. This is the right method. God will first prepare our heart, and then cause his ear to hear, will first turn us to him, and then turn to us,
  • Elijah reproved the people for mixing the worship of God and the worship of Baal together. Not only were some Israelites worshipping God and others worshipping Baal, but the same Israelites sometimes worshipped one and sometimes the other. They worshipped God to please the prophets, but worshipped Baal to please Jezebel and curry favour at court. They thought to improve their place and position and play on both sides. Elijah points out the absurdity of their practice and emphasizes that there can be only one God, only one being who is infinite and supreme ? only one who is omnipotent, all ?sufficient. Elijah states very simply at the direction of the Lord that if, upon trial it appears that Baal is that is that one God then he should receive your worship and him only but if the Lord (Jehovah) is that one God then Baal is a cheat and you must have no more to do with him!
  • The people were silent, they recognized that what Elijah spoke was the truth ? they could not deny it.
  • Friends, in our world today there are many Baals, Baal worship is just as evident today as it was in the days of Elijah. Sure the form and methods may have changed somewhat but the practice remains the same. People have substituted other “lords” for the authority and power of God. Baal worship in today?s world consists of the idols of money, of self, of materialism, of environmentalism, even of atheism (the belief that there is no God). Baal worship today is found in many cults, Jehovah?s Witnesses, Mormons, Masonic Lodge, New Age. Baal worship today is found in occultic practices, Satan worship, witches, psychics etc.
  • Friends when anything supplants the Lordship or supremacy of God in your life you are a participant in Baal worship. The sad thing is that I believe that Elijah could very well speak these words to many people who attend church! Those who live one way in church on a Sunday and then a different way throughout the week. Those who profess Jesus to be Lord of their life and then bow to the idols of self through the week. A quick test of where your loyalties lie is to look at your priorities in life ? what?s more important to you? What is it that gets you excited? What do you absolutely need to have in life? Elijah?s words not only cut to the heart of the matter in the life of Israel that day but they also address the attitude that many people have today, “How long will you waver between two opinions? Either God is Lord of all or he is not lord at all. There cannot be two masters in your life. And like or not you will serve one or the other, God or Baal you cannot serve both and you cannot serve neither.

Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

  • After Elijah confronted the people with the absurdity of their sin he presented a challenge before the people?
  • This challenge would demonstrate two things that I would like to share with you this morning:

Baal?s power is counterfeit and is based in deception

What happened:

  • Elijah issues the challenge to the Baal prophets and clarifies the challenge.
  • noticed he contrasts the number of Baal prophets versus the number with him. (450:1)
  • he says choose one of the bulls and prepare it first since there are so many of you.
  • Notice that he emphasized that were to not set fire to the sacrifice?

    This was because it was a common practice among pagan rituals to…

  • The prophets of Baal called on the name of their god from morning to noon

– they were sure that their god would answer them

  • Then at noon Elijah began to taunt them? (v27)
  • They responded to Elijah?s taunts and became more frenzied and frantic in their prophesying and continued to the time for the evening sacrifice? (v28
  • There was no response, no one answered, and no one paid attention (v29)
  • Friends what was demonstrated in this incident is the deception of Baal and the counterfeit nature of his power. What is the truth that is revealed in this account is the truth that is revealed in the very beginning as recorded in Genesis and again, and again, and again through to Revelation and is very much present today. Satan the master of deception and lies is out to rob people of their heritage in God and their life of meaning. Satan from day one has sought to deceive people into thinking that they don?t need God, that they don?t want God, that life is just fine without him. Oh, satan has many methods but his motive and his message are always the same.

John 10:10 (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 8:44 (NIV)

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

2 Corinthians 11:14 (NIV)

14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

  • In John 8:44 Satan is described as the father of lies, in John 10:10 he is described as a thief who comes to steal and kill and destroy and in 2 Corinthians 11:14 it is said that he masquerades as an angel of light all for the intended purpose of misleading people and keeping them bound to the lie that they don?t need God!
  • Folks, every religion, ideaology, line of thinking, belief system, way of living, or mindset that promotes the idea that man is okay and that you don?t need the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit is a deception and was birthed in the bowels of hell and the mind of satan. Oh, and he?s a crafty, sneaky little bug! Satan will use any means possible to hinder the work of God. He?ll even go so far as to convince people that you can serve two masters and be okay! He did this with the Israelites and sadly he?s doing this in many churches today.
  • What are the deceptions unveiled at Mt. Carmel?

That what the majority of people believe will always be right?

  • Elijah made a point of emphasizing the number of Baal prophets versus his lone status as God?s representative.
  • ILLUSTRATION: Do you ever remember from school days when you were in elementary school and a teacher would ask a question that required you raising your hands to answer? Inevitably you would see everybody looking around and seeing who was raising their hand because they would want to make sure that they “fit in” with the crowd and went with the majority.
  • This deception seems okay when what the majority believes is right but Satan wants us to believe that so that when what the majority believes isn?t right we still go along with it.
  • A common phrase ? oh everybody does it?
  • ILLUSTRATION: Sunday shopping?
  • THE TRUTH IS: A majority opinion of people doesn?t determine what?s right ? God does and He reveals what is right and wrong in His word!
  • THE TRUTH IS: One + God will always equal a majority even when the person with God is in a minority.
  • This point is important because we are entering a day and age where more and more people are willing to compromise their faith in God in order to “go along with the majority”?

That security can be obtained apart from God.

  • When I talk about security I?m talking about how people, from the time they are born, want to feel secure in their life, about their future, and about their purpose. These two things tend to govern our emotional (and sometimes even physical) health. When someone is insecure that insecurity usually manifests itself in aberrant behaviour.
  • For example ? a person loses a job that has met they?re needs for a number of years and all of a sudden they are laid off ?they have trouble finding another job and start to get depressed and angry and maybe begin to drink to help with the depression?. You get the picture?
  • Satan works really hard at this deception because if he can get people to feel secure in something apart from God then they won?t feel they need God!
  • In the days of Elijah, satan had been somewhat successful in getting the people to believe the lie that Baal would give them security, that their future was safe in his hands, that could have everything they needed through him ? the prophets of Baal were given every reason to believe this lie as they continued to be well provided for by Jezebel even through the time of the drought. But look what happened when Baal failed to answer them ? aberrant behavior manifested and?
  • However, in the showdown on Caramel Mountain this lie was quickly exposed as the truth was made known that if you want a secure future, if you want a secure life then look no further, no higher, no deeper, no wider, than God. Jesus is the source for security?

That it doesn?t matter what you believe as long as you?re sincere?

  • The prophets of Baal were certainly sincere in their worship ? but they were sincerely wrong.
  • There are so many people in the world today who have been deceived by this lie. The truth is that it does matter what you believe no matter how sincere you are. There is only one God, there is only one way to Him and that is through Jesus Christ?

God?s power is genuine and is based in truth.

Observations:

  • Elijah invited the people to come near (v 30)
  • the work of God is not a “secret work” or a hidden work. God desires that all would no Him and His power.

Romans 1:20 (NIV)

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

  • Elijah rebuilt the altar

Elijah didn?t use the altar that the Baal prophets used?truth is not and will not ever be built on lies. Truth exposes a lie it doesn?t mask it! Anything that covers over a lie is not the truth.

The people were reminded through the building of the altar the truth about who God intended them to be -? “HIS PEOPLE!!!” (v31)

  • Elijah had water poured on the altar.

No one could say about Elijah ? “he put a small explosive in the middle of the altar”

God?s power leaves no doubt that HE IS GOD!

  • Elijah prayed

God?s power does not come by frantic service and prideful behavior but through humble, surrendered obedience!!

Elijah?s prayer:

  • That God would show that He alone is God IN (not of) Israel (the choice is still up to the Israelites whether He would be “OF”)
  • That God would prove that Elijah is His servant
  • That the people would know God is turning their hearts back again
  • The fire fell from the Lord and consumed everything!
  • not only the sacrifice but the dirt and rocks(!) too.
  • The answer came right away
  • Demonstrated that this was no ordinary fire
  • This probably also demonstrated that although God accepted this special sacrifice from this altar, yet for the future they ought to demolish all the altars in their high places and, for their constant sacrifices, make use of that at Jerusalem only. Mose?s altar and Solomon?s were consecrated by the fire from heaven; but this altar was destroyed, no more to be used. God is God!!

CONCLUSION

The people?s response (v. 39-40)

  • fell on their faces (recognized that God is God)

they were convinced by the incredible event that occurred on Mt. Carmel.

Being convinced is one thing but it means nothing if you are not converted.

  • The prophets of Baal were slaughtered.

how do you treat the things/people that lead you to sin?

If God is God then wha

t do you do about sin!

Sin leads to death and sin must be dealt with?(gospel message)

?

Mark 9:42-48 (NIV)

42 “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire.

The return of rain (v41-46)

  • the lesson had been given and the sacrifice offered.
  • The drought was over.
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