Last time the story in 1 Kings discussed the consequences of King Solomon’s sins (idolatry and accumulation of horses), which was a divided kingdom. The northern 10 tribes followed a man named Jeroboam who set up two golden calf idols. The reason why Jeroboam led his people to worship idols is because he didn’t want them to go to the southern two tribes called Judah (and Benjamin) and want to follow their king, Rehoboam.
These two kings were centered on themselves and not on the God of Israel and the mission He sent them on: to bless the nations.
Would Israel’s next king turn things around?
- Jeroboam reigned for 22 years and he was evil.
- Nadab reigned for 2 years and he was evil.
- Baasha reigned for 24 years and he was evil.
- Elah reigned for 2 years and he was evil.
- Zimri reigned for 7 days and he was evil.
- Omri reigned for 12 years and he was evil.
- Ahab reigned for 22 years and he was evil.
They were all evil!
King Ahab married a woman named Jezebel (a name still used today that describe a woman who is sneaky and evil). Jezebel worshiped her god named Baal. Because she wanted everyone in Israel to worship Baal, she had all the faithful priests of Israel’s God hunted down and killed.
What did God do about all of this?
The story of 1 and 2 Kings detail all the really bad (and sometimes good) things the kings do and the prophets (someone who delivers God’s messages) who tell the kings and the people of Israel to stop.
There were two really famous prophets in the book of Kings: Elijah and Elisha.
Watch this Fabulous Bentley Brothers segment:
The prophet Elijah was around during the time of evil King Ahab and the nasty Jezebel. Because Jezebel was hunting down and killing all the prophets of God, Elijah went and hid in the wilderness. God provided for Elijah by having ravens bring him food.
One of the most famous stories in the book of Kings is the prophet Elijah confronting 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah challenged the Baal prophets (thus Jezebel) to a little contest. Whoever’s god lit the fire of the sacrifice was the one true God.
Altars were piles of stones used to offer a sacrifice to a god. A sacrifice was something to offer to a god, usually the fruit of one’s harvest like grain, or an animal from one’s livestock like a bull. Wood was fuel for the fire that would consume the sacrifice on the altar to one’s god.
Two altars were built: one for Baal and one for Israel’s God, Yahweh. Two bulls were sacrificed and one was placed on each of the altars. However, Elijah’s challenge was to cal on each other’s god to light the fire.
Jezebel’s prophets called on Baal all morning… and nothing happened. Elijah started making fun of them—sort of taunting them.
Did Baal ever show up?
Of course not, he’s fake. (Sunday School Lady)
When it was Elijah’s turn, he drenched his altar in water—12 times! Everything was soaking wet. Elijah prayed to the LORD. And… BOOM! Fire came down from heaven and burned EVERYTHING UP!
I bet that got people’s attention! (Chuckwagon)
The people of Israel cried out: “The LORD is God, the LORD is God” and fell down and worshiped him.
The book of Kings is a lot like the book of Judges (cycle of apostasy). The Israelites keep forgetting about God and chasing after the fake gods of their neighbors.
Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal is a great victory, but does it last?
Will they follow God now?
Will they set an example for the rest of the world so the whole world can learn about God, too?