After many months passed, in the third year of the drought, the LORD said to Elijah, "Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!"
So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria.
So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah was a devoted follower of the LORD.
Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had hidden one hundred of them in two caves. He had put fifty prophets in each cave and had supplied them with food and water.)
Ahab said to Obadiah, "We must check every spring and valley to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules."
So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
As Obadiah was walking along, he saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and fell to the ground before him. "Is it really you, my lord Elijah?" he asked.
"Yes, it is," Elijah replied. "Now go and tell your master I am here."
"Oh, sir," Obadiah protested, "what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab?
For I swear by the LORD your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time when he was told, 'Elijah isn't here,' King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim.
And now you say, 'Go and tell your master that Elijah is here'!
But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the LORD all my life.
Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the LORD's prophets? I hid a hundred of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water.
And now you say, 'Go and tell your master that Elijah is here'! Sir, if I do that, I'm as good as dead!"
But Elijah said, "I swear by the LORD Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab today."
So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet him.
"So it's you, is it -- Israel's troublemaker?" Ahab asked when he saw him.
"I have made no trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the LORD and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.
Now bring all the people of Israel to Mount Carmel, with all 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who are supported by Jezebel."
So Ahab summoned all the people and the prophets to Mount Carmel.
Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, "How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!" But the people were completely silent.
Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only prophet of the LORD who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets.
Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it.
Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!" And all the people agreed.
Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood."
So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal all morning, shouting, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced wildly around the altar they had made.
About noontime Elijah began mocking them. "You'll have to shout louder," he scoffed, "for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or he is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or he is asleep and needs to be wakened!"
So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out.
They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no reply, no voice, no answer.
Then Elijah called to the people, "Come over here!" They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been torn down.
He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel,
References for 1 Kings 18:31
and he used the stones to rebuild the LORD's altar. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons.
References for 1 Kings 18:32
He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. Then he said, "Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood." After they had done this,
he said, "Do the same thing again!" And when they were finished, he said, "Now do it a third time!" So they did as he said,
and the water ran around the altar and even overflowed the trench.
At the customary time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command.
References for 1 Kings 18:36
O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself."
Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the ditch!
And when the people saw it, they fell on their faces and cried out, "The LORD is God! The LORD is God!"
Then Elijah commanded, "Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don't let a single one escape!" So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there.
Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go and enjoy a good meal! For I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!"
So Ahab prepared a feast. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and fell to the ground and prayed.
Then he said to his servant, "Go and look out toward the sea." The servant went and looked, but he returned to Elijah and said, "I didn't see anything." Seven times Elijah told him to go and look, and seven times he went.
Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, "I saw a little cloud about the size of a hand rising from the sea." Then Elijah shouted, "Hurry to Ahab and tell him, 'Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don't hurry, the rain will stop you!'"
And sure enough, the sky was soon black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel.
Now the LORD gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab's chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.