How Fire Came down from Heaven

The kings in the northern kingdom of Israel all wanted their people to worship the golden calves that Jereboam had made. When one wicked king would die, another would take his place. Finally a man became king who was even more wicked than the others had been. His name was Ahab. He married the daughter of the king of Sidon. Her name was Jezebel. She worshiped the false god Baal, so Ahab built a temple for Baal in the city of Samaria. Then Jezebel started killing the prophets of the Lord, but Ahab's servant Obadiah hid a hundred prophets in two caves to protect them.

Then God sent the prophet Elijah to Ahab. He told Ahab, "In the name of the Lord I tell you that there will be no dew or rain for the next two or three years until I say so." Then Elijah went away to the creek named Cherith Brook on the other side of the Jordan River. There he drank water from the creek and God made ravens bring him bread and meat to eat. After a while the creek dried up because it wasn't raining any more.

Then God told Elijah to go to the town of Zarephath near the city of Sidon and there he would have a widow take care of him. So Elijah went to Zarephath. As he came to the town, he saw a widow gathering firewood. "Please bring me a drink of water," he said. And as she started to go get it, he called out, "and please bring me some bread, too." But she said, "I don't have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour in a bowl and a little olive oil in a jar. I was just gathering some firewood to bake what I have left for my son and me. Then we will starve to death." Then Elijah said, "Go make your bread. But first make a little loaf for me, for the Lord says that the bowl will not run out of flower and the jar will not run out of olive oil until the day that he sends rain." So the Widow did as Elijah said and there was enough food for them all. He stayed with her and her son and the bowl did not run out of flour and the jar did not run out of olive oil.

In the third year that there was no rain, God told Elijah, "Go to King Ahab, and I will send rain." Elijah found Obadiah and told him, "Tell your master the king that I am here." When Ahab came to Elijah, he said, "There you are the troublemaker of Israel." But Elijah said, "I am not the troublemaker; it is you! You are disobeying the Lord and worshiping Baal. Now bring the Israelite people to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the prophets of Baal too."

So Ahab had all the Israelite people and the prophets of Baal go to Mount Carmel. There Elijah said, "How long will it take you to make up your minds? If the Lord is God, worship him; but if Baal is God, worship him. I am the only prophet of the Lord, but there are 450 prophets of Baal here. Bring us two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal offer one as a sacrifice to Baal, but don't light the fire. I will offer the other one to the Lord. Let them pray to Baal and I will pray to the Lord, and the one who answers by sending fire, he is the real God!"

He said to the prophets of Baal, "Since there are so many of you, you go first." So they sacrificed a bull on an altar, but didn't set fire to it. They danced around the altar and shouted, "Answer us, Baal." But no fire came from Heaven. Around noon Elijah began to make fun of them: "Pray louder. Maybe he's asleep or gone on a trip." So the prophets prayed louder and started cutting themselves with knives, but no fire fell from heaven.

In the middle of the afternoon Elijah told the people, "Come closer." Then he rebuilt the altar to the Lord that had been torn down. He dug a trench around it, put wood on it and killed the bull, cut it up and put the pieces on the wood. Then he said, "Bring me four jars of water." They did so, and he poured it over the sacrifice. "Do it again," He said, so they brought him four more jars of water. They did so, and he poured it over the sacrifice. "Once more," he said, and this time the water filled up the trench around the altar. Then he prayed to God, "O Lord, show these people that I have done this because you told me to. Answer with fire so that they will know that you, the Lord, are God." Then fire came down from Heaven and burned up the bull, the wood, the stone, the ground under them, and the water in the trench. And all the people fell to the ground and shouted, "The Lord is God: only the Lord is God." Then Elijah said, "Take these false prophets of Baal down the mountain and kill them," so they did so.

Then Elijah told Ahab, "It is going to rain." So Elijah went up on the mountain to pray to God. Then he sent his servant to look out over the sea, but the servant came back and said, "I didn't see anything." Again he prayed and sent his servant to look at the sea. But again the servant saw nothing. Seven times he prayed and sent his servant to look. The seventh time his servant came back, saying. "I see a little cloud, like a man's hand, coming up out of the sea. Then both Elijah and Ahab hurried to the city of Jezreel, but the rain caught up with them and it rained heavily on them.

When King Ahab told Jezebel what had happened, she sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "I am going to kill you before tomorrow." So he became afraid and ran away to the south. He left his servant in Judah and he went on to Mount Sinai in the wilderness. There God spoke to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" And Elijah answered, "The Israelites have broken your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me!" Then God said, "Go anoint Hazael to be king of Syria and Jehu to be king of Israel and Elisha to be prophet after you. They will kill the wicked people. But I have 7000 people left in Israel who have never bowed down before Baal!"

So Elijah went back to Israel and found Elisha. And Elisha left his parents and his work and followed Elijah as his helper.

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