Oh, I thought I am in much better shape than this.
I guess I’m not.
We’ve been running for 30 minutes and I’m already almost dead.
I’m just thinking Mount Carmel reminds me of…
Elijah? The prophet Elijah.
I’m wondering how much physical strength he needed to kill 850 prophets.
What? He murdered 850 people?
Why you’re so surprised?
He is a prophet. He is God-fearing prophet.
He doesn’t need to do such things, that’s crazy.
It is crazy, I know.
Yes, Elijah did kill 850 of the prophets of Baal and Asherah.
But these are the things we cannot hide.
They are part of the story, and there is a reason for it.
THE TIMELESS DAYS OF ELIJAH
You’re probably asking yourself, if God is almighty and he’s the only God?
How come He is afraid of the people of Israel worshipping other gods?
In order to understand it?
You must look at the big picture.
EVERY STORY HAS ITS PLACE
Mount Carmel has always had a very special place in the biblical world,
and a very special meaning for the people of Israel.
Mont Carmel is an amazing stretch of mountains.
It’s not a single mountain.
It’s a range basically, that is blocking the most important and famous trade route
in the history of this part of
the world was the way of the sea.
The Romans called it, Via Maris.
It is a trade route that came from Egypt in the south along the Mediterranean, on its way to Mesopotamia, and Anatolia.
No such thing in the Land of Israel, of one
location towering over a valley trade route,
and a meeting point
of five tribes of Israel.
And that’s what makes Mount Carmel such an important place.
This is the part of the country that was known as the bread basket of the country.
This is where they used to grow all their crops.
It was so good that the enemies of Israel invaded into that valley during the harvest time
in order to take spoil, and to plunder, and to steal all the crops during the harvest time.
Mount Carmel, the name Carmel consists of three Hebrew words.
Kerem-El, the vineyard of God, and it wasn’t necessarily about vineyard per Se.
It’s about prosperity, tranquility, and fertility.
This is why Solomon,
in the Song of Solomon would say,
“Your neck and your head
is like Mount Carmel.”
So, Carmel, by its name and its nature, is something prosperous, beautiful, lush, and green.
You can imagine how much of a crisis it was for people in the country
to go through a phase of 3 1/2 years of not even a single drop of rain,
and then coming to this place and pleading with God to do something about it.
EVERY STORY HAS A HERO
Ariel, this is the Muhraqa. Oh, I see that it’s closed.
It is believed to be the original place where the contest between the Baal and the God of Israel happened.
The name, Muhraqa, is actually
an Arab name, the burning place.
The place of the fire based
on the biblical account.
This is the place that is mostly identified with Elijah, the prophet.
The most famous story is the story from 1 Kings chapter 18.
The situation in the land is absolutely a disaster.
Three and a half years,
the land sees no rain,
and the people fall into the worship of Baal and Asherah, the deities of fertility.
When Elijah summoned to the top of Mount Carmel the prophets of Baal, and Asherah, and the rest of the nation.
He was trying to convince the people that they need to choose.
You know, Abba, the people in the Bible, they seem a bit distant for me.
I mean if Elijah was here today, how would he look like? How would we react to him?
He was like you and I.
Ariel, he was a …
It’s actually easy for me to identify with him.
Elijah is actually the perfect example of a simple person who had strength, physical strength for sure,
but he also had weaknesses in a sense.
He was trying to always be alone.
There was something about him that was on the border of being a very depressed person.
Elijah may have shown
a great courage here,
but just the next chapter
after that one, he was running.
He was like “chicken Elijah” running away from a very angry Queen Jezebel.
He was terrified.
She wanted to kill him, and he fled all the way to the desert.
But the one thing is for sure Elijah had that burden for his nation.
To stand all by himself in front of one
of the most horrific kings of Israel,
and to accuse him for not following
God’s Word knowing the consequences.
Everybody knew what happens if you say something against Ahab.
I mean Jezebel would immediately demand your head.
I think he had an ability to see reality beyond what is humanly visible.
We’re talking about a situation where Elijah is confronting a king.
Then they come up with an idea:
Why don’t we take everyone to the top of Mount Carmel?
The prophets of Baal and Asherah should call upon the name of their God and ask him to send fire.
Elijah will call upon the name of the Lord and ask him to send fire.
The God that sends fire…
Is the real God; Is the real God.
It was a very hot day and he was afraid that people will think,
oh maybe, I don’t know, a dry piece of stick caught on fire.
So, what Elijah did, he soaked the wood with water,
and he dug a trench all around and filled it with water.
So there is no doubt if fire comes and consumes the wood, it has to be from God.
And that fire came and consumed the water and the wood,
and the bull that they had to cut as an offering, and of course, took the stones.
Took everything! It was like a mini-hurricane!
The people, the people of Israel were like: Wow!
Only then they bowed down and said, “The Lord, He is God.”
They caught all the 850,
brought them down to the Brook Kishon,
and thatís where
Elijah executed them.
I think he agreed to answer God’s call because he saw something that other people couldn’t.
For me it is the most important question:
What did he see that inspired him to follow God’s voice even if this put his life at an imminent risk of death?
That was the level of his commitment.
To understand this, we need to understand who the nemesis of Elijah is in this story,
and to do that we need to visit
ruins not far from here, Tel Yizreel.
Tel Yizreel was just
and confirmed as the fortress city where King
Ahab and his wife Jezebel had their palace.
It was a useful location to control all trade and transportation routes of the northern kingdom of Israel,
and the perfect position of the new capital.
Ariel, we made it to ancient
Jezreel, Tel Yizreel.
Tel Yizreel is right at the entrance
into another valley called, Harod,
that extends from here to the east, which
is where Gideon fought the Medianites.
Tel Yizreel is a very good reminder of a horrible leadership.
This place was a heart of many troubles of that time.
It’s a story of horrible leadership.
The leadership of Ahab, the king of Israel and his wife Jezebel, who was not even Jewish.
She’s not even from the land.
She’s the daughter of the king of Sidon who practiced that pagan worship of Baal and Asherah.
It’s a king that basically imported into the land, Ariel, the worship of Baal and Asherah,
and the prophets of Baal and Asherah from his wife’s place of origin.
Therefore, there’s a great relationship between them and her.
I mean they sat
around her table,
and that was a re-education program that
she brought to the nation of Israel.
She has a spirit that is, up until
today, known as the spirit of Jezebel,
a spirit of control, a spirit of
deception, a spirit of seduction.
She will seduce her husband
to do what she wants,
She wants to
deceive a whole nation,
that the God that brought them into this land is not really the true God.
Ariel, do you see down below over there?
There was a vineyard there.
It’s a beautiful lush land.
There was a vineyard that belonged to a man called Naboth, Navat in Hebrew.
He had a vineyard that belonged to his family for many years.
In those days the people of Israel did not sell the land.
By the way, the law of Moses, it was forbidden to sell the land.
If the land belongs to God, you don’t sell it.
Ahab comes to Naboth and says,
hey I like your vineyard.
It’s right below My palace. It’s right below my city.
I want to get it from you.
I want to buy it from you.
Naboth says, this is my family’s vineyard. I cannot sell it to you.
I cannot sell it to you because it’s not just against my own will.
It’s against the Word of God.
Well, guess what?
He was very angry.
He goes back to his palace.
He lies down in
bed and he’s angry.
Jezebel comes with her seductive, deceptive, and very controlling spirit,
and she says what happened to you, darling?
He says, well I wanted that vineyard, and the guy will not sell it to me.
Then she says, what are you, a wimp?
Get up! You’re the king of Israel! Stand up!
I’ll make sure it will come into your hands.
Do you know what she does? Spirit of deception.
She writes letters, on behalf of the king, to the elders of the city to bring Naboth before them,
and to accuse him for blaspheming God.
Of course, suddenly she is interested in the punishment thereof, which is stoning someone to death.
And guess who is coming to tell
Ahab the truth right to his face?
So the day comes and Elijah in a
very amazing way is challenging Ahab,
and Ahab is now giving
an order to those people.
Go up to Mount Carmel and
prove to the nation of Israel
that Baal and Asherah are the true deities, are
the true gods, are the true things to worship.
Nothing of what we see here today reminds us of what it used to be in the time of Elijah.
Imagine no highways, no cities, no bridges, but the land is still the same land.
This is the Kishon River,
and somewhere here the biblical author presents us with a very bloody image of 850 bodies.
This is the Kishon? Indeed.
Look at this. It’s full of water right now.
I have to admit that it’s been a good year, lots of rain,
and that explains why the water still flows here.
There’s a reason why Elijah brought, all the way to the Kishon Creek, those 850.
In the ancient culture, they believed that there is a god called Baal,
and a goddess, his mistress, that is called, Asherah.
It’s always been that there is a male and a female god,
god and the goddess of fertility.
The locals were super religious and super perverted.
They used to bring their firstborns and kill them right by the water, right by the river.
Now comes the children of Israel and they’re about to enter into the land of Israel,
and God is literally
“I want you to
First of all, I do not want you to sacrifice children to me.
Second, he said, I hate any detested action namely sexual perversion.”
The culture of the people who lived here, when it comes to children, were so perverted.
They used to bring them through fire, through fire.
They used to burn babies.
Deuteronomy 12:31 says the following thing,
“You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way.
For every abomination to the Lord which he hates they have done to their gods.”
For they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
Also, in chapter 18, he says the following thing in verses 9 and 10, he says,
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you,
you shall not learn to follow the abomination of those nations.”
Just to make it clear: These are the prophets; They are the leaders.
They would conduct the ceremonies for the nation to kill their babies.
These people had more blood on their hands than anyone you can imagine,
and I can imagine that by killing 850 here,
Elijah saved the lives of thousands of thousands of babies that were no longer killed by these 850.
God basically said, look you need to drive them out,
because it starts with tolerance, then acceptance, and then promoting it.
You could see that not only in the people, it started with the leadership.
It started with a king that goes and marries a woman that has such a terrible spirit.
She kills the prophets of God, and she promotes the prophets of Baal and Asherah.
The Bible says that they were sitting at her table in the palace.
You know when you host certain people in the palace,
that means these are the people you want everybody to know that they are yours.
You’re sending a message: These are mine.
I promote them; I like them.
I want them; Learn from them.
And eventually having leadership that prohibits any
other form of worship, but that pagan worship.
And that is exactly what we see today in our world today.
If we compare the days of Elijah to our times,
it may seem that our life got more comfortable, advanced and secure.
Especially thanks to the fact that we have the core of Jesus’ teachings rooted in the society as the most important value,
the value of human life.
But still the comfort and security does
not promise us a better and stable future.
Just like the people of Israel in Elijah’s story,
we find ourselves just as indecisive, insecure, and hesitating to love God and be committed to him.
Even though from a modern humanistic perspective,
it is difficult to picture a prophet putting these false prophets to death.
The moral of the Elijah’s message is still very true today.
How long will you falter between two clear options?
It is a simple but constant daily choice:
Who do you choose to worship?