I Kings 16:29-33; 17:1; 18:19-36
There once was a prophet named Elijah. A prophet is someone chosen by God to speak His words. A prophet’s message is meant to bring people closer to God but they must be willing to listen.
Elijah lived in a time much later than King Solomon. While Elijah was alive the people of God were worshiping other gods. Their king and queen were called Ahab and Jezebel. These two were very bad. They had led the people away from God.
Elijah finally challenged the priests of Jezebel to a contest. He told King Ahab, “You were wrong to follow this false god Baal. Send me eight hundred and fifty of the prophets who eat at your wife’s table. Then we will see whose god is for real!”
The time had come for God to work a miracle so great, His people could no longer doubt who the true God was. For the last three years, the people had heard their king and queen say, “Baal will bring you rain. Just wait and see.”
No matter how much the people sacrificed and prayed, though, no rain had fallen. That was because Baal was a nothing god. Only the Lord God could bring rain to the thirsty land. He wanted to prove to the people through Elijah that He was the only God they should worship.
Elijah told the priests of Baal to kill a bull. They should lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. He would do the same with his bull and pile of wood. “Call on your god to light a fire under the bull, and I will call on my God! The God who answers with fire is the real God.”
All the people agreed that this was a very fair test. The priests of Baal tried and tried. They prayed from morning until noon, “Oh Baal, answer us.” But there was no answer. They danced and shouted louder and louder. They jumped around the altar. But still there was no answer. No fire burned the wood beneath their bull.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. He had four large jars of water poured over the altar. He did this three times until the trench was full. Then he poured water over his pile of wood, under the dead bull.
Elijah lifted his hands up toward heaven. He prayed calmly and slowly, so everyone could hear. “Oh Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, show us that You are God. I am Your servant. Answer me, Lord. Show this people that You are Lord. Please answer now with Your fire, I pray!”
Suddenly the fire of the Lord fell from heaven! All the wood and stones and dust and parts of the bull were eaten up by the fire. The heat was terrible. It did not matter that everything was wet, it caught fire anyway.
“Look! Fire is falling from the sky!” the crowds screamed. The people yelled, “The Lord, He is God!”
King Ahab’s knees knocked together in fear. Elijah told him, “Go,eat and drink, for I hear the roar of thunder.”
Ahab did as he was told. He hurried home before anything more terrible happened. Now that the people of Israel had said they believed the Lord was God, Elijah hoped God would bring rain.
He told his servant to watch for clouds. At first there was nothing. Time after time Elijah told his servant to go and look. Finally the servant said, “Look! There’s a cloud the size of a man’s hand. It’s coming up from the sea!”
Within moments, the sky grew black with clouds and wind. Water poured down. The people raised their hands and cheered. Finally, after three years, they had rain!
But God worked yet one more miracle. As the rain gushed down from the clouds, Elijah started running across the countryside. He ran as fast as he could. The hand of the Lord was on Elijah! God’s Spirit came upon Elijah in power. He turned him into a super-runner! He ran faster than the horses pulling King Ahab’s chariot. He ran faster than the wind. Elijah ran so fast, he arrived in Jezreel before the king did!
Elijah had become a very old man. All his life he tried to lead the people back to God. Elijah had a young friend named Elisha.
The time had come for Elijah to die and go to heaven. Elijah had promised Elisha a double portion of his power as prophet. Elisha had to make sure he was watching, when God took Elijah to heaven.
While they were still walking and talking together, a fiery chariot with blinding horses came between them! It blazed like the sun, as bright as fire. Flaming horses pulled the chariot. A huge blast of wind swept Elijah off the ground. He was taken up to heaven! It looked like a great whirlwind. When Elisha saw it, he cried out, “My father, my father!” But Elijah had gone to be with God.