Mount Carmel Hike
October 9, 2019
By Matthew Fox
One of our favourite pass times in Israel has rapidly become hiking! There is so much to see in such close proximity and many hiking trails that along with the beautiful weather make these experiences both fulfilling and educational.
This past Saturday we took the afternoon to explore one of the valleys of Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel was the mountain where the competition between Elijah and the prophets of Baal occurred. Today this large mountain is one of the locations believed to be the place where this event actually occurred. If you are unfamiliar with the story you can read the entire account in 1 Kings 18 of the Old Testament. The short version is that Israel was lead by an evil king and his wife that ruled at one of the lowest spiritual points in Israel's history. God was fed up with his people who were constantly running into the arms of other gods and pagan religions. So God spoke to Elijah and had him call a contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah representing God. The challenge was that whichever God was true would pour fire down from heaven and consume the sacrifice that each party was offering. The prophets of Baal spent most of the day calling on the gods of Baal, dancing, yelling and cutting themselves but to no avail. Elijah steps up to the altar he made to the Lord and after dousing the sacrifice with enough water to drown any hope of fire, calls upon God who immediately consumes the entire sacrifice.
It is one thing to read this story in the Bible and another experience to be in one of the potential spots where this event occurred thousands of years ago. The beauty is spectacular and the view is breath taking. It is one of the points where you can see the Mediterranean Sea as far as the eye can see and the plateau of the entire Western Galilee from the western side of the mountain. The hike up the ravine feels more like something out of an Indiana Jones movie than a Biblical story.
What would it have been like thousands of years ago to climb this massive mountain up one of the mountain paths or ravines to watch this showdown between God and the demonic forces of Baal? What would people have been thinking, anticipating, expecting to happen? I wonder if many of them might have been hoping that maybe, just maybe God would shine through and demonstrate his power. Were people content with the wickedness that was surrounding them?
In our modern life, the further our nations and civilizations walk away from God and embrace the darkness that surrounds, there are many still looking, hoping for a glimpse of God's power and presence in our lives. God probably will not send literal fire down from heaven but there is a world looking to see God's presence in your life...yes, your life! When God filled the early church in Acts 2 with the Holy Spirit the power of the wind and the tongues of fire that appeared above their heads demonstrated once again the power of God to draw people to Himself!
As we look at the world around us, remember these false gods that people so easily follow and put their faith in are just as hollow as the ancient god's of Elijahs time. The story of Elijah on Mount Carmel is another reminder of God's power and involvement in human activity to draw people to faith. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the awesome privilege and opportunity to be the same conduit of God's presence as Elijah himself pointing people to the true and real God of all ages!