ESL Lesson 20 – Elijah and the Baal-worshippers

Lesson 20

Elijah and the Baal-worshippers

I Kings 18


Soon after Solomon died, Israel was divided into two kingdoms.  One kingdom lasted about two hundred years.  The other lasted about three hundred fifty years.  Each kingdom had about twenty kings during that time.  Most of these kings did not obey God.  They worshipped idols. 


One of the worst of these kings was King Ahab.  The queen, Ahab’s wife, hated God and killed many of God’s prophets.


During this time God gave His messages to the prophets to give to the people.  The prophets tried to lead the Jews back to worshipping God.  But most of the people did not listen to the prophets.  They did not want to follow God.


Elijah was the main prophet when Ahab lived.  He didn’t know that any of God’s prophets were still alive.  But he still obeyed God and spoke for God. 


Elijah wanted to show Ahab that the Creator God, the God of Israel was the true God.  He said to Ahab, “Let’s have a contest.  Bring four hundred fifty prophets of your god Baal to the top of Mount Carmel.  Bring people from all over Israel who worship Baal.  Then we will see who is really God.”


Everyone came to the top of the mountain.  A great crowd of people who worshipped Baal were there.  Elijah was the only one who worshipped the Lord, the Creator God.


Elijah said to the people, “If the Lord is God, follow him. But if Baal is God follow him.  Let’s have a contest to see which god is the true God.”


Elijah suggested that each side build an altar and put wood on it.  Then they would kill a bull and lay it on top of the altar.  The god who sent fire out of heaven to burn the sacrifice would be the true God.  The people agreed to do this.


The Baal worshippers went first.  They built an altar and laid the sacrifice on it.  Then they called on Baal to send down fire to burn the sacrifice.  “O Baal, answer us,” they shouted.  They danced around the altar and shouted from morning until noon, but nothing happened. 


At noon Elijah began to make fun of them.  “Shout louder,” he said.  “Maybe your god is sleeping or busy or traveling.”


The people cut themselves with swords and spears and shouted to Baal until late afternoon.  Still nothing happened. 



Names of People




Name of Place

Mount Carmel



contest (n)

make fun of

go first

travel (v)

dance (v)

late afternoon


Irregular Verbs



Past Participle


go first

went first

has gone first

will go first



1.  Who was one of Israel’s worst kings?

2.  Who was the main prophet when this king lived?

3.  How many prophets of Baal came to the mountain for the contest?

4.  How many prophets of the Lord God came?

5.  How would the people know which god won the contest?

6.  What did Baal’s followers do to try to get Baal to answer them?

7.  How long did Baal’s followers call out to him?


The prophets of Baal could not get fire to come out of heaven and burn their sacrifice.  For many hours they called to their god.  But their god would not answer them.


In the late afternoon Elijah built an altar of stones.  He dug a ditch around the altar.  He put wood on the altar and then the bull.  Then he told the Baal worshippers, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it over the bull and the altar.”


After they did this Elijah told them to do it a second and third time.  When they were done the water ran down around the wood and the altar and filled the ditch.


Then Elijah prayed aloud to God, “O Lord God of Israel, show us today that you are God.  Show these people that I am doing this because You have told me to.  Answer me so that these people will know that You are the true God.”


Immediately, fire came out of heaven.  It burned up the bull, the wood, the stone altar, the dirt.  It even dried up the water in the ditch. 


When the people saw this they fell down and worshipped God.  “The Lord–He is God!” they said.

God showed His power on that day.  All of Israel could see that He was really the one true God.  But this did not make the Jews love God.  Soon they were worshipping idols again just like before.



dig (v)

third (adj)

ditch (n)

aloud (adv)

pour (v)

dry up

second (adj)



Irregular Verbs



Past Particile




has dug

will dig



 8.  What did Elijah have the people pour over his sacrifice to God?  Why do you think he did this?

 9.  When Elijah prayed, how soon did the Lord God answer Elijah with fire?

10.  Did the Jews ever worship idols again after this contest?


To Think About

God gave life to us.  He gives us everything we have.  We work to get things.  But everything we have is made from material that God created and put on the earth.  God gives us health and strength* and intelligence* to make things.  So everything we have comes from God.  This gives God the right to say that we must worship only Him.


God doesn’t force* us to worship Him.  But He asks us to worship and love Him.  He doesn’t want us to worship any other god.  Why is this so important to Him?


The Bible says that idols are only wood, stone, or silver and gold, made by men.  Idols can’t do anything.  But there spirits* other than God that have power.  And Israel learned to worship these spirits as gods like other countries did.  Who were these gods?  The Bible says they are demons*–angels that followed Satan to work against God. People who worship gods and spirits are worshipping demons.  Demons are the enemies of the Creator God in heaven.


God had taken good care of the people of Israel.  He gave them a good land and protected them from their enemies.  He gave them everything they needed.  He even did many miracles so that they could see His power.  But they still turned against God and worshipped other gods.  This hurt God very much.


God loves all people on earth very much.  He gave up his only Son, Jesus, to die for them.  Jesus died so that if we believe in Him, God can forgive our sins.  We can have a personal relationship with God. 

                        God has given every one of us life.  He offers us His love and forgiveness.  When we refuse these gifts, we hurt him.



strength (n)

spirit (n)

intelligence (n)

demon (n)

force (v)