Elijah and the false prophets of Baal

Today we are going to learn how Elijah tried to teach the Israelites to worship and pray to Heavenly Father instead of non-living objects or graven images.
Who is Elijah
The Lord's prophet
Who is Ahab
A King with more wickedness than that of any before him
Who is Jezebel
Wife of Ahab who killed the prophets of the Lord
Who is Baal
False god worshipped by Ahab, Jezebel and the prophets of Baal.
Who is Obadiah
(1 Kings 18: 3, 4). Man who feared the Lord and hid prophets by the 50s from Jezebel.

Elijah knows the Israelites cannot serve both Baal and the Lord. He wanted them to decide whom they would serve. "Whom do you serve?!" Thought questions:

Why is it important to decide now to worship Heavenly Father?

What contest did Elijah suggest to prove to the people whom they should worship?

How many prophets of Baal?

Why did Elijah have more power than the prophets of Baal, even though he was outnumbered? "Air support!"

What do people worship today, perhaps without even realizing they are doing so?

What are some things we do to worship Heavenly Father?

  • Pray daily and express our gratitude to Him
  • Attend Primary and sacrament meeting
  • Be reverent and listen in our meetings
  • Sing hymns of praise
  • Participate in family home evenings, prayer, and scriptures study
  • Treat others with love
  • Make right choices
  • Read the scriptures by ourselves

(1 Kings 18: 29) Why didn't Baal answer the false prophets' prayers and send down fire?

When it was Elijah's turn, why do you think he made it more difficult for the sacrifice to burn?

The specific heat of icecream is 0.74 \( \frac{kcal}{°C} \) and a half gallon of icecream weighs 2.5 lbs (1.1kg). Therefore, to warm a pint (0.3 kg) of ice cream from frozen (0°C) to body temperature (37°C), you might consume 8 dietary calories (kcal) to warm it in your body.

To properly cook 1 pound of thawed beef, it takes 45 kcal, and 62 kcal from frozen.

How much energy would it take to perform the miracle found in 1 Kings 18: 33-38?


  • Elevation of Mt Carmel is 1724 ft (525.4 meters). At that elevation, water boils at 98 °C (208.4 °F).
  • Mt Carmel is near modern day Haifa, Israel, which has annual temperature ranges from 8 to 30 °C (46–86 °F).
  • 68 °F = 20 °C
  • 1 megajoule = 239 kilocalories
  • According to Herbert G. May, the bath may be archaeologically determined to have been about 5.75 gallons (22 liters) from a study of jar remains marked 'bath' and 'royal bath' from Tell Beir Mirsim.
  • The barrels here might have not have been a bath each, but just an but a Hin (6 Hin = 1 Bath).
  • 1 lb of beef = 1000 dietary calories (kcal)
  • 1 Cow = 1,200 lbs (550 kg), and just the beef is 500 lbs (225 kg).
  • The specific heat of water is 1.0 \( \frac{kcal}{L°C} \) (1 L = 1 kg)
  • The specific heat of ground beef is 0.84 \( \frac{kcal}{kg°C} \)
  • The specific heat of a beef carcass is 0.68 \( \frac{kcal}{kg°C} \)
  • The specific heat of hardwood is 0.48 \( \frac{kcal}{kg°C} \)

Elijah added anywhere from 44 Liters (12 Hin) to 264 Liters (12 Baths) of water onto a carcass which weighed between 225 kg to 550 kg so has a heat capacity of 153 \( \frac{kcal}{°C} \) to 374 \( \frac{kcal}{°C} \). To reach the evaporation stage pre-combustion, raising the temperature 68 to 90 °C, it would take between 13,396 kcal and 57,420 kcal of energy. Roughly 15–66 kilowatt hours. To have enough fuel to continue to stage two combustion of the wood, near the fuel ignition temperature of 572°F (300°C), it might take 3 times the energy or fuel in total.

Next question is how much wood would it take to generate that energy. A Cypress tree when dried is about 510 kg/meter3 or 0.51 kg/liter. Generally, hardwood releases 14.9 megajoules per kilogram (3500 kcal) but only 10.4 megajoules per kg (2500 kcal) recoverable at 70% efficiency. So just for the evaporation stage, it would take 6–23 kg of wood kindling, 12–46 liters, or about 120–460 sticks a meter long and a pinky width around. And for stage two combustion, that would be 500–2000 such sticks.

What did the people do when the contest was over? (1 Kings 18:39) I am reminded of Hunger Games—Catching Fire!

What happens when we pray to Heavenly Father? He hears our prayers and answers them according to our faith and his will. Answers aren't always as dramatic as Elijah's miracles, even for Elijah. (1 Kings 19: 2) After the drought ended, Jezebel promised to kill Elijah. What did he do? He ran. How did the Lord talk to him? (1 Kings 19: 11-13) We pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and our answers come through the Holy Ghost, often as a peaceful feeling in our minds or a warm feeling in our hearts.

To summarize:

  • Elijah tells Ahab that his wickedness has brought trouble to Israel
  • Elijah challenges the false prophets to have Baal send fire down from heaven. The false prophets fail.
  • Elijah prays and the Lord sends fire to consume the sacrifice and the altar.
  • All the people recognize the true God.
  • The Lord speaks to Elijah through the still, small voice.