1 Kings 18:20-24, So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”
So all the people answered and said, ”It is well spoken.” (NKJV)
The Lord had answered with fire two times prior to this, one time in Leviticus 9, when the priestly ministry began and another time in Judges 6, when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon. Without a doubt, this author believes this Angel of the Lord, written about so many times in the Old Testament, is not just any angel, but this Angel of the Lord is the Word of the Lord, aka Jesus Christ, before He became flesh and was born Messiah.
In Leviticus 8, Aaron and his sons were being consecrated, or set apart. In Leviticus 8:31-36, they are commanded to not leave the tabernacle for seven days while they are being consecrated. In Leviticus 9, Moses tells Aaron, on the eighth day, to take a young bull as a sin offering for himself, most likely because of the part Aaron played with the golden calf in the wilderness in Exodus 32. For the children of Israel, there is to be a sin offering of the kid of the goats, most likely for their idol worship in the wilderness after the Lord freed them from slavery under Pharaoh.
Moses told Aaron and his sons in Leviticus 9:3-4, “And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, ‘Take a kid of the goats as a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering, also a bull and a ram as peace offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord, and a grain offering mixed with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you.’ ” (NKJV) Moses continues in Leviticus 9:6-7, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded you to do, and the glory of the Lord will appear to you.” And Moses said to Aaron, “Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded.” (NKJV)
In Leviticus 9:22-24, Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. (NKJV) Aaron could only want the Lord to bless the people, but it was up to the Lord whether He would bless the people or whether He would not bless the people. The fire meant God accepted the priesthood, as well as the sacrifices that were offered.
Usually the meat smoldered on the altar all night until day, but, this time, the fire of the Lord consumed every last remnant of the sacrifice. As commanded in Leviticus 6:13, the fire on the altar must always be burning, and it shall never go out. This fire from the Lord is said to have been kept burning until the time when Solomon dedicated the temple and God sent fresh fire to consume the sacrifices in 2 Chronicles 7:1-2, and, that fresh fire is said to have been kept burning until the destruction of that first temple.
In Judges 6:1, Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, (NKJV) Midian was the son of Adraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2) and this is the tribe Moses lived with for forty years after he killed an egyptian guard who was beating an Israelite. Moses killed this egyptian guard after Moses found out Moses was really and Israelite slave and not a royal egyptian, see Exodus 2:12.
Moses was actually tending a flock for his father-in-law, a Midian priest, when he encountered the burning bush in Exodus 3, where the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in that burning bush and the Word of the Lord spoke to Moses from that burning bush, prophesying to Moses he would serve the Lord on that very mountain after the Lord delivered His people from the hands of Pharaoh, who was actually the future Pharaoh Moses grew up with as royalty in the palace. Notice the burning bush was not consumed by the same fire from the Lord that consumed sacrifices.
The Hebrew word for bush is seneh and it appears six times in the Old Testament, five times in Exodus 3 and one time in Deuteronomy 33:16, referring back to the same bush in Exodus 3. It could be a blackberry bush according to Strong’s, but the word is of uncertain derivation. According to Brown-Driver-Briggs, it is a thorny bush. Deuteronomy 33 is Moses’ final blessing on Israel before his death. In Deuteronomy 33:13-17, Moses blesses the line of Joseph, who has the favor and the blessings of Him who dwelt in the bush. The thorny bush could allude to the future Messiah, Jesus Christ, being the One in the burning thorny bush, not consuming the sins of those who put the crown of thorns on His head until He became the ultimate sacrifice and atonement for sin.
In Judges 6:2-6, the children of Israel were being tormented by the Midianites, but instead of relying on the Lord for protection, they hid inside mountains while their enemies abused them. It seems interesting that one of the words used for their hiding place is the word strongholds. The actual Hebrew word is metsad and appears ten times in the Old Testament. It can mean anything from a place of safety to a castle. So many times we recreate this time of peril in our own lives. A castle is only as safe as the attacks of the enemy are weak. Given enough time, no stone is impenetrable.
So many times, instead of using our faith and letting Jesus move a mountain of trouble out of our way, we let the mountain consume us while we hide deep inside the mountain, barricading ourselves inside a stronghold of our own making, using whatever comes our way to build our strongholds, not realizing it is the enemy helping us build our strongholds, giving us the resources to build our strongholds, while the enemy steals our blessings from the Lord. When we reach our lowest points within the mountain and cry out to God for help, He will save us. Most people will not cry out until the enemy gets too deep within our strongholds, pushing us deeper into our mountain of troubles.
Judges 6:7-9, the children of Israel cried out to the Lord to deliver them from the strongholds in which they were hiding from the enemy. The Lord sent a prophet to speak to them. The Lord said He delivered them from bondage and made them free. Now, however, they had made themselves slaves again through fear when the most strong force, God, was on their side, but, they did not use their faith to defeat the enemy, but, instead, they hid through fear. So many people have come to repentance in a church altar call and have become born again, only to find themselves back inside the mountain hiding in a stronghold from the enemy, when the blessings of God are outside the mountain, being consumed by the enemy. In Judges 6:10, Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ ” (NKJV)
Judges 6:11-12, Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” (NKJV) It is interesting that the Angel of the Lord sat under a terebinth tree, which is so closely related to the oak tree that it seems these two trees are often intertwined with each other in interpretations of Scripture. Both of these trees are thought to possess divine strength and both trees easily become the subject of idolatrous worship.
The elah tree, which is the tree mentioned in Judges 6:11, is related to the pistachio tree. This was the tree under which Jacob buried Laban’s idols in Genesis 35:1-4, Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.” And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem. (NKJV)
It was after this act of obedience to the Lord that the terror of God fell on all those they encountered instead of the fear of the enemy falling on the House of Jacob. In Genesis 35:5, And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. (NKJV)
The elah tree also appears in 1 Samuel 17, the Valley of Elah, where the battle of David and Goliath took place.
Both the terebinth tree and the oak tree have been the subject of prophets throughout history. As time will tell, both of these trees will also be the subject of a future prophecy given in the past, as in Isaiah 6:13,
But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.” (NKJV)
Judges 6:13-22, Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”
Then he said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.”
And He said, “I will wait until you come back.”
So Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so.
Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of the Lord departed out of his sight.
Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.” (NKJV) Let him who has ears to hear, hear:
Judges 6:23, Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” (NKJV) Judges 6:24-27, So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord–Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. (NKJV)
1 Kings 18:25-40, Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”
So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.
And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.
And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there. (NKJV)