Mount Carmel, Israel, 871 BC
1 Kings 18:2-19
Old Jamin fiddled with his cane then leaned forward. “Well, young man…” He pushed up with both hands on the top of his cane.
Elijah’s eyes glowed as he waited for the old man. [Which old man? Aren’t there two?]
Jamin turned toward the sun hovering low over the sea. “The priests in Jerusalem should be preparing the evening sacrifice about now.”
“Thank you, sir.” Elijah bowed to the elder from Shechem and took one step toward the meat stacked on the rebuilt, water-soaked altar. “Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, show people today you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I do all this at your command. Hear me, O Lord. Hear, so this people will know you are the Lord God and you have turned their heart.” His clear tones rang out over the crowd.
Fire whooshed up from the altar.[Consider a little more build up to this moment. Did his words echo? Was there a sizzle in the air or absolute silence? Did the hair on Obadiah’s arms raise, etc. Slow the pacing and provide more build up to the big moment. ]
“Ahh!” Elijah jumped clear.
“Ooh!” The crowd fell back.
The fire burned up the ox meat and the wood. [Consider adding more vivid details to describe this.] The flames licked up the water in the trench, turned the stones to powder, then dissolved the topsoil. [You may want to add that the flame then vanished.]
People fell on the ground and lay facing the tiny wisps of steam that rose in the stillness.
A graybeard who rebuilt the altar searched the sky. “The Lord.”
From beside him. “It’s the Lord.”
And another. “The Lord. He is God!”
Elijah turned to Ahab. “Sir, perhaps you haven’t had time to eat yet today? If you want to get food or drink, I suggest you hurry. This downpour’s going to wash out the road.”
In eerie silence, elders and town fathers, heads of clans and curious onlookers surrounded them.
Elijah addressed [Consider letting us hear his voice and see his body language or facial expression. He’s more than a knobbed-knee boy at this moment. ] the people. “Moloch will burn no more of our babies. Kill these men at the Kishon riverbed. Don’t let one escape.” Surrounded by the crowd, Elijah led the captives down the mountain.
Ahab stood in his circle of guards and watched Baal officials descend. “I’ve killed twice that many Syrians in one afternoon.” He pursed his lips and shook his head. “But does that boy think he won the war, Biah? Today wasn’t even a skirmish.” He nudged Obadiah. “But, hey. Catch a bite with me before the rain?” [BEAT ]I know what Obadiah says in the next paragraph, but I’m wondering if there wouldn’t be some signs in Ahab’s voice or body language, etc. that show that he’s more shook up than he acknowledges?
“You go ahead, my king. I’m not hungry.”
Obadiah stroked his chin. Baal officials had danced and screamed the day away to an empty sky. Then Elijah uttered a simple request, and the Lord burned the place up. Tribal elders, heads of clans, and city fathers were slitting the throats of four hundred and fifty Baal officials. to avoid had to be churning. Obadiah’s stomach churned. How could Ahab talk about getting a bite to eat?
When Elijah and Nathan climbed back up the mountain, Obadiah searched [SS- I’m really wondering how what he has just seen affected Obadiah’s faith?]Elijah’s face for clues. Ahab was so right about the boy’s lack of experience. Elijah acted like he was leading a successful coup, yet Jezebel and her Asherah troops would chew him up and spit him out.
Elijah knelt next to Nathan and put his face to the ground.
Obadiah hadn’t bent like that since he was seven years old. Why was the young man praying? Hadn’t he already won the battle?
Elijah tucked his face between his knees. [1. His knees are still on the ground? 2. Perhaps you could include a brief descriptive detail or two of the ground, etc.]
Obadiah flinched. Ouch. That must hurt. Could the kid straighten back up? Ah!
Nathan [Consider showing us a little more more about Nathan from Obadiah’s point of view, a descriptive detail or two that would help us see him better.] shaded his eyes with his hand and gazed across the sea. The sun would soon dip below the surface. “Nothing, Lijah. Clear skies.”
“You sure, Nate?” Elijah put his head again between his knees. “I heard rain. It should be here.”
Six times Nathan looked and reported, “Nothing.” But the seventh time, he grinned. “Way out there. The teeniest speck of white fluff. About the size of your hand.”
“Thank you. That’s our rain.” Elijah stood. [Consider adding a descriptive detail or two that would show us his excitement.] “One more favor, please. Tell the king to harness his team, so we can get back to the fort before the storm. And tell him I will run at the head of his team.”
Mid-step toward Elijah, Obadiah gasped. Only a village boy would propose such a naïve thing.
Nathan took Elijah by the wrists. “Lijah, no. You don’t understand. Trust me, little brother. This is not the time for you to run before the king.”
Elijah’s smile turned the twilight into noon. “Don’t you see, Nathan? We won. The Lord won. Things are different now.”
“What’s different is, you swatted a hornets’ nest.” [action BEAT.]
“My big stubborn brother. Learn to hope, Nate. See the good, the potential. [Consider: “Nate, didn’t you see what happened? We whipped them. We beat’em….”] We’re in a new day. The Lord sent the fire, and the people chose the Lord. We got rid of the Baal thugs, and the Asherah officials are next to go. Ahab and I are on our way to tell the queen.”
Obadiah rubbed his chin. [I’m thinking that Obadiah is a little too much on the sidelines. Consider having him say something here before or afterwards.] Elijah’s face lit up like a child looking for bread and honey.
Nathan shook his head. “You don’t understand, little brother. The Lord sent the fire, but the shouting’s over, and everybody went home for supper. What they saw here will be a nice little story to tell the folks who stayed to milk the goats. If you go to Fort Jezreel, the next story they tell will be how the queen gobbled up the lad from Gilead who prayed that nice prayer on the mountain.”
Obadiah opened his mouth and took a breath. What could he say to help Elijah heed Nathan’s advice?
Elijah’s fierce glance at Nathan shut Obadiah’s mouth.
As Obadiah trailed the brothers back down Mount Carmel, black clouds rolled in, the wind pushed him to the edge of the path, and sheets of rain hit him in the face.
[the bodies? The departing people?]
At the base of the mountain, three chariots of guards lined up to return to Fort Jezreel. Ahab’s chariot stood next, and three more chariots of guards waited to follow.
The seven royal chariots rolled out.
Elijah trotted with his hand on the bridle of the horse which led Ahab’s team. [I’m wondering what Ahab says about this?]