Israel My Glory: In Depth — Interveiw: Ty Perry
Trade deals, peace deals, and a booming economy are what Israel could have boasted in during the days of Elijah. But what was missing? God! God used prophets to proclaim His promises and judgements. We’re going in-depth this week with the current issue of our magazine, Israel My Glory, and it’s all about the prophet Elijah.
Many of us know the popular story of Elijah on Mount Carmel found in 1 Kings 18, but do you know the facts surrounding the story? We welcome Ty Perry, The Friends of Israel Gospel Minstry’s representative in the Las Vegas area. Ty wrote an article in Israel My Glory magazine, “Confrontation on Carmel” and gives us a broader picture of the story we know so well.
Click Here to read Ty’s full article
Steve Conover: This is The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is Chris Katulka. Today, we'll be dedicating our episode to our latest issue of Israel My Glory. Israel My Glory is our award-winning Christian magazine, and it's a bimonthly publication that's been teaching biblical truth about Israel and Jesus the Messiah since 1942. Later in the program, we'll share with you how you can receive a free one-year trial subscription to Israel My Glory, so be sure to stay with us.
Chris Katulka: Steve, I always get excited about our Israel My Glory in-depth episodes where we get a chance to focus on our magazine. This entire issue is about Elijah, the prophet, and I think it's going to be a fantastic one. We're going to be looking at the life of the prophet Elijah, what was going on around him as a prophet. Also, we're going to have Ty Perry, who is a Friends of Israel representative in the Las Vegas area, and he's going to share about his article that he wrote called Confrontation on Carmel, which is all about the prophet Elijah's battle against the prophets of Baal, so be sure to stick around.
Years ago, when I was growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia, I can remember listening to the news and hearing about a guy who went to see the Liberty Bell. Back then, you could walk right up to the bell. There was no barriers. There was nothing preventing you from even going and putting your hand up on the bell. I can remember hearing about this guy with shaggy hair and a bushy beard pulling a small sledgehammer out of his backpack and striking this piece of American history several times right in front of all the tourists, shouting, "God lives."
I was in Bible college at the time when this happened, and I thought to myself, "This guy, he lost his mind." It was during this time when I was taking a class about the prophet Ezekiel, and let me just say this, God commanded Ezekiel to do some interesting things himself, like shave off his hair and burn some of it and cutting some of it with a sword and scattering the rest of it. He was even commanded to bake bread in Ezekiel 4 over dried human feces. I started to think, "This guy who whacked the Liberty Bell sounds a little bit like Ezekiel."
Listen, a prophet's job was never easy. A prophet had to withstand the strong current of the culture he was living in and announce to Israel that God isn't pleased with the way that they were living. Let me tell you something as we move from this guy in Philadelphia to the prophet Ezekiel. Let's focus here as we're talking about Israel My Glory, our most recent issue, which is all about the prophet Elijah. To fully understand a prophet and his calling from God, you have to understand the political and religious background happening in Israel. You have to both know and understand the law of God.
If you're going to understand a prophet, when you read through the prophets, you have to understand what's going on in the background in the prophet's life and Israel's current political situation and religious situation. You also have to understand the law of God. You have to almost have a newspaper from the prophet's time telling you what's happening politically and socially around them. You also have to know what the culture they were dealing with was going on in that moment.
Think about this. Elijah's ministry to Israel begins actually 50 years after the kingdom split in two. The years around 870 B.C., the kingdom that King David built and expanded, the kingdom that King Solomon grew even more, eventually split in two after Solomon dies, and the division of the kingdom severely weakened both Israel and Judah. They both lost power. They both lost land size, and their military was weakened and even their economies shrunk as well.
However, about 50 years after the split, a new family took control of the throne and the northern 10 tribes of Israel. It's called the family of Omri. King Omri and his son, King Ahab, begin to rebuild and renew the 10 Tribes of Israel. They grow it. They make it stronger, and they really emerge as a leader in the region. They did this by strategically creating and pursuing new policies. This is what's going on around Elijah. When Elijah wakes up in the morning and reads the 10 Tribes Times in the morning, this is what's going on around him.
The first king, King Omri, renewed a close alliance with the Phoenicians, and this was established when King Omri's son, Ahab, marries Jezebel, who is the daughter of the king of Tyre. This renewed alliance between the Phoenicians and Israel, it really brings about an economic increase for the northern 10 Tribes, and Omri and Ahab aren't the only Israelites to make such a deal with them. This idea of building a relationship with the Phoenicians actually goes back to David and Solomon. For the Phoenicians, Israel was a source for agriculture, and the Phoenicians would use Israel for their major trade routes that flowed through the land. Omri and Ahab reached out and established and renewed economic alliances with the Phoenicians. That's number one. That's something big that's going on during the time of Elijah, for King Omri and his son, King Ahab. That's a big deal.
The second thing that's going on is this. King Omri actually reaches out to establish peace with the southern tribe of Judah. Remember, there's that split that's there. There were battles going on between the northern 10 Tribes of Israel and Judah, and these battles were constantly sucking resources from both kingdoms. When Omri begins to build a peace agreement with Judah, he does this by, again, with King Ahab's daughter marrying one of the kings of Judah, so there's this alliance that is built between Judah and Israel.
This proves very valuable for the 10 Tribes of Israel in the north. Twice, Judean kings, that's the kings from the south, the kings from Judah, they provide assistance to Israel to take care of a threat that's in the north with the Arameans and also a Moabite rebellion as well, but there's a peace treaty that helps, and it also helps Judah as well economically. Both kingdoms are benefiting from a peace treaty that starts with King Omri. King Omri and King Ahab even rebuild major strongholds in Israel, and their building achievements that they did are quite impressive in such a short amount of time.
I was just in Israel a few weeks ago, and I stood in two places impacted by King Omri and Ahab's building. In the ancient town of Megiddo, Omri and Ahab reinforced the gate system that played a vital role, really, to any city in the ancient world. They built a tunnel system from inside the city to help reach a spring that was outside the city walls. In the north, in the city of Dan near Lebanon and Syria, Omri and Ahab rebuild and expand an altar system that was established by the first king of the northern 10 Tribes of Israel, Jeroboam.
The two even established a new capital for the northern 10 Tribes of Israel. You might know this. It's a capital city called Samaria. They purchased that area of land and made it the new capital for the 10 Tribes. Archeologists have found Samaria was a capital city built with a Phoenician influence. Little remains of Samaria, but what has been found has really shown a royal splendor in that city. King Omri and his son, King Ahab, when you read the newspapers of that time, really seem to have taken Israel in the right direction, new trade deals, new relationships formed with old alliances, growing economy, growing infrastructure. That's the way the newspapers of Elijah's day would have presented the situation.
However, there's a serious problem in Israel. Despite the growth, despite the expansion, despite the peace deals that were made, the problem was a spiritual one. It's the reason that God raises up Elijah. See, King Omri and King Ahab, as much as they did to impress man, they neglected the one who put them there to begin with. Omri and Ahab didn't just neglect God. They tried to replace Him altogether. See, Ahab's wife, Jezebel, brought in a militant form of Baalism, the worship of Baal in the land that God promised His people. It tainted everything Omri and Ahab built. Jezebel's influence even made its way into the courts of Jerusalem in the tribe of Judah. When Ahab's daughter married Jehoram, the king of Judah, even then Baalism made its way down into Jerusalem.
See, friends, it's in the middle of all of this that Elijah mysteriously arrives. God brought a famine to the land to get His people's attention. God prevented the rain from falling just as He promised in Deuteronomy, chapter 28, that if His people begin to go spiritually astray, God's going to turn off the water. He's going to turn off the rain. Why? So that He could get their attention because everybody is going in the wrong direction. And it's in the middle of Omri and Ahab's success, think about it, its success, that God turns off the water to grab the hearts of His people. He uses Elijah, the prophet, to draw them back.
In the eyes of the world, Omri and Ahab were doing great. The country was growing. After a devastating split in the kingdom, Omri and Ahab were the first to rebuild and renew Israel, but from God's eyes, Omri and Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord and sinned more than any of those before them. Look, sometimes I think it's easy for us to see material gain, economic gain, and strength as a part of God's blessing, but as we can see here, God uses one man, Elijah, to challenge those assumptions.
The other morning, my wife and I were reading through Philippians, chapter 4, and listen to what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4, verses 12 and 13. He says, "I have experienced times of need and times of abundance, and in any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of contentment. Whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing, I am able to do all things through the one, Christ, who strengthens me."
Omri and Ahab were bringing abundance to Israel, but they were missing a key component to it all, trusting in the Lord. What the Apostle Paul is showing us is that God's blessing isn't found in abundance and it isn't found in need. It's actually found in the one, Jesus Christ, who strengthens me. This is what Elijah brought to the table when he looked at King Ahab and said in 1 Kings 18:18, "I have not brought disaster on Israel, but you and your father's dynasty have, Ahab, by abandoning the Lord's commandments and following Baal's."
Stick around, my friends. Ty Perry will join us to talk about this epic divine battle, this epic divine showdown between Ahab's god Baal and Elijah's God Yahweh, because I think you know who's going to win.
Steve, years ago when I lived in Dallas, I met a woman who loved Israel My Glory magazine, and actually, she would use the articles in the magazine to teach her Sunday School class. In fact, she loved Israel My Glory so much that she bound all of her issues from the 1970s together and even catalogued all of the articles. Now, a lot has changed since the 1970s. A lot has changed since those days of physically archiving past issues.
Steve Conover: It has, Chris. Today, all our issues and articles can be found online. You, our listeners, can access our award-winning magazine on your phone, your tablet, your computer. Wherever you are, you can read the latest Israel My Glory issue as well as archived past issues. Whether you're a pastor preparing your next message or simply interested in understanding Jewish culture and customs, biblical prophecy, news surrounding Israel and the Middle East, we want to invite you to subscribe to Israel My Glory Digital today. Visit foiradio.org. You'll find a link to sign up for access to Digital Israel My Glory. That's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Ty Perry is a Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry field representative in the Las Vegas area, and he wrote this article in our most recent issue of Israel My Glory called Confrontation at Carmel. It's all about the battle between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.
Ty, it's great to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.
Ty Perry: Thank you, Chris. I'm glad to be with you today.
Chris Katulka: Ty, before we begin to get into your article, I want to look at the title. The title that you have is Confrontation at Carmel. What is Carmel? Can you describe that?
Ty Perry: Yeah. Carmel literally means “vineyard” or “orchard”, and it's a mountain range, not just one singular mountain. It's a mountain range in northwestern Israel near the present-day city of Haifa. At the time of Elijah in the text we're looking at, it was a wooded area. Still it's a very beautiful area and was then. It's an important place in biblical history, especially as it's connected with Elijah's showdown with the prophets of Baal.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. You and I, we stood on Mount Carmel together, I remember, several years ago, and we looked out. Right from that area there is actually a monastery there called Al-Mukhraqa, where you're able to look out. It marks the place where Elijah killed the prophets of Baal. You can actually look out and see the entire Jezreel Valley right before you, which is just an amazing view. When Elijah's confronting Ahab, he's looking out over the Jezreel Valley. It's really a beautiful view.
Ty Perry: It is. It's gorgeous.
Chris Katulka: Ty, you call this in your article one of the most decisive battles between good and evil. Why do you say that?
Ty Perry: Well, I think any time you're talking about Israel, you have to look at it from the grand scheme, the grand picture. What's going on here? Why is this included in the biblical narrative? At the time of this battle, Israel was in the midst of a very dark period. Politically, the nation was divided. God's word, the law, had been abandoned for the most part, and in the northern kingdom, in Israel, they had a king named Ahab, who scripture refers to as an evil man.
He was one of many evil kings during this time in the northern kingdom. He marries a woman named Jezebel, and she's this very awful Zidonian Baal worshiper who wasn't content with just worshiping Baal. She wanted to lead the nation in this idolatry, and, of course, one of the obstacles that she had was that there were these prophets of the Lord, these people who had not decided to go and worship Baal. She could not stand coexistence, so she was trying to kill these prophets.
This really isn't a conflict just between the prophets of Baal and Elijah. It was really a battle for the future of the Jewish nation as a whole. Looking at that broad picture again, it ultimately was a battle that helped to ensure that the Jewish people would remain a distinct people from which the word of God would come and the Messiah would ultimately come several hundred years later.
Chris Katulka: Ty, take us to Mount Carmel. You kind of begin the story, you let us know about the influence of Jezebel on the northern 10 Tribes of Israel. We know it even creeped down into Jerusalem because of her influence, so she's really had an impact on the northern 10 Tribes of Israel. They're going astray and now this major confrontation happens between Elijah, the prophet, who is very confident in the Lord, and Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Can you take us up Mount Carmel?
Ty Perry: Yeah. This is a really interesting and pivotal moment in Israel's history. We find King Ahab meeting with Elijah, and he calls Elijah the troubler of Israel, so right off the bat, you understand there's some history here and plenty of tension. Elijah says ... He really issues this command to the king. He says in verse 19 of 1 Kings 18, he says, "Now, therefore, send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel's table." This is really important to note, because these prophets of Baal were probably not Zidonians. These are not foreigners. These are Jewish people who are worshiping a foreign god.
What Elijah's going to do here is not only stem the tide of this growing cult, but he's really going to show the nation that serving God has implications and you need to decide you're going to serve God or you're going to serve Satan ultimately. Ahab, he does what Elijah says and he gathers the prophets to Mount Carmel and Elijah issues this ultimatum to the people, and he says that if the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. The people didn't answer a word. Really, this is indicative of the spiritual condition of these people, that they're at this point in their culture where they don't even know what's true. They have one prophet saying, "Hey, follow the God of your ancestors." Another, the king, saying, "No. Follow Baal." So, they don't even answer him.
There are 450 of these prophets, and Elijah says to them, "Okay, here's the deal. We're going to each have a bull and the prophets of Baal can choose one for themselves. They're going to cut it in pieces, lay it on wood. They're going to build this altar, but they're not going to put any fire under it." Then Elijah's going to do the same thing. His ultimatum is, "Okay, you now call on your gods to consume this sacrifice, and we'll see who has the true God."
It's a visual theater here, we're seeing this battle. Of course, the prophets of Baal, they prepare ... Verse 26 says that they called on Baal from morning even till noon, saying, "Oh, Baal, hear us," but there was no voice. No one answered. I always kind of laugh when I read this because I think we often read the biblical narrative and we forget that the prophets were human beings of personality. We see that so vividly in this account because Elijah says that Elijah mocks these prophets. He starts saying, "Hey, either he is a god, or maybe he's meditating or he's busy, or maybe he's in the bathroom."
He's really mocking these guys. It says in verse 28 that the prophets of Baal, they're crying out loud and they cut themselves, and it says, "As was their custom." You think about the holiness of God and the law He gives to His people and the dignity of the human individual that this nation was supposed to embody and represent to the nations, and here they are, they're cutting themselves with lances, trying to appease or to really get the attention of Baal. It's such a bloody exhibit, a picture.
Chris Katulka: Ty, we only have a few moments left. Could you get us to that moment, that decisive moment where God reveals Himself?
Ty Perry: Yeah. What happens is, of course, the prophets of Baal are not able to have their sacrifice consumed. Elijah douses his with water, and he calls on the Lord and not only is the sacrifice consumed by fire that God sends, but the entire altar, including the water that had fallen into the trench surrounding the altar. In this time, it just shows, okay, the God of Israel is the only true God. At this time, there was a drought in Israel and this really helped to ... Elijah lifted the drought on the land, and he sees a cloud off in the distance and he sees that the rain is coming. This not only brought spiritual refreshing to the people of Israel, the prophets of Baal are all killed down in the valley, but it also brings physical refreshing to the land that's been in drought for so long, so really an amazing account.
Chris Katulka: Could you share with us that question that Elijah poses, "How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? If the Lord is the true God, then follow Him. If Baal, then follow him." How does this question impact the church, really? How can we pull from this and learn from what Elijah is saying to, really, a culture that's gone astray?
Ty Perry: Yeah. Well, certainly, that's where we are as a culture, and the church has a decision. We seem to be at a crossroads when it comes to a lot of issues, sexuality and abortion and many different issues in our culture. Ultimately, the question is, are we going to be obedient to the word of God as it's revealed and stand on it or are we going to allow the culture to inform our stance and our belief? Ultimately, there's only one right answer.
Chris Katulka: Ty, thank you so much for being on the program.
Ty Perry: Thank you, Chris. It's a pleasure.
Steve Conover: We're glad you chose to join us today, and thanks to Ty Perry for being with us. Chris, as I reflect on what you said earlier on the program about Elijah, what's one aspect of his life that sticks out to you in light of your words?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. Elijah is such a mysterious prophet because he appears as if we've known he's been in 1 Kings the whole time. Something about Elijah that really stood out to me was that he really went against the grain. He stood out against the rest of the culture at that time. He was countercultural as a prophet, and he was shouting who the Lord was. When everybody else in Israel was going in the wrong direction, Elijah was calling them back to the Lord, and he was really one of the only ones doing that with the confidence to do it.
It was a challenge for me, and I hope it's a challenge for you as well as you're listening. Are we being countercultural? In a world that's going in one direction, are we standing for God's truth and remaining countercultural for the Lord?
Steve Conover: Thank you, Chris. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has been sharing the love of the Messiah and supporting Israel and the Jewish people since 1938. If you feel led to support our work or you simply want to reach out to us, visit foiradio.org. That's foiradio.O-R-G. In the United States, you can call our listener line at 888-343-6940. Again, that's 888-343-6940. You can write to us at FOI Radio, PO Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Call our Canada office at 888-664-2584. Again, in Canada that's 888-664-2584.
Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern and Jesse King, and our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
Digital Israel My Glory
You can now access our award-winning magazine on your phone, your tablet, your computer. Wherever you are, you can read the latest Israel My Glory issue as well as archived past issues. Whether you’re a pastor preparing your next message or simply interested in understanding Jewish culture and customs, biblical prophecy, news surrounding Israel and the Middle East, we want to invite you to subscribe to Israel My Glory Digital today.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.