Highlights of Mount Carmel and Stella Maris
Mount Carmel is the place where the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal and where his God came out victorious, as described in the book of Kings. This testimony to the greatness of the God of Israel has also become central in the Christian faith and the Bible reader will be well acquainted with Mt. Carmel in connection to Elijah. The Carmelite order was founded on Mt. Carmel and the Carmelite monastery Stella Maris is still to be found on top of the mountain along with its popular guesthouse. Elijah’s cave is at its foot, beautifully decorated and holy to the Christian, Jewish, Moslems and Druze faith and accessible by cable car. Mount Carmel is now Israel’s largest natural reserve, dotted by several cities and towns, and is well worth a tour in its entirety.
One of the pearls on Mount Carmel is the Druze town of Daliat Al-Carmel which in recent years has turned into a vibrant shopping area with its own very special atmosphere and wonderful restaurants. Mount Carmel has been inhabited by the Druze for centuries and constitutes one of the ethnic and religious minorities in Israel. A visit to Daliat Al-Carmel is the opportunity of the visitor to get acquainted with one of the several cultures in Israel’s ethnic mosaic.
Mount Carmel in the Scriptures
To reflect on the story:
1 Kings 18: 20-40: So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire-he is God.
” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the20evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!” Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
To reflect on application to your own life:
Exodus 20: 2-4: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven abov e or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
Matthew 22: 34-37: Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
New International Version
Scriptures provided by: Eva Marie Everson
Reflections of God’s Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel
The visitor to Elijah’s cave and Stella Maris are expected to dress modestly.