Elijah led an amazing life. He is fed by ravens and widows, raises a child from the dead and then takes on Jezebel and her prophets/priests of Baal. While Eliijah was living with the widow, King Ahab had been looking for him everywhere and is quite pleased to find him. At last he has a chance to get rid of this annoying prophet.
But Elijah tells Ahab to gather all of Israel together at Mt. Carmel and "bring 450 priests of Baal with you." I guess the mix is enough to make Ahab curious. In any case, he does not take this opportunity to get rid of Elijah but does what he asks instead.
And so the famous contest takes place. One prophet of God versus 450 of Baal's. Two bulls cut into pieces and placed on a stack of dry wood were the weapons of choic. The person or group who can get their god to light the fire wins. Elijah is ever gracious, offering to let his adversaries pick the bull and go first. So the prophets of Baal picked a bull, prepared it for sacrifice and then began chanting to their God. O Baal, here us! All day long they prayed and prayed, shouting out to their god and calling his name over and over again. But nothing happened even though they continually walked around and around the offering.
Then it was Elijah's turn. First he gathered twelve stones and repaired the altar of the Lord that had once stood there. Then he dug a trench around the altar, laid the wood in a particular order, placed the pieces of the bull on top and told the Israelites to pour lots of water on top. And then he prayed. Not all day but really for only a few minutes. The Lord answered his prayer and lit the fire, consumed all of the sacrifice and even the water in the trench. The Israelites seized the prophets of Baal and Elijah killed them all.
To top it off, the drought ended and it began to rain.
After a triumph like that, you would think Elijah would find a comfy chair, a skin of good wine and some great barbeque and relax. But instead, he chases the king back to Jezreel. Ahab tells his wife all that had happened - he was a real whiner - and she sends a message to Elijah telling him he is in for it now. She swears that she will have him killed by the end of the day.
Even thought Ahab has just been incredibly vindicated by the Lord, proving to one and all that the Lord is great and mighty, he hears the message and heads for the hills. He runs from the northern part of the kingdom to the very southern end. There he sees a lovely tree in the barren wilderness and lies down to sleep.
Can you hear the Lord sighing as Elijah runs away?
Despite all the times God has acted on Elijah's behalf, keeping him safe from famine and from Jezebal, Elijah is so elated by "his" triumph at Carmel that he is vulnerable to threats and criticism. Isn't that what happens to us when we are on an incredible high, having just accomplished a goal or done something we thought was beyond our ability? We are so happy that it takes almost nothing - an unkind word, a smirk or sneer - to pop our balloon and send us crashing to earth. This is how Elijah feels.