This week, the little children are learning about Mount Carmel in their Sabbath School lesson. I’ve never really looked at this story before and it’s an impressive story. What happened that day is impossible, but the God of Heaven in a God of the impossible, and it was in His power that it was accomplished.
All Israel was summoned to Mount Carmel. They had turned away from God and were worshiping Baal. This had gone on for years. God had tried many different ways of turning them back to Him. A three-year long famine was in effect. They needed food, they needed water. Israel was desperate.
Elijah stood, apparently alone, before the whole nation of Israel and 450 priests of Baal. The multitude was afraid to acknowledge who they served.
The priests of Baal chose their bullock. Elijah then announced that they would call on their god, Baal and he would call on his God, the God of Heaven. Whichever God answered would be acknowledged as the true God.
The priests of Baal went first (for they were many). They pleaded for Baal to answer them from early morning until the time of the evening sacrifice…all day. They cut themselves until blood gushed from their woods.Elijah carefully watched everything they did for he knew that if they somehow managed to start a fire he would instantly be torn in pieces. They finally stopped from sheer exhaustion. Their sacrifice was still whole, Baal had not answered.
It was Elijah’s turn.
Gently he beckoned the people to come closer.
Reverently he rebuilt the altar of the Lord that had been broken down.
He dug a trench.
He prepared the wood and the bullock.
And then he said:
“Fill four buckets with water and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood”
Three times water was poured.
It filled up the trench.
It drenched the offering and the wood.
No man could light a fire on that now.
Elijah simply prayed.
He prayed as if he knew that Jehovah was there.
He prayed simply and fervently.
Elijah prayed and fire fell.
Elijah prayed and the drenched sacrifice and wood were consumed by fire.
Elijah prayed and the stones, the dust, even the water were all consumed by fire.
That prayer had power!
The people of Israel acknowledged God as the only true god.
The priests of Baal were executed.
It took a miracle for Israel to return to the God of Heaven.
One man, sure of his God faced down a whole nation terrified of the outcome of that day.
One man of God fought against 450 men of Satan.
One man, apparently alone yet not alone before a whole world on watchers.
One man who prayed with God’s power versus 450 men who mutilated and exhausted themselves.
One man-a few minutes where 450 men took a whole day.
One drenched altar and one dry altar.
One fire in answer to sincere prayer and nothing in answer to hours of torture.
But that one man had an all-powerful God on his side and that made all the difference.