It was truly a spectacle for all of Israel. Elijah had challenged the king and the god Baal. He stood alone against 450 of Baal’s priests and all the people of Israel who had already turned from God. Baal’s priests placed a bull on an altar of wood. Elijah instructed them not to set a fire but to call for fire from their god. It seemed like a small thing for a mighty god to do. Four hundred and fifty priests called upon their god, Baal. They called and called from morning until noon. But he did not answer. Perhaps he was on vacation or asleep. Perhaps Baal was busy. Elijah, the prophet of God even made fun teasing the Baal prophets. (1 kings 18:27) In any case no fire. They began to get desperate and decided to cut themselves with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out. (1 kings 18:29)
Elijah had enough and decided to end the game. He called the people of Israel close to him. He wanted to make sure they didn’t miss a thing. Elijah the prophet was not just out there having fun. He desperately wanted his people to know the true God. He built his own alter and it included a trench which he filled with water, to make the burning of the sacrifice that much harder. Elijah did not mutilate himself. No bleeding necessary. He did not scream. He was calm and made a short simple prayer.
“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)
Then without a moment wasted a powerful flame descended upon the soaked alter and consumed everything, the bull, the wood and even the water. It was all gone. Elijah got his wish, as all the people fell on their faces and proclaimed, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 kings 18:39)
Elijah may have been only one man. But He knew he had to stand by the truth and do what was right even if it wasn’t popular. It is troubling to feel alone. We would all like to be popular and have many followers. It we would be great if all our ideas were well accepted by everyone. Life would sure be easy if we never had a disagreement. But when believing in God is not popular we have no choice but to stand alone. When everyone around us says the bible is just a fable, we must be willing to be different. Saying that Jesus is lord and Savior may not be the most acceptable belief but like Elijah we must stand by the truth. I cannot promise that we will see fire fall from Heaven, but I know that you will not be completely alone. Christ said He would be with us until the end. (Matthew 28:20) He also said “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33)