Three years without rain had been long enough and God sent the prophet Elijah back to confront the wicked monarch Ahab. If rain were to return though, Elijah was going to need an audience, and he knew challenging the king to a contest would be just the ticket.
Ahab gathered all of Israel to Mount Carmel to discover Elijah facing 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah.
The challenge was simple. Whichever god responds to the call and consumes the bull sacrifice with fire from heaven will be revealed as true with all Israel as witnesses.
All day the prophets wailed and cried out to their gods. Sexual exploitation and self mutilation were common in their worship, and as the afternoon passed the prophets were gushing blood in petition.
Meanwhile, Elijah knew the final score and felt brazen enough for a little trash talk.
“You’ll have to shout louder.”
“Perhaps he’s daydreaming or asleep.”
“Maybe he’s away on vacation”
“He might be on the toilet!”
Finally Elijah motioned the crowd to come near. He repaired the altar of the Lord with twelve stones, dug a three-gallon trench around it and then soaked the animal, wood, and altar until the trench was filled with the water that had become such a precious commodity.
“Prove today that you are God in Israel! That these people will know that you are God!”
Immediately fire flashed from heaven and consumed the bull, the wood, the stones and even the dust.
Not a single drop of water was left in the trench.
The people fell to the ground and worshipped God—the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac.
Elijah looked over at Ahab and said “I hear a mighty rainstorm coming.”
1 Kings 18Purchase This Art