Elijah is first mentioned in Scripture as he is thrust to center-stage. He wagged his finger in the face of evil-king Ahab and declared, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, in whose presence I stand, there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!” (I Kings 17:1, CSB). He appeared utterly fearless as he declared God’s judgment on Ahab’s evil empire.
In obedience to the Lord, Elijah went from Samaria to the Brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. There he was sustained by water from the brook and by food which was miraculously brought to him morning and evening by ravens. After a while, however, due to the drought, the brook dried up (1 Kings 17:2-7).
Next, Elijah travelled to Zarephath, a small town on the Mediterranean coast between Tyre and Sidon. There, God used a poor Gentile widow to care for the prophet during the severe region-wide famine. Each day, his hostess prepared a meal, and each day the supplies were sufficient (1 Kings 17:8-16).
Three-and-a-half years after the drought began (Luke 4:25), God sent Elijah to face Ahab again. Again, he wagged his finger in the powerful king’s face. “You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and followed the Baals. Now summon all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah” (1 Kings 18:18–19, CSB).
On the hillside, Elijah explained the rules of engagement. “Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The God who answers with fire, he is God” (1 Kings 18:23–24, CSB).
Baal was the supreme god of the Canaanites and Asherah was his momma. Both were fertility gods, worshipped in depraved sensuality. The 850 must have really believed that a lifeless wooden or metal object could respond to their pleas. They were deluded, deceived... dead wrong. They danced about the altar, chanting, urging their god to listen. “They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them” (1 Kings 18:28, CSB). Baal couldn’t hear. Baal couldn’t!
When it was Elijah’s turn, he prepared Jehovah’s altar and fervently prayed, “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that you are God in Israel and I am your servant, and that at your word I have done all these things. Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that you, the Lord, are God and that you have turned their hearts back” (1 Kings 18:36-37, CSB).
“The Lord’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, ‘The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!’ ” (1 Kings 18:38-39, CSB).
Our God is able! He has authority over the rain. He supplied Elijah’s need in miraculous ways. And... Fire! Fire from heaven clearly demonstrated God’s omnipotence!
Our God is able!