This passage is the records the climax of a showdown between Elijah, the sole remaining prophet of the Lord, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Having watched the prophets of Baal crying out to their god in vain for half the day, Elijah had begun to taunt them because of their failure to evoke Baal to provide fire for their sacrifice to him. Eventually, Elijah takes over and builds an alter of twelve stones to represent the tribes of Israel and he builds his his sacrificial pyre and places the bull on top. Then he does something totally unexpected. Elijah appears to deliberately sabotage his own attempt by soaking his fire wood with gallons of water. Imagine the confidence he must have had in the Lord! If the Lord abandoned him now he would surely be killed. Elijah’s prayer is extremely simple and to the point. The whole point of this exercise is to prove that the Lord is indeed God. So he simply prays that the Lord will prove himself as God and Elijah as his servant and prophet. He prayers that the people will know the living God and see the uselessness of their god Baal.
1 Kings 18:30-39 NLT
Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.” After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench. At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”
My goal today is to pray that God will set my heart on fire for all to see. A wise friend of mine said to me recently, “if God sets you on fire, then people will want to come and see you burn!” Lord, I pray you would answer me and the others who know you, who want you to prove that you are the living God of your people, set us ablaze for all to see. Let those who see you in us, fall face down and cry out, “The Lord — he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” Amen.
1 Kings 18:1-46, Acts 11:1-30, Psalms 135:1-21, Proverbs 17:12-13