The scene… Mount Carmel… in the mountainous region of northern Israel. The great prophet Elijah issues a challenge to King Ahab, who is perhaps the most wicked king ever to rule Israel…

“How long are you going to struggle with the two choices? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” – 1 Kings 18:21

Ahab’s evil actions had roused the anger of God more than any king before him (1 Kings 16:33). He had abandoned the Lord and His commands. He had married a Phoenician princess, Jezebel, who enticed him to worship the gods of Baal. His loyalty to Yahweh God had failed and the people of his kingdom had been led astray. It had become time for Ahab to choose.

“I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.” – 1 Kings 18:22

Elijah sets before Ahab a challenge he can’t refuse. The king assembles his 450 prophets of Baal, together with his 400 prophets of Asherah, while people from all over Israel gather to watch. Elijah orders the prophets to prepare a bull for sacrifice and place it upon the altar to their god. They are to place it atop the dry wood without lighting fire to it. Then Elijah presents the rules of the challenge…

“You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire — He is God.” – 1 Kings 18:24

The prophets of Baal begin to call upon their god, begging him to send fire to light their sacrifice. Morning until evening they call desperately to Baal. They shout loudly and dance tiringly before his altar to no avail. There is no answer. No fire appears.

The people look to Elijah to see if his God will appear. Elijah… whose name means “Yahweh is my God”… proceeds to rebuild the altar of God that had been torn down. He uses 12 stones to construct it, one representing each tribe of Israel. Around it he digs a deep trench. Upon the altar he places a second prepared bull, arranging the wood around the sacrifice. Three times he demands water be poured upon the new altar until it flows down, filling the trench.

Then Elijah steps forward before the altar of the Lord and prays…

“Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that You, Lord, are God, and that You are turning their hearts back again.” – 1 Kings 18:36-37

Immediately fire blazes down from heaven, burning up the entire sacrifice, the drenched wood and every drop of water in the trench. All the people are amazed, falling in worship before the Lord and shouting…

“The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God!” – 1 Kings 18:39

As fire flashes from heaven, God is glorified before all the people. This miraculous display of power causes them to once again believe. They humble themselves in His mighty presence as their hearts turn back to Him.

Imagine the depth of faith that Elijah had in his Lord. To believe without a shadow of doubt that God would come through for him. Before all of Israel, Elijah proves that the Lord is the Almighty One… the One who is unconquerable, invincible. He is the One True God. All other gods stand powerless before Him.

“Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:5

Elijah knew it was not his power that amazingly set fire to the sacrifice. For faith is only as strong as the one in whom it rests. Elijah’s faith rested in the all-powerful God. He knew Yahweh could do the impossible… and he was willing to stake his life upon that truth.

“Nothing on earth compares to the strength God is willing to interject into lives caught in the act of believing.” – Beth Moore

Our faith releases God’s power. When we believe, He works. He acts when He sees even a spark of faith in our hearts. That spark ignites His power in our lives. Yet we need to believe without doubting. We cannot be wavering in our commitment to Him.

Nothing we face in our future will ever be greater than the power of the Most High God behind us. We need to believe He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. We rest our faith at all times upon the unchanging, immutable, faithful character of God.