1 Kings 18:22-25
Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
It’s finally time for the big showdown! I use the term showdown very loosely, as we all know there was never really a showdown, don’t we? We know it, and Elijah knew it. Of course, Got knew it as well. The end was decided, and only Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel had any doubts about who was going the be the victor here.
Elijah was ready. He had been shaped and formed over the course of three years and was fully prepared and willing to engage in this contest with the King, the prophets, and the idolatrous people. He even made it clear just how ready he was when he said to the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Of course, he knew that was not true, as he was sell aware of the 100 prophets of God Obadiah had hidden away in caves. It seems that what we have here is a little hyperbole simply for illustrative purposes. What did this illustrate? it pretty clearly lays the ground work, that God doesn’t need large numbers to accomplish His work. God and one person is more powerful than all of the opposition that can be mustered.
Elijah goes even further to illustrate the point the God will prevail in this seemingly uneven contest. Put no fire under is used three times in this particular section of our story, and it seem notable. Being the god of weather and the storms also meant that one aspect of Baal was that of being the god of lighting. Surely the god of lightning could send fire from heaven to burn the sacrifice, right?
Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. Elijah made the contest yet further skewed towards his opposition, granting to the prophets of Baal not only the chance to go first in the contest, but to take all the time they needed to get their god to cooperate.
The rules have been established, the preparations made, and the “contest” is about to begin.
What do we see quite clearly here? Confidence is what see here. Elijah knew the outcome in advance, because he knew who was producing the outcome. He was more than willing to stack the deck against Himself, because he knew it did not matter. He had spent three long years talking with God, learning from God, and being prepared by God for just this very moment. Elijah KNEW. Not only did Elijah know, but he wanted the people of Israel to see clearly just who the true God was.
Are we that confident? We know the end of the story as well; God has told us what the end is, and God wins. We can know that just as confidentially as Elijah did as he went head to head with God’s enemys and also proclaimed God’s truth to those willing to listen. Today, in our nation, those two groups still exists: those who hate God and seek to destroy him, and those who are honestly seeking and willing to listen.
Are we ready for our mount Carmel?