My college professor once invited a missionary to speak in our class on the history of the Christian faith. She had spent many months providing humanitarian aid—a righteous endeavor. But when a student asked if she shared her faith with the people she helped, she said, “No, because they already have their own faith; and all roads lead to heaven.”
Not much has changed in the past 3,000 years. In the days of Elijah the prophet, the Israelites were divided on whether to worship God or Baal. It was on Mount Carmel that Elijah challenged King Ahab and his 450 prophets of Baal to a contest to prove who was the true God.
Mount Carmel is a mountain range in northern Israel that runs 17 miles southeast from Haifa on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to Megiddo. The range rises 1,724 feet above sea level.
Elijah gathered the Israelites at Mount Carmel to witness the contest and asked them, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Ki. 18:21). The response was stunning: “The people answered him not a word” (v. 21). They didn’t know which road led to heaven.
Elijah called on the prophets of Baal to prove their god’s legitimacy by preparing a sacrifice of a bull on an altar and calling on Baal to send fire to consume the sacrifice. From morning to evening Baal’s prophets labored and cried out to Baal, but he did not answer (vv. 23–29). Why? Because Baal was not the true God. He was a figment of their imaginations.
Then Elijah commanded that 12 pots of water be poured out on his bull sacrifice on the altar of 12 stones; and he prayed to the one, true God, “Let it be known this day that You are God in Israel” (v. 36). Unlike the prophets of Baal, who petitioned their god for hours, Elijah made one request; and fire from heaven consumed the bull, the stones, the dust, and even the water (v. 38).
Witnessing this awesome display of God’s power, the people fell prostrate before the Lord and said, “The LORD, He is God!” (v. 39). Their opinion was no longer divided. The question of whom to follow was settled, and the people put the prophets of Baal to death.
Perhaps we would benefit from such a display of God’s power today, but God has given us something better—His Word. The missionary in my class read her Bible wrong. She believed in a god she made up in her mind, one who is love but not justice. God tells us His way, through His Son, Jesus Christ, is the only way to eternal life with Him (Jn. 14:6).
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