So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel. Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.
Then Elijah said to the people, “I am the only remaining prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 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.”
All the people answered, “That’s fine.”
Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don’t light the fire.”
So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!” They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them. All afternoon they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound; no one answered, no one paid attention.1 Kings 18:20-29
1 Kings 18 is the great showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al. In reality, it was a showdown between Yahweh and Ba’al himself to show who was truly God. This also was about ending the drought and bringing relief to the people. The test was simple. Each side would prepare a sacrifice on an altar for their god but leave the fire unlit. The god who answered by starting the sacrifice on fire was the true God.
Even though he was outnumbered 450 to 1, Elijah was a good sport and let the prophets of Ba’al go first. They carried on the whole day but nothing happened. Ba’al did not answer by miraculously igniting the sacrifice. The final phrases of verse 29 show how sad the situation was for the prophets of Ba’al. “No one answered, no one paid attention.” Their whole system of religion was showing itself to be empty, without any real substance to it.
Sometimes we are not unlike the prophets of Ba’al. We place our trust in something other than God to give us fulfillment. When a time of crisis comes and we look for answers from the thing we have placed our trust in, we end up with silence and the realization that the thing we trusted is not bringing us the answers we need. We begin to feel like no one is paying attention and we are probably correct since the thing we are placing our trust in does not have the ability to answer us.
- Are there things you are looking to for answers that only God can give you?