1 Kings 18:19-40
Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel to mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty…
The debate on Mount Carmel was conducted by Elijah with remarkable ability. A vital question had forced its way into prominence.
I. When he met his opponents on Mount Carmel, ELIJAH HAD VERY CLEAR CONVICTIONS. In some way he had gained a strong hold upon God. He was personally conscious of God. Unlike many a speculative philosopher who has framed an elaborate argument to prove that God is, Elijah seems to have advanced with a single step to a firm belief in God. His name was an announcement of his belief: "My God is Jehovah!" A conviction like this is an argument in itself. Men are willing to listen to a man who believes what he says. This was an important element of the success of Moses, who was compelled to go into the presence of Pharaoh and there to demand the liberation of a large number of valuable slaves. Daniel had the same advantage when he was called upon to face the idolatry of Babylon: it was widely known that Daniel feared God. The ministry of Paul was always conditioned by this strong faith. He was more than a match for his antagonists because he knew whom he had believed. , the youthful archdeacon of Alexandria, became the successful advocate of Christian truth at the Council of Nicaea in view of his recognition of the divinity of our blessed Lord. Luther at the Diet of Worms rallied the unorganised resistance of Germany to the papal authority when he exhibited his confidence in the evangelical doctrines. These men, and others like them, were "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." They felt the rock upon which they stood. They had clarified their thought, so that they could utter it forcibly. If we can gain this consciousness we shall be prepared for the great debate.
II. When he challenged the Baal-worshippers to the proof by fire, ELIJAH UNDERTOOK TO PRESS THEIR OPINIONS TO A PRACTICAL EXPRESSION. The challenge was perfectly fair. They had accepted Baal and Ashtaroth as the representative of the life-principle in nature. They were asked to exhibit the results of their faith in these divinities. Any opinion which lays claim to the faith of man must bear the strain of his ordinary burdens. What is your religion good for? what is the quality of its manhood? What sort of a God does it present? what is its immortality? — these are questions which must be met. There is no escape from them. Now, we may inquire, What will be the natural results of the general prevalence of the opinions which antagonise the Gospel?
III. When he had repaired the altar of the Lord and placed upon it a sacrifice, ELIJAH MADE AN APPEAL WHICH MET THE TERMS OF THE DIVINE COMMAND. There was an old altar on Mount Carmel — perhaps a relic of patriarchal times, but certainly a witness to the-reality of a pure worship. As the day was closing Elijah called the people to this altar and began to repair it. You may safely press Christian truth to its proper issues. We should have a very happy world, indeed, if all Christians would show their faith by their works. Christ-like lives, what would they be! — how sober! how industrious! how pure! how sweet! how attractive! Multiply these Christ-like lives, and how beautiful the social life of the world would appear. It is essential, therefore, that the Christian in the great debate should state clearly "the truth as it is in Jesus."
IV. When he had received the fire of the Lord, which consumed his sacrifice, ELIJAH DREW FROM THE PEOPLE THE CONFESSION, "Jehovah is God, Jehovah is God." The occasion was pentecostal. Conviction was instantaneous. Out from the clear, dry atmosphere flames of fire leaped as Elijah was praying; they seized upon the sacrifice and consumed it with the wood upon which it rested; they licked up the water in the trench and left the altar bare. A transformation occurred. An explanation must be given. What could be said except to confess the supremacy of Jehovah? Prof. Christlieb of Bonn has remarked that the regeneration of the human soul is the standing miracle of Christianity. This regeneration converts corrupt natures into natures which are holy. It is associated with Christian truth, and with belief in that truth.
(H. M. Booth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.