1 Kings 18:24
And call you on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answers by fire, let him be God…
Here are some lessons suited to all times, certainly not least to our time. The God that answereth by fire.
I. THE RELIGION OF GOD MUST BRING THE PROOFS OF ITS DIVINE ORIGIN. Elijah stands as the very type and emblem of the religion of God; it is always in the world as a daring intruder; a stern reformer. Such a disturber of the peace must carry his credentials with him. Look at the very nature of this holy religion. It comes with a demand so lofty, so searching, and yet so humiliating. It tells the man in all the pride of his intellect that he has no power to see the kingdom of God, until he is born again.
1. Christianity by her very triumphs gives the challenge of the world a greater force and urgency. There are two blessings which Christianity has brought to many lands and is surely bringing to all — liberty and light. The more perfectly men are brought into freedom the more naturally will they ask the ground of claims like these. Because light sets men thinking for themselves, is light therefore an evil? Do not let us talk as if it were in any degree possible. Thank God for light; it is the wise men who, when they find the young Child, shall lay at His feet the costly gifts of gold and myrrh and frankincense. It is the freest men who can render the most worthy because the most willing service. Christianity is lost when it takes to coercion.
2. Every age must have its own proof. The Church cannot inherit the evidences, she must create them. The prophet does not stand and tell the people of the wonders that God has wrought for their fathers in Egypt and the Red Sea. If the Gospel cannot do to-day what it did aforetime, it is a failure. What is it to tell me of Bethesda's ancient fame, if I come and expect no expectant crowd, and no sign of the angel, and no cripples healed, and none laughing in the gladness of new life? I conclude naturally enough that Bethesda is a failure. The only evidence of Christianity that can satisfy me is when it does as much for me as it has ever done for others. If the Church of God do live at all, :she lives by the breath of the Almighty. If that inspire her she can do as great wonders as ever.
II. THE APPOINTED PROOF. The religion of God has nothing but the fire to mark her off from the false religions of the world.
1. And of the two all the advantage is on the side of Baal. The royal patronage and the popular favour, the priests of Baal and the glittering attractions are with the false god. The priests of Baal had all the further conditions of success. Theirs is the passionate earnestness, the furious persistent prayer, the fierce self-denial, the agony of entreaty.
2. But now comes the time of the man of God. Then forth from the reddened sky there fell the fire of the Lord and consumed the burnt-sacrifice and the wood and the stones, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it they fell on their faces, and they said, "The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God." This is ever the proof appointed by God, and this is always the proof accepted by men — the God that answereth by fire.
(M. G. Pearse.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.