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…
The ordeal proposed was peculiarly appropriate. Jehovah had often in old times answered by fire. Fire from heaven fell upon the cities of the plain. To Moses too God appeared as a fire that burned, but did not consume. And if Baal was what his prophets declared him to be, what more reasonable than that he, too, should answer by fire? For he was supposed to be the god of Nature; the fruitfulness of the land was accredited to his bounty, and the thunder and lightning were frequently pointed to as evidences of his power. It was a sad but most suggestive sight. Their numbers were large — four hundred and fifty as against the solitary prophet of Jehovah. Truth does not always rest with majorities. Yea, the real majority is where God is. Then their social influence was great. They held high positions in the Court and throughout the kingdom. Then those men were in earnest. It is the inevitable result in the case of all who come by some other way pleading some other name. Men say, "Earnestness is everything; it matters not what views you hold, so long as you are in earnest." Of what avail, however, is the earnestness of the drowning man who clutches at what he believes to be a solid spar, but is only drifting seaweed? Natural religion, evolved out of the spirit and temper of the age, will always command a large following of thoughtful people, apparently sincere and earnest, and, thanks to the Christian environment of these days, far superior to the worshippers of Baal in morality and uprightness; but in time of need, when death is near, or the heart is breaking beneath some crushing sorrow, the result will be the same, "No voice, nor any to answer." It is not so, however, with those who seek the living God. The testimony of every true believer is this: "It is good for me to draw near to God." But we must draw near in the appointed way. See how careful Elijah was in preparing his sacrifice. He began by repairing the altar that was broken down, building it up with "twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of Israel." The Established Churchman and the "Free" Churchman must alike build the altar of twelve stones if they really desire fire from heaven. There must be no despising any of whatever church or society who have the Spirit of Christ. The sacrifice was so saturated with water that only fire from heaven could ignite it. Amanda Smith said, some years ago, "When God Almighty does a miracle, He likes to do it handsome." Elijah evidently felt the same. What a lesson, too, for the Church of the constant need of cleansing through the word, and of that separation from an ungodly generation which obedience to God's Word invariably causes. If the water and the trench are lacking in our sacrifice, what wonder if there is no fire from heaven? And when Elijah's faith thus challenged the ear of heaven, there came at once the answer of the Living God. " The fire of the Lord fell." It was a supernatural flame. It came direct from heaven. And so comes the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, into our hearts with a supernatural illumination and Divine enkindling. It came to consume the sacrifice; and to-day the fire of God will consume all that is carnal and evil within us, and cleanse and inspire all that is good and true. It wrought conviction of a kind in the minds of the people.
(F. S. Webster, M. A.)
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.