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Mt. Carmel is a “holy site” in Israel. It is one of the first stops on a Holy Land tour for many agencies and tour groups. On top of this Mountain, just on the south-western edge of the Valley of Jezreel.
On this special mountain top the events of 1 Kings 18 took place. The great contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. Whose deity was real?
Elijah was in the minority. He stood alone in a challenge against Ahab’s priests who numbered in excess of 800. The size of the crowd that came to witness the challenge is never identified, but it could certainly have been sizable.
The ground rules were simple. Each contesting party was to build an altar for a burnt sacrifice. The designated priests were to then call on their deity to accept the offering by fire.
The priests of Baal went first. They went through every plea and dance they could. For hours they begged their Baal to send fire and accept their offering.
After an embarrassingly lengthy time, Elijah began the trash talking. He urged them to shout louder since their god was likely on a long journey and couldn’t hear them. Or maybe he was busy with necessary activities.
Finally, after exhausting themselves, Elijah’s turn came. He simply prayed. God answered with fire that not only consumed the offering but the water that Elijah had dumped on the offering. Even the stones which made up the altar were also consumed. It was a powerful show of who was the real God and which was the fake.
A church sits on this site today. Situated on the pinnacle of the church is a cross embedded on an original spherical stone. However, it is now a hemisphere since lightning struck a few years back and split the sphere in half.
It is a powerful reminder not to forget the demonstration of history of who the one true God is.