When calling out to God, don’t be surprised if He exceeds your expectations.
The Bible contains many examples of God’s generosity, and the comparison story of Elijah on Mount Carmel illustrates it with a bit of humor and style.
The story in the first Book of Kings (18:20-39), describes Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal to see whose god can light the fire to consume the sacrifice of a bull. After preparing the altar with the wood and the sacrificial bull, the prophets beseech Baal to light the fire, thus accepting the sacrifice and proving he is god.
The account of their actions, “They hopped around the altar they had prepared…” makes one think of cartoon-like characters bobbing up and down, shifting from one foot to another. Elijah even taunts them with a humorous suggestion: “Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating.” (1 Kings 18:27) However, despite their efforts, which included the customary slashing of themselves and spilling their own blood, there was no response from Baal.
When Elijah’s turn comes, he sets a grand stage for God to show Himself. Not only does he prepare the altar with wood and the sacrificial bull, but he also digs a trench around it. He then pours water over the bull and wood, not once, not twice, but three times, completely saturating everything to the point where even the trench is filled with water.
Have you ever tried to light a fire with soaking wet wood? Elijah almost seems to be challenging God, but the Almighty cannot fail. Once Elijah called out to Him, “The LORD’s fire came down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38) Everything, gone. Not just a little fire to the wood, but consuming even the water!
God could have merely set the wood on fire to rekindle the people’s faith but it’s almost as if God put an exclamation mark to His demonstration that He is the true God. With such a generous response to Elijah’s faithful request, how could the people not return to Him? God continues to be generous when He answers those who believe in Him. Let us pray for the same strength in prayer that Elijah had that day.