“Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord — he is God! The Lord — he is God!’” — 1 Kings 18:38-39, NIV
God sends fire and rain
King Ahab was at the breaking point. His kingdom of Samaria was facing a historic drought and famine. Livestock was dying. Crops were withering. And the people were getting anxious.
So when Elijah arrived at the palace with a message that God could provide the rains the country desperately needed, Ahab agreed to meet Elijah. Ahab hated the man, and his wife, Jezebel, had already had many prophets of the Lord murdered, but the king had no other options.
When Elijah and Ahab met, Elijah told him to order the 450 prophets of Baal to assemble on the top of Mount Carmel. Then Elijah issued a challenge — a showdown between Baal and the one, true God.
“Get two bulls for us,” Elijah said. “Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire — he is God.”
So the prophets of Baal cut up a bull and placed it on an altar. They cried out to their god, Baal, to send down a pillar of fire to burn their offering. But nothing happened. They cried out, danced, and even cut themselves in order to get Baal’s attention. But, of course, nothing happened.
Then it was Elijah’s turn to present an offering to his God. He cut up a bull and placed it on the altar he had built. Then Elijah dug a trench around the altar and ordered the Baal worshippers to pour 12 jugs of water onto the offering.
Imagine the horror on the Baal worshippers’ faces as Elijah used a large amount of their water resources. It hadn’t rained in a very long time, and Elijah was “wasting” one of their most precious remaining commodities.
Then, with the wood and sacrifice completely soaked and with a moat surrounding the altar, Elijah called out to God. He prayed, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18: 37, NIV).
Suddenly, a pillar of fire shot down from the heavens and scorched the altar, consumed the offering, and evaporated the water in the trench.
Those who witnessed it fell down and worshipped God. They had seen the overwhelming, unrelenting power of God, and they turned away from their false idols.
Then, just as He promised, God sent rain to the dry and desperate nation of Samaria.
Every nation will know God’s power
If you’ve ever tried to build a campfire with damp wood, then you know firsthand how miraculous God’s power is in this story. Just like any miracle God performs, it was beyond human reasoning.
And it’s clear in this passage that God wants to demonstrate His incredible power to non-believers and pour out blessings on His people. Sometimes a miracle needs to happen for people stuck in false religious practices and rituals to acknowledge God’s existence and understand His power.
All over the world in countries such as Nepal, India, and Nigeria, other religions promise people a comfortable and happy life. However, in these same countries, poverty usually reigns, and what people really need is the transforming grace of Jesus Christ — they just haven’t met Him yet.
False religions provide false promises of blessings to come. But for Christians, our hope is rooted in God’s goodness, God’s sovereignty, and God’s provision. This is a lesson the prophets of Baal quickly learned when they saw God’s power in the fire and His mercy in the rain.
Although God may no longer send fire down from heaven as a demonstration of His power, He does still show His love for people through other physical means. And often, He uses us to do so.
Your provision can show God’s power
The people of Samaria were desperate for water. God provided, leading them to worship Him as the true God. Today, countless people around the world are suffering without access to clean water. And God wants to use you to provide this vital resource … and point unbelievers to Himself.
When you provide clean water for a community, you help build trust with the residents. And you earn the right to tell them about Jesus Christ.
And because some clean-water projects are built near and maintained by the local church, families have the opportunity to encounter the Living Water each time they fill their buckets and containers.
When God performed miracles in the Old Testament, He used men and women of faith in order for His will to be done.
As men and women of faith ourselves, God calls us to action, too.
You can help someone witness the overwhelming power of God with the gift of clean water. For $15, you can provide life-changing water for one person for an entire year. You can show God’s heart for His people by providing this most basic need.