“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God,” (18:24).
Elijah, the man of God, boldly calls out the pagan god, challenging the power and ability of Baal.
“Both the LORD and Baal were said to ride the thunderstorm as their divine chariot. Thunder was their voice and lightning their weapon and Elijah’s challenge was direct,” NIV Study Bible.
And so the competition began.
Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made, (18:26).
Actually, the scene is rather comical. Elijah taunts them and offers reasons why Baal did not answer their cries.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened,” [Note: the reference to him being busy is referring to him busy relieving himself]. 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention, (18:27–29).
No response. No one answered. No one paid attention. But God, the One True God, is never too busy or out of reach. He is ever listening and paying attention. And He will Answer.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep, (Psalm 121:3-4).
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them, (Psalm 145:18-19).
And as Elijah faced off against the 450 false prophets of Baal, he called in faith, requesting an Answer through the provision of the impossible, unless the One who Answered is, in fact, God.
Consider Him Who Answers by Fire
- He Answers by Fire Miraculously Manifesting His Presence.
- At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command,” (18:36).
- He Answers by Fire Graciously Granting His Offer of Repentance.
- “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (18:37).
- He Answers by Fire Dramatically Displaying His Omnipotence.
- 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. (18:38).
- He Answers by Fire, Powerfully Proving His Deity; He is God.
- When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (18:39).
- He Answers by Fire, Definitively Declaring His Judgment.
- Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” (18:40).
- He Answers by Fire, Resolutely Reaffirming His Sovereignty.
- And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain” (18:41).
- He Answers by Fire, Ardently Awaiting our Response.
- Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him,” (18:21).
- Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him, (Isaiah 30:18).
How do we respond to Him Who Answers by Fire?
His Presence, His Offer of Repentance, His Omnipotence, His Deity, His Judgment, and His Sovereignty have all been clearly revealed in His Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one,” (John 10:24-30).
- And He Answers by Fire, in His Salvation and in His Judgment.
- “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire,” (Mathew 3:11-12).
- He Answers by Fire in Purifying and Proving our faith. When trials come, and they will come, let us rely on His Power as we trust Him to Purify and Prove our faith that He may receive all praise, glory and honor.
- who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed, (1 Peter 1:5-7).
- He Answers by Fire, that we might yield our lives to Him in faith and receive His Salvation. And He Ardently Awaits our response. Oh, His unfathomable love and patience.
- The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9).
Oh, that we would never keep Him Who Answers by Fire waiting. Let us earnestly ask Him to grow our faith, that we would never waver in our commitment to the truth and never hesitate to follow Him with all we are.
“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him,” (18:21).
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32).
Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61).