Once upon a time, the people of Israel were led into idolatry by one of their worst kings, “Ahab”. Ahab introduced Baal worship, importing the false religion from the Babylonians-(modern day Iraq/Iran).
As Israel knew that God had said, “You shall have no other gods” these were serious times-the prophet Elijah prayed that there would be no rain, and for three years it did not rain, but still Ahab and the people of Israel did not repent and return to the Lord.
Finally, God had had enough of this Baal worship, and he sent Elijah to take care of business.
Enough preamble, now comes the Scripture:
“17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” 18He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. 19“Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. 22Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23“Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. 24“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.” And all the people said, “That is a good idea.”
25So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26Then 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. 27It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.” 28So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood
gushed out on them. 29When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
30Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. 31Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. 33Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.
36At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37“Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 38Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.” 40Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
If that seems harsh, remember that being a false prophet was a capital offense-this was not a time when God’s mercy could overshadow His judgment.
There it is: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”