CONTEST ON MOUNT CARMEL
On the northwestern coast of Palestine (the land where Jesus grew up) there is a mountain which towers 1,740 feet higher than the Mediterranean Sea. It is called Mt. Carmel. One of the most famous contests in ancient history occurred on the side of this mountain. Elijah was a true prophet of Jehovah God, but he felt that he was waging a one-man battle against false worship. Many people in his day worshipped an idol-god called Baal. Followers of Baal believed that he had power to control the weather. Archaeologists (scientists who study objects from the past) have found a picture carved in stone of Baal holding a lightning bolt (see the picture on page ).
Elijah challenged the prophets who worshipped Baal to a contest. The contest would prove who was the true God--Baal or Jehovah. [You can read the history of this event in I Kings 18:19-39.]
On the eastern side of Mt. Carmel there is a trail leading downward to a natural amphitheater. It may have been at this place where the contest occurred. A sacrifice (an offered animal) was placed on a stone altar. Then the servants of Baal prayed from early morning until noon that their god would send fire to burn up their sacrifice. But there was no answer. Baal was not a real God. Elijah prepared a sacrifice, and even poured water all over it. He then prayed to the true God to consume the sacrifice with fire. That is exactly what happened! Even the stones of the altar were destroyed and the water was evaporated (the fire put out the water!).
What can we learn from this story? First, we must always remember that there is only one true God, the God who is revealed in the Bible. Second, sometimes we feel we are alone in our battle for truth, but there are still others who love God and are dedicated to His cause.