Man on Fire [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — January 15, 2019
Are you ready for some good news?
You don’t have to take a leap of faith to believe a miracle; you just have to see a miracle.
Today’s Text: “‘Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.’ Then 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. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.’” (1 Kings 18:37–39, ESV)
Elijah’s showdown at Mt. Carmel was a contest to determine the true god. The 450 prophets of Baal contended that Baal (who, among other things, was considered the weather god by the Canaanites) was the true god. Elijah contended that the Lord
(“Yahweh”) was the true, supreme God. So they staged a contest. The Baal worshipers and Elijah would set up altars and call upon the name of their gods. Whichever god consumed the altar by fire would be established as the true god.
Elijah was happy with the arrangement. He was glad for the pagan prophets to behold an actual miracle. Elijah didn’t have to use words to persuade the Baal worshipers. God was going to make Himself known.
English wit and philosopher G.K. Chesterton argued that belief in miracles isn’t irrational: “But my belief that miracles have happened in human history is not a mystical belief at all; I believe in them upon human evidences as I do in the discovery of America. … Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.” (Metaxas, Eric. Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life. Kindle Locations 57-63, Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition).
In other words, most people who don’t believe in miracles do so because they’ve already decided that miracles can’t happen. And, actually, people who believe in miracles do so because of the miracles themselves.
Elijah was eager for a showdown at Mt. Carmel because the evidence of the miracle itself would prove the Lord to be the only true God. The whole of the Bible (like the whole of the Christian faith) centers upon a miracle: God became a man who died on a cross in order to pay for human sin and, on the third day, was raised again. Being a Christian means being a person who believes in miracles. And that’s the Gospel!