On the third year of the drought and subsequent famine, the Lord tells Elijah to go make an appearance before Ahab. Note the grace of God in this portion that he doesn?t send fire from heaven to end Ahab?s reign or the idolatrous priests. Instead God wants Elijah to make an Appearance before the king and every step along the way, he reaches out to others encouraging a faithful response by relying on the only one who is faithful.
Obadiah, a servant of the Lord managed to hide 100 of the Lord?s prophets when Jezebel was authorizing their slaughter. Obadiah fed them and brought them water?but his faith didn?t face its ultimate trial until a regular work day. Elijah came before him and told him to confess before Ahab that the man of God, Elijah, was back.
The people?s faith was also kindled when they were brought to the very edge of their indecision as they watched the performance of God on a mount Carmel. After a tremendous sign, the people were moved to rely on God and slay the accursed prophets of Baal.
As it were, even the faith of Ahab was challenged. He agreed to the competition of his and Jezebel?s prophets versus Elijah on his own and God planned to do this great work before this unrepentant king.
The details of the competition are well known. The two parties would set up their own altar, offer a bull, and invoke the name of each parties God. The deity who answered would prove the veracity of his followers. These aren?t extemporaneous details for a fantastic story in the Bible, not at all.
In the books of Kings we repeatedly see how the worship of God is perverted and downtrodden and here we see Elijah taking his time and meticulously rebuilding a proper altar of God and offering a bull?which coincidentally enough was used for the sins of the high priest (Lev 4:1-4). Its not surprising how often the waters were poured on the sacrifice creating an impossibility for men. But with God, nothing is impossible.
On that mountain, God accepted Elijah?s perfect sacrifice, and did it in such a manner that overcame the impossibility of men while simultaneously reflecting his power. It is not surprising then, as those fires came from heaven, consumed the offering and the water, that the people stood aghast proclaiming ?The Lord is the True God!?
There was another mountain where a perfect sacrifice was offered, and God poured out his fiery indignation but accepted that sacrifice as a free-will offering of a sweet aroma. This sacrifice was more than a sacrifice for a High Priest, but it was the very High Priest, offering Himself up for the people and reflecting his provision before the entire world?the unrepentant and the undecided. In that very public forum we hear the words of an undecided soldier saying "Surely, this was the Son of God!"
After this perfect sacrifice a flood gate is opened in heaven pouring down much needed water on the land. Water from the direction of the sea, sent by the Father up in heaven. This water was further testimony of God?s provision even though it came with heavy rain and strong winds. A proper d?nouement for in our own redemption we remember the water being poured into our very hearts, sent by the Father at the bequest of the Son?the perfect sacrifice.
Ref: Lev 4; 1 Kings (specifically for this portion chapter 18); John 3, 14, 15; Mark 15; Acts 2