Elijah then came near to the all the people and said, 'How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.'...Then Elijah said to the people, 'I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets number four hundred and fifty. Let two bulls be given to us, let them choose one bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.' All the people answered, 'Well spoken'.
So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, 'O Baal, answer us!' But there was no voice and no answer.....and as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them....but there was no answer and no response.
Then Elijah said to all the people, 'Come closer to me;' and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord, that had been thrown down....then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said 'Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.' Then he said, 'Do it a second time'; and they did it a second time. Again, he said, 'Do it a third time'; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all round the altar, and filled the trench also with water.....
Elijah came near and said, 'O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be know this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding....' Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, 'The Lord indeed is God.'
(New Revised Standard Version)
In an attempt to make the nation of Israel return to their worship of Yahweh Elijah offers the most preposterous challenge to King Ahab, to the people of Israel, and to the prophets of Baal. Whoever sends fire down to burn up the sacrifice, is the true god.
There is no doubting the sincerity of the prophets of Baal, they put everything into their appeal to their god, even cutting their limbs in a frenzy. The trouble is they are worshipping an imaginary god, one perhaps we might feel, who is a god of their own making.
We can dedicate much time and effort into worhsipping a god of our own creation, but in the end its a pointless activity, for there is no-one to answer our cries.
Lord God Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
ruler of the universe,
incline our hearts to worship You,
and to turn away from the
imaginary gods that we create.
Keep us true to our faith
and to the promises we have made,
and guide us in Your ways
of love and peace.