With so many religions in the world, and people worshiping so many different deities, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to determine which gods were real and which were false?
Imagine you find yourself in a city where the people worship two gods, how could you go about proving which of them, if either is the real “God?”
Well, if you believe in the Bible, the answer is simple. The Bible lays out a specific solution to this very problem. In 1 Kings chapter 18 Elijah comes to a town where the people worship Baal and the LORD. Elijah tells the people they need to figure out which is the real God and worship him, whether it’s the LORD or Baal.
“How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
Elijah didn’t simply assert the validity of his god, he didn’t simply tell people to pray about it. He needed to demonstrate that the LORD was real and more powerful than Baal. So, he devised a test for both gods.
Elijah suggested that he and the prophets of Baal both offer a sacrifice to their deity. They will both choose a bullock and place it upon the altar but place no fire underneath. The god who can light his own altar will be considered the real god.
“And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answerth by fire, let him be God.” (1 Kings 18:24)
In the Bible story, Elijah allows the prophets of Baal to go first. They pray from morning until noon. When Baal still hadn’t answered their prayers, Elijah mocked those who prayed to him saying they needed to pray louder because their god must be talking, traveling, or possibly sleeping.
“And when it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” (1 Kings 18:27)
The prophets of Baal prayed louder and started flagellating themselves until they were bleeding profusely. They prayed all day until the time of the evening sacrifice, however, Baal still did not answer their cries.
“And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, not any that regarded.” (1 Kings 18:29)
Then it was Elijah’s turn. He built an altar out of 12 stones and dug a trench around it. Then he placed wood and the pieces of the bull upon the altar. Next, Elijah had the people dump barrels of water on the altar and the wood until it filled the trench surrounding the altar.
“Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood. And 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. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.” (1 Kings 18:33-35)
Now, it was Elijah’s turn to pray. He only needed to ask once, the LORD answered immediately.
“Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38)
The people were instantly convinced.
“And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.” (1 Kings 18:39)
It should be a simple matter to prove that your god is “the God.” If your god is able to light a fire based on your prayer alone then it is a real god, if not, it is a false god.
If a Christian wants to prove their God is real, hand them a match and ask them to pray to the LORD to light it. (They can even dunk it in water first if they want. You can even offer to taunt them and mock them like Elijah did to the prophets of Baal when their God didn’t answer.) According to the Bible, if the LORD is unable to light the match then he isn’t a real god.
I have never yet had a Christian take up the challenge. Which means the prophets of Baal had more faith in their “false god” than the Christian has in the “real God.”
Christians refuse to take up the challenge because, regardless of how much faith they claim to have, they KNOW their prayer will not be answered. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the LORD will not light the match. It doesn’t matter how fervently they pray, their prayers will go unanswered, just like those of the prophets of Baal.
One Christian I asked to take the challenge refused and quoted Matthew 12:39.
“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign…”
I simply had him continue reading:
“… and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)
I pointed out that Jesus fails that test as well because he wasn’t “in the heart of the earth” for “three days and three nights.” According to all of the gospels, Jesus died on a Friday and was buried that evening then was raised the following Sunday. That’s only one day and two nights. It’s a false prophecy, he failed his own test.
Back to the subject, why was the inability of Baal to light a fire by prayer considered proof positive that Baal was not a real God, but Christians won’t consider it proof that the LORD is not real?
One last thing. After proving his God was real, Elijah had the people capture all 450 prophets of Baal and then he slew them all. Perhaps he wanted to demonstrate the loving nature of the LORD.
“And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” (1 Kings 18:40)