In 1Kings 18, Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest as to the identity of the true God. After the prophets of Baal fail, Elijah takes his turn …
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
The word ‘sacrifice’ is defined as ‘An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure’. Clearly, this is what Elijah performed on Mount Carmel.
But, did you notice the ‘people’s sacrifice’? Firstly, they had obviously struggled to the top of Mount Carmel with twelve very large, very heavy jars of water – these would have been of a size holding sufficient water for a typical household for a day or so. This involved an enormous sacrifice in terms of human effort.
But, Elijah calls for more sacrifice. He then tells the people to pour all of that water on the offering. Do you see the point? There had thus far been three years of serious drought in the land and Elijah now tells them to ‘waste’ all of that precious and hard-won water by pouring it on the altar!
Elijah had the people partner with him in fulfilling the sacrifice by destroying one of the essentials of life – their precious supply of water. But, by their faith, they did not lose out as God immediately ended the drought and their water was replaced a hundred-times over!