This is a fun story. I remember hearing it when I was in fifth grade. I thought it would be cool to prove God is real, just like Elijah. Now I see that this story is a type and shadow of Jesus proving that sin and death is destroyed by God and not the works of man. He did it though His death and resurrection.
It is important to note that Elijah is the only prophet of God and the prophets of Baal are numerous. Baal is a false god and therefore represents the works of man. Jesus was in the same situation as Elijah. He was the only one who saw that God was a loving Father who gave eternal life as a free gift. He was surrounded by those who thought that we can have life by our own works.
Elijah decided to have a contest to see who was the true God, Baal or the Lord. The prophets of Baal split an ox in half and place it on a pile of wood and Elijah split an ox in half and places it on a pile of wood.
The prophets of Baal call on their god to bring fire down to burn the ox. Nothing happens. Then Elijah digs a trench around his pile of wood and drenches the things with water, to the point that the trenches are full of water. Elijah calls on God to send fire. God sends a fire that burns the ox and consumes all the water. The people declare that the Lord is God.
It is proven that God alone can destroy sin and death (represented by the oxen), which was the main point of the contest. Baal, the works of man’s hands cannot. However, God can. The fire of God is his love to destroy all the sin and death in the world.
The fire consuming the water correlates to Song of Songs 8:6-7 that says that many waters cannot quench the fire of God’s love. His love will not stop destroying sin and death until it is completely gone.
For now, we see the fire of His love destroy all wrong thinking in us. It will destroy the lies about who God is and who we are. Upon the return of Jesus, it will wipe out all sin and death on the Earth. Those who believe in God for eternal life will have immortal bodies. Death and Hades (the grave) will be destroyed in the fire of God’s love (Rev 20:14).
The people sea that the Lord is the one . Please note that in the Bible, the word “Lord” is shown to be in small capital letters. This means that the Hebrew manuscripts used the name Yahweh which means “existing one” or “I am”.
In fact, Elijah’s name actually means “God is Yahweh”. God is the existing one. He is the one with no end or beginning. He is the only source of eternal life. Through the resurrection of Jesus, we see that he gives that eternal existance to us just so He could love us forever.
He proved this eternal existence is a free gift through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This showdown on Mount Carmel is a parallel of that. What can burn away the sin and death in the world. Can the works of man’s hand do that? No. In fact, the cross is a picture of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The death of Jesus on Mount Calvary is the fruit of the works of man’s hand. Can God do that? Yes. We see that in the resurrection.
The death and resurrection show us Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life,” We have misinterpreted the verse as, “God will torture you forever for doing bad things, but if you believe in Him, you will forever be a floaty spirit in a happy place.”
The true meaning is that life by our works leads to death but God gives eternal life as a free gift. This truth can be seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was foreshadowed on Mount Carmel.