*The heart of the matter*
Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “ Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (I Kings 18:17-19 NKJV)
Elijah’s challenge was to take 2 bulls one for the false prophets of the false god Baal and one for the true prophet of the true and living God of the Bible. Neither side was to set fire to the sacrifice, but rather call out to their god/God to send fire from heaven and consume the sacrifice. The prophets of Baal tried and tried to get Baal to answer them, but Baal did not answer because Baal is not a real god at all. Elijah even mocks them and their god which results in them cutting themselves trying to get Baal’s attention, but their was no answer. Then Elijah rebuilt the alter of God which had been broken down, set the wood in order, dug a trench around the alter, and has the onlookers fill water pots with water. He then instructs them to pour water on the sacrifice, the wood, and to fill to overflowing the trench. The end result is verses 36-40.
Now the question: Why did God tell Elijah to do all this? Was it so that God could allow Elijah to boast and brag? Was it so that Elijah could show the anger of God?
I have heard this section of scripture taught that way plenty of times, but I believe that would be a misrepresentation of God. You see the answer lies in verse 37:
Our heart in boldly refuting wickedness in this corrupt generation should be the same as Elijah’s. That the hearts of the people would be turned back to God.