King Ahab of Israel married a pagan princess, Jezebel by name, and established her in his palace as his queen. Jezebel brought her pagan beliefs and practices with her; she scoffed at the religion of the Israelites and slew most of their prophets; and before long the worship of Baal, her god, was flourishing in the land. The prophet Elijah, however, whom she hated and feared above all others, escaped her wrath and fled the country.
Then one day, three years later, Elijah returned to Israel and demanded of the king that the people of Israel be summoned together to choose between God and Baal. The four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of the groves which ate "at Jezebel's table" (I Kings 18:19) were to prepare a sacrifice to Baal, and he, Elijah, would prepare a sacrifice to the Lord. The people agreed to follow the god that answered by fire.
The priests of Baal failed to consummate their sacrifice. Then Elijah made ready with his. He called upon those around him to fill four barrels with water and pour it on the sacrifice three times. He filled the trench also with water. But notwithstanding these unbelievably adverse conditions, the sacrifice was consummated; "the fire of the Lord fell" (verse 38) and consumed it all. "And when all the people saw it, they . . . said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God."