Pyrotechnics On Mount Carmel -- By: Charles E. Baukal Jr.
BSac 171:683 (July-September 2014) p. 289
Pyrotechnics On Mount Carmel
Charles E. Baukal Jr. is a combustion engineer in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Fire can be defined as “the manifestation of rapid combustion, or combination of materials with oxygen.”1 Controlled liberation of large amounts of energy from chemical reactions conjures up words like “flame” or “combustion,” while uncontrolled liberation of heat and energy evokes the word “fire.” At its simplest, fire is a chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidizer.
Three biblical fire miracles involve the prophet Elijah: fire from heaven that consumed a water-soaked sacrifice and altar on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:1-46), fire from heaven that consumed two sets of fifty soldiers (2 Kings 1:1-18), and a chariot of fire that carried Elijah to heaven at the end of his earthly life (2:1-18). The fire on Mount Carmel is considered here because of the many attempts that have been made to explain that miracle.
Fire from heaven on Mount Carmel is among the most stunning and impressive miracles in the Old Testament. Pink called it “one of the most dramatic acts in the whole history of Israel.”2 Hendricks wrote, “There is no more dramatic scene in all Scripture than the contest on Mount Carmel.”3 Herrmann wrote, “The greatest and most triumphant event of his [Elijah’s] life seems to have been the contest on Carmel.”4 Zannoni wrote, “The description of the contest between the Baal prophets and the solitary prophet of
BSac 171:683 (July-September 2014) p. 290
Yahweh is one of the most dramatic accounts in the Bible.”5 Nelson likewise wrote, “This is one of the most dramatic stories in biblical literature, the contest between Yahweh and Baal on Mount Carmel.”6 This David-and-Goliath type confrontation, in which Elijah challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel,7 is the last public miracle recorded in the Old Testament.8
Context Of The Miracle
Certain elements of the miracle—the location, the timing, and the opponent—help set the context and heighten the drama.
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