The Israelites had been led astray by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and were engaged in the worship of Ba'al, who supposedly was the god in control of the weather.
Given that theirs was an agrarian society, the Israelites wanted to appease this god into providing what they needed to grow their crops: i.e., rain.
But the LORD told Elijah to prophesy that there would be no rain for several years, and that is what had happened. So much for Ba'al actually being able to do anything about the weather. Y'know, the god had ONE job...
This led to a showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al, of whom there were 450. The challenge was to call down fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice.
Elijah let them go first. They danced all day, crying out to Ba'al, cutting themselves in the attempt, and they couldn't even summon a firefly.
Then Elijah prayed to the LORD, and whoom!
The contrast between the false god and the true God could not have been clearer.
Pastor Dave drew other powerful lessons from this passage as well. To download the audio of the sermon, click here.