Have a Wonderful and Blessed Day!!! When We Really Need God to Show Up!!!
1Kings 18:20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
1Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
1Kings 18:22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
1Kings 18:23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
1Kings 18:24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
1Kings 18:25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
1Kings 18:26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
1Kings 18:27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
1Kings 18:28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
1Kings 18:29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
1Kings 18:30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
1Kings 18:31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
1Kings 18:32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
1Kings 18:33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
1Kings 18:34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
1Kings 18:35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
1Kings 18:36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
1Kings 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
1Kings 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
1Kings 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
1Kings 18:40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
1Kings 18:41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
1Kings 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
1Kings 18:43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
1Kings 18:44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
1Kings 18:45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
1Kings 18:46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
The story is Elijah’s proposed show-down between God and Baal at Mount Carmel. God doesn’t want just part of us. He wants all of us, and he will tolerate no substitute, because he knows nothing else will satisfy in his place.
How often have we heard someone say “I wish I could be in two places at once”, well if we could we need to realize this doesn’t work for the Lord. He does not want us to serve him and the world. We need to follow, trust and serve him with our whole self.
Let me give you a little historical background. Civil war has split the kingdom of Israel in two. The northern kingdom has suffered a series of corrupt kings, the latest of whom is King Ahab. His father signed a deal with the King of Phoenicia, and sealed it by having Ahab marry the King’s daughter Jezebel. Jezebel was an ardent worshiper of Baal, the Canaanite god of rain, lightning, and thunder. So Elijah, the great prophet of God, prophesied a period of drought, striking this false god right in his specialty area. There has been no rain for some time. Ahab allowed his wife, Jezebel to persecute and kill many of the Lord’s prophets. Hundreds are now hiding in caves in fear of their lives. So God guides Elijah to a showdown with King Ahab and his 450 prophets of Baal.
Today’s passage begins with Elijah challenging the people in verse 21 to choose a side, to take a stand. It’s not that they’re against God, but they’re not really sold out to God either. They’re just drifting along. And Elijah says, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” Quit straddling the fence!” It reminds me of when Jesus says to the church in Laodicea, “I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other. So because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth!”
Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
God doesn’t like us to be lukewarm, reading these verses we see our Lord is not about Luke warmness or straddling the fence self on both sides. in our walk with him. He wants all of us!
So Elijah proposes a test. Elijah proposes a clinical test with a standardized test protocol for each side. Both God and Baal are supposed to be able to control thunder, lightning, and storms. So Elijah says, “Why don’t we do a little experiment and see which one comes through first?” Each side will choose a bull for sacrifice and lay it on an altar. The first God to burn up the sacrifice wins!
Graciously, Elijah allows the prophets of Baal to go first. They lay their animal on the altar and begin to pray. From morning until noon they cry out to Baal to come through, but they hear nothing. Verse 26 records, “There was no response; no one answered.”
So the false prophets get louder and wilder. They begin to dance and stomp and shout. Elijah gets a little snarky with them: “Hey, maybe you should shout louder. Maybe your god fell asleep!” So they do. They get louder. They scream, they dance, they even cut themselves, trying to get Baal’s attention for three more hours. But they still have no answer.
“But there was no voice, nor any that answered”.
Another great prophet, Jeremiah, once wrote about idols
Jeremiah 10:5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Now I’m sure non of us a statue of Baal in your living room. But certainly we have other idols. An idol is anything that substitutes for God, anything we worship ahead of God, anything that gets first place in our life. It could be our status in the eyes of others. It could be our pride in never being wrong (and this is not possible). It could be the clothes we wear or the food we eat or the car we drive or the TV we watch or the rank we retired with. The hobbies we have, bike-riding, golf, football, hockey, jogging, dance, workouts at the gym. If it comes before God, it has become a false god, an idol, and it will not satisfy us for long and makes the Lord jealous, and causes problems spiritually.
God knows this. This is why our God is a jealous God. He’s not jealous because he has some kind of God-sized ego. No, he is jealous because he alone can fulfill the deepest needs of our life, because he alone can give us God-sized love and a God-sized purpose. The first of the ten commandments reads,
Exodus 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
God wants all of us, not just part of us, and he allows no substitutes. Elijah says, “It’s time to get off the fence. Choose a side. Choose a God!” Are we ready to choose God, to put him first in everything, to put him top rung on the ladder of our life priorities? That’s what he wants.
But the other thing we see is how dependent Elijah is for God to come through. Elijah calls for silence from the crowd and invites people to gather in closer.
Elijah prepares his sacrifice and then does a strange thing: he messes with the usual way of doing things. He tips the scales to his opponents. He drenches his entire sacrifice with water, so much water that it even fills the troughs around the altar. And remember, this is during a major drought, so not only is Elijah making it more difficult for God, he is testing the faith of the people. Then Elijah begins to pray.
Can anyone of us imagine standing up to an evil king and 450 of his false prophets? Can you imagine putting God to the test by not only requesting fire from heaven but first soaking the sacrifice with water? What faith, and trust in our Lord!
Really, Elijah senses that his country needed a royal wake-up call. He has a weak king and an evil queen, and his fellow countrymen are vacillating between God and Baal. All the prophets of the one true God are either in hiding in a cave somewhere or long dead. Elijah alone is willing to take a stand. It’s a dark time. Elijah is counting on God to come through.
Have any of us ever been counting on God to come through? I believe some of us have, as you have watched your loved one take the great pilgrimage from this life to the next. That must be one of the greatest trials this life has to offer. Yet, truth be told, most of us Americans go along in life fairly self-reliant most of the time, very rarely sensing the need for God to come through for us. Sure we have challenges, but we trust in pills for the aches and pains; we trust in doctors; we trust in hospitals; we trust in therapists; we trust in our pension. And sometimes we pray, but how often is the prayer just an afterthought? And we wonder why our faith is mediocre. Sometimes we are just limping along with the rest of the world, lukewarm in our response to God.
God wants all of us. When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, he responded without hesitation,
Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
In Elijah’s great showdown, God responds immediately. Lightning strikes the altar and completely consumes the sacrifice, even the water in the troughs around it. The people fall on their faces and repent, turning back to the one true God. And God brings refreshing, life-giving rain again, all through Elijah’s faith.
We may not have witnessed a lightning strike from our prayers, but if you think back, most of us have those experiences where we know God is real. We know God answered our prayer. We know God was there. So many things that have happened in our lifes that we truly have to say this was the Lord and him alone.
And when we pray ask our Mighty, faithful, and only true God; ask for help us to choose him, to choose life over death, as Moses put it, to choose not to be lukewarm anymore in our response to you, but to choose you fully, as we watch what you want to do in and through our lives, in Jesus’ name.
O WORSHIP THE KING
O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
O tell of his might and sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!
O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!
Love and prayers