Fire From Heaven
1Ki 18:1-38 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria. And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took a hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself unto him today. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 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. 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. 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: 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. 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. 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. 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. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 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. 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. 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: 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. 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. 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. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 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. 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. 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.
1 Kings 18:1-38
The Road to Revival:
I remember many years ago, attending a gospel meeting which was, overall, a wonderful meeting. There were several professions at the churches and in the homes of some members that week. Some of God’s people got help. I myself was greatly blessed and got some help and encouragement from the preaching that I heard. For me and I am sure a few others, it was revival. For some I am also sure it was a tiresome infringement on their social lives and they simply showed up to maintain appearances. But, I know that for at least one Christian it was revival. That one I am so sure of is me. God fanned the fire once again that He built in my heart years ago and truly blessed my heart. I thank God for every bit of it. I had gotten a bit discouraged, was a little down. I needed help. God gave me just what I needed.
If you’ll look with me at verses 17-19 in this passage of scripture you will find a group of people in much the same shape as most of the religious world today. Here they were in a famine, and a sore famine according to verse 2. The bible also tells us that they were in the third year of that famine when the Lord told Elijah to go to Ahab. So these people were starving, weak, thirsty; they needed something from God. They needed revival. They needed fire to fall from heaven, to get fired up again themselves!
The church today needs to get fired up again! We need the fire of God to fall from heaven and literally consume u within and without. In order for this to happen we must do some things ourselves. We have got to allow God to do a work in our hearts. How do we do this?
First we need to examine ourselves. In verse seventeen we see Ahab’s attitude: That defiant, self-righteous, blame it on someone else attitude that so man Christians have today. The first thing Ahab wanted to do was blame the nation’s condition on the man of God and by so doing he was attempting to put the blame on God Himself. Ahab told Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” Isn’t that about like a lot of Christians? We find ourselves in a mess, we find ourselves hurting, and striking out at God. Many people will cry to God and ask why He let’s this and that happen. Some say, “God, Why are you allowing me to go through all of this?” I know that sometimes we Christians go through tests and trials but I believe with all my heart that we all know when we are under the chastisement of God.
Look at Ahab. Here he is, the man that did more evil than all before him (16:31-34) and seeking to blame someone else. Elijah didn’t have to tell Ahab of his wickedness. Ahab didn’t have to be reminded that he had married a pagan idolater. Ahab knew he had been worshipping Baal. Ahab knew he had built a pagan temple and altar in Samaria. He knew he was a wicked king. He knew that it was his own fault that he was in the shape that he was in. The entire nation was suffering because of him and he knew it. Still, he looked to Elijah and asked him, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” What wicked depravity lurks in the hearts of men!
Many Christians are the same way. Some who have made professions and still keep the same old sinful habits will try and blame God. Some will smoke for thirty years and lie on their death-beds, drowning in their own bodily fluids at an early age, and all the while asking God… “Why, God, Why?” For years they had refused warnings that this could happen if they continued with their filthy habit, for years they had turned a deaf ear and now, their lungs filling up with fluid they cry to God as if He is to blame. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;”
Parents across America call on God and say “Why? Why, God, am I suffering all of this? Why are my kids putting me through this hell on earth?!” Many times it is because they themselves had heard a real man of God preach and expound the word of God on how to “train up a child in the way he should go,” and after hearing they rebelled. They took their children and left where they were preached too. Later on they find themselves suffering at the hands of their children.
Very often those who have heard preaching on the home and order in the home are in the same attitude of questioning God. They want to know how and why their marriage is in such a mess; Husbands and wives who have rebelled. Somewhere they may have left a good church where they heard preaching on the husband loving and providing for his wife and family. Maybe they didn’t like to be taught that the wife was to be in submission and obedient. Now, in a mess, “Oh, God! What has happened to our marriage?”
Whatever their causes may be, these people all have something in common…They need the Lord. He is the only one who can help them. Running from God will not help them one bit. Becoming angry at a preacher and accusing him of meddling will only bring grief to yourself.
Then you have people who are in any one of these situations and still being faithful in their attendance and support of the local church and it’s ministry. A good Christian may suffer just about anything that a lost person may. The difference will be the attitude in which they suffer, and that difference is only because of the Grace of God helping His children through.
Trials and tribulations are to be expected in the life of a child of God and we will see them. We must remember that whatever we may suffer, it is going to be for our good and God’s glory. If we are saved, we must accept Romans 8:28 on faith and keep going for the Glory of God. Don’t try to focus the blame on God, allow trials to draw us a little closer to the Lord. Otherwise, we can become bitter. Many people hide it better than others but still are harboring bitterness in their hearts. You hear them sometimes saying negative things of the local assembly and the pastor. They always want prayer for thus and so, and they may attend the altar regularly, Yet, they may be bitter. You’ve met and know them. Many times I have heard, “Boy, it sure has been dry lately, we sure need revival around here.” Sometimes they will say, “The Spirit sure is grieved over something, we need to get right.” Friends, don’t talk like that too much. A young convert weak in the faith is already struggling. They don’t need to hear this. Those who are truly suffering surely don’t need this discouragement. Your pastor needs a lot of encouragement in times like these and honesty is good, but often times “silence is golden”. Remember, if you can sense that there is trouble in the church, and there is a need, your pastor probably felt it before you did. God may have been dealing with him about it for some time, leading him, giving him the messages needed. What he needs from you is support.
It is good to be in touch enough with God to know when your pastor is having to really labor and struggle just to preach. But cheer him on, help him. If you can’t shout or amen for sheer joy at the moving of the hand of God on the congregation, then do it to show your pastor that you are with him even when things are bad. It may be that you are the very one that God is trying to help. Hear, heed, and honor the man of God. Examine yourself. Instead of looking outwardly all the time, maybe it is time to look inward. Revival begins on the inside, we can only get it that way: From the inside out. We should all go home, get before a mirror and ask ourselves, “Art thou he that troubleth…?”
Fire From Heaven:
In our text verses 17-38 we see a group of people who are not at all unlike the church in our day. They are before us here in the midst of a sore famine as previously noted. The nation is fairly well destroyed because of corrupt leadership. Not an unheard of problem at all in our day. Ahab, we see, is a man who is a great deal more wicked than all other men before him, according to the testimony of scripture, (16:30). And this wicked king is the cause for the calamity of the entire nation here in the text before us. Look quickly at Ahab’s track record in (16:30-34)
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.
The word of God tells us that he was guilty of more evil than all before him in verse thirty. And as if that weren’t enough, in verse thirty one, he went so far as to marry outside his own nation. He married a pagan idolater. That is a problem that is rampant today. The unequal yoke, believers marrying un-believers. But then, Ahab started to worship Baal and erected an altar to Baal in the house of Baal which he had built in Samaria. In verse 33 we see that he did more to anger God than all those that went before him.
In response and judgment of this king’s wickedness, God sent His prophet Elijah the Tishbite to preach a simple little 25 word message. Twenty one of those words were only one syllable. The simple truth. That is the kind of message that it takes some guts to preach. I’m not selling off the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation it ist that by which God saves them that believe, but it certainly is not what Elijah preached in (17:1). This was pure judgment! And I will garuntee you that Ahab didn’t tell Elijah, “If you’re gonna bluff, you’d better be prepared to have your bluff called.” If a man has to bluff that means he’s telling a lie. I am not in the habit of lying. But Elijah’s message as short and simple as it was, was proof that dynamite comes in small packages. That one little message was so powerful that God hid him out for three years.
My favorite part of this is the fact that God hid him right under the devil’s nose. He had him right in Jezebel’s territory. I really like that.
One day though, God spoke to Elijah in (18:1) and sent him back to preach to Ahab one more time. That brings us up to our text. (1Kings 18:17-38)
If you did not read the text at the beginning of this lesson, please do so now. (1Kings 18:1-38)
The picture we see in these verses is not at all unlike our nation now. I want you to compare America, or the Church in America, to what we see of Israel in these verses. Spiritually, we are there, in the midst of a famine which could very well be the end of our nation in the near future. God’s warning to His people in Amos 8:11 is playing itself out again, but this time on our nation. Look at what it says.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: Amo 8:11
Notice the famine in Amos 8:11. It is a famine of “hearing” not of preaching. That is exactly what we have today. The church in America is in the same shape today that Israel was in in their day. There is no famine of preaching the word. The table of God is being set regularly and the people are refusing to eat of the spiritual bread by which we are to grow.
But look yonder, down the road comes Elijah the Tishbite. The word “Tishbite,” means “reformer” or “converter”. Well, here he comes, the man that God had chosen to come in and help His people. And look what happened when Ahab saw him coming. He tried to lay the blame on the very man who warned him of the coming judgment of God. He’d tried to help Ahab. Look at…
“As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” (1Kings 17:1)
Elijah spoke these words to Ahab. After hearing the word of God Ahab could have repented and begged Elijah to pray for him. It is obvious however that there were no thoughts of repentance in Ahab’s heart because the Lord told Elijah to “hide” in the next verse. The word was preached and rejected thereby causing the judgment hand of God to fall on the entire nation. Ahab knew who was at fault. He knew that he was to blame. Still, he said, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”
Ahab knew he’d done wickedly, he knew he had married an idolater, built a temple for Baal, murdered an innocent man. Yet he had the gall to blame his just recompense on someone else.
It seems as if repentance is a dead issue. Hell is a forgotten topic in religious circles today. Sin is an unseen, unspoken of, and unheard of subject in the pulpit in our day. If we as a church would wake up maybe we would realize the problem today is corrupt leadership. It is a sad mess we find when we begin to look at those who are in the leadership positions in our local churches. It is bad enough to have corrupt, liberal preachers who will compromise the truth of God in order to draw a crowd. I’d rather have one saved deacon than a thousand lost. I would rather have one saved church member than to have a thousand lost. But people will not get saved if the Holy Spirit of God will not move. Friends, corrupt leadership will keep the Spirit of God out of the church. If ever there has been a time that this problem was prevalent, it is now. Ahab is a picture of that for is here in the word of God.
The pride that comes with power is almost always enough to block a heart from repentance. And just as one man had brought judgment on a nation, one person can kill a church. The saddest part is that when someone has the guts to stand and point this trouble out there never seems to be enough people willing to stand and back the one who does.
Everyone knew that Ahab had searched the world over to find Elijah and in verse 10 we see that he would make them take an oath that Elijah was not there. Everyone knew why they were in the mess they were in as a nation. All knew about that short little message preached to Ahab. Now all can see the hypocrisy of Ahab’s reproachful attack on Elijah. And even though all people knew this they still wouldn’t take a stand.
Because of this willingness to allow the persecution of the man of God we see the reproof of their sin in verse 21.
“How long halt ye between two opinions?”
This doesn’t mean that they had stopped worship. It doesn’t mean that they didn’t worship at all. They had been worshipping God to please Ahab and they had been worshipping Baal to please Jezebel. Thereby they put their seal of approval on an ungodly marriage, a pagan religion and rebellion against the word of God. They had ruined the testimony of God’s people for the whole world to see; Because they would not stand. This is exactly the shape that we find the church in today. She is flopping about wildly like a fish out of water and unable to get herself moving in any positive way in any definite direction. Out of control and wide open, that is how she is running right now. Now, look again. The people were trying to go both ways to please the king and those outside the kingdom. They were learning the truth of the Lord’s words that “no man can serve two masters.” Because a house divided against itself shall fall there is no way to have split loyalties and keep going. Elijah looked at the people and asked “How long halt ye between two opinions?” This puts me in mind of Joshua’s command to the people. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” The people must choose for themselves. You must choose for yourself. Whom will you serve? Grandpa? The Deacon board? The preacher? Or God? Whom will you serve? If you choose to follow and serve God then you will follow the man of God, but most people find themselves in the same shape as these “they answered him never a word.” They were speechless as scolded children. No intelligent response at all. This prompts Elijah to provoke them to make a decision. He challenges them to the contest of fire from heaven.
The challenge of the man of God ought to have been enough to make them concede to the falsehood of the gods they were worshipping. They knew Baal was not God. They knew there would none hear and make fire fall from heaven. Yet they had been so deceived and denied the truth for so long that they willingly accepted the challenge which should have brought them to their knees in repentance. Instead they said, “it is well spoken” and they accepted the challenge. Elijah saw the futility in reasoning with them and even allowed them to choose first and to go first. Oh, friend, the lengths men will go to in order to defend a lie. Men are often unwilling to simply tell the truth, or even accept the truth told to them.
After hours of watching them cry out to a figment of their own imaginations Elijah had to vent some of his frustration. Here these lying false-prophets had been chanting foolishly for hours, crying out to no one, leaping on the altar. The fact that they leaped on the altar tells you that there was no thought in their minds at all that fire would fall from heaven. The day half gone, Elijah mocked them. Strange isn’t it? If we read this account we find that people praise Elijah’s courage in mocking these false prophets. At the same time we will condemn the preachers of our day who will point out falsehood and call it what it is. People don’t want the word of God, they want tolerance. Any preacher who is intolerant toward sin today is marked, mocked and defamed. Even worse, he is often hated and even fought against by the very people he may be trying to help. Elijah mocked them, HE MOCKED THEM! He did not try to find common ground on which they all could stand and hold hands, he mocked them! God help us when preachers don’t know enough of the word of God to stand on when they are faced with such circumstances as these. Elijah mocked them. And what could they do? They knew he was right. What could they do? The bible says that they cut themselves with lancets and knives until the blood gushed out upon them. They knew they were false and so was their god but they also knew that they could gain the sympathy of the people because of their sincerity and their dedication.
People will watch a bunch of charismatic lunatics and say, “wow, they are so devoted in worship, so dedicated,” and some will comment on religious cults, “Oh, they are so devoted, so faithful to what they believe, so persistent in service.” But, Elijah mocked them. You’d spank your own children for telling a lie, don’t reward a liar because it is a religion. If anyone brings you some other doctrine John said not to allow him into your house, “neither bid him god speed.” (2John 10,11). John went so far as to say that to bid him god speed makes you a partaker of his evil deeds. It makes you just as guilty as they are. Don’t compliment the devil’s children on their religious activity! Elijah mocked them, openly and unashamedly.
Finally it came time for the offering of the evening sacrifice and Elijah spoke to the people. “Come near unto me.” He did not say, watch the show and praise my devoted determination. He said, “come near.” He had something for them, something to give them that they needed, and it was free of charge.
When the people came near unto him their eyes beheld some actions which, in themselves, preached a most powerful message. It was a rebuke to them but it was meant to help them. He repaired the altar. This pictures for them that there was a breakdown in the place of worship, in the place of prayer. There were some things that only the man of God could do. It was up to him to bring these people back to a place of scriptural worship. He had to rebuild the altar. Notice that he took twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Pastors today also seek to account for all the people at worship. If everyone’s not there it is just not complete. Something will be missing in the service if the congregation is not all there. The first thing he did was to restore attendance. He showed them that worship was broken down, their prayer lives were broken down. Think on this; no offeratory – no offering; no altar – no sacrifice. He rebuilt the altar, in so doing he re-instituted worship, prayer and sacrifice. That is a picture of getting the people back to God.
What did he do next? He placed the wood on the altar. When you look at that wood you see a picture of sin. Just as the wood on Isaac’s back was a picture of the burden of sin and just as the rough hewn wood of the cross was a picture of the burden of sin place upon Christ’s back this wood is a picture of sin. Elijah preached to them on sin and showed them their condition. Then he cut the bullock in pieces and laid him on the wood, and this is a picture of the gospel; the innocent dying for the guilty. Then we see that Elijah had a trench dug about the altar. This pictures for us the man of God, by preaching, getting some things out of the hearts of the hearers so that he could then call for the water. That trench was a point of separation, a place that denoted a difference between that which was within and without. It marked the truth that this was a special place that must be approached in the right way. And what was the way? Let’s look further. He called for the water.
Water, as we know, is a picture of the word of God. He got them to church, preached on sin, preached the gospel to them, folks get saved when you do these things in this way. Then he taught them the word of God. And the man of God prayed a little 63 word prayer and, Fire Fell From Heaven! God heard His man’s prayer.
Notice now that the fire devoured all. It consumed the sacrifice, the wood, that altar, the dust, and licked up the water. Why did it devour the altar? God was letting them know that He would give them no more chance to repent of this sin. This was their last chance to get right! Next time it would be judgment.
It is high time that America, once a Christian nation, get back to the God that made her the greatest nation on the face of the earth. It is time that Church, and the knowledge and worship of the One, True and Living God began, once again to play a major role in the family life of our citizens. It is time that we do our part to try and take America back.
Fire from heaven?
Is that what we want?
Is that what we want?
Well, it has to start within us, and it will work its way out. Let’s get back to the house of God, saturate ourselves with the word of God and let it clean us up so that we may approach the altar and truly experience God’s blessing.