Jan. 13, 2021

The God who answers by fire...

The God who answers by fire

1Kings 18:20-39
Ahab did as Elijah asked, sent word throughout the entire community of Israel, and gathered all the prophets atop Mount Carmel. Elijah (approaching the people): 21 How much longer will you sit on the fence, refusing to make a decision between the Lord and Baal? If you believe the Eternal One is the True God, then devote yourselves entirely to Him. If you believe Baal is your master, then devote yourselves entirely to him.All the people who were gathered together atop Mount Carmel were completely silent. They didn’t know what to say to this. Elijah: 22 I am the last remaining prophet of the Eternal. Baal has 450 prophets. Let us do a test to reveal the true quality of our deities. 23 Bring us two young bulls, the common sacrifice to your master whom you depict as a bull. The prophets of Baal may choose first which bull they want. They will kill it, chop it up, and prepare it for a fire by placing it above wood; but they will not light it. I will do the same with the other bull and prepare it for fire and place it above wood, but I will not light it. 24 Then you call upon your god, Baal, and I will call upon the Eternal. The God who answers with fire is the one True God.
Everyone liked this idea and said, “This sounds like a worthy plan.” Elijah (to the prophets of Baal): 25 You have the pick of the bulls. Take the one you want, and prepare it first because there are many of you. Call upon your god, but do not set fire to the wood. 26 The prophets of Baal picked out their bull and prepared it. They called upon Baal from dawn till noon, crying out, “Baal, answer us with fire!” But there was no voice, no reply. Nothing happened. All they did was dance around the altar they had built and cry out to an elusive god.
27 At about midday, Elijah began provoking them.
Elijah: You have to shout louder than that! The one to whom you cry out certainly must be a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming or napping or away from his heavenly throne. Perhaps he is in a deep sleep, and you must wake him up. Shout louder! 28 So all the prophets of Baal began to shout at the top of their lungs pleading with all their might. They cut themselves with knives and swords and spears until they were covered in their own blood. 29 Midday passed by, and the prophets of Baal kept on with their antics until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But still, there was no voice, no reply. No god heard them.
Elijah (to the people): 30 Gather around me.
So all the people gathered around him, and he fixed the Eternal’s altar that had been torn down. 31 Elijah gathered 12 stones, one for each of Jacob’s tribes. Jacob was the one who wrestled with God and whom the word of the Eternal One visited, saying, “Your name will be Israel.”32 Elijah took the 12 stones and constructed an altar in honor of the Eternal One and carved a ditch out around it large enough to hold 13 quarts of seed. 33 He set up the wood, chopped up the bull, and placed it on top of the wood.Elijah (to the people): Go get four big jars, and fill them all up with water. Then pour the water out over the burnt offering and the wood. 34 Now, do the same thing again.
And so they did it a second time.Elijah: All right, now do the same thing a third time.
And so they did it a third time. 35 The water covered the altar and even filled up the ditch. 36 When it was time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah called out to the Eternal.
Elijah (praying): Eternal One—God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel—reveal Yourself on this day as Israel’s God. Make it known that I serve You and have done all this because You commanded it of me. 37 Answer me, Eternal One. Reveal Yourself so that everyone here will know that You, Eternal One, are the True God—the only GodDo it so that everyone knows You are turning the gaze of their hearts back to You again.

38 Right then the Eternal One’s fire landed upon the altar. The flames consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the ground. The flames even drank up all the water in the ditch. 39 When everyone witnessed this extraordinary power, they all put their faces to the ground in fear and awe and wonder.
People: The Eternal One is the True God! The Eternal One is the True God!

Elijah, being a prophet of God, was exasperated with the evil leadership directing the people to worship Baal, an idol, in defiance of God. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown to prove to all the people who the real God was. As we see in the passage above, the real God answered by fire and consumed the sacrifice, thus proving His existence to His people. We see a parallel in the world today. The people wavering between following idols set up by the worldly leadership and following the God of the Bible. As Elijah said in the passage above "the God who answers by fire is the real God ". Many times we fall into the trap of following religious rituals and forget that serving the Lord is exclusive. We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the Church. It's an all or nothing deal with Christ. We surrender all to Jesus because He shed His blood to redeem us. It cost Jesus all to save our souls. He wants us to give Him our all in order for us to enjoy His blessings on our lives. Let the fire of God consume the dross in our lives and purify our hearts to serve Him diligently. We need the fire of the Lord to ignite our spirit to venture out into the realm of the Spirit. We need to be aware that we are seated in heavenly places with Christ. We need the fire of God to illuminate our hearts. On the day of pentecost, when the disciples of Christ were together, the fire of God fell on them which allowed them to change the world. They were accused of turning the world upside down. In reality the world was already upside down and they turned it back the right way. Also, the disciples were accused of having been with Jesus. The world can recognize a person who has been with Jesus and who have their lives ignited by the Spirit of God. Therefore as God's people let us stop wavering and let us serve the Lord with gladness. In the words of Joshua let us choose this day whom we will serve. As for us we will serve the Lord. In closing, let the fire of God ignite our spirit and cause the world around us to be transformed by the power of His love. He is the God who answers by fire. Amen.