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Repair the Alter of Our Heart

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Returning to the LORD

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Restoring the Alter

A psychologist and newspaper columnist named George Crane told once of a woman who was full of hatred toward her husband, and wanted to hurt him all she could. He counseled her to act as if she really loved her husband, to tell him how much he meant to her, to praise him for every decent trait, to be kind, considerate, and generous whenever possible. Then, when she’d fully convinced him of her undying love, she’d make her move and file for divorce. With revenge in her eyes she said, "That’s perfect, I’ll do it." Some months later the wife returned to report that all was going well. She had followed the suggested course. “Good,” said Dr. Crane. “Now’s the time to file for divorce.” “Divorce?” the woman said indignantly. “Never. I love my husband so much!”
Bible Reading
It is a fearful thing to reject the influence of God in one's life! By refusing to allow God's Holy Spirit to create within you a new and clean heart or nature, you continue the downward spiral of human depravity. One can actually reach a point when God will "give them over to" or "abandon them to" (paradidomi) their own degenerate, depraved natures so that they might reap the consequences of their improper, unseemly deeds (vs. 24, 26, 28). These men are also not ignorant of the teachings and principles of God. They realize full well that such behavior can only merit death (vs. 32a). However, not only do they continue in their deadly behavior and attitudes, but they actually show the depth of their depravity by giving hearty approval to others who follow in their footsteps (vs. 32b).
, – How to Fix Broken Altars
You know, I don’t think anybody ever plans to fall out of love. It just happens sometimes. A pull away from the things we cherish the most. Whether it’s friendships, or family, or spouses, or our walk with the Lord, there’s a downward pull that tries to distract us with things that look just as good as, or better than, the relationship we already have. Today, on Valentine’s weekend, I’d like to talk about that downward pull that tugs on us, away from our loved ones, away from our spouses, away from our God, away from our first love. Today we will look at Elijah on Mt.Carmel again, from . Let’s read v20-21 and v30-39. Now, we find Elijah in the middle of the contest with the false prophets of Baal. And he rebuilt an altar of the Lord. Chapter 19 tells us that the people of the land tore the altars of the Lord down. Apparently this was torn down because people did not want it around. Why not? What did it mean? What did an altar of the Lord stand for? Noah built the first altar to the Lord. Just having survived the flood, Noah was grateful, and he sacrificed a burnt offering to god. Ever since that time, people have built altars. Altars were places of prayer, places of assembly. Altars were considered safe from your enemies. Altars were built out of thankfulness, and altars were often built to commemorate special events in the lives of God’s people. But by and large, the main and most important reason people built altars was for sacrifice. They were meant to be a place, set apart for God, to spill the blood of an innocent animal. It was through blood that people were made right with God – – “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” So, an altar represented being in a right relationship with God. Therefore, for Elijah to rebuild a broken altar, that symbolized coming back to God. Being right with Him again. Getting forgiveness for wandering away, and then re-committing in a fresh new way to live for God. It wasn’t always about getting back to Him after the people had wandered. It was about maintaining that relationship. We have what we call an altar in this church. Other churches call it different things. When it was brought back into use in churches 200 years ago, the originator, evangelist Charles Finney, called it the “anxious” bench or the “mourner’s” bench. It was where people could reconnect with the God who had made them. Other churches don’t like the term “altar”. They say that the sacrifice was made by Jesus on the cross, and no more sacrifices need ever be made. While it is true that the blood that takes away our sins is the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross 2000 years ago, and we need ever make another animal sacrifice to be right with Him, it is not true that sacrifices never need to be made again. : says these words: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” That is, instead of offering sacrifices, we are the sacrifice. We are to offer ourselves on the altar. We are to lay our own lives down. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price. The altar today is about giving ourselves away. But when Elijah rebuilt the altar that day, it wasn’t just about getting right with God. There was another message too. The altar reminded them, yes, of their spiritual backsliding – it was built in the name of the Lord. But the altar reminded them of broken relationships, too. Elijah took 12 stones, one for each of the original 12 tribes of Israel. The altar is not just a place where we get right with God. The plan is, to be right with others too. Sometimes that’s harder. But on this Valentine’s weekend, can we honestly deny the truth of the Word? Can we say that how we treat others doesn’t affect our walk with God? Can we really say that we can hate the people around us and love God at the same time? After all, Jesus Himself said these thoughts about the altar: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” () So it seems that we come back around to see how we drift out of love towards God, as well as towards other people. Someone compiled a list of what that drift looks like. What does a “broken altar” look like? What does a broken relationship look like?
1. When my delight in the Lord is no longer as great as my delight in someone else, I have lost my first love.
2. When my soul does not long for times of rich fellowship in God’s Word or in prayer, I have lost my first love.
3. When my thoughts during leisure moments do not reflect upon the Lord, I have lost my first love.
4. When I claim to be “only human” and easily give in to those things I know displease the Lord, I have lost my first love.
5. When I do not willingly and cheerfully give to God’s work or to the needs of others, I have lost my first love.
6. When I cease to treat every Christian brother as I would the Lord, I have lost my first love.
7. When I view the commands of Christ as restrictions to my happiness rather than expressions of His love, I have lost my first love.
8. When I inwardly strive for the acclaim of this world rather than the approval of the Lord, I have lost my first love.
9. When I fail to make Christ or His words known because I fear rejection, I have lost my first love.
10. When I refuse to give up an activity which I know is offending a weaker brother, I have lost my first love.
11. When I become complacent to sinful conditions around me, I have lost my first love.
12. When I am unable to forgive another for offending me, I have lost my first love.
Is this you? Have you lost what you once had? Have your altars been broken down? Towards God or towards other? How do you find that first love again? I want to suggest 2 things: a change of habit and a change of heart.
1) You need a change of habit. Change your actions. This is found all through the Bible. – “I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Remember! Repent! Turn! Change your habits. Do what you used to do. – “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.” That first love, early devotion to things like prayer, church, the Bible, telling others. Folks, if you want to feel close to God like you once did, you may need to do again the things that you once did. That applies for relationships too. Like the opening story, the woman had to do the right things again to feel love. You may need to court your spouse. You may need to hang out with your kids. You may need to have a cup of coffee again, in order to feel close to those people. But that’s not all. You also need 2) a change of heart. Let me share a scripture from with you: “We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.” The OT priests were unable to have the same privileges as the Christians. Why? Because they were doing the wrong things? No, certainly not. They had not received Jesus as their forgiver and leader. They had no change of heart. They were doing the things they thought were right, but God wanted a change of heart. You have to aim your heart in the right direction. Jesus spoke a lot about motives and the condition of the heart. Do you do the right things because you have to, or because you want to? You can ask God to clean your motives. “Lord, right now, I don’t want to do this. But I am willing to obey. I don’t want to do the right thing. But if it’s what You want, and I know it, I’m willing to listen to You.” That is obedience. That is a change of heart. That is following Jesus. One more thought about Elijah’s altar. He dug a trench around it. Let’s assume the altar was maybe 3’X2’, even 4’X3. Maybe the trench then, was 5’X3’. Let’s say 15 square feet. V32 says it would hold 15L of water. I figured out that for those dimensions, the trench would only be about 2”X2-1/2”. Not very deep, and certainly not capable to holding much water. Why bother digging it then? Because the trench became a line in the sand. It was as if the trench symbolized a commitment, or a recommitment, to God and to others. The altar, built with the unity of family and loved ones, built in the name of the Lord, was to the people a challenge. Cross this line to commit yourself to what matters most. Folks, what line exists for you? What challenge has God set up for you? What is He asking you to do? Is He asking to change your habits? Lifestyle choices that separate you from Him, or separate you from others? Is He asking you for a change of heart? You’re doing things right, but your heart is so far away? What line has He drawn in the sand for you? What is He asking you to do?
I. National Altars
Our nation has replaced its altars of worship to God with worship of every other imaginable thing. Turtle eggs, dolphins, and the environment have become of higher value than human life. Rather than teaching children “Thou shalt not kill” our schools are teaching them that they need to express themselves and that human life is of no value. Some 43 million doctors, lawyers, bankers, preachers, senators, representatives, skilled laborers, educators, managers, farmers, factory workers, truck drivers, airline pilots, missionaries, and other people have been killed by the knife of abortion doctors in the name of freedom of choice. Moral decay is at an all time high. Gender distinction has been fuzzed so much that little girls grow up having no idea how to be a good mother. Boys have no idea that being manly means treating women with respect and practicing self-control. The nation is heading down a path toward a Godless society. I say it is time to rebuild some national altars. It is high time for us as Americans to take a stand and do what is right. It is time for America to turn back to God. It is time for us citizens to use our voting power to bring about a change of face in our government. This is not a political speech. These are moral issues, principles that God has established before there were politics. Someone said the only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. It is definitely high time for our national altars to be rebuilt and God to be places once again as Supreme in our government.
II. Family Altars
Nations are built upon families. As the family falls, so falls the nation. Children are growing up knowing nothing about God. Parents are leaving spiritual training of their children to someone else. It is time for family altars to be rebuilt across our land. It is time for parents to take responsibility for the spiritual training of their children.
Because there are many children growing up with no moral compass, it is our time as a church to reach out and provide direction for these children. We as a church have a golden opportunity to reach out into our community and bring in children and young people whose parents are not training them. God has place this church here for a reason. We are not here just to keep the grass from growing in the yard. Thank God that we have been able to reach out and bring others in. Let’s keep encouraged in the fact that God is bringing in people. But lets not be satisfied. There are many families that need us to help them. As we reach out and families in the community begin rebuilding their altars for the Lord, we will see a difference made in our city. God desires for us to be in the business of bringing families to Him.
III. Personal Altars.
If we are going to be all that God wants us to be, each of us need to maintain a personal altar—a place where we regularly meet God in prayer. Jesus demonstrated that even He needed time alone with the Father. We as His followers need to take time each day to feed upon His Word and pray. It is the only way to grow spiritually. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” How can we keep his commandments if we do not know what they are? And how can we know them if we do not read His Word? Some have tried to set an amount of time that we should spend in prayer or Bible study. I will not try to set a time because none is given in the Bible, but we need to make it a priority to spend time with God.We live in a generation where God is not the top priority in many of our homes, jobs, or even in our churches. We live in a generation where one presidential candidate is pro-choice and the other is pro-life. We live in a generation that tries to imitate the power of God in “religious” services, but in reality leaves God out of their actions. We are consumed with self – what we want, forget what God wants. In order for Real, Authentic Revival to come our way this week, we’ve got to ALL get out of God’s way and allow Him to work wonders in this church, this community, and in the lives of each person who comes in the doors of this church, not just this week, but from here on out. Bottom line: in my own life – I am seeking a “real-fire” experience from God, not just a “wild-fire” here today, gone tomorrow meeting. In the life of this church – I pray for a Heaven-sent. Holy-Ghost filled revival with Christians repenting, Sinners saved, and a church renewed with an outlook of “Preparing for Holy Heaven-Sent Rain.” The question, can these things happen in today’s culture, in today’s church – the answer is YES – however, we must be right with God. We look at Elijah. Elijah came along at a time when the land needed a confrontational leader. King Ahab and his crafty wife Jezebel brought in the worship of Baal and led their nation in this direction. Anyone who worshipped Jehovah God was put to extreme trial, if not death. The climate of the community had literally gone to the dogs, in this case, the idols. In , we see a “Showdown” that is taking place on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the priests of Baal. Elijah challenges these priests to a dual between their god and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, we have a confrontation between Good and Evil. The showdown is this – you choose God or you choose Baal. (Good vs. Evil) Point out background in . Now, let’s get to the text for the evening: Verses 30-39
Here is a thought for the night – “When is the last time we confronted evil together as the body of Christ?”
I. Revival/Renewal was desired after a decline
Declines happen from time to time in our churches due to various things:
- Death
- Hurt Feelings
- Bad Decisions/Unpopular decisions
- Community Changes
- Turning away from God
Elijah had no choice but to confront the King, his wife, and the priests. Many had been led away onto their side, something had to be done. There was a faithful remnant left to join in with Elijah, but it was a few, not many. Faithful Jehovah worshippers had dwindled, it was time for an eye opening renewal for all to experience.
What does Elijah do?
1. Invites all of the people to come near, so they can watch and see
2. He repairs the altar of the Lord that was broken down
3. He took 12 stones, symbolizing the tribes of Israel and rebuilt the altar
4. He made a trench, deep enough to hold 2 measures of seed
5. He put the wood in place, cut the bullock in pieces and gave orders
6. Fill 4 barrels of water and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, do it again, do it
Again (12 barrels of water)
7. Elijah prays the fire down
8. God shows up
The people had been brainwashed to the teachings of the Baallistic philosophy, a neo-universalism, if you will – “anything and everything goes.” Let’s face it, that’s an easy teaching to follow. So, Elijah had to make everything seem “impossible” for folks to believe.
- Burnt Sacrifice on a Drenched Altar?
- Only God can do something like that!
Elijah did everything so that God could get the glory! What’s the ultimate purpose of the church? To bring glory and honor to God. For revival/renewal to take place – God does not want the flesh to get the glory, He wants the glory. – So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
II. Real Revival/Renewal comes when we are desperate for God to work.
Think of these classic examples of God working in Scripture:
– Priests marching around the walls of Jericho, expecting the walls to flatten. What happened? Who won? – Gideon, with his 32,000 decimated to 300 with lamps and pitchers. Who won? Who gets the glory? Desperate times call for desperate measures. The church today – are we desperate for the Word of God? Are we desperate to see souls saved? Are we desperate to see lives changed? Are we desperate to do whatever God wants us to do to see these things happen? If so, God will work in us and through us. If not, God will not work and we will die a spiritual death. Let’s face it – today, someone would write a book, all pastors would read it and try to employ the strategy in the local church. That’s not desperation – that’s spiritual laziness – not getting to the authentic answer and helper. Here’s another example: David vs. Goliath – Sling-shot vs. Giant – who’d a thought it – God! See, we serve a God that can do anything! We try to start the fire on our own from time to time – no wonder we don’t see folks saved, lives changed, or do what God wants us to do. See, we need REAL FIRE, not WILD FIRE.
Are we desperate enough to:
1. Teach the Bible as the RELEVANT answer for our time
2. Share the Gospel with ALL who we come in contact with
3. Live the Gospel out by FULFILLING the G.C. and
God will reward our desperation.
III. Real Revival/Renewal requires for us to take a stand
Think of this: we are faced today with evil on every corner. Christianity has been watered down to the point to where it is not respected in many corners. Churches have become the laughing-stock of many areas simply because they can’t get along. We have doctrines floating around promoting “religion” but not “Christianity.” What are we doing about it?
Many churches – this is the answer:
1. We gripe
2. We complain
3. We moan
4. We groan
Instead of standing for God – we stand for what we want. It is not about what we want, it is about what God desires. In the text, God doesn’t want the altar to be warmed up – he douses the thing. Heaven forbid, but we need another committee to form – an Altar Dousing committee. We need this water-bucket committee to douse out anything that we’re trying do without the Spirit of God. Friends, if we want revival, we’ve got to seek the face of God, and pray for revival fire. Elijah doused the altar, God showed up and burned the sacrifice. The people were amazed. Sand Mountain needs a Mt. Carmel experience. Lookout Mountain needs a Mt. Carmel experience. If we want Revival, we’ve got to give God the full control of our hearts individually, our church collectively, and our world. It is one thing to say that we want something – it is another to actually go through with our words. God can do some amazing things this week in this church, but are we willing to douse the altar with our tears, concerns, burdens, and our church and allow God to send the fire down? The Holy Spirit is once again directing His people back to the altar of prayer, so that He can pour out his love, power, renewal, and healing. As the Holy Spirit brings us to a place of surrender, both in our own hearts and at the gathering places of His people, powerful things begin to happen!
(1) The altar is a place of consecration!
For those who are sincerely following Christ, there is power in fresh consecration. Re-dedicating our all to Christ will bring a fresh fire on the altar. In the Old Testament, the priests were reminded, "A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out." (). Let this remind us of the importance of the fire of total consecration to Christ: Come what may, come danger or blessing, come difficulty or triumph, my all belongs to Him! "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (). Fire will fall on the altar of consecration!
(2) The altar is a place of confession and repentance!
When the Holy Spirit is moving, people are brought to confession of sin and repentance. Fresh confession and repentance are so needed today! The worldliness and the sins of the flesh have become so commonplace around us; Lord, establish the power of your altar in our hearts, to bring cleansing, confession and repentance into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit! When there is sin in our hearts, it hides the face of the Father from us. "For your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (). But through confession and turning from sin, the Holy Spirit cleanses us by applying the precious blood of Christ. Then the barriers are removed, and God promises, "I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel." ( / also ,). When we are seeking His face we are seeking nothing for self, but only to please Him. On such hearts the Lord will surely pour out His Spirit!
(3) The altar is a place of surrender!
As people come to the altar in surrender, lives are transformed. The altar is a powerful place for evangelism, as people are called to come forward to the altar to receive Christ as Lord. People coming forward to the altar because of anointed preaching and the work of the Holy Spirit leads to definite conversions, as the Holy Spirit wondrously produces the new birth in the hearts of the lost. "Coming to the altar" is more than just praying a prayer: it means a genuine surrender of your heart and life to Christ. Nothing less will do! The altar is also a place for prodigal sons and daughters to come back to Christ. There is nothing sweeter than to see a prodigal son or daughter coming back to God at the altar. Truly the altar is a place of surrender!
(4) The altar is a place of prayer!
The Spirit is calling us to prayer, with an urgency and a compelling voice. has been a theme verse for seeking restoration, forgiveness and healing. May we apply it to our times of prayer: "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land." We must "build an altar" today in our hearts. It is an altar of surrender, and an altar of prayer and confession. May we be a "people of the altar," who live daily at God's altar of prayer, and who gather together at altars of prayer in our churches. As we pray and seek His face, God will bring healing!
(5) The altar is a place to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit!
Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!" (). As we come to the feet of Jesus, He will pour out His Baptism of the Holy Spirit upon a hungry people. He will pour water upon the thirsty! (). Truly there is a great need for people to be baptized in the Spirit, to receive power to witness, and to receive anointing for victorious Christian living. Lord, pour out your Spirit in our hearts, in fresh power!
(6) The altar is a place of healing!
As people come forward to receive prayer for healing, healing gifts of the Spirit can be given to those in need. Elders of the church can anoint with oil, following , and the prayer of faith will result in healing of the sick. In times of seeking God and prayer, powerful miracles have occurred in people's lives through divine healing, opening the door for many people to come to Christ. God also sovereignly touches and heals people to demonstrate His compassion and glory. Are we seeking and asking for gifts of healing today? (,; ).
(7) The altar is a place of worship!
As people enter into worship at God's altar, the presence of God becomes tangible. The atmosphere of worship invites the presence of the Holy Spirit to touch people's hearts. "Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and on the harp I will praise you, O God, my God." (). In our individual lives or in corporate worship, worshipping God for who He is brings us into an increasing awareness of God's presence and goodness. God inhabits the praises of His people (). As the worship of false gods was overrunning Israel, Elijah was a man true to God. The nation experienced a difficult drought, and at the end of it, Elijah called for a showdown with the prophets of Baal. He said, "The god who answers by fire, He is God!" (). After the prophets of Baal had failed to call down fire, Elijah called the people to him. He said, "Come here to me." They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins." (). This incident has so much to say to us today! Let us restore the altar of the Lord, as Elijah did. In many places it is in ruins, or badly in need of repair. When the altar was restored and the sacrifice was placed on the altar, the fire of God fell. The people cried, "The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God!" ().
God is calling people everywhere back to His altar! The altar must first be established in our hearts as a place of prayer and surrender; then it must be strengthened and established where God's people gather. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the altar will be established once again as a place of evangelism, surrender, healing and prayer. It will be a place where people are Baptized in the Spirit, and a place of fresh consecration. And it will be a place of glorious worship. Lord, establish your altar once again! Begin with me!

English Standard Version (ESV)

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

18 After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: “Go and present yourself to Ahab. I will send rain on the surface of the land.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. 3 Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord 4 and took 100 prophets and hid them, 50 men to a cave, and provided them with food and water when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets. 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go throughout the land to every spring of water and to every wadi. Perhaps we’ll find grass so we can keep the horses and mules alive and not have to destroy any cattle.” 6 They divided the land between them in order to cover it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went the other way by himself. 7 While Obadiah was walking along the road, Elijah suddenly met him. When Obadiah recognized him, he fell with his face to the ground and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” 8 “It is I,” he replied. “Go tell your lord, ‘Elijah is here!’” 9 But Obadiah said, “What sin have I committed, that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to put me to death? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent someone to search for you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made that kingdom or nation swear they had not found you. 11 “Now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Elijah is here!”’ 12 But when I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord may carry you off to some place I don’t know. Then when I go report to Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. But I, your servant, have feared the Lord from my youth. 13 Wasn’t it reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of the prophets of the Lord, 50 men to a cave, and I provided them with food and water. 14 Now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Elijah is here!”’ He will kill me!” 15 Then Elijah said, “As the Lord of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, today I will present myself to Ahab.” 16 Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him. Then Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, you destroyer of Israel?” 18 He replied, “I have not destroyed Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have abandoned the Lord’s commands and followed the Baals. 19 Now summon all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I am the only remaining prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire, He is God.” All the people answered, “That sounds good.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don’t light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made. 27 At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!” 28 They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them. 29 All afternoon they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound; no one answered, no one paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near me.” So all the people approached him. Then he repaired the Lord’s altar that had been torn down: 31 Elijah took 12 stones—according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel will be your name”— 32 and he built an altar with the stones in the name of Yahweh. Then he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold about four gallons. 33 Next, he arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and placed it on the wood. He said, “Fill four water pots with water and pour it on the offering to be burned and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “A second time!” and they did it a second time. And then he said, “A third time!” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; he even filled the trench with water. 36 At the time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached the altar and said, “Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things. 37 Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!”
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