Revive Us Again pt 6 - Let God Be God
Revive Us Again (pt 6)
Let God Be God
1 Kings 18
Read 2 Chron. 7:14
Read Revival Fire pg 77-78
So far in our study of the Keys to Spiritual Revival we’ve looked at getting rid of our idols, confessing our sin and that we are to serve the Lord only. Today we are going to look at a fantastic revival that gives us another key to spiritual revival and that key is this it’s time to let God be God.
In 931 B.C. the great and glorious kingdom which had lasted for about 100 years under the reigns of great people like David and Solomon was divided, split in two with two tribes to the south and ten to the north. And guess what, things did not go that well, especially for the northern tribes.
In just 58 years they had been ruled by seven kings: Jeroboam, the installer of the two calves designed to replace the worship of Yahweh (1 Kings 12:28-32); Nadab, who walked in the sins of his father, Jeroboam (15:26); Baasha, who murdered Nadab (15:27); Elah, a drunkard and murderer (16:8-9); Zimri, who was guilty of treason (16:20); Omri, a military adventurer who did “worse than all who were before him” (16:25-26). That brings us up to the seventh king, the son of Omri and as bad as the first six were Ahab did more evil than all who were before him. Ahab is the one who married the daughter of the king of Sidon, the infamous Jezebel (16:30-31). The nation had been won over to the worship of the Canaanite gods, especially Baal.
God had become so small, so insignificant that they barely remembered who He was. They had again fallen into putting others above the One True God. Again we are tempted to sit back some 3000 years after the events have happened and judge the Israelites thinking how could they keep making the same mistake over and over again. They keep comparing God to man, forces, and nations, problems, to issues of their own invention. But do we do that today too? Don’t we sometimes dwell in our problems because we think they are so big that there is nothing that could help? We need a brand new view of the living God! God in all His fullness, all His power, all His glory! We need to hear the shout of Isaiah in our generation: “Say to the cities, ‘Behold your God!’” (Isa. 40:9 NKJV) Like us the Israelites needed revival urgently once again.
So to shock Israel back into thinking biblically about God, He sent a man, Elijah the Tishbite from Gilead. Few could have come from more lowly backgrounds than this man. Gilead was a high, stony region in Transjordan just east of the Sea of Galilee. Elijah was a nobody. The only fact we know about him is the name is parents gave him, meaning “Yahweh is my God.” What a name! And guess what? He lived up to that name. While a nation was going crazy over a nonexisting god named Baal, Elijah was living up to his name. Out of nowhere he appeared and took center stage in the palace of Ahab – the henpecked husband and poor excuse for a king. Elijah shows up and bravely announced this divine message to the weak Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Ki 17:1)
Compare what Elijah did to say if you or I had a mess to bring to the President of the United States. I would venture to say that we might fail to carry out our task because we might be so impressed with being in the presence of one of the most powerful people in the world. Just being in the White House might cause us to rethink what we were going to say, but not Elijah. He possessed a vision of God that exceeded all the trappings of other mortals. And that is the vision we need to recapture if we are to experience the reviving power of God again. Its time we let God be God!
There are three works of God that demonstrate that He is the incomparable God. The first is that He makes us courageous.
To get the attention of a people that had abandoned their exclusive loyalty to their Lord, God removed from them some of the assumed gifts of life. It is only God who can give or withhold rain. And that is what He did in this instance to pull the Israelites back to their senses again.
And then God gave a second command to His brave new recruit, except that second command came after three and one-half years of absolute drought in which there had been neither dew nor rain. God said to Elijah: After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria, (1 Ki 18:1-2)
We read that and think, so, he’s already gone there once before what’s the big deal. The big deal is that Queen Jezebel was putting the Lord’s prophets to death by the score and yet he was going to see the king. If anyone had paid attention they would be thinking here was a nobody, from nowhere, a prophet of some god and he’s going to see the king, how stupid can you get? Doesn’t he know as soon as he walks into the palace he’s a dead man? But you see, they were not giving the proper respect to the One whom Elijah was working for. To the One and only true God. Tt was God who made Elijah so bold so that he could walk before Ahab.
For three and one-half years God tried to let the events of life, especially this great drought, soften the hearts of this king and queen as well as their people. But the reverse had happened. The queen was infuriated to such an extent that she took up killing the prophets of God as a hoppy.
Yet God sent this prophet, His prophet back to the king. Did you notice the condition that had to take place in order for the rain to fall? “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” Our first steps in obedience are for a greater and more climactic moment of success later on.
Elijah was not only bold in facing the king, he was courageous in rebuking fellow believers as well,
and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of his palace. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another. As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’ ” “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!” Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.” (1 Ki 18:3-15)
The believer here is Obadiah, Ahab’s secretary of state and he is a devout believer. Even though he lives and works in the palace right under the king’s and more importantly, the queen’s nose, he did not compromise his own principles. He had hidden 100 prophets of God and had really thought this out for he placed them in two separate caves and provided food and water for them. But even though he was a devout believer, Elijah had to rebuke him. He settled all of Obadiah’s fears with a strong declaration in the name of the Lord (v. 15).
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. (1 Ki 18:16-18)
Elijah basically told Ahab that he was responsible for everything that has happened and then he ordered the king to summon all of Israel to Mount Carmel for a showdown. Not just the towns folk he wanted the state paid 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. So Ahab did as he was told by Elijah.
So the first of the three works of God that demonstrate He is without equal is that He makes us courageous the second is that He shows us His power.
Most would look at Elijah and think is only a man but one person plus God is always a majority, and Elijah believed that! He stands in front of all these people and confronts them: Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. (1 Ki 18:21)
This same question needs to be asked today! How long will you waver? It’s time that we take a stand and follow the true God. Unfortunately when we are asked this question we tend to do the same thing that the people of Elijah’s day did – say nothing. In our saying nothing we are actually making a very loud proclamation because Jesus said in Matt. 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. (Mt 12:30)
God had enabled Elijah to go before the king with boldness and power, but an awesome display of His power was yet to come.
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.” Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” (1 Ki 18:22-25)
Picture with me what is going on here. The land is so dry it is blowing away. There has been no water at all in the last 3 plus years. The nation of Israel has moved to Mount Carmel and Elijah has challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah to prepare a sacrifice to god and he will do the same, but neither was to light the sacrifice fire, but they were to call out to their god to light it for them. Elijah is so confident in God’s power that he offers to let the other so called prophets to go first and even allows them to choose the first bull. How could they go wrong – they got to go first they got to pick the bull first and it was going to happen at the time and place this was best suited for them.
Verse 26 says: So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. (1 Ki 18:26)
Now what happens next may not seem very Christian, but who among us hasn’t thought about doing this very thing. Starting with verse 27 it says: At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. (1 Ki 18:27-29)
From six in the morning until three in the afternoon the prophets of Baal and Asherah dances, cried, shouted, and even cut themselves with swords and knives, all to no avail. The slightest spark would have set the whole thing up in flames with as dry as everything was, and yet nothing. Elijah even mocked them telling them to yell louder because their god might have gone out for a walk or gone on vacation – which they believed he did from time to time. But isn’t it great to know that our God is always present?! Our God is always there listening for us.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. (1 Ki 18:30-35)
Now it was Elijah’s turn and he made it even more difficult. He did not want to do the same thing that the other prophets did and then have them says that they had warmed things up for him. Elijah rebuilt the altar, but and arranged the bull and then he had the people pour water over the whole thing, not once, not twice, three times, so much water that it flowed down into the trench that Elijah had dug around the altar and it was standing no longer soaking in. And then
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (1 Ki 18:36-39)
Our God does not do thing half way. It would have been good enough for Him to light the fire, but in one swoop God sent fire from heaven and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil and even the water in the trench. Our God is a powerful God! And when the people saw this they fell down and cried out, “The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God! What about the prophets of Baal and Asherah? Elijah told the people to kill them and that is what they did.
When we turn to God and let Him be God we will see His great and mighty power in ways we’ve never seen before! The last of the three works that demonstrates that God is without equal is that He answers our prayers. You would think that this is the end of a great story and lesson for the Israelites and us, but its not. Remember what it was that started this whole thing? Elijah had gone to Ahab to tell him that there would be no water in the land, no dew, no rain, that was some three years ago and now he had shown back up and said that it was going to rain.
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” (1 Ki 18:41-44)
Elijah prayed for the rain, God had already told him that if we went to Ahab it would rain, but here is Elijah praying for rain. And it doesn’t say that he prayed once and then went home – he prayed until it happened. Seven times he sent the servant to go and look toward the sea, checking the sky for any sign of rain or even clouds. Six times the servant came back and said there was nothing there, but on the seventh time there off in the distance he saw a cloud as small as a man’s hand and Elijah knew his prayers had been answered – and the rains came and ended the long drought.
If we turn to God and let Him be the might and powerful God that He truly is then: He makes us courageous, He shows us His power, He answers our prayers. How can we go wrong by doing letting God be God?