When the Fire Really Falls (1 Kings 18:16-40)

False fire and fanaticism!

Today in the Church there is a lot of false fire and fanaticism regarding revival and the power of God. There is an unhealthy emphasis on Signs and wonders and many false prophets think they have a monopoly on God and advertise themselves as channels of God’s power. Those who challenge their doctrines and declarations by the standards of God’s Word are despised in their eyes. These “clouds without rain,” these “shooting stars” are always promising revival and blessing but it never happens making claims that they have heard directly from the Lord yet by their very deeds and doctrines deny His Word! They go to great lengths to dazzle the saints with their antics and staged theatrics.

Ahab vs Elijah

Ahab was a king and a leader of God’s people who had embraced the spirit of false religion when he married Jezebel who in reality was a practitioner of the occult and a witch. Because he listened to his wife and to the myriad of false prophets he had turned aside from following the Word of God. In those days one man stood alone, he, along with a faithful remnant of 7000 in Israel, had refused to bow the Knee to Baal. This man took his stand against the spirit of false religion personified in the witch Jezebel and spoke out against her prophets with their false predictions. Elijah was the true prophet of God in those days!

A man of like passions

In the Bible we are told that Elijah was “a man of like passions” that is to say a man who was very much like you and me as believers. He was subject to mood swings and could easily be discouraged and even afraid when the odds were stacked against him. Although he saw the Power of God operating in and through his life he still felt weak and inadequate for the task that God had given him to do. It took great courage and persistence to stand against the prevailing backslidden attitude and compromise that existed among the people of God. Everywhere he went he met with opposition and hostility. Yet he was not alone, as God had reserved 7000 in Israel who had not compromised God’s Word by worshipping Baal. However, they were in the minority.

The spirit of false religion

King Ahab their leader had fallen under occult power by marrying the witch Jezebel who also had 400 so called prophets that regularly ate at her table and worshipped the goddess Asherah. She personifies the spirit of all false religion. Jezebel herself was a Phoenician and a believer in Baal and Asherah. The god Baal supposedly controlled the rain and was considered as, “the rider on the clouds.” Asherah was a female goddess who was seen as an ever- pregnant deity. People actually believed that when Baal and Asherah mated there would be fertility in the land. This heretical and demonic doctrine was foreign to the Word of God. For three years God had sent a famine in the land to prove the point that He was the only true God and controlled the weather and the productivity of the land. Also the famine indicated that there was “a famine for the hearing of God’s Word” (Amos 8:11).

The prophets of Baal

To compound the problems Elijah faced there were the other 450 prophets of Baal who were leading the people into unbiblical worship of an unbiblical ‘god.’ Baal means; “husband.” God was Israel’s true “Baal” in that sense being their Father and husband, however, when Israel began to listen to the unbiblical doctrines of the false prophets and partake in unbiblical worship they ended up worshipping an unbiblical god. In the end they ended up sitting on the fence. However, God was about to “electrify” the fence so that they would have to jump one-way or the other.

Worshipping demons

The people in the land were in a life and death situation trying to cover all of their bases by mixing worship of God with the worship of other “gods.” In this way they were sure not to starve or so they thought. The Bible clearly tells us that worshipping other gods in any form or shape is the worship of demons (Deuteronomy 32:16-17) (1 Corinthians 10:20). Clearly God’s people were under the power of the occult. Jezebel, through her false prophets, had mesmerized the people of God to the point where they could no longer clearly see the truth of God’s Word.

Back to the Bible!

Whenever God’s people backslide or go into doctrinal error or start to listen to false prophets and teachers and worship God in unbiblical ways He will always send His true servants to turn His wayward people back to the Word of God. This is what He did in the Bible and down through Church history and even to this present day His servants have always been in the minority. The false prophets tried to call down the fire but nothing happened but when the true prophet of God stepped up to take his stand for God and His Word the fire really fell from heaven. What happens when the fire of God really falls? Let’s look at this in the text.

(Vs. 16-17) “So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah he said. “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

God’s true servants always trouble backslidden leaders. Elijah was a direct threat to Ahab’s kingdom. Whenever the leaders of God’s people go into rebellion there is always the power of witchcraft behind the scenes. As Samuel said to Saul who was also a backslidden leader, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” Like King Saul Ahab was dominated and controlled by occult power through Jezebel who was a witch. Remember that King Saul also went to a witch. When you see Church leaders saying and promoting things that go contrary to God’s Word you have the spirit of false religion at work behind the scenes. Today there are many “Jezebels” at work in the Church of God. Those who stand for the truth of God’s Word are always seen as “troublers of Israel.” Where do your Church leaders stand regarding the authority of God’s Word? Are there things being taught in your church that is not Biblical but you say nothing?

(Vs. 18) “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.”

 The Lord said through His servant Moses, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol…You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of their fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 204-6)

Ahab’s father had also been an evil man as it is written of him, “But Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him.” (1 Kings 16:25) He followed in the footsteps of Jeroboam who led the people of Israel into the worship of the Golden Calves. Ahab followed in Omri’s footsteps for we read of Ahab the same thing, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” (1 Kings 16:30) Ahab not only led the people into idolatry but actually married Jezebel the witch consequently bringing himself and the people of Israel under the direct spell of the occult. When the sins of the fathers are reproduced in their children they are usually worse than their fathers. This was the case with Ahab.

A generation of rebels

The church leaders who are compromising the Word of God today will see a generation of rebels tomorrow in their churches. While the Lord holds men and women individually responsible for their own sins there will be a “domino effect” on the children of those who deliberately go against the Word of God. This is not only true in families but also in churches. This is why those of us who teach will be judged with a greater strictness! Whenever church leaders abandon the Word of God they will inevitably go into false worship of a false god. There are many churches today whose members are worshipping false gods through Ecumenism, interfaith, Postmodernism, the Immerging Church, Purpose driven marketing strategies for church growth, faith prosperity and Kingdom Dominion Theology. All of these derivations are the same as Baal worship. When the church begins to serve and worship God in unbiblical ways they inevitably end up serving and worshipping an unbiblical god.

Is God a ‘Jelly roll?’

Many have a Jesus today who is like a Jelly roll that is sweet to the taste but has no nutritional value. Many in the Church have a Jesus who is all light and love and almost a kind of indulgent father figure, a spiritual dispensing machine that blesses everyone and anyone regardless of their own spiritual state or character. Many have the right Jesus but by their own definition but the wrong Jesus by the true and Biblical definition. If we abandon the Word of God we will inevitably go into witchcraft! This is what happened to King Saul. Now let’s move on.

(Vs. 19-20) “Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.”

Often when the true servants of God confront backslidden leaders those leaders will try to hush them up or get rid of them quietly so as not to disturb their people. Elijah would not be treated in this way but went public with the problem calling all the people and those who had been misleading them to a public confrontation. Of course Elijah was outnumbered as is the usual case. In the time of Jeremiah there were numerous false prophets running around prophesying falsely to the people and leading them astray. This has always been the case in every generation. God’s servants have had to virtually stand-alone against the prevailing unbiblical thinking. Whether it was the apostles, the early Christians, whether Luther, Wesley, Whitfield, Moody and numerous others we could mention throughout the long history of the Church, they have always been in the minority. In Elijah’s case there were at least 7,000 others who had not bowed the knee to Baal but they were in the minority as well.

They were named

In the Bible the true prophets always publicly opposed and challenged the false prophets and named them. Jeremiah did this with Hananiah, Paul did this with Hymenaeus and Alexander and with Alexander the coppersmith. He also named Elymas the false prophet and exposed him publicly. John also publicly named and opposed Diotrephes who loved to be first and put people out of fellowship. Peter rebuked Simon the sorcerer publicly. Well Elijah was doing the same thing. These prophets had publicly and unashamedly deceived the majority of the people of Israel so they needed to be rebuked and silenced publicly. This is the Bible way of dealing with false prophets.

Baal’s prophets

Today you have men like Benny Hinn, Kim Clement, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Peter C Wagner and others who appear publicly on the Trinity Broadcasting Network prophesying things in the name of the LORD that He did not say. All of this kind of thing is spiritual hype and deception, spiritual seduction and occult driven! These men in reality promote the “Baals” of covetousness, the love of money, “profiteering” on the blood of the Lamb and “fleecing” the people of God. Just watch them on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and how they go about getting money out of people! Let them deny this! It is obvious! Indeed it is written of these men, “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm-shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted-twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 11-13). This is what God says!

A Con job!

People in the world clearly see through this kind of thing and know it is “a con” but multitudes of God’s people into faith prosperity and who are at home in this world cannot see it. False prophets inevitably will lead many into hovering between two opinions. They hover between the clear teaching of God’s Word and the false teaching, signs, miracles and wonders of the false prophets. Now let’s move on…

(Vs. 21) “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you hover between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him;” But the people said nothing.”

Witchcraft always obscures the message of the cross. False doctrine is actually preaching rebellion against the Lord (Jeremiah 28:16). Wherever there is rebellion in the Church there is witchcraft. The two go hand in hand. They are the “power twins” of the occult. Because the people of God had been spiritually seduced they could no longer see God’s Word clearly. Things had become blurred. Their spiritual perception had become foggy. Witchcraft in the Church will always have this effect. For example when you look at the history of the Roman Catholic Church with its idolatry and false doctrines you can see very clearly the effect these things have on people’s ability to discern spiritually. However, there are many protestant denominations today no longer standing of God’s Word alone but like the people in the time of Elijah they are now hovering between two opinions and in some cases have gone into outright rebellion!

Hovering between two opinions

Through Elijah, God was challenging His people to choose a side, to make a quality decision as to whom they would love and serve. Either love Him and obey His Word or go with the false prophets into deception and judgment. He was giving them a choice. Today the Lord is again challenging the Church, “How long will you hover between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” Notice also that the people said nothing. I mean what could they say? as this was an open challenge to their belief system. Because they were hovering between two opinions they had no convictions about anything and so remained silent. This is why many professing Christians no longer have a clear testimony before the pagan world. They have nothing of any real spiritual value to say to the unsaved!

(Vs.22) “Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.”

The man with the Word of God burning in his belly and with the power of the Holy Spirit resting upon him will always be able to stand against the majority of false prophets, backslidden leaders and false teachers with their counterfeit signs, miracle and wonders. This was the precise case with Elijah. When you have the Lord on your side you are in the majority no matter how many false prophets, leaders or teachers there are arrayed against you. With the Word of God burning in your belly and with the anointing of the Spirit resting upon you the word of God will be like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces. Indeed the Word of God coming out of your mouth will be the “anvil” upon which the opinions of men are smashed. Jezebel had been killing the prophets but she could not destroy the power of the Word of God. Now, “the rubber would really hit the road” where the power of God was concerned. There would be a showdown between those who were offering “strange fire” and the one who could call down the real fire from God. Now let’s look at the situation further.

(Vs. 23-24) “Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let then 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 o 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.”

The true prophet of God will always point the people of God back to the sacrifice on the altar. Likewise, the true servant of God in the Church will always point the people of God back to the sacrifice on the altar of the cross. In type this is what Elijah was actually doing. He was bringing the people back to the meaning of the sacrifice that God accepts. The prophets of Baal had a counterfeit altar that looked the same as the real one but in reality it was a counterfeit of the real thing. False teachers and prophets will always mix truth and error and lay them alongside each other. There will always be “cheese in the rat trap.” This kind of thing will obscure the real meaning and significance of the cross. Through Elijah God was calling His people to once again prepare the altar of their hearts to love and obey Him so that He could send the fire to cleanse and purify their hearts and lives from their sin, from their idolatry and from their compromise with the Word of God. At this stage the people of God were still not convinced. They had seen the so-called ‘false fire’ in the past and would see it again but as before there would be no results at all.

(Vs. 25-26) “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.” 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.”

The prophets of Baal were like the false prophets of today who are always prophesying blessings and revivals that never happen and that with great fervency but the fire never falls! You can see them on the Trinity Broadcasting Network one after the other prophesying blessing and revival to come and at the same time telling God’s people to part with their money. One that is very good at doing this kind of thing is Benny Hinn. If ever there was a man in the character of Simon the sorcerer or Balaam the money hungry prophet it is Benny Hinn. I have actually seen him doing this on Television.

Many false fires!

          There have been many false revivals in history and some quite recently that have never lasted, neither have they changed society. Whether it was Pensacola, the Laughing revival with Rodney Howard Browne, or the so-called recent revival at Lakeland with Todd Bentley or the so called Super Apostles ordaining him led by their guru Peter C Wagner it is all offering up “strange fire.” What they do not realize is that when the sons of Aaron did this that the fire fell from heaven all right but it consumed them! Aaron’s sons who were lawfully ordained priests did not offer up their worship in the Biblical way and were consumed! In the time of Jeremiah the false prophets had their day but when the Babylonians came and burnt the city of Jerusalem with fire they were nowhere to be seen! Now let’s continue.

(Vs. 27) “At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy (literally-“sitting on the toilet”) or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

No matter what these false prophets said or did they could not “make it rain.” In other words when the real power of God was desperately needed these guys had nothing to offer. They were “clouds without rain” “Shooting stars” that were here today but gone tomorrow. They were merely, “flash in the pan prophets” and nothing more. No matter how impressive and dazzling their antics were they could not bring down the fire of God onto the altar they had set up. It is the same with the false prophets inundating the Church today who like the prophets of Baal seek to mesmerize God’s people with their dreams and visions and unbiblical revelations even to the point of twisting the Word of God to make it say what they want it to say. This is what Satan did in the Garden of Eden and this is what he did with Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness. Today he is trying the same thing with God’s woman the Church. Well these guys never gave up. When things aren’t happening just turn up the performance, make it more dramatic! Shout down the true prophet of God and this is exactly what they did.

(Vs. 28-29) “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 of the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.”

 How these false prophets put on a show as all false prophets do. Even today it is the same in many Churches those leading the Church are putting on a show. They are giving people what they want and of course many pew sitters have “itching ears” to see the display and actually gather around them teachers that will say what they want to hear. Now the people of Israel were used to this regular display of showmanship by these false prophets until Elijah the true prophet of God turned up with the Word of God burning in his belly! In the end, after the big show staged by the false prophets, nothing happened.

(V30) “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.”

 The altar of the Lord always points to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Elijah was pointing them back to look again at the sacrificial altar where their only hope of peace and reconciliation with God lay. It is true in the Church as well. When the preachers and leaders bypass the cross and it becomes no longer central to the life and ministry of the Church they, and the people they lead, go into spiritual deception. Notice that the altar of the Lord was “in ruins.” The people had been led away from the centrality of the sacrifice and what it meant for them as individuals and as a nation. Witchcraft always obscures the true meaning of the cross. The false prophets of Baal had their own altar but it was a counterfeit of the real one. For example when you look at the sacrifice of the Mass in the Roman Catholic Church you have the same kind of thing. It is an altar but a counterfeit means of salvation. Many others in the Church build their “altars” around postmodernism, ecumenism, interfaith, purpose driven marketing strategies, Psychology, Humanism, icons, images and especially the golden calf of money.

Monuments to who?

Many others, like King Saul or Absalom, build monuments to themselves in their Mega Churches or through their television ministries. While all these things are conspicuous features in the Church today the message of the cross lays in ruins, forgotten in the mad frenzy of Kingdom Dominion thinking, drowned in the waters of faith prosperity doctrines, ruined by the pride and arrogance of many who claim to know and love Jesus yet despise His Word the Bible. Like King Saul they actually reject the Word of God! No wonder the fire never falls on such congregations! Indeed it is time for many who profess to know God to turn away from the false doctrines and teachers and to come once again to the foot of the cross where all ambition, pride, arrogance, false teaching and false hopes are crucified. For many in their personal lives the altar of the cross now lays in ruins, its message neglected and ignored. As Elijah drew the people’s attention back to the altar so the true servant of God will always draw God’s backslidden people back to the cross. Now let’s continue…

(Vs.31-35) “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 (15 litres) of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull in 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.”

 The altar was built on twelve stones each representing the tribes of Israel. For the sake of Jacob and the covenant God had with his descendants the Lord was seeking to restore His people back to Himself through the sacrificial altar. Indeed it is only at the foot of the cross that any of us can have a genuine and intimate relationship with the Lord. The wonderful truth is that God will always forgive and cleanse His people from sin when they come back to the foot of the cross, laying down all pride, all rebellion, all false hopes, all selfish ambitions and the idols they have erected on the altars of their hearts and by faith embracing the good acceptable and perfect will of God for their lives once again. Only at the foot of the cross when the altar of the heart has been prepared will the true sanctifying fire of God fall!

The centrality of the cross

Notice Elijah poured water over the sacrifice three times. There would be no trickery involved. There would be no human agent interfering with this work of God. Three times he did this to make sure that the sacrifice was completely saturated. It is impossible to light a fire when everything is soaked in water. Also the fact that it was done three times may point to the work of the cross in that the Lord Jesus would die and be raised again on the third day. Everywhere in the Old Testament whenever we see a sacrifice laid on the wood of an altar it always speaks of the Lord Jesus nailed to the cross of wood for our sin and rebellion against God. The moment we move away from the message of the cross we inevitably go into spiritual deception and doctrinal error. In fact any doctrine that bypasses the message of the cross in any way is in reality witchcraft!

(Vs. 36) “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.”

It was “the time of sacrifice” when the true message of the altar of God would be clearly displayed to His people. It was God’s timing. This is the case in revival. God has His time to bring His people back to the foot of the cross and there to wait with humility and surrender until the fire of the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven to consume the world, the flesh and the devil that has lain on the altar of their hearts and lives. Notice also that Elijah prayed to the God of Abraham Isaac and Israel. He was reminding the Lord of His blood covenant made with Abraham and with his descendants. He was reminding the Lord to remember His people, not for their sakes, but for His own names sake and because He had shed blood in the covenant He had made with them. As it is written, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) God will always forgive sin only on the basis of the shed blood of Christ. (Romans 5:9).

Only at the foot of the cross

Indeed if God has mercy upon us when we return to Him from our backsliding of heart it is not because of anything we have merited or deserved but solely because of what the Lord Jesus has done for us at the cross. It has always been and will always be that the only way anyone of us can approach God is through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only at the foot of the cross can we be truly sanctified and become partakers of that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” Indeed as it is written, “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-this is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore as it is written, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” Once Elijah had prepared the altar and had prayed the fire from God really fell!

(Vs. 38) “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.”

It was only when the whole of the sacrifice was laid on the altar with no part held back that the fire fell. It is the same for us as believers. It is only when all of our plans, our ambitions, our pursuits, our pleasures and especially our wills are laid at the foot of the cross that the fire of God’s love and power will fall upon the prepared altar of our hearts. Every idol must be presented on the altar to be consumed by the fire of God’s Spirit. If we hold anything back from Him then the fire will not fall. If we try to get rid of our idols any other way it will not be successful. Indeed it is only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that can cleanse our hearts from every form of sin and rebellion. It is only the blood of Jesus that can purify the conscience from dead works to enable us to serve the living God and it is only the fire of the Spirit of God that can consume the idols in our lives.

Idols in the heart

In the time of Elijah the problem was idolatry and this grieved God’s heart. God had to deal with this idolatry, which was being perpetuated among the Israelites by the cult of Baal worship. It is idolatry that causes a believer to turn away from the Word of God and to turn to the doctrines and commandments of men. Idols themselves take many forms. It may be the desire to be a successful business person, or some ambition to be recognized and looked up to. It could be that you love television, movies, sport, worldly amusements and entertainment, possessions, fame and money. It may be you love to have important positions in the Church, to be admired and thought well of. It could be that your motives to serve the Lord are mixed and not pure, that there is a mixture of truth and error knowing full well that God hates a mixture. It could be that you are putting a human relationship above your relationship with the Lord. Maybe it is some long treasured ambition to be successful in the eyes of man that has never been fulfilled personally in your life. It may be that you are even in the ministry for your own gratification and selfish ambition. Whatever the idol may be it is time to bring it to the foot of the cross and to leave it there. It is time to prepare the altar of your heart and to lay upon it not only your favourite idols but also yourself.

“The LORD take Indian”

You know there is a story told of an Indian who owned a rifle, a horse and a blanket and who attended a revival meeting. When the appeal was given to surrender to the Lord the Indian went to the front and said “the Lord take rifle” and left it at the altar and then left the meeting. However, his heart was not at peace so he went back again the next night and when the appeal was made went forward again to the front and said, “the Lord take blanket” and leaving it there at the altar left the meeting. However, he still had no peace so he went back again for the third night and when the appeal was given went to the front and said, “the Lord take horse” and leaving the horse at the altar left the meeting. Well he still had no peace in his heart and he had nothing left to bring, however, he went to the meeting for the fourth time and this time when the appeal was given he went to the altar and said “the Lord take Indian.” At that moment at the altar he found his peace with God.”

Forget the hysterics and the hype!

When God’s people see the real fire of God fall they do not jump around laughing hysterically or roll around on the floor or run around hugging each other but they fall on their faces before the Lord repenting and confessing the sin, the rebellion and the idolatry. No one is laughing or having a good time. No one is up the front manipulating the people. No one is playing soft music in the background. Indeed we see the spirit of a true revival in the response that the people of Israel made when they saw the real fire from heaven fall. Now let’s continue…

(Vs. 39) “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord-He is God!”

There was no doubt in their minds when they saw the real fire from God fall from heaven. At that moment they were able to distinguish the real fire from the false fire. It was unmistakably clear to them who in fact was God and who it was that could really make the fire fall. Elijah we are told in the New Testament was a man of like passions as we all are. He was human, weak, not very polished in character, not popular, rather depressed and easily discouraged yet the Word of God burnt brightly down on the inside and the Spirit of God sat heavy upon him and in the Lord’s strength was able to overcome every obstacle that he faced at this time. By the power of the Holy Spirit of God he was able to say and to do what was humanly impossible. The altar of his heart had already been prepared before the Lord and the only thing that mattered to him was that God and His Word was honoured and upheld in Israel. Even though he prayed for recognition as God’s prophet he knew the real secret of God’s power. He knew full well that he could not manipulate the power of God but only prepare the conditions that would enable God to send the fire. Only when the altar of our heart has been prepared and our will laid down will the fire of God fall upon us. Notice that the fire consumed everything. Nothing was left (Vs. 38).

(Vs.40) “Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.”

Once the people saw the truth they dispatched the false prophets. They put to death all of those who had led them into idolatry. Not that we are to kill false prophets today. However, in the time of Elijah and throughout the Old Testament those who prophesied falsely were put to death. We don’t stone them today but the sin is no less serious and there have been cases when God has actually removed certain people who had been prophesying falsely and leading His people into idolatry. However, the lesson for us as believers is that we are to put to death all of our favourite idols once and for all by bringing them to the altar of the cross. Only in this way will we experience the real and genuine fire of God.

When the drought breaks

Once the people had turned their hearts back to the Lord the spiritual drought over the land was broken and the rain began to fall again (Vs. 45). The rain of the Spirit always follows repentance. As it is written, “It is the anointing that breaks the yoke.” Notice also that all the prophets were killed and not one was spared. We should have the same attitude towards the idols in our lives. We must not spare them. Whatever it is that occupies most of our leisure time is what we worship. It may be something that in itself is not wrong but because we spend more time doing it and thinking about it than we do praying and studying God’s Word it becomes an idol and a spiritual snare to our walk with God. Of course it is only the power of God that can destroy and remove the ‘Baal’s’ from our hearts but our responsibility is to lay them on the altar until the fire falls. This may take time but it’s the time we must make if we would know the power of God and come to see when the fire of God really falls!

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