Summary: I want to begin my thoughts this morning with a fella who was going to sky dive for the first time. After all lessons he went out and jumped out of plane, but this time he panicked. He couldn’t remember how to open parachute. Falling quickly to earth, whe
I want to begin my thoughts this morning with a fella who was going to sky dive for the first time. After all lessons he went out and jumped out of plane, but this time he panicked. He couldn’t remember how to open parachute. Falling quickly to earth, when of all things, he passes another guy who’s coming up. And so he seizes the oppty and says, “Say, buddy. Do you know how to open a parachute?” The guy said, “No. Do you know how to light a gas grill?”
It is not wise to play with fire. Now maybe that is why God has chosen fire to be the symbol of his presence. Maybe you haven’t noticed that but it’s actually all through your Bibles. When Moses met the presence of God in the desert it was in the form of a burning bush. And when the people of Israel confronted the presence of God at Sinai, it says the “mountain was on fire.” And when Solomon dedicated the temple it says the “glory of the Lord fell and fire fell from heaven.” And when Daniel had a vision of the Ancient of Days, it says that “the throne was on fire and a river of fire came out from it.” And when Ezekiel had his vision in chapter 1 he “saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it “full of fire.”
I think it’s significant that God in the law of Moses said to the priests, “Don’t ever let the fire on the altar go out. It must burn continually.” And it is more significant that John the Baptist said, “I baptize in water, but there is one coming after me who is mightier than I, and he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” In fact, Jesus himself said in Luke 12:49, “I have come to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.”
II. THE REVIVAL FIRE OF ELIJAH
Maybe that’s why throughout history revival has always been associated with fire. Now, what do we mean when we talk about revival fire? When I talk about “lighting the fire again”, when I say someone “is on fire for God”, when I say “God has really lit a flame in that heart” that’s hard to explain. I feel a little bit like Louie Armstrong, the famous trumpeteer, who was asked one time to define rhythm. And Louie said, “Rhythm is what, if you’ve got it, you don’t need a definition. And if you don’t got it, no definition is any good.”
Now I think the same is true about revival fire. If you’ve got it, you can’t explain it, and if you don’t got it, all the sermons in the world can’t explain it. To pray for revival is to pray for fire from heaven to break out. And no one knew how to start a fire better than Elijah, so open your Bible with me to the book of 1 Kings.
We’re studying this fall on Sunday mornings great revivals in the Bible. Two weeks ago we saw the revival at Mt. Sinai with Moses. Last week we saw the revival at Mizpah under the judge Samuel. And now we’re going to study for the next several weeks revivals during the times of the kings. And this morning we’re going to study the only revival that ever took place in the northern kingdom.
The ten tribes had succeeded from the southern two tribes, had nineteen kings, and the Bible says every one of them were evil. But ironically, the greatest revival, perhaps in the Bible, took place during the rein of the most evil monarch.
In 1 Kings 16:29-33 it says…READ. Now, if we read more we would see that Ahab had no strong religious convictions but he married a woman who did. And Jezebel was determined to make Baalism the state religion of Israel. And she had two primary ways she was trying to make that happen. The first was through the state support of false prophets. She had 850 false prophets that used to eat at her table in the palace, supported by her. And the second way she tried to make Baalism the religion of Israel is by murdering the prophets of God. And many righteous men of God were put to death by Jezebel, in fact, there was servant of Ahab, Obadiah, a devout man, who took the last hundred prophets he could find still alive and hid them in two caves and fed them food and water and kept them from Jezebel to spare their lives.
The Bible says in1 Kings 21:25, “There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife.” This was as dark a time as we ever read in the history of the people of Israel. But in the midst of this darkness, like a fire from heaven, a comet suddenly appears and blazes in the palace of the king. Now the Bible says in I Kings 17:1, “Now Elijah, the Tishbite, from Tishbe, in Gilead, said to 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 by my word.”