Summary: The irony is that Israel was in the midst of a DROUGHT, and yet the people were commanded to pour water on the sacrifice! Don’t miss this: They were instructed to put their most precious possession on the altar if they were to experience God’s Fire!
PRINCIPLES FOR RECOVERING THE FIRE OF GOD
1 Kings 18:36-39 "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. 38Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God."
• I want to direct your attention to a fire today. We find it burning in the pages of 1 Kings 18, specifically verses 36-39. In this chapter we find the story of Elijah, the prophet of God confronting the wicked prophets of Baal. For those who may not be familiar with this story, allow me to give you a quick “thumb-nail sketch” of what is taking place.
• King Ahab:
1. Was the reigning king in Israel
2. Scripture informs us that Ahab “did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” (1 Kings 16:33)
3. He had turned his people from the worship of God to the worship of Baal, a heathen god.
4. Because of the wickedness of Israel, God had caused the heavens to be closed for 3 1/2 years.
1. Announced that “there would be no dew drop on any flower for years, no rain cloud to cross the sky for years, no rains to drench the land for years. All skies would be pitilessly brass.”
1. In the midst of a devastating drought.
2. There was no fruit on the vines.
3. Terrible famine plagued the land.
4. The refreshing drops of rain no longer quench the thirst of a parched land.
5. The long-term drought resulted in kingdom-wide starvation .
That was the situation after three and a half years of drought and famine. There was no food to satisfy the hunger or water to quench the thirst. People were dying in record numbers because of the hard-heartedness of their king.
• We find in 1 Kings 18 the prophet Elijah emerging from 3 1/2 years of seclusion to challenge Ahab, king of Israel. In meeting with this evil king, the prophet assures him that the long drought and famine is a result of the sin of the children of Israel. Elijah states: "If God is God, serve Him! If Ba’al, then serve him!" But how is this to be determined? Simple!! There is to be a head-to-head confrontation between the 450 prophets of Baal and Elijah, the prophet of the most high God! The terms of the contest are set forth in vv 23,24:
“Now bring two young bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without putting any fire under the wood; and I will prepare the other young bull and lay it on the wood on the Lord’s altar, with no fire under it. 24 Then pray to your god, and I will pray to the Lord; and the god who answers by sending fire to light the wood is the true God!”
As we examine our text this evening, there are four principles of the fire we need to notice. First. . .
THE FIRE WAS NECESSARY FOR THE PEOPLE’S SURVIVAL
• God never condones apostasy and idolatry for long!
1. There is a point where His mercy is turned to judgment.
2. There is a line drawn that when crossed, He will say “It is enough.” Not long after giving His people the Law on Mt. Sinai God warned them:
Deu 30:16-18 “I have commanded you today to love the Lord your God and to follow his paths and to keep his laws, so that you will live and become a great nation, and so that the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to possess. 17 But if your hearts turn away and you won’t listen--if you are drawn away to worship other gods-- 18 then I declare to you this day that you shall surely perish; you will not have a long, good life in the land you are going in to possess.”