Scripture: 1 Kings 18:18-46
Title: Repentance, Revival and Rain
Theme: Answered Prayers/Extended Blessings
Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2020 is going to go down in the history books for a lot of things. It will of course be the year of the Great Pandemic commonly called Covid-19 or by its two official names:
+It’s disease name – Coronavirus Disease
+It’s virus name - SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2)
And its unofficial name – The Wuhan Virus (NOT PC)
It is also going to be known as the year of shortages. There have been all kinds of shortages including:
+Toilet Paper +Painkillers +Sedatives +Lysol
+Garlic +Rice +Pasta +Clorox
+Meat (all kinds) +Face Masks +Gloves +Coins
And of course if you have watched the news there has been a shortage of civility and good old common sense and moral values.
We have found out a lot about ourselves over the last few months. Some things we have like and some things we have not liked. Hopefully, in the end it will lead to us to being a better people and becoming a better nation.
Our story this morning deals with a time when the nation of Israel was also suffering from a disaster. This disaster was not the result of some type of virus but of a drought.
It was a drought that had been prophesied by the Prophet Elijah. The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY had told him to announce to King Ahab and to the whole nation of Israel that because of Israel’s rebellion and sin God was going to stop the rains. At the time of our story this morning more than three years had gone by since Elijah’s first announcement.
Three plus years of watching creek after creek, stream after stream, well after well and watering hole after watering hole begin to dry up until there was hardly any water to be found anywhere in Israel. Three long years of watching the fig trees disappear, palm trees shrivel and grain crops wither. Three plus years of watching the cattle herds dwindle down to just a few head and sheep and the goat herds doing the same.
People everywhere were hungry; especially those who lived in rural areas and those who didn’t have very much to start with in the first place. Farmers who had done their best to eke out a living in a good year now had to turn to the corrupt government of King Ahab for a handout.
At first there was plenty of food and things in storage. But after three years things were mighty touch and even King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were beginning to feel the pinch.
For we all know when disaster hits the line between the rich and the poor is very easy to see. While others had to go without water and food those who sat around King Ahab’s table still had water to drink, meat to eat and delicacies to feast upon. It wasn’t until the third year that the Ahab’s government was coming under duress.
It was a time of chaos. It was a time of violence as land owners were doing their best to keep people from stealing the little water that they had in their creeks and streams. It was a time of protests as people all over the nation demanded something be done.
Like most kings at that time King Ahab looked for a convenient scapegoat. He looked for someone or something he could blame. He chooses to blame the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. He did not believe in the LORD. He and his wife Jezebel believed in Baal and Ashtoreth. He instructed the people of Israel people to forsake the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY to these gods for rain, blessing and prosperity.
However, none of those prayers were working. After three plus years people were tired of praying to Baal, to Ashtoreth and any number of other gods. None of those gods were listening.
Q. Was there anyone up in heaven listening to their prayers?
Q. Was there anyone who could rescue them?
That is where we find ourselves as we read our passage – Let’s turn to 1 Kings 18:18-46.
I. At First, We See That Battle Lines Are Drawn
The Prophet Elijah calls for a Battle; a Spiritual Battle.
Elijah goes to King Ahab and demands that the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth join him in an all out Spiritual Battle. Whoever’s god wins is who Israel will serve. The meeting place for the battle will be on Mt. Carmel which was located in the ancient lands of the tribe of Asher.
Right in front of Mt. Carmel is this wonderful meadow where thousands of people can gather and look up at the mountain and view the event that was to take place. Elijah could not have picked a place that was any better in all of Israel.
On the appointed day everyone that could gathered together around the mountain. I am sure some of the people that gathered there didn’t believe anything could or would happen. After all, thousands of people had been praying to Baal, Ashtoreth, and anyone else they could pray too for three years without anything happening.
All that would happen would be a big show by King Ahab’s 850 prophets that would result in nothing and then a big show by Elijah that would result in nothing. If the last three years had taught them anything it was that there was no god, no Savior or Deliverer. There was no one to rescue them. In a few more months none of this would matter because they would all be dead.
At the same time those who followed Baal and Ashtoreth were excited. Finally, they would get the chance to prove to everyone that the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY was a fake. They would finally get be able to get rid of this old man Elijah whom everyone seemed afraid of once and for all. After today no one in all of Israel would ever dare to call upon the name of the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY or even whisper His name.
After all, wasn’t Baal the God of Thunder? Didn’t Baal ride on the clouds and bring forth the thunder and the rain? Wasn’t Ashtoreth the Queen of Heaven? Didn’t she have power over the sea and all the waters on the earth? Surely, the God of Thunder aligned with the Queen of Heaven could conquer anything together. This was going to be their moment to shine.
Standing against them all by himself was the Prophet Elijah. He had no worship team assembled. He had no big tent set up. There were no big banners or large congregation of worshippers following him. He was all by himself.
In the natural, it looked like 850 prophets up against one old man. It looked like hundreds of worshippers against one old man.
But as we know this morning, it was never really a fair contest. For Baal and Ashtoreth were not real. They were manmade. They had no power. Oh, they could have had some demons doing some rather strange things hiding behind their names but now that there were being gathered in the midst of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords they were powerless.
2. Secondly, We Witness a Worship Service
Essentially, the story we read here is a worship service. Elijah asks that the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth worship first. They began to worship with King Ahab and everyone that had gathered together.
And worship they did. They sang. They prayed. They praised. They sang some more. They prayed some more. They yelled. They danced. They yelled some more. They sang some more. They yelled some more. They danced some more.
But nothing happened. Not a cloud appeared in the sky. Not a sound of thunder was heard. Not a drop of rain fell. Nothing happened. The only thing was happening was the noise they were making.
Then someone got the idea that what they really had to do was to surrender everything to Baal and Ashtoreth. They had to do some spectacular to get Baal’s and Ashtoreth’s attention. So, they got out some knives and began cutting themselves showing the gods that they were 100% committed. They began pouring their own human blood on the altar. Surely, their human blood would be more sacrificial than some bull blood. Surely now, Baal and Ashtoreth would come to their rescue.
So, now we have singing, praying, praising, yelling, dancing and blood dripping everywhere. We have gowns that were once snow white dripping with blood. Everyone is in a frenzy. People are crawling all over the ground with blood going everywhere. It’s all rather crazy. It is outrageous.
Q. Why did they do that?
-They were desperate.
- They believed in the depths of their souls that they could manipulate Baal and Ashtoreth.
- They believed that if they could just show Baal and/or Ashtoreth that they were 100% committed that the rain would come and they could get rid of Elijah once and for all.
They did this all day long. They were absolutely committed. Their yelling, praising, praying, singing, jumping up and down and cutting themselves lasted for hours. People became exhausted. Some fell down out of exhaustion and loss of blood. But through it all – no clouds, no thunder and no rain. Nothing. Absolutely Nothing.
Finally, Elijah has had enough of the show. He had allowed them to prove that there gods were nothing but stone and wood. He had allowed them to make a fool of themselves. It was time for evening worship and so Elijah tells them to stop. They have had enough time.
The Prophet Begins to Worship the LORD.
+First, He invites all that want to come near him.
+Second, he sets up one of the old altars that had been built by the tribe of Asher years ago.
+Elijah takes 12 stones and as he builds his altar no doubt he is reminding the people of Israel back to the time when God rescued the 12 Tribes from Egypt and gave them the Promise Land. He reminds them that all 12 Tribes had made a commitment on another mountain (Mt. Sinai) that they would only serve the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. He reminds them that the reason they are in this disaster is because King Ahab, Queen Jezebel and the people have forsaken the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.
+He carefully prepares his offering to the LORD
+He douses it with water – now, where did he get his water?
No doubt they had to go all the way to the River Kishon to get some water. He douses his sacrifice with gallon upon gallon of water. The bull, the altar and the surrounding area are drenched.
+He invites people to join him in a simple worship service – it would not be the kind that had been going on for hours – all the cutting and shouting. It would be a rather quiet service – just some quiet time and some prayer time.
In fact, Elijah’s prayer is rather simple:
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord answer me! O Lord, are god and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
It is not a prayer condemning anyone. It is a prayer inviting all Israel back to the LORD. It is a prayer for God’s grace and mercy. It is a prayer asking Heaven to Invade Earth. It is a prayer of salvation.
As soon as the prayer is prayed, immediately the heavens opened up and fire fell down. The fire consumed the sacrifice, the water, the stones and even the dust. When God comes down He does it with power and authority.
What happens next is important. It shows what happens when true worship is given to the LORD. It shows what happens when Heaven Invades Our Earth.
+The people began to repent. They had experienced an encounter with the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY and as a result they immediately repented. They turned back to the LORD. They publicly proclaim their allegiance – “THE LORD – He is God! Yes, the LORD is God!”.
This is what happens when we allow Heaven to invade our Earth. This is what happen when the power and presence of the LORD arrives. This is what happens when we take our eyes off the world and on to the LORD God Almighty.
+Elijah then got rid of the evil in their midst. Sadly, this included those who did not repent – the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth.
When we truly repent we do the same. We do our best to rid of things in our lives that do not honor the LORD. When we truly repent we get rid of evil.
As wonderful as all this spiritual battle was there still was no rain. But as we read rain was coming.
III. Repentance Paves the Way for Blessing
+We see the Battle. +We see the Worship.
+We see the Repentance. +We see the removal of Evil
But there was to be more. Fire fell from heaven but rain did not.
God came – Heaven Invade Earth but rain still had not fallen. The drought was still in effect.
But rain was coming. The blessing that would come with the rain was coming. That is the result of repentance and of turning back to the LORD.
The people understood that this was more than about the drought. This whole event was about who they should serve and worship as God. They were ready to leave that day following God without seeing a drop of rain. Now, that is true repentance and true worship – being in God’s Presence and not trying to get anything from God.
Their focus was no longer on manipulating God. Their focus was no longer on merely getting their own needs met. Their focus was on worship and enjoying a time in God’s Presence. Everything was directed to serve, honor and worship God.
But as we read, Elijah sends King Ahab off to get some lunch as he spends time with the LORD. And during that time he and God got together to discuss when the rains would be returning. The nation of Israel had decided that they would follow the LORD instead of false gods; instead of the Devil and his demons.
With such a national repentance and the removal of sin there was no longer a need for the drought. The nation of Israel was ready to turn a corner with Elijah, God’s Prophet in command.
The story ends with Elijah racing ahead of King Ahab as a herald proclaiming God’s blessings. Elijah’s running ahead of King Ahab was a testimony that both God and Elijah were on the side of King Ahab and Israel.
It was to be a new day. It was to be a day when King Ahab would lead the people of Israel into a revival.
For those who have read on you know the Revival was short lived. King Ahab went back on his repentance. He listened to his evil wife Jezebel and it cost him and her their kingdom and their lives.
But that does not change what happened that day on Mt. Carmel. It does not change the fact that
+Israel was given the chance to choose who it would serve and they choose the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY
+The Only True Worship is Worshipping the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY – all other worship is false
+True Worship Leads to Repentance – leads to people turning away from sin and turning towards the LORD
+Repentance leads to manifold Blessings
Recently, our nation celebrated its Independence.
We should be celebrating our Dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ but we have fallen away much like Israel had fallen away in the beginning of our story. Our land is full of false idols and the worship of false gods. We have people in power who mock the LORD Almighty and who shake their fists at Him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Over the past few years I believe the LORD has been warning us through all kinds of ways to come back to Him. We have witnessed a number of things that should have driven our leaders and our country back to the LORD.
This morning, we may not be able to speak for all of the US but we can say today like those people did way back on Mt. Carmel
+We reject all false gods – we reject anything that has to do with false gods and false worship – materialism, greed, immorality, perversion, arrogance and pride.
+We pray for our nation to repent; to turn back to the only who can redeem our country
+We proclaim that the LORD is our Savior
+We proclaim allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
+We surrender ourselves to the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit
+We open ourselves to receive His Blessing
Let us share the Lord’s Supper this morning as a symbol and seal of our love for the LORD. Let us share the Lord’s Supper and acknowledge the Lord as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Let us share the Lord’s Supper this morning as His people who have been rescued and are redeemed!
Sharing of the Lord’s Supper/Invitation/Prayer/Blessing