Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: When the Faith ebbs, God raises up a rude prophet to challenge the evil that has insinuated itself into the lives of the people of God.

“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name,’ and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, ‘Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.’ And he said, ‘Do it a second time.’ And they did it a second time. And he said, ‘Do it a third time.’ And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

“And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.’ Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.’ And Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.’ And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.” [1]

Years before, unknown people had built an altar here. On this high promontory, they had worshipped, offering up sacrifices to the True and Living God. With the offerings, they had sought fellowship with God, content in the knowledge that they were accepted before Him; perhaps they had sought cleansing from sin that plagued their lives. Whatever their reason, in this place unknown people had built the altar and worshipped the LORD God. That altar had stood as a visible sign of the reality of the True and Living God; and it had testified that people once worshipped Him as the Most High God.

Something dreadful had occurred in the land, however. Swifter than anyone could have imagined possible, the civil government was corrupted. The people approved of new directions with progressive attitudes that demonstrated to the world that with the advanced thought now regnant the nation was just like the nations about them. Of course, with the implementation of liberal thought was the inevitable growth of spiritual destitution. Only a dwindling number of spokesmen for the LORD God stood opposed to the flood of wickedness. Watching the capitulation of the supposed righteous, with growing horror these few men spoke out against the advance of evil. Their voices were unavailing in halting the spreading cancer promoting worship of deities born out of man’s own fertile imaginations and the concomitant corruption of the True Faith. As increasing numbers of prophets compromised with wickedness, embracing the worship of the Baalim and the Asherim, altars that once dotted the land were torn down, replaced by Asherah Poles. The sacred places where the Living God had been worshipped were transformed into houses of prostitution. This altar, also, was torn down and the stones scattered.

At last, one man imbued with a burning desire to glorify the True and Living God flashed onto the scene. Though said to have come from Tishbe in Gilead, Elijah the Tishbite appeared suddenly, brilliantly flashing onto the scene much as a meteor streaks across the night sky. This rough-hewn man would bring a nation to its knees. Kings would be reduced to searching for water, the people would be shamed and even worshippers of the LORD God would tremble before him. Yet, he was the last opportunity for the nation to turn again to the Living God.

The rhythm of his life and service before the Lord is related with increasing tempo and growing intensity until at last the prophets of Baal, the king and many of the people of the land are gathered on that high promontory where the altar had once stood. The strange man proposed a contest unlike anything any of those gathered had ever witnessed. “Elijah approached all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.’ But the people didn’t answer him a word.

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