36 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. 37 Hear 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. 38 Then 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. 39 And 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.
If you have your Bibles with you, please open them to 1 Kings 18. Let us begin by reading verses 36-39.
In our series, we have learned of the God of the Outsider, who, having many widows in Israel, who having many of His people, the insiders, in need, sent His prophet to the widowed women in Zarephath, where He multiplied the flour and oil throughout the famine. We saw last week, God the Reviver, who alone was able to raise the young boy, and bring life back into him.
The last couple weeks, we have been working through our series, “One God? Which One?” and as we continue this week, we will once again ask these questions and attempt to answer them from the historical narrative. Today’s message is titled, “The Lord, He is God,” and tonight’s message, exactly half through our sermon series, and three and a half years from the start of Elijah’s ministry, directly challenges the gods of Jezebel, if they be gods or not. An appropriate reminder, then, is the Hebrew meaning of Elijah’s name, which is, “The Lord is God,” or “Yahweh is God,” and the entirety of his ministry is to prove the one true God.
When we first began this message series, about two weeks ago, it was discussed that the rain was withheld at Elijah’s command for three years, according to the purpose of the Lord, in chastisement of Israel’s worship of Ba’al and Asherah. Such a punishment seems fitting, considering Ba’al, is the supposed god of rain. By the end of our chapter tonight, Elijah will call down rain from Heaven, disproving the Ba’al, the god of rain.
I encourage you, if you have wondered about the questions, Is there a God? Is there one or many? And if there is one, which is the true God? That you would listen tonight, and perhaps go back and watch or read the last two messages. I encourage you to continue to show up the next two weeks, as we finish the sermons and seek an answer to these questions. As a reminder, these next few weeks are the perfect opportunity to invite friends, family, or coworkers who are asking these questions, and you are unsure of how to answer.
Tonight, I desire to read verses 17-46 as we progress through the message. As we progress, let us examine many topics (nine, but run away now that you know the number), that show the difference between the True God of Creation and the false gods of man.
Confrontation VV. 17-20
17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
For our first topic tonight, it is addressed by Elijah the purpose and reasoning of the famine on the land. In verse 1, Elijah receives word of the Lord, “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. ”
Here, Ahab meets Elijah, confronting him, “Are you he that troubleth Israel?” Oh how Ahab is painfully unaware of the reality, that it is, he, in fact, who troubleth the nation. How quick we are, when chastisement is brought upon us, when the fiery trials burden us, that we point our fingers. It is always someone else’s fault. Isn’t that right? For we are never to blame, surely our choices have zero consequence, right?
We see in Ahab the exact opposite that we found in the widowed women last chapter. I would ask you to remember, at the passing of her son, not once did she place blame on God nor anyone else. Instead, she inquires, “have you come to call my sin into remembrance? Is this a result of my past choices?” Such humility is what should be expected of the believer, but I would dare say is often absent from our ranks.
Ahab is perhaps a good reflection of the fallen human, and represents well our nature when caught in wrong doing. “It was him, not me. I take no responsibility.” Ahab is painfully aware that Elijah has withheld the rain, but is incorrect in assuming that it is Elijah who brought the trouble to Israel.
He brings up the question then, who is it that troubleth Israel? Often, I think, when we preach truth to someone, and they become convicted of that truth, they lash out seeking to place the blame or the feeling elsewhere. But how often is the same true of us? Surely we do the same. Ahab is answered of Elijah, “No, it is not I that troubleth Israel, but it is you, for you have forsaken the Lord and His commandments. You have followed Baalim.”
As a closing to our first topic, just a question to consider, and it is meant for light humor. The prophets said to eat at Jezebels table are four hundred and fifty of Ba’al and four hundred of Asherah – That’s eight hundred fifty people, how big do you think that table was?
As Elijah confronts Ahab and his sinful ways, he questions of him – “How long?”
Two Opinions V. 21
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
“How long, how long?” From the context of the passage, this questions seems weird. Ahab seems to at least believe in the Old Testament God, as he has named his children with God honoring names. But he has married one who is fully committed to her pagan gods and has allowed these practices into his country. How long will you remain limping between two opinions?
The question here is blunter if we translate to biblical terms – How long shall you limp between God’s opinion and mans opinion? How long will you remain undecided between God’s wisdom and mans? That is the reality of the question – There are only two opinions, that of God’s and that of ours.
The truth is, how many Christians are standing in Ahabs shoes right now? How many of us are just enough on God’s side that we are miserable in the world, but we are also just enough in the world that we are miserable in God? We want to say, “I trust God, but I also want the lusts of the flesh.” Such may be the depth of Ahab’s heart – He is willing to push his God aside for lust of his heart, Jezebel.
How many limp between the two, saying, “all religion is the same. It doesn’t matter if I’m evangelical, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, ect. It is all the same.” We can take that farther, many would say, “It doesn’t matter if your Christian or Muslim, they all follow the same gods.” Or as my father in law once put it to me, he said, “I’ve studied all the religions and it’s all perspective. You are all looking at the same elephant, and if you’d just step back far enough, you would see you are all looking at the same person.”
Such statements are stupid intellectually, and come as a result of failing to make decision. Such limping is a result of unwillingness to research and to make an informed decision. This is exactly where Israel seems to be right now – They have their God, Jehovah, the I AM of the exodus account – and they also brought in the false gods of Jezebel, the opinions of man. It’s all the same, they said. Ba’al and Asherah are the gods of Jezebel as much as Jehovah is the God of our land.
It is here, Elijah questions their motivation, how long shall ye remain undecisive? He say’s “If the Lord be God, follow God. But if Ba’al be god, follow him.” Such should be the same in our lives today.
Many would say, I’m not religious, but how they are wrong. Every person that walks on this rock is religious. Every person that walks this rock has his god. Whether that be the Lord, or money, or sex, or drugs, or video games, or whatever it is. We all have that god that defines or who are, that we cannot live without. I have to say, if that be god, then follow him, but if Christ be God, then follow Him.
Elijah says, “Let us see who is God, and follow him.”
Consecration V. 22
22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Prior to the challenge, to the proposal to determine the true God, Elijah takes a pause to mention that he alone remains of the prophets of the Lord. He stands alone against the masses, against four hundred fifty of the prophets of Ba’al. The false religion will always be full, will be popular with masses, with the depraved of humanity.
As Elijah was to stand before the masses, before the popular religion of Ba’al alone, so too, shall we find that we will often stand alone before the world and it’s masses. We too shall stand as the lone representative of God before the religions of pleasing man. Whether that is, we stand alone against the false religions, or we stand alone mocked of family and friends, we must ask the question. Do I stand with Christ, or do I stand with the flesh? As was Elijah, we must be prepared to stand alone, but we shall not be alone – for Christ shall stand with us.
I remind you of our message a few weeks ago, Eye’s to See, in which the young servant of Elisha panicked as it appeared he and Elisha were surrounded of the armies of Syria. When his eyes were opened, what did he see? He’d seen the angelic host of God, the armies of God, standing round about to protect them.
Let us be decisive then, in our commitment to follow God, and not of a double tongue.
Challenge VV. 23-25
23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: 24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. 25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
In the previous challenge, Elijah says, “If the Lord be God, follow Him, but if it be Ba’al, follow him,” to which he received silence, *cricket, cricket*. It seems as if, they could not decide whom, if any, were God to follow. In response, Elijah says, then let us put them on trial, and he whose deity responds with fire, it shall be him that we serve.
So let us take two bullocks, one for you and one for me. And you are many, you shall go first – cut it to pieces, lay it on your altar, only put no fire. Do as you will, to call upon your gods. Pray, dance, sing, whatever it takes.
When you finish, I too, shall take a bullock, and cut it to pieces, and place it upon the altar with wood and no fire. And I too shall call upon my God, that He would respond in a consuming fire.
In response they say, “It is well, we agree.” I sense some joy and hope in the prophets of Ba’al, who are likely mocking Elijah, “what an idiot. Did he forget that Ba’al is the god of rain and lightning? He will consume the sacrifice and prove himself before Elijah and the God of Israel.”
How they forgot their god has abandoned them the last three and a half years, unable to send rain, nor provide through the famine.
26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
In these verses, which I have titled deadness, it is the plan of Ahabs prophets of Ba’al to pray to their gods and have them consume the sacrifice with fire. “This will be easy,” they thought. But we read rather of failure and abandonment. Let us examine from these few verses four elements of the passage.
It says they prayed from morning until noon, crying unto Ba’al, “hear us,” to no avail. Their fervent prayers, dedication, even for the six hours of prayer resulted in silence from the heavens. Such is the case of all the false gods. Of the things that set the Christian God apart is of His nature, being neither made with hands or cast by man. He is God of Himself and He answers and shows Himself.
Isaiah 2:8 says of the idol worship – “Their land also is full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, That which their own fingers have made.”
All false gods are man made, and most are worshipped as idols made and cast by the hands of men. It is written of their silence in Revelation 9:20 – “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.”
The religion of form, which is, the religion of Ba’al, is one of which deceived the many followers. There was simply no voice, there never was a voice of Ba’al to answer them. After six hours of peril, comes their persecution, or mockery from Elijah.
In a awesome turn of events, those who mocked Elijah, taunting him, “Did you forget who Ba’al is? He is the god of rain and lightning,” are now taunted themselves of Elijah.
The text says the he mocked them “cry aloud, oh ye prophets of Ba’al. For he is a god, is he not? Shout, cry, for surely he will hear thee. Maybe he is talking, or on a journey, or perhaps, maybe he sleepeth!” Oh, I can hear Elijah’s mockery, “My God neither sleeps nor rests day or night, nor is He too busy to take notice of me.”
False gods will always leave us to mockery unanswered. For they neither have eyes to see, ears to hear, feet to walk, nor mouths to speak. What Elijah engages in is righteous mockery, or righteous sarcasm, and not all mockery is evil. In fact, some mockery needs to take place in the right timing, some things simply need to be mocked. Elijah’s mockery leads them into panic.
“Am I dancing enough? Does my blood please you? What if I cry a little louder? Just look at me,” they cry. “Answer me! For I am cutting myself for you. I am doing all the things you ask of me, and I am being mocked.”
In their panic, they turned to cutting, dancing, and shouting. And they danced, and cut, and spilled their blood upon the ground until evening, to the time of the sacrifice. Such deliberate faith and works unto a false god resulted in no fruit, leading to their plight.
Nearly twelve hours of prayer, cutting, dancing, and singing, “and it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.”
Praying to a dead god will yield no answer – praying to a god who have their own hands a feet casted of man shall leave you with none that regard you. What a sad day when it is to your idols, to your jobs, your money, or your beauty, or cars, or whatever it is that you serve, that you pray and receive of no answer.
Thank God we pray not to a dead God, but to the true God of the living. Let us now observe Elijah and the God that He serves.
Elijah’s Faith VV. 30-35
30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 32 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 measures of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. 35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
Elijah has waited all day, though taunting them indeed, to see their false gods come down with fire and devour their offering. Now, he says, come to me. Come allow me to display to you the power of the one true God.
But first, before He can display His power, make a trench around the altar, and fill it with water. “More water, more water, even more water, fill it to the brim,” Elijah says. “And while your at it, soak the wood, and the altar, and the offering.”
What we are seeing is the faith of Elijah in His God to respond. The living God does not require much chanting and cutting, and cries of despair, only faith that He would respond. Elijah shows them, my God will respond, and He will respond so mightily that even this place need be covered by water.
The scriptures teach us, in 1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. ”
We need not beg the living God, but we have confidence that whatsoever we ask in His will, He will hear us! And not only will He hear us, but the petitions that we have desired of Him shall be granted us. I love how Elijah stands firm in the faith and displays His faith, not only in praying to God, but in preparing the site for the great and marvelous way that God will respond.
Elijah’s Prayer VV. 36-38
36 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. 37 Hear 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. 38 Then 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.
Elijah than prays to God, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. He says, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob).” Notice that He prays to a living God, the God of the Heavens and the Earth. The address opens by address to whom he is speaking, as in the Lord’s prayer, “Oh God that art in Heaven.”
He prays, “Let it be known that you are God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and have done all these things at thy word.” Elijah demonstrates that God is in Israel, not Ba’al or Asherah, and that He is in the will of God. Remember that as we are in God’s will, whatsoever we ask shall be answered. Elijah sets the example again, “your will be done, on earth, as in Heaven.”
Then Elijah says, “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God.” I am reminded here of, “hallowed be thy name.” What is that Elijah prays for? A mansion on the hill? A luxury jet plane? A million dollars? How about beauty, a long life, or a kingdom? No, the prayer of Elijah is that they would know that He is the Lord God.
How we ought to learn of Elijah, that to be in the will of the Lord is to desire the Lord to be known. His prayer was to the glory of God, that He would turn their hearts back to Him. That they would worship the living God and receive the blessings that came with that. Elijah prays to the end that God’s name would be known. And the Lord responded.
“Then 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.” The Lord God alone met the needs of the circumstance, while the idol, Ba’al, god of rain and lightning, could not be bothered to respond to the masses calling upon his name.
The Lord God responded in fullness, consuming everything round about the altar. Consuming the drenched offering, and the soaked stones, and evaporating the water out of the trench. What a sight this must have been. What started as “If the Lord be God, serve Him. And if Ba’al, then serve him,” has proven to the masses now, and not only the lonely widow, that the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, is the true God.
The Lord, He Is God V. 39
39 And 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.
In response, the people respond with “The Lord, He is God; The Lord, He is the God,” the basis for the title of tonight’s message. When we started this series several weeks ago, we started with the two questions, “how many gods are there, and if there is only one, which is the true?”
The first week we answered the question by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobs provision of the widowed women, who ran not out of flour and oil the three and half years of famine. The following week, we answered the question by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bringing life back into the young son of the widowed women. Tonight, we answered the question again, by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob consuming the offering, altar, and water with a pillar of fire from the sky.
In each case, the false pagan gods have been unable to provide to the hungry, unable to raise the dead, and unable to hear and respond with fire upon the altar.
This week we read of several factors of the false gods of this world against the personality of the God of Israel.
False gods require you serve them, and serve them well and hard enough, and maybe, just maybe they shall make you happy. Dance hard enough, cut yourself deep enough, or often enough, or cry just loud enough and you may become happy. Obey or be crushed, they say, but there is no guarantee of happiness and joy. The false gods today, money, beauty, popularity, ect, require that you serve well enough and suced well enough to get them, and you might be happy. Dance enough, get the right job, afford the right beauty products, hand bags, surgeries, and you might be happy. Get others to pretend you are a boy or girl, modify yourself, and you might be happy.
False gods require that you push toward destruction. Do better, earn more, obtain more. And Heaven forbid, you don’t receive of my attention, then slash yourself or kill, perhaps they will respond then.
Work more hours, forsaking your family or time for God. Compromise your integrity, make what is right wrong, or what is wrong right, to be popular. Take drugs, because they will answer to my sorrow, right? False gods always require insane amount of work and push you towards destruction.
God Mocks Ba’al V. 45
45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
In God’s final mockery of Ba’al here, the rain finally begins to fall at Elijah’s command. The god of rain was unable to cause or withhold the rain, but at the hand of God, it rained when He said rain, and it dried when He said dry. Ba’al, as the many of the so called gods of todays secular society is unable to provide or to make happy those who serve them.
Today we read of Ahab, who was the opposite of the widow women, who ignoring his own sin and evil accuses Elijah of being “he who troubleth Israel.” We discussed the need to recognize our own sin rather than looking for a scapegoat to blame. Elijah says to them, “how long shall you continue to limp between two opposing opinions? Either the Lord is God, and ye shall serve Him; or Ba’al is, and you serve him.” There are only two opinions, God’s and mans, and both cannot be served simultaneously, for you will love the one and hate the other, or you will hate the one and love the other.
Elijah proposes then, a challenge, they shall both take a bullock and offer it on the altar, and he whose God shall answer with fire from heaven is the Lord to be followed. The prophets of Ba’al sing and dance, praying to Ba’al, to no avail. Mocked of Elijah, they cut and slice themselves, and cry unto the god Ba’al, with no answer.
Elijah responds in power and great faith, drowning the altar and the offering and the wood, and filling a mote around it to protect them from the great fire of God. Elijah prays that God would hear him, so that “they will no you are the Lord God.” And God responds with a great and marvelous fire from heaven that devours the wood, and the stone, and the offering, and the water from the mote.
The people recognize and praise the Lord and the living God, and rain is restored upon the land for the first time in three and a half years.
Whereas, the false gods require great effort, the true God is known by grace through faith. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is different that every other religion, which accepts you based on your obedience. The false gods say, if you obey, ye shall be accepted. The Christian God says, I accept you, and you say, because I am accepted I obey. We love God because He first loved us.
Whereas, the false gods will cut you, and mutilate you, and push you towards destruction, the true and Living God was cut for us. Jesus lived a perfect life and God incarnate, that He would die on the cross for the remission of our sins.
I love what JD Greear says here,
“Very illuminating picture in Luke 9. Jesus and the Apostles are rejected in Samaria, and the disciples says, “Should we call down fire from heaven like Elijah, to show them that you are the one, true God?” But Jesus rebuked them, telling them they don’t get it! They misinterpreted the meaning of this OT story we’re looking at. Write this down: Jesus isn’t Elijah calling down fire; he is the sacrifice who will receive the fire of judgment. ”
Every other god requires that you are the insider, that you obey perfectly or suffer their wrath. That you are worthy, sacrifice yourself, cut yourself, bleed for them. Only one God, the living God, said let me give you grace, and cut myself that you would be the outsider welcomed in.
The other gods are powerless, but our God works through miracle after miracle. Those who follow other gods are never satisfied, but are always thirsty and hungry. When they fail, they are condemned, when they fail to serve their popularity, or money, they become miserable. The Christian God says, there isn’t one who is worthy, but I gave myself that if you would only believe, then you would be forgiven.
Tim Keller says, “Jesus is the only God that if you find Him, will satisfy you, and, if you fail Him, will forgive you.”
If you are tired of hurting yourself for false gods, for a little bit of false happiness, Jesus is calling to you. If you are ready to be satisfied, to be filled, Jesus is calling to you. If you are ready to be forgiven, to be made the insider through grace, mercy, and love, Jesus is calling to you.
He says, “whosoever would confess me before men, him also will I confess before my Father in heaven. And whosoever would deny me before men, him also will I deny before my Father in heaven.”
I know that it is often difficult to accept what we cannot see. But as we place a little faith in Jesus, He will do the rest. As we walk in faith, and allow God to work these little miracles in our life, we will come to know Him deeper and trust Him more. All I am asking is that you have enough faith to begin, to believe that He is God in the flesh, that He died and rose again for you, and that you are sinful and unable to save yourself. But that our God died, that if you would believe and make Him Lord over your life, you would be forgiven eternally.
If you are ready to do that, Paul writes that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shall be saved.”
If you are ready to Admit, confess, and believe these things, please allow me to help you with that in our closing prayer. Just repeat and follow along with me in the first half where we will ask God into your heart, confess Him as Lord and us as sinners, and believe on Him for His promises. After which, be ready to confess Him before men and make Him Lord over your life.