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Elijah's Stand: When One Man Becomes a Majority
History • King Ahab, King of Israel • Most evil king – “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Ki 16: 33) • Tries to eradicate the worship of God in Israel • Ahab married Jezebel, princess of Tyre • The weak Ahab allowed Jezebel to introduce the worship of the satanic and idolatrous cult of Baal into Israel. • Baal was the chief god worshipped by the Canaanites.
History • Baal was considered the god of fertility in all aspects of life - who had power over rain, wind, clouds… • Baal worship included : – – – The offering of incense and burnt sacrifices (Jer. 7: 9); The offering of human sacrifices (Jer. 19: 5); Licentious sexual activity--including sodomy
History • Because of the idolatry of the people, God stops the rain (overcoming Baal, god of rain) on the land at the calling of Elijah: – “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word. ” (1 Ki 17: 1) • A great drought • Jezebel kills God’s prophets • Ahab hunts for Elijah to kill him
Elijah Confronts Ahab • 1 Kings 18: 17 -19 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel? ” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table. ”
Elijah Challenges the People (18: 19 -22) The Challenge: • Take stand for God • Only Elijah took that stand • Left alone • contra mundum: 'against the world' • Do we stand alone when we are standing with the Lord of hosts? – Elisha the prophet: 2 Kings 6: 15 -17 • Elijah vs. 950 prophets?
The Challenge • Do you feel alone at the office, school, home? • Do you witness to God by yourself? • Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see His presence with His multitude of hosts.
Elijah Challenges the People • And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. ” But the people answered him not a word.
Faltering • Falter: – – – Instability of indecision Double-mindedness Straddling the fence Very dangerous! Hebrew word: "to limp, be lame, or be crippled. "
Faltering • Great pull for people to lead double lives. • We go to church on Sunday, but the rest of the week we are dominated by other loves. • Tug of God on the heart and the love of the world at the same time. • Like a fan, oscillating back and forth • Elijah, demanded a definite decision • We cannot walk the fence with the Lord. • He requires full commitment! • “My son, give me your heart” (Prov 23: 26) • Matt 6: 24; Matt 12: 30
The Issue • If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him. ” • IF…. (1): If the LORD is God… • God, the Creator and Sovereign, demands that mankind, the creature, trust Him and then follow Him. • Anything else is logically absurd; it is pure madness.
The Issue • IF…. (2): if Baal… • Acknowledge the fact we may have placed our faith in a false god. • If that is true, we need to acknowledge the futility of that false god. • Once we know who the true God is, it's absurd to follow the false gods! • Both paths cannot be right. • One must be right and other wrong. • One must result in blessing, life and peace. The other in cursing, death and destruction. • “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; ” (Deut 30: 19)
The Silence • “But the people answered him not a word. ” • They had no argument that would make sense against this challenge of Elijah! • No argument, against total commitment of our lives to follow the Lord. • Any other decision is nonsense. • “If the LORD is God, follow Him…” • When the reality of the true God is realized, we find we have no logical or sensible choice but to trust Him to the degree that we then commit our lives totally to Him.
Elijah Proposes the Test of Fire (18: 23 -25) • The Test: – – – To prove who the true God is Very difficult Remove all excuses, he let them go first He gave them plenty of time He later started mocking them and their god
Test of Fire • Why fire? • (1) Baal was worshipped as the Lord of Fire, the Lord of the Sun. – So the failure of Baal to bring down fire would demonstrate the erroneous belief about Baal.
Test of Fire • (2) In Scripture, fire is used symbolically: – A sign of the presence and supply of the Lord (e. g. , the burning bush in Exodus 3: 2, and the pillar of fire in Exodus 13: 21 -22). – A sign that God had accepted the priests, their sacrifices, and their service, (Lev. 9: 124). – Fire was viewed as a means of purification (Num. 31: 21 -23).
The Baal Prophets Prepare the Test and Call on Baal • • • (18: 26 -29) A total waste Illustration of false gods to save “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. ” (Prov 14: 12) Despite their activities and even the mockery and provocation of Elijah, they failed: “there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention”
Elijah's Public Prayer • Preparation For Prayer (18: 30 -35) – The Invitation to the People(18: 30 a) • He wanted them to witness the power of prayer – The Restoration of the Altar (18: 30 b-32) • Come to God on His terms and through His means of access: • Confession, communion, the Church – For God to hear our prayer, we need to repair or correct those things in our lives that hinder fellowship with Him: • “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps 66: 18)
Elijah's Public Prayer • The Preparation of the Sacrifice (18: 3335) – Not only did he not put any fire under the sacrifice, but he drenched it with water so there could be no mistake about how the sacrifice was consumed. – It was a work of the living God. • The Purpose and Content of His Prayer (18: 36 -37): "Let it be known…" – Declaring God’s glory
Elijah's Public Prayer • The Results of His Prayer (18: 38 -40) • The power of God manifested from heaven to do two things: – First, men and women turning back to the Lord. • revival, restoration, and repentance.
Elijah's Public Prayer – Second, we see people become bold enough to defy Jezebel and execute the Baal prophets. – “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jam 5: 16)
Elijah's Public Prayer • The objective: – To turn people to the Lord – Then, as God's people, to give them courage to take a stand against the apostasy of the day. – “How long will you falter between two opinions? – Elijah began his challenge by taking a stand alone, and concluded it by leading the people to stand with him for the Lord!