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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Elijah Bible Study # 4 1 Kings 19:1-14

Elijah Bible Study #4
1 Kings 19:1-14

Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” 5 He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.” 6 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

Elijah at Horeb

9 Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

11 So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”   NASB

Revenge from Jezebel

19 1-2 Ahab reported to Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, including the massacre of the prophets. Jezebel immediately sent a messenger to Elijah with her threat: “The gods will get you for this and I’ll get even with you! By this time tomorrow you’ll be as dead as any one of those prophets.”

3-5 When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.
Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”
6 He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep.
7 The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”
8-9 He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.
Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”
10 “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”
11-12 Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.
13-14 When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”    The Message

Verse 1  Ahab sure was a very biased reporter.  He failed to mention the amazing display of power that God did to bring fire down from heaven.  Ahab focused on what Elijah did, and how the false prophets were killed.
Verse 2  Jezebel makes a vow and come to think of it she fails and eventually the vow comes to fruition she too dies at the command of one of the men Elijah is called to anoint - Jehu.
Verse 3 “Fear”  I am learning that when we are driven by fear we are missing God.  Trust in His love drives out fear.  Trust in His love and power pushes fear to the background.  Judah wasn’t all that safe, since the king of Judah was friends with Ahab, but fear does not have reason as its foundation, it just acts sometimes/ usually in non-sensical ways.
Verse 4 He goes a days journey further by himself, away from all human companionship and support, generally that is not a good idea.  He falls into depression, Jezebel is not defeated, the people went back to “life as usual” nothing changed.  He feels the weight of the ‘failure’ even though it had been a success.  There is a ‘let down’ after a time of serving God and seeing His glory and power.  That ‘led down’ can spiral if we do not take it to God.  If God had answered his request here, Elisha would not have had a mentor, those three people yet to be anointed by God would not have been anointed... there was still a work for Elijah to do, and in fact, he was not to die, but be transported to heaven.
Verse 5  Mercy shown to the prophet, an angel prepares him a meal, he is given sleep, a gift from God.
Verse 6  Kind of amazing that he does not seem very surprised by this meal, or very grateful for it either.
Verse 7  Ever felt unappreciated?  You went out of your way to bless/help someone and they showed no appreciation.  Elijah eats the angel-prepared meal, rolls over and goes back to sleep.  In spite of this ingratitude the angel goes on and prepares a second meal with supernatural power and energy in it that allows for Elijah’s next meal to be 40 days away.
Verse 8  Horeb is Sinai.  Scholars say it is only an 8 day journey, so part of Elijah wanted to meet with God and thought that would be a good place, and part of him did not want to.
Verse 9  Wisdom is shown in asking the right questions.  God, of course, always asks the right questions.  “What are you doing here?”  is a very subtle way of saying, “I didn’t tell you to come here.”  The way this is worded, “the word of the Lord” and “He” most people think this is Jesus speaking to Elijah.
Verse 10  Elijah is very human here, he has had 40 days to think of how to respond to this and he brings out a list.  Zeal on my part, everyone else has fallen away, and now they want to kill me, so I had to get away.  It is a reasonable fear, many prophets had died because of the sword of Jezebel.  God did not guarantee safety for His followers.
Verse 11 Direction comes from God, so filled with mercy, “Go forth”.  Elijah had not waited for direction from God, he had let fear drive him, but God chooses to lavish mercy on him.  Speaks to him.  Do we really get this, God speaks to him.  Amazing.  The Lord was passing by, but He was not IN.  There is a depth to this, that we need to plumb.  God is teaching a lesson here.  Wind and earthquake, powerful forces that can pick a man up and toss him to and fro, but God was not in them.  I looked at some commentaries and read a sermon about this passage, but I don’t think anyone has really gotten to the depth of what God was doing here.
Verse 12  Next comes fire... still no God, then a gentle blowing, which Elijah somehow knew to be God.
Verse 13 So out of respect he wraps his head and heads out to the entrance of the cave.  After this amazing display, God still has the same question.
Verse 14 Elijah still gives the same answer.  So I am left with more questions than answers, what was the point of all that?  There is no visible change in Elijah.  God put on a display like none other in history before or since, yet we see nothing as a result of it.  I just think God in eternity has more to reveal to us about this incident.

These thoughts are all from J. Hampton Keathley, III.

Some look at the Elijah of chapters 17 and 18, the man of faith, and then look at the Elijah of chapter 19, the man of fear with a critical spirit. They wonder, “How could he change like that?” It’s almost like, “If I had seen God’s power displayed like that, I would never run like he did.” In essence, however, in the record of the New Testament we have a much greater display of the power of God in the person, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Furthermore, those who respond this way about Elijah’s actions in chapter 19, are overlooking the many ways they may fail to take a stand or fail to do the things God has called them to do according to the clear principles of the Word. They see themselves as never running away because, like the seven thousand hiding in caves, they never put themselves at risk as Elijah did. Rather than deal with a problem, for instance, they remain at a comfortable distance, but isn’t that really the same thing?

Students of the Word should know this theologically since all who accept the Lord Jesus, though regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit, still possess sinful natures and are in desperate need of God’s grace moment by moment.

In chapters 17 and 18, we saw Elijah occupied with the Lord, aware of God’s presence, aware of the enormity of God’s person, and using his assets in the Lord--the promises of the Word and prayer. But in chapter 19, we find Elijah occupied with people and conditions, not God. He was completely problem oriented. He failed to pray and stand on the promises of Scripture. He had a wrong focus.

This involves an age old problem. Again, it is one of focus and attitude. Whenever we become occupied with our problems rather than with the Lord it creates a terrible distortion. It’s like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. Instead of magnifying the person and power of God, focusing on the problem shrinks the person and power of God in our eyes, and magnifies the problem. Our problems become giants or mountains when in essence, from God’s standpoint, they are not even mole hills.

(Heidi Baker’s, four word sermon,  “Too big, Too small”)

 Illusions about self hinder that. We need to have no such illusions so we will turn from our own resources to God’s. We need to stop building broken cisterns that hold no water and come to the Lord as the river of life (Jer. 2:13).

God gives us this portrait of Elijah to teach us how vulnerable we are, how important our focus and our attitudes are, and how much we constantly need the grace of God for every moment and every breath. God portrays people, especially the great heroes of the faith, as they really are--mere human beings, earthen vessels, clay pots. We are instruments used by God to display His glory, but worthless in ourselves apart from Him

For the Christian, however, we are not talking about just a positive attitude. We are talking about an attitude that comes from a heart focused on God and that trusts in Him.

 With the power of God so clearly manifested perhaps Elijah thought there would be some change in Ahab, some positive response with the result there were going to be changes in the kingdom of Israel. We aren’t told. We can only guess. But something really shattered Elijah’s focus and his faith. Let’s look at the text and see what we can learn.

 When people focus on people, one of two things happen: (a) either they brag about the person they admire, which may bring temptation to that person and encourage others to glory in man, or (b) they attack and criticize bringing persecution and heartache. When God is not the focus, we lose.
Unable to hurt the Lord, Jezebel did what Satan and people always do. She attacked the instrument and gave vent to her hatred and malice. She sent a messenger with her threat.

Perhaps the first lesson we can learn from Elijah’s response concerns our expectations and their impact on us. As already mentioned, he was expecting something different--something more positive. He was looking for a real turnaround in the spiritual conditions of the kingdom and his expectations may have moved into the realm of a sense of demandingness.

God holds us responsible for trusting in Him, for obedience, for love, for endurance, and for faithfulness to do what He has called us to do. He does not hold us responsible for the results. The results are in His hands, not ours. We can’t change people, and we often can’t change our circumstances, only God can. Further, our expectations can easily slip into a sense of a demandingness--demanding that things work out the way we think they should. When that happens we are usurping God’s sovereignty and acting as though we the creature were the all wise Creator (cf. Job. 40:1-9).

What about our expectations? Have they become demands God must meet for our happiness and security? What about our focus? Is it on the Lord, on His person, His sovereignty, wisdom, etc.? What about our strategies? Are we trying to meet our needs and wants by our own solutions according to our own timing rather than by God’s?

Physical Reason: Have you ever noticed how quickly discouragement, irritability and depression can come when you are exhausted? Elijah was physically and emotionally drained from the whole experience of Mount Carmel, the run to Jezreel, and, added to all that, the flight into the desert. I get exhausted just thinking about it! When our bodies are tired, we can’t think and respond to pressure as well as we normally can. In Elijah’s exhausted state, he prayed, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life.” Instead, the Lord lovingly and graciously sent an angel to feed and nourish him. There is a principle here: proper rest, diet, and exercise are essential to coping with depression.
All of this “stinking thinking” blinded him to the Lord and the principles of Scripture. He lost sight of these principles: (a) Though we are soldiers in God’s army, the battle is the Lord’s (1 Sam. 17:14). (b) While we are fellow workers with the Lord with one sowing and another watering, the Lord alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:5-9), and He does so in different degrees (Matt. 13:24), and according to His timing (Eccl. 3:1; Gal. 6:9). (c) The Lord prospers His Word as He sees fit, and sometimes it becomes the basis of His judgment rather than blessing (Isa. 55:11; 6:9-11).

Note how the Lord handles Elijah’s depression:

(1) Before He dealt with Elijah’s spiritual condition, He rejuvenated Elijah physically with rest and nourishment.

(2) He then got Elijah to face his true condition, the real problem. Taking the position of a counselor, the Lord twice asked Elijah “why are you here?” In other words, take stock, think about what you have been doing (vss. 9 and 13).

(3) God spoke to him personally in verses 9, 12, 13, and 15. This illustrates the need to be in the Word where we listen to the Lord (hear His still small voice), focus on Him, and apply truth. We will study this in more detail later.

(4) God gave him an assignment.  Verse 15 for the next study.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

truth in love

Proverbs 22:11 He who loves purity of heart
And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend.

spoke to me today.  As evidenced by my last post and
by the post that is still in my head, but hasn't made it
to the blog yet, I get the purity of heart thing, I get the
TRUTH thing, but I do not get the love thing.  I do not 
get the "gracious speech" thing.

And so my voice is not HIS voice and my voice has
no lasting eternal effect.

LOVE  the first fruit
the only thing that matters
that is the area that i fall short in.

Help Lord.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preterism = anti-semitism

Preterism is the gateway drug to anti-semitism.  The idea that all the prophecies regarding Israel have been fulfilled and are done and over is at its root-human pride.  Rising up to their full humanistic height, those who profess this lie, are saying, we will not be grafted into this tree.  It is a denial of Romans 9-11 in its entirety.
It proposes a withdrawl and an ending to the gifts and calling of God.   Israel and Jerusalem are right there for all to see, as God sets the stage for the fulfillment of all prophecy.  Why, oh why, would anyone cling to a  system that denies God the ability to do what He says He will do.  Romans 11:18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant,remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.  
Scripture is clear.
Romans 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—
Scripture is clear.
Ignore this truth and you will become 'wise in your own estimation.'  My short but painful dealing with preterists, is that they are very, very, wise in their own estimation.  

Here is the call to the church.  (which preterism robs from the church)
Romans 11:31 so these (Jews) also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you(the church) they also may now be shown mercy. 

Rise up church and shake off your preterist slumber!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

3 thoughts

Three thoughts as I head off to my end times conference.
(1)  This from D. Bonhoeffer, relates to the fact that I honestly think, bitterness, unforgiveness, and the resulting damage, is the greatest threat to the church.

40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Day 34
Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to
allow them to be verbalized. It is certain that the spirit of
self-justification can only be overcome by the spirit of grace; and it is just
as certain that the individual judgmental thought can be limited and
suppressed by never allowing it to be spoken except as a confession of sin….
Thus it must be a decisive rule of all Christian community life that each
individual is prohibited from talking about another Christian in secret. It is
clear and will be shown in what follows that this prohibition does not include
the word of admonition that is spoken personally to one another. However,
talking about others in secret is not allowed even under the pretense of help
and goodwill. For it is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred
between believers always creeps in, seeking to cause trouble.

(2)  This from my facebook page, because my loving God, put it right before me today in my morning devotional.  Very kind of Him.  Today is the day I leave for the once a year gathering with brothers who believe the church is called to go through the tribulation and be a sold-out witness to the Jews and the world.  This scripture speaks of not escaping but going through!

John 12:27,28 "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. "Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." ... Heading off to my end times conference, because I don't think the church should be wanting "saved from this hour", but "Father, glorify Your name!"

(3)  This scripture came to me twice yesterday, once in writing and once on the radio.
Romans 15:4   For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

SO THAT.. we might have 'endurance' and 'encouragement' and 'hope', none of those words apply to a church that is escaping the tribulation, all of those words apply and give strength to a church that is going through the tribulation out of love for God and one another.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Elijah Bible Study #3 1 Kings 18:22-46

Elijah Bible Study #3
1 Kings 18:22-46

22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people said, “That is a good idea.”
25 So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26 Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. 27 It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.” 28 So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. 29 When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. 33 Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. 34 And he said, “Fill four pitchers 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. 35 The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.
Elijah’s Prayer
36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 38 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. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” 40 Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
41 Now Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go back” seven times. 44 It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.’” 45 In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.    NASB
22-24 Then Elijah said, "I'm the only prophet of God left in Israel; and there are 450 prophets of Baal. Let the Baal prophets bring up two oxen; let them pick one, butcher it, and lay it out on an altar on firewood—but don't ignite it. I'll take the other ox, cut it up, and lay it on the wood. But neither will I light the fire. Then you pray to your gods and I'll pray to God. The god who answers with fire will prove to be, in fact, God."
    All the people agreed: "A good plan—do it!"
 25 Elijah told the Baal prophets, "Choose your ox and prepare it. You go first, you're the majority. Then pray to your god, but don't light the fire."
 26 So they took the ox he had given them, prepared it for the altar, then prayed to Baal. They prayed all morning long, "O Baal, answer us!" But nothing happened—not so much as a whisper of breeze. Desperate, they jumped and stomped on the altar they had made.
 27-28 By noon, Elijah had started making fun of them, taunting, "Call a little louder—he is a god, after all. Maybe he's off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he's gotten involved in a project, or maybe he's on vacation. You don't suppose he's overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?" They prayed louder and louder, cutting themselves with swords and knives—a ritual common to them—until they were covered with blood.
 29 This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response.
 30-35 Then Elijah told the people, "Enough of that—it's my turn. Gather around." And they gathered. He then put the altar back together for by now it was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Jacob, the same Jacob to whom God had said, "From now on your name is Israel." He built the stones into the altar in honor of God. Then Elijah dug a fairly wide trench around the altar. He laid firewood on the altar, cut up the ox, put it on the wood, and said, "Fill four buckets with water and drench both the ox and the firewood." Then he said, "Do it again," and they did it. Then he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. The altar was drenched and the trench was filled with water.
 36-37 When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, "O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I'm doing what I'm doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance."
 38 Immediately the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench.
 39 All the people saw it happen and fall on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, "God is the true God! God is the true God!"
 40 Elijah told them, "Grab the Baal prophets! Don't let one get away!"
    They grabbed them. Elijah had them taken down to the Brook Kishon and they massacred the lot.
 41 Elijah said to Ahab, "Up on your feet! Eat and drink—celebrate! Rain is on the way; I hear it coming."
 42-43 Ahab did it: got up and ate and drank. Meanwhile, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bowed deeply in prayer, his face between his knees. Then he said to his young servant, "On your feet now! Look toward the sea."
    He went, looked, and reported back, "I don't see a thing."
    "Keep looking," said Elijah, "seven times if necessary."
 44 And sure enough, the seventh time he said, "Oh yes, a cloud! But very small, no bigger than someone's hand, rising out of the sea."
    "Quickly then, on your way. Tell Ahab, 'Saddle up and get down from the mountain before the rain stops you.'"
 45-46 Things happened fast. The sky grew black with wind-driven clouds, and then a huge cloudburst of rain, with Ahab hightailing it in his chariot for Jezreel. And God strengthened Elijah mightily. Pulling up his robe and tying it around his waist, Elijah ran in front of Ahab's chariot until they reached Jezreel.    THE MESSAGE

Verse 22 - The other prophets were hidden away, on this day the only one publicly proclaiming the God of Israel is Elijah.  450 to 1, proving once again, the majority is not automatically right.

Verse 23 - The choice of oxen as the test, will serve the additional purpose of being a sacrifice for the sins of the people when God ‘torches’ it.  His wrath against an idolatrous nation must be poured out, either on the people or the bull.  No doubt satan could have sent fire, but God did not permit it.
Three times Elijah mentions putting no fire under the sacrifice (twice in vs. 23 and once in vs. 25). So What’s the Point? God does not ask us to give Him a hand with the impossible. Sometimes we are guilty deforming God into our own little helpless idol who must be helped along by the fires we build under Him to consume our sacrifice. Does this mean we are to sit by and do nothing? Of course not! Elijah repaired the altar and the sacrifice and he did it according to the principles of the Word. But he put no fire under the sacrifice.

Verse 24 - The test consisted of an answer “by fire.” Elijah declared, “The God that answers by fire, He is God.” But why fire? Baal was worshipped as the Lord of Fire, the Lord of the Sun. Some even worshipped him by passing their children through the fire (2 Kgs. 16:3). So the failure of Baal to bring down fire would demonstrate the fallacy of their beliefs about Baal. In Scripture, fire is used symbolically to communicate certain spiritual principles according to the contexts:

Satan, as the deceiver, is powerful and can bring some answers to man’s prayers, but only under the permissive will of God, and never to man’s true blessing or benefit. He undoubtedly had the power to bring fire from heaven in answer to the ravings of the Baal priests just as the magicians in Egypt were able to counterfeit some of the miracles performed by Moses, but here, God’s sovereignty overruled in order to make the issue clear. So today, people can find some semblance of joy and peace in false religions and in the details of life, money, power, and position, but they will always fall short of true and lasting peace. This only comes through faith in the Savior and through intimate fellowship with Him.  In the end times God will permit false miracles to be done by the false prophet to attest to the anti-Christ, we need to be aware of this.  Many will be deceived by the display of power, but will not discern the source of the power.

Verse 25 - Elijah lets them go first, because he knows his time is God’s time, the time of the evening sacrifice, the time of Jesus’ death, 3pm.

Verse 26 - 9am to 12 noon, a whole lot of nothing.  Much yelling and calling but no answer,
not even a spark or a tiny bit of smoke.

Verse 27 - 3 hours of listening to this causes sarcasm to rise up in Elijah.  “Maybe he is in the bathroom!”

Verse 28 - Cutting themselves and causing themselves pain, to gain the favor of their false God.  Such displays cause us to be grateful for a God who sacrificed His Son for us, any suffering we go through He is with us.  He is redeeming it.

Verse 29 - No voice, no answer.  Makes us grateful to the God who is the Word, speaking to us, encouraging us.

Verse 30 -  The repair of the altar, is always the first step.  Whether Israel was starting over on the building of the temple or Elijah was preparing the ‘test’, the altar is repaired first.  And the altar wasn’t just broken down it had been torn down.  Evil forces are not content to wait on time to wear down the house of worship, they want to destroy it.  The altar is God’s choice as the means which we come to Him in worship.

 One of the words used for offering a sacrifice in the Old Testament was qarab. It meant “to come near, approach, draw near,” and then, “to offer, bring.” Another word used, alah, meant literally, “to go up, ascend, climb.” The ascent of the smoke of the sacrifice symbolized access to God through a sacrifice that satisfied God’s holiness in anticipation of the substitutionary death of His Son.

For God to hear our prayer, we need to repair or correct those things in our lives that hinder fellowship with Him. Please review the following important passages: Compare Isaiah 59:1f; Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 28:9; Matthew 5:23-24; 1 Peter 3:7; with 1 John 1:9; Psalm 32:1f; 51:1f; and Proverbs 28:13.

verse 31 - Note also how Elijah repaired the altar--he used 12 stones. Why 12? Elijah was addressing the northern kingdom of ten tribes. After Solomon, the kingdom had been divided into the southern kingdom of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, and the northern kingdom of the remaining ten tribes. This demonstrated God had never accepted this division. One of the things that always hinders the impact of God’s people in the world is disunity. God wants His people united and working together. This is clear in John 17.

verse 32 - “in the name of the Lord”  An altar dedicated to the true God, the almighty God, the Lord of Hosts.

Verse 33 - Again doing everything as God directed him to do it.

Verse 34 - 12 pitchers of water, 12 ‘watered down’ tribes of Israel.

Verse 35 - Water the ‘enemy’ of fire, on the sacrifice, around the sacrifice, everywhere, making the situation even more impossible.

Verse 36 - When he addressed God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, he was specifically thinking and praying in the light of the covenants and promises and the principles that related to Israel such as: (a) God would not forsake His people; (b) they were to be a nation of priests to the nations of God’s salvation in the coming Messiah; (c) they were to avoid idolatry at all costs; (d) for obedience there would be blessing but for disobedience there would be cursing or the cycles of discipline as spelled out in Deuteronomy 28-29 and Leviticus 26; and (e) they were to be a people of the Word of God. This was to be their daily diet that they might remember the mighty works which He had done. In other words, Elijah’s prayer was motivated and directed by the principles and promises of Scripture.

Verse 37 - “That Thou hast turned their heart back again.” Elijah sought no credit for the results of this miracle. It was all the work of the grace and power of God (1 Cor. 3:5-7; 15:10). Grace! Grace! Grace! Elijah wanted the people to have their confidence not in him, a mere man, but in the Lord and His Word which Elijah followed (1 Cor. 2:1-5). Also, Elijah wanted people to realize something of God’s love and mercy: that without God’s grace that had pursued them like the hound of heaven, they would have proceeded deeper and deeper into sin and the judgment they so richly deserved.

Verse 38 - The stones, representing the 12 tribes, the dust representing man.  When God’s fire comes all that is of us is consumed and then to Him goes all the glory.  The fire is obviously supernatural because it moves from the top to the bottom.

Verse 39 - Elijah name means the Lord is God, and the people shouted it.

Verse 40 - The most dangerous people in a society are people who claim to speak for God but are false, so now is the time to eliminate them.

Verse 41 - Would Ahab be executed at this time too, no.  Mercy is extended to this king again.  Only the spiritual man, relying on the promise of God, could
“hear” the sound that Elijah is talking about.

Verse 42 - The contrast is obvious again, Ahab, goes off to fill his belly and Elijah goes off to pray, for an end to the drought.  He had the promise of God, but still he prays.

Verse 43 - Go and look, would 6 “no” answers be enough to discourage us, to make us quit.  How often do we stop at 6 when the answer is coming at 7.

Verse 44 - Don’t despise the small beginnings, when God starts it, it will finish and it will finish strong.  Get going Ahab, the river that you crossed to get here will be un-crossable soon.
This scene provides a second contrast of persons. It shows that Elijah prayed in faith, expectantly. He prayed believing God’s specific promises and with perseverance he continued in prayer, never fainting, wavering or doubting. “Seven times” he told the servant to return. Seven is the number of completion or perfection in Scripture. It is not a magical number. It simply teaches us what perseverance and unwavering faith accomplishes. It is designed to teach the principle of Luke 18:1, “that at all times they (men) ought to pray and not to lose heart.” The need is to keep going until we see evidence of an answer. Elijah wasn’t saying he’d quit after seven.

Another contrast of persons is seen in the servant who kept running back and forth, up and down the mountain to Elijah while Elijah remained steadfast in prayer. The servant is like many believers who pray a few minutes, look out the window and think, “just like I thought, nothing.” Then they try something else and when that doesn’t work, they try a little more prayer. But to pray like that is to be like the double-minded man of James 1:5 who asks, doubts, wavers, asks, then doubts and so on. Elijah did not doubt even after six negative reports. He continued to pray. Why? Because he was standing confidently on what God had promised! Elijah knew God’s will from God’s direct promise.

Have you ever been like this servant? Have you found yourself running back and forth, almost frantic because God didn’t seem to be listening? Well, I certainly have faced that in my own life and I suspect you have too. Let me make four suggestions that can help.

(1) Be sure your prayer is grounded in the Word. This gives confidence.

(2) Be sure your prayer is not from carnal or wrong motives, but directed by biblical principles. Rest in the intercessory ministry of the Holy Spirit who always prays according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27).

(3) Keep on asking, looking, and knocking in a faith that rests in God’s fatherly care, love, and timing (Matt. 7:7-8).

(4) Above all, ask the Lord to teach you what He wants to do in you and through you during this period of waiting.

If prayer is so important, why is it so many believers are continually halted in their prayer life? Well, it’s no accident. It is the result of satanic scheming plus our own natural tendencies. Satan doesn’t mind if we witness near as much as he minds if we pray because he knows it is far more important to talk to God about people, than to talk to people about God. It’s when we start talking to God about people that our witnessing becomes most effective.

The same applies to studying the Word, teaching it to others, or Christian activity. If Satan can keep believers off their knees, and keep us running up and down the various mountains of our lives, very little of the Word will really take hold. Instead spiritual pride will develop and the activity will become just busy activity, but ineffective. Prayer is a very important dimension in the life of every believer. May the Lord enable us to keep the dimension of the power of prayer in focus.

Verse 45 - Heavy rain, when the answer comes it comes strong and sure.  The sacrifice has been accepted, the long awaited rain can now come.

Verse 46 - Samson was given the strength of God and made the strongest man ever.  Here Elijah is given the speed of God and made the fastest man ever.  Ahab wouldn’t give him a ride, but he would arrive first nevertheless, and when Jezebel saw Elijah coming first any thought that maybe the rain had come in answer to a pray to Baal would be removed.