April 21, 2020: Reason to Rejoice: God Answers His people

1 Kings 18:38-39 (NIV) 

 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 

 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD–he is God! The LORD–he is God!” 

For three and a half years, there had been no rain in Israel. The ground was hard as a rock. The plants had all withered and died. There was no grain, so there was no food. The people were hard-pressed to eke out a living on what remnants of food and water they could find. Death was everywhere. The people were staggering from one town to another, trying to find enough food and water to barely survive.

Elijah and had enough. 

False prophets were proliferating in the land, and Israel was being led astray by all the false teaching. He decided to call for a showdown between the true God and all the false gods. The contest was to be held on Mt. Carmel.  

It was early on the day of the battle. Elijah was situated on the mountain top along with the false prophets. He decided to have them go first. (Because as we all know, God always has the last word.)

The false prophets began their attempt to get their false gods to respond. For a few hours, they went about their religious incantations and rituals, but nothing happened.

It was decided that the God who answered by fire would be the true God. They could not even raise a spark. The Word of God says it best. 

“Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.”

 1 Kings 18:29 (NIV) 

Think of these words in our day. Many are frantic because of this virus scare. They are crying out to their gods, which are not gods and finding no answer. 

It seems no one is paying attention to them, no one is answering.

Now comes the show we have all been waiting for. Elijah steps up to the mountain top and does something entirely crazy. The conditions are that the God who answers by fire will be the God that everyone worships.

“Bring on the waterpots!” Elijah commands. “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the altar and the wood.” Those standing by obey.

“Do it again!” he commands. They obey. “Do it a third time!” goes the order. They do it a third time. The water is running down over the sacrifice and the altar and filling the trench around the altar.

How can God show up and cause the fire to catch with all this water around? Remember, it has not rained in three and a half years. The false prophets had been crying out to their false gods since 9 am. It was almost time for the sun to go down. There would not be much time for Elijah to make his petition to His God. His God would have to answer rather quickly.

Elijah steps up to the platform and offers a fifty-nine-word prayer, fire falls from heaven, consumes the animal on the altar, the altar, the wood, and the water in the trenches. The result, all of Israel now know who God is. They even cry out to the one true God.

The fire fell and consumed the sacrifice, and the people now knew who God was.

Question: What made the difference between the false prophets and Elijah’s prayer? The false prophets did not offer anything of significance. Sure, they cut themselves until their blood flowed freely, but God is not interested in being forced to do something by our own efforts.

Elijah instructed the people to offer up large quantities of water. What was the most prized possession in Israel currently? Remember, it had not rained in over three and a half years. 

Water was the most precious commodity. 

Elijah has the people offer what was now their only source of life.  

Here we see a principle that runs throughout the Bible. Whenever God’s people offer what is most precious to them, God shows up in the most unusual ways.

What is God calling you to offer to him today? What act of generosity can you give to God today that will demonstrate to others that you are looking to God as your real source of life and not the things of this world?

Go ahead and offer that to God right now. God tends to reveal himself to his people in times of economic hardships when they fully surrender to him. Go ahead and test Him and see if he won’t pour out a blessing you cannot receive.

We serve a generous God, and he is waiting to show you just how generous.

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