Mar 28 2019
(audio sermon by Gary Sampson)
The prophets of Baal believed fire would fall based on their extra numbers, extra intercession, extra zealous shouting & dancing, and extra faith proclamations. Elijah knew fire would fall because God said so.
Speakers notes follow –
The Power is in His Works, Not Ours
1 Kings 18: 21-39
‘The god who answers by fire – he is God‘ – The ultimate showdown
Poster – Christian v Muslim scholars debate – informative for Christians + Muslims in mixed city
Both gifted in logic – imagine if one did an Elijah – called down fire!
Debate with Muslims not just ‘Who is God‘ (Yahweh +Allah) – But how to relate to God – Muslims by their good works – Christians by Gods work in Christ
In this showdown – Elijah + prophets – different god and systems
Here – prophets of Baal confidence in extra: numbers, intercession time, demonstrations of zeal, assertive faith pronouncements – Elijah confidence is simply in what God has said! – Lets take a deeper look at the text:
21 “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
King Ahab + First Lady Jezebel + their prophets had drawn Israel away from Yahweh – confusion which god is real – need to see
23-24 “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves.. put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other ..but not set fire to it. Then you call on ..your god, and I will call on.. the Lord (Yahweh). The god who answers by fire – he is God.” ..all the people said, “What you say is good.”..”Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you.”
So debating panel of 450 prophets of Baal vs 1 prophet of Yahweh (The LORD) – With the people as jury
Twice Elijah confidently mentions – its many against one – no doubt they had confidence in numbers – but Elijah knew numbers don’t effect God
Something to learn here – many Christians think if there’s many calling on God together, God will come – No, as Elijah demonstrates God moves when we hear + obey – lets not think the pagan way, but God’s way!
# Our confidence is not in numbers! Its in what God has said! (36) Elijah following God’s command
26 So they took the bull ..prepared it. Then they called on ..Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted.. they danced around the altar ..But there was no response..
29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response..
But notice what Elijah does – (36) At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command..”
Elijah prays one simple prayer – bang the fire falls!
Some Christians say ‘Its all about how much prayer we put in. We need all-nights of prayer. We need 24 hour prayer chain‘ – If God tells you to do that, obey – but its not what God told Elijah to do.
# Our confidence is not in long intercession or worship. Its in what God has said! What God is doing!
27-28 Elijah taunts – shout louder – Baal is deep in thought, busy (in the toilet), traveling (on safari), sleeping – ie ‘make more noise, you ‘ll get his attention!’
So they up the volume – start slashing themselves – why – get his attention – show how serious they are.
But look at Elijah – there’s a notable calmness – after the prophets of Baal are done – (30) he says to the people ‘Come here to me‘ – its like Jesus ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest‘ (Mt 11.28)
Christians sometimes think if they praise louder, dance harder, fast longer, they will get God’s attention. But Elijah doesn’t dance, shout, or fast – hears + obeys. Dancing + fasting are good – but don’t make God do anything!
# Our confidence is not demonstrations of zeal. Its in what God has said!
29 ..they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response ..
‘Frantic’ means desperate, feverish – ‘Prophesying’ here is probably pronouncements of faith – so making feverish faith pronouncements
By contrast Elijah calmly prays (36) “..let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.”
Prophets of Baal expect Baal to follow their faith pronouncements – Elijah follows God’s commands
Some Christians think if they have enough faith they can speak anything into being – God will follow up on what they say – Nope, we are to follow up on what He says
# Our confidence is not in assertive faith pronouncements. Its in what God has said!
In summary – the difference between the prophets of Baal and Elijah couldn’t be greater – they are on a hype train to no where – while Elijah’s calm obedience brings heaven to earth –
The fire falls, burns the sacrifice, the stones, soil, and water trench – the people cry ‘ Yahweh is God!’
We know Baal isn’t God – so whats my point? – We must not fall into the trap of worshipping the true God in a pagan way.
Dt 12.29-31 The Lord your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates.
Pagans practiced witchcraft + god coercion – eg Babel – a stairway to get a god to come down – child sacrifice – twist the gods arm
Christians don’t believe in that – but we get close when we think God will follow our hype – shouting, dancing, positive faith claims
We all know hype – the leader tries to stir people up – but its not in you – doesn’t resonate – look around – can see not in others – some do it because its expected
Takes time to undo – tell people lets wait on God – they start praying fast + furious – hard to hear or receive when doing that – trying to make it happen – doing God’s job – stop, wait, follow
Some think faith is a worked up state of mind – no its trusting who God is – He’s a Lover, so give Him time He’s likely to draw close – He’s a Healer, so pray for healing, its likely you’ ll see miracles
Brings me to concept of sacred space – if we not trying to work something up in worship, preaching, ministry time, what we doing? – creating space – up to God to fill it
Sacred space – church, temple – physical – Gods temple people – sacred space is opportunities He gives or we give: worship times, preaching times, ministry times (laying hands)
Can’t make Him come – we invite – worship – pray – watch – follow – worship leaders senses follows, preacher senses follows
Prayer + fasting about clean vessels – sacred space – we put the flesh down, confess, surrender, hand over motives – clean space
Picture – Tiger behind bars – power blocked by bars of tradition
Finally – ministry time not about phenomena – wanting people to shake + fall – about healing + encouragement – physical + emotional healing – filling, empowering, refreshing
Ps 33.20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
Ac 1.8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you
Mimi + Joan testimonies
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