Friday, January 04, 2008

Water on the Altar

Elijah was on Mt. Carmel facing the prophets of Baal and Asherah. He waited all day while they called to their gods to bring fire on the altar, but “no one heard, no one answered.” He taunted them, they cut themselves, they made a ruckus that would have gotten the attention of any god, if that god existed. Still, no answer came.

Then, as evening drew near, it was Elijah’s turn. He prepared the altar and the bull. He stood before the people and prayed a very simple prayer. He asked God to bring fire on the sacrifice to show the people of Israel that Jehovah is God – the only living God.

You know the end of the story. God sent fire from heaven which consumed not only the sacrifice, but the altar it rested on. The prophets of Baal were destroyed and for a day, Israel returned to the worship of the one true God.

But I want you to focus on one very strange thing that Elijah did after he prepared the sacrifice, before he prayed, and before the fire fell. He gave instructions for four large jars to be filled with water and poured on the altar. Then four more. And four more. Elijah had twelve jars of water poured on the altar.

As is common among us men, I consider myself a grill-master. One thing I know – if you want to light the fire, don’t pour water on it. Lighter fluid? By the gallons! But not water.

Elijah was obviously not a modern American prophet. He would have known that God needed help if he is going to accomplish his work. God needs us to provide him mood music and a pleasing environment in which to work, doesn’t he?

A few years ago, I was a counselor for an evangelistic crusade. I was “second wave.” Each night there were three passionate invitations. Some counselors came down in the first invitation, some came with me in the second, and others waited until the third. The evangelist was pouring lighter fluid on the altar, hoping God would send fire.

But not Elijah. He poured water. If fire fell, everyone would know God sent it, not Elijah. There would be no manipulation, no trickery, no deceit from the prophet of God.

It is your duty to present the truth of God’s salvation through Christ to lost souls. It is not your job to beg or bargain to get people to accept Jesus. You just proclaim the gospel. Jesus did not make the rich young ruler a better offer when he rejected the first one. You cannot soften the offense of the gospel or make it more palatable. You just tell the truth.

He doesn’t need your lighter fluid. Just obey him and trust that he will bring the heavenly fire. We don’t have to help him; we just have to obey him.

And watch the fire fall.

1 comment:

Dee Ann said...

How do you define sin except as defined in I John 3:4? Sin is lawlessness...Torahlessness. What are Jesus commandments if they are not Torah? Who gave these, but Jesus preincarnate? He did not loosen the instructions but explained that they were more stringent than outward disobedience, saying that if we have it in our heart to break one it is broken already. But His blood covers those who turn from this sin. Torah written on your heart is the New Covenant and His blood covers us who love His word and turn from sin.