Christ our Great High Priest
Has there ever come a time in your life where all you could think about was the trials and struggles of life? What is so difficult about trials is the not knowing of what may come. I mean why we doubt, and fear, and despair is because we don’t know how things will end. How does our trial end, and will things get any better? That is what we think about and want to know. This morning we have a lot to unpack here, and there are many topics in our passage that I could take time to address, but the main thing I want us to see here is God’s Victory. When you are in despair and dealing with discouragement, run to this passage. Don’t delay, don’t stop, get into your word and see that our God is a Victorious God and He is there with us in the battles and trials of this life.
Turn with me to 1 Kings chapter 18. This is the story of God’s Victory over Elijah’s opponent’s. During this time in Israel’s history the people had abandoned the Lord their God and chased after other false gods. Elijah had dedicated his life to proving that Jehovah was the only true God in Israel. In fact, Elijah’s name meant, “My God is Jehovah.” More than anything Elijah wanted his people to know there was only one God, and He was the true Victorious God that could save them and rescue them from their sin.
1. No Enemy can Succeed Against God.
1. No Enemy can Succeed Against God.
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
What we see here is that Elijah faced several enemies or people who were against him. First, wicked King Ahab stood against Elijah. In fact, Ahab blames this whole drought thing on Elijah. Ahab calls Elijah, “Troubler.” This means one who brings on serious consequences. We see this same word used in the Old Testament of Achan who hid some valuables under his tent in Joshua 6:18 and 7:25. Also we see this used in description of King Saul in 1 Samuel 14:29.
However the problem was not with Elijah. He wasn’t the real troubler. The enemy was Ahab, his father, and the nation of Israel because they had failed to keep God’s commandments and so this is why the curse is happening on the land and thus the 3 year drought. They had abandoned the commandments of the Lord. This was a very sad thing for Elijah to see and deal with. I am sure that at times he dealt with despair and discouragement but here we see him fired up for the Lord. Notice verse 21.
21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
Make up your minds people on who you will serve! Quit sitting on the fence. Either you are for the one true God or you are not. What is it going to be???
The second enemy we see here that stood in Elijah’s way was the false prophets of Baal and the false prophets of Asherah. Baal and the worship of Baal had been around for 100’s of years so none of this was new for this people. Baal was the storm god and he would look after your crops and gave people crop fertility along with blessing people with many children. Because Baal was related to weather, this is why Ahab and the people believed Baal was angry with Elijah and was with holding rain for 3 years. All of this was Elijah’s fault is what the prophets of Baal, the King and the people thought.
Again the ultimate issue here was not just the wicked King and the wicked prophets, but the state of the nation as a whole. In verse 21 that we just read Elijah insists that the people need to make a choice, and their choice or response is silence.
This must have been terribly frustrating for Elijah. The people, the King blaming Elijah for this drought and yet Elijah understands the problem and tires to address it. Sadly, the people don’t want to do anything about it. They are non-responsive. There may come times in your life where the problems of this world seem too frustrating or overwhelming. It may seem that others are against you, slandering, ridiculing, talking about you, your family, or even church family. But, remember this today. God and His people will succeed. Others may seem to win for a while or get their way but eventually their sin will catch up with them. God gets the final word and has the final say on all things. Remember in your trials that God is victorious.
2. You are Not Alone. The Lord Fights for You.
2. You are Not Alone. The Lord Fights for You.
22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”
Here in verses 22-24 it looks like it is Elijah versus the whole world or everyone else. And clearly he alone is taking a stand for God. But my point here is that we are never alone. Elijah issues this challenge here to the prophets of Baal by inviting them to see which God would answer the prayers of their people. The prophets of Baal would provide a sacrifice along with Elijah. The God who would provide fire was the Victor. Elijah had the one true God on his side and we know that Elijah was not alone. God was with him and God was present in this situation.
In verse 26 we see that the prophets of Baal call out to their god.
26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.
But this was all to no effect. There was no voice, no answer. The voice of Baal would have been thunder and his fire would have been lightning since he was a god of weather but all they got was silence. So, here is where things get a little comical.
27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
Elijah calls out to them, hey guys you might want to shout or cry louder. Maybe Baal is on a bathroom break, or on a long journey. Maybe he is taking a nap, or is distracted with something??? Elijah is doing all of this to prove the utter foolishness of Israel in abandoning their God. Eventually their time runs out, there was no voice, no answer, no Baal. Elijah was not alone and God was listening to his prayer proving that there was only one God.
In Joshua 23:10 we see that Joshua gives this charge to the leaders of Israel. Here is what he reminds them of.
10 One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you.
The One True God of Israel, Jehovah was fighting for Elijah and He is fighting for you today. God is the defender of His children. There may seem like times that the enemy is winning but God will get the victory and fights for His people. Today the enemy may seem too big and too overwhelming in your life, so call out to God and know that God hears the prayers of his children and answers those prayers just like he did here with Elijah.
3. God is Always Victorious.
3. God is Always Victorious.
Now it is Elijah’s turn. There was no answer and no response from Baal so the stage is set for the One True God. I want us to zero in on Elijah’s prayer here. In verses 36-39 we see that Elijah goes directly to God.
Remember Elijah’s name meant “My God is Jehovah.” So, it should be no surprise that at the core of Elijah’s prayer was a desire to glorify God.
36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that 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 hearts back.” 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 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
Elijah asks God, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel. How powerful is that statement? What this shows us is that the test rests on which god answers prayers. Elijah’s prayer is a serious prayer and it centers on God revealing himself to his people once more and bringing the people too repentance once again. What will God do? How will He respond? Notice the Lord’s response.
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 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
The fire of the Lord fell from heaven and it consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, the dust, and it licked up the water. Everything was consumed. The reason why this was so amazing church, is that fire from heaven had only happened 3 times before this. First when Moses and Aaron got the sacrificial system going. Also when King David bought the threshing floor as a suitable plot for the temple and builds an alter. Finally, when Solomon dedicates the temple and the first offering is made. So my point is that this didn’t just happen every day. All of this is to show us that God alone is God of heaven and earth. God breaks all the man made rules and shows us that we are not King over Him but He is King over us. He rules and reigns as the One True God. The Victorious King. The peoples response was, “The Lord He is God.” God got His victory here in our passage and God always gets His victory. One day God gave His one and only Son so that we could have victory. Here is how Paul put it in Romans.
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Jesus get the final victory church. He will crush Satan under your feet. Satan will be rendered inoperative and then will be cast with all of his demons into the lake of fire. This is how it all ends. God is victorious!!!
So, what is our response today with this news? It really comes down to this. It’s make up our mind time church. Will we choose God? Will we choose to obey Him and follow Him or will we choose to follow something or someone else? The showdown at Mt. Carmel points us to the fact that our heart and minds will be true to something. Either we will follow and worship the One True God or we will follow something false. What will it be?
(Pray and Lead into Communion)