Calling Down Fire from Heaven
- 2008 19 Jan
"Such praying men are always our national benefactors. Elijah was such. He had heard a voice, seen a vision, tasted a power, measured an enemy, and with God as partner, wrought a victory. The tears he shed, the soul agonies he endured, the groans he uttered, are all recorded in the book of the chronicles of the things of God…He knew the mind of God. Therefore, he - one man - strangled a nation and altered the course of nature. This ‘crag of a man’ stood as majestic and immovable as the mountains of Gilead, as he shut up the heavens with a word. By the key of faith, which fits every lock, Elijah locked heaven, pocketed the key, and made Ahab tremble. Though it is wonderful indeed when God lays hold of a man, earth can know one greater wonder - when a man lays hold of God."
Do you realize the power you have on your knees? Elijah did. He was a man set apart. He was God's man. God is looking to and fro on this earth for men and women who are totally sold out to Him. No personal agendas, no self-seeking plans, no alternate routes of escape - they are God's and God's alone. Are you one of these men or women? As you step into this New Year filled with challenges as well as blessings, can you say, "God, it's You and You alone; I’m Yours totally, and I will follow You with all my heart"?
Let’s look at an outstanding story from the life of Elijah. He was an ordinary man who experienced the greatness of the Almighty God. Imagine having the courage to call down fire from heaven! This is the confidence that the prophet Elijah had in his relationship with God. He lived with God and served Him with a single-minded devotion. He knew God’s call on his life and he set himself apart for that purpose.
Elijah’s Faith and Unwavering Trust in God - 1 Kings 18:16-40
Let’s look at this difficult situation. For 80 years the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel would vacillate between following God and serving other Canaanite deities. This led up to a difficult 3-year drought in Israel, a sign of God’s great displeasure over the situation. Ahab was king at that time and had married an evil and powerful woman, Jezebel. She personally supported four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah. Elijah met face-to-face with Ahab and told him how he had abandoned the Lord’s commands and had followed the Baals. Then with amazing faith, Elijah invited Ahab to summon all the people of Israel to meet on Mt. Carmel. In the presence of the people he would personally challenge these evil prophets of Baal to a contest designed to reveal the true and living God.
So King Ahab assembled the people and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. How would you feel in this situation? Would you be fearful and ready to run? Not Elijah! He faced the people of Israel and with great courage confronted them and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). The people were absolutely speechless.
The Amazing Power Encounter
“Then Elijah said to them, ‘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 them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire - He is God.’ Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good’ (1 Kings 18:22-24).
The prophets of Baal proudly prepared their bull. All morning these prophets called upon their god. They danced! They called and shouted! They cut themselves with knives! But there was no answer. Elijah began to taunt them. Perhaps their god is deep in thought or busy or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping! They shouted louder, slashing themselves with swords and spears until they were bleeding. They continued with frantic prophesying until evening, but still there was no response. No one answered or paid attention.
Then the most amazing power encounter took place! Elijah took twelve stones and built an altar in the name of the Lord. He dug a trench around it, arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces, and laid it on the wood. Then he told the people of Israel, “’Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’ ‘Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again. ‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.” You can imagine how soaking wet that altar was.
Then Elijah confidently stepped forward and prayed (1 Kings 18:36-39). You know the end of this amazing story. The fire of the Lord fell in a dramatic way and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, and even the water in the trenches. When all the people saw this, they fell down prostrate and cried, “The Lord - he is God! The Lord - he is God!” The false prophets were then seized and killed according to Mosaic Law. God showed His power and greatness in this one mighty act. Next week we will look at more lessons from Elijah’s life. He was a powerful man of God who knew God intimately and lived with Him daily. God had laid hold of him completely. This is the kind of men and women God wants to empower for the end-times harvest. Will you be that man or woman? Will you be one who lays hold of God?
We Must Pray for our Nation
"Elijah lived with God. He thought about the nation’s sin like God; he grieved over sin like God; he spoke against sin like God. He was all passion in his prayers and passionate in his denunciation of evil in the land.”
We all know the sad story about the sinking of the Titanic. The men who were on watch that dark night saw the iceberg before the ship ran into it. The ship was brand-new, beautifully decorated, and extremely large, but by the time the men on the bridge discovered the huge iceberg and tried to steer the ship away, it was too late. They needed more time to shift the course of this large ship away. During those deciding moments, people inside the ship were partying, drinking, eating and having a carefree time - totally unaware of the enormous crisis they were facing. The men tried to steer the ship clear of the massive oncoming iceberg, but it was too late. The ship was too big, the hour was too late, and the watchmen were sleeping too long at a critical time when they needed to be alert. It was too late, the ship hit that enormous iceberg, and the “unsinkable” Titanic quickly sank bringing scores of men, women, and children to their violent death.
We must not let this happen to our nations on our watch. The iceberg is in sight and we must wake up the watchmen. It was said of the Titanic, “She is unsinkable.” They were gravely wrong. We must not think that any nation is unsinkable. We must take action. It is time we shake the body of Christ awake all over the world, and pray as we have never prayed before. Here is how we can stand watch, pray, and take action:
- We must pray fervently for the nation we live or work in - Elijah was a man of prayer. He knew the seriousness of the situation in his day. The whole world is going through stressful times. We can pray for God to touch with His power the people in the land.
- We must take a united stand against evil - We can no longer waver between two opinions. We cannot be like the people in Elijah’s day; wavering, lukewarm, and mixing with the sins of the nation. God is calling us to radical holiness.
- We must take our stand for godly principles - Elijah stood for God even when others didn’t. We must stand against abortion, immorality, false religions, etc. We must be God’s totally and not compromise our convictions.
- We must choose to unite - The spiritual battle we are fighting against is between light and darkness. All Christians must unite at this time. We cannot tolerate division between churches in our cities. We will only win as we unite. We are in a war against the powers of darkness and we desperately need one another in the body of Christ.
- We must be God’s men and women for this hour - We must pray down fire from heaven, asking God to supernaturally intervene in the nations. We must be men and women of faith who passionately pray for the nations we live in every day.
- We must seek God in worship and praise - There is power against the devil’s schemes through praise. Let’s not get morbid and introspective. Let’s look up and worship the God of all creation who can do anything on our behalf if we really learn to worship Him at this time.
Let’s discover the fact that warfare is not primarily taking authority over the devil, but it is discovering the greatness of God. What you think about God in your heart in the secret moments of everyday life is of utmost importance because your knowledge and expectations of Him will govern your prayer life and everything you do. As we have already said, Elijah was an ordinary man who was dedicated to God and knew God. God is making us earnest, urgent, dependent, and steadfast. It is in our weakness that He will show Himself strong. Believe in His greatness. Trust in His sufficiency. Let’s go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah as people prepared by the Lord in every area of our lives, passionately praying, and living confidently for His glorious purpose.
"To the question, 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' we answer, 'Where are the Elijahs of God?' We know Elijah was 'a man of like passions as we are,' but alas! We are not men of like prayer as he was! One praying man stands as a majority with God! Today God is bypassing men - not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient."