February 19, 2020
Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you for praying with us for our prodigals and for revival. God responds to the fervent prayer of His people. We pray, we pray again, and we pray again!
Sometimes it seems like life is a series of tests from God—tests that determine character, tests that stretch our resolve, tests that make us more than we were before started, and tests that draw us back from wayward paths. Some tests are bigger than others. This is what Elijah and all Israel found out at Mount Carmel.
Elijah was a great prophet in Israel and one of his greatest tests came after a three-and-a-half-year famine during the reign of King Ahab and his wicked wife, Jezebel. The lack of rain was due to the idolatrous sin of Israel, but the king blamed Elijah (1Kings 16:31-33). When he came from hiding at the command of God, Elijah had a face-off against four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah on Mt. Carmel. That’s eight hundred and fifty against one!
The test for Elijah was of his confidence in God. Would God prove to this wicked nation that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (verse 36)? Would He come through and show Himself mighty? Would He stand by Elijah and vindicate him as His spokesman? It was the Word of the Lord that brought Elijah here in the first place, so if he was going to continue in faith, he had to rely on God for His provision, His protection, and His plan for what would come. (The full story is found in chapter 18, verses 20-46.)
The New Testament commentary on this story is given to us by the apostle James. He says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:17-18). I really like this! A man like us! Not a super-man, not a man immune from human problems, doubts, and feelings, but a man like us. He was also a man of prayer. God answered his first prayer for the rain to stop, and it gave him the confidence to pray again in front of all the false prophets and the whole nation of Israel. God came through for Elijah that day on Mount Carmel and revealed the greatness of His character and deeds. Elijah made a trench around the altar and got them to pour twelve jars of water over the sacrifice and altar (verses 33-35). Keil & Delitzsch's Commentary on the Old Testament says, “Elijah adopted this course for the purpose of precluding all suspicion of even the possibility of fraud in connection with the miraculous burning of the sacrifice.” Then, “The fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (1Kings 18:38). What a magnificent outpouring of the grace and power of God. Elijah clearly passed the test of faith! Saint Augustine of Hippo said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
The question Elijah asked was also a test to the people, a test of allegiance and loyalty. “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” (1Kings 18:21 ESV). The ESV translates the Hebrew word pâsach as “go limping.” The KJV uses the English word, “halt” and the NLT uses the word “waver.” It was long past due for the people to take their stand. They wanted the blessings of God in one hand and those of the gods of the nations in the other, and they teetered back and forth. On this occasion, God put them to the test. Would they return to the God of their fathers or not? It became a day of mighty revival in Israel and they began to chant, “The LORD, He is God” (1Kings18:39).
You and I will be tested today and in days to come. Maybe our greatest test is still before us. Let’s stand with Elijah and put our trust in the faithfulness of our God and may He use the tests of life to do His work within our hearts.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel