Again, he cannot touch the believers, but he can touch the people who were born after the Great Tribulation. And in Revelation 29, they went up in the breath of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
Now that's impressive because you have armies surrounding the city and fire comes out from heaven and gets them all, like on one shot. This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of 1 Kings.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now let's join Pastor Rick in the book of 1 Kings chapter 18 as he begins his message, Elijah on Mount Carmel. 1 Kings chapter 18, we've got a lot to cover.
This is one of those chapters where you can't wait to get to it. And well here we are, Elijah on Mount Carmel. We'll go right to verse 20, 1 Kings chapter 18 verse 20. And Ahab sent for all the children of Israel and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. This is a large gathering and factoring in the travel distances that it's on a mountain, not the peak of the mountain.
It likely is a few days after the invitation was given. If you look back at verse 19 of chapter 18, you'll see he says, Now therefore send gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel. And of course he invites the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Ashtore. The 400 prophets of Ashtore will not respond. They will save their lives in the end.
But anyway, this is a large event. The king of the Northern Kingdom is overseeing all of this for the nation on that side, Elijah of course on the side of God. And Ahab does this apostate king what the prophet tells him because Elijah is the rainmaker in his eyes. He's the one that said the rain would stop and he's going to be the one that brings it back.
He disconnects. You know, why is a human being capable of so much intelligence and yet when it comes to God, they are otherwise fools. It's the capacity for evil. And it is everywhere in the scriptures.
It's everywhere in life. Yet in that number of people that are intelligent and refuse God, there are also those that are intelligent and they receive God. Well, we go to verse 21. And Elijah came to all the people and said, How long will you falter between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him.
But the people answered him, not a word. Now remember, idolatry was now popular in the Northern Kingdom. Idolatry allowed things that following the true God would not allow.
That was its big draw. And this one verse is of course a kingpin verse. How long do you halt or falter between two opinions?
Make up your mind. You're going to serve Yahweh, you're going to serve Baal. Look, they were mixing the two. They were still claiming Yahweh while they worshiped Baal.
Had little figurines all over their house. He was expecting the people to accept this fact that the victor of this contest would admit that that is the God to worship and the other one is worthless. That's where Elijah is going with this. But fools are fools because they continuously make the wrong choice consistently without excuse. I mean, I'm not talking about something. We all make mistakes. We all act foolishly. But these are spiritual fools. And they are consistent. And they're very deadly.
Let's not lose sight of that. These people are not, you know, just these quiet worshippers. They are violent. So he asked, how long are you going to falter between two opinions? Literally in the Hebrew, how long will you limp between the twigs? Make up your mind. You're dilly dallying, making the choice. They had become mugwamps. They mug sat on one side of the fence and they whomp on the other side of the fence. They couldn't make up their minds. So are they going to serve Yahweh?
Are they going to serve Baal? Combined worship with the idols, which is the rejection of God. We find it when people say, I'm a Christian, and yet they continue to worship things or give respect to spiritual forces that God has condemned.
The easiest one perhaps to point out is someone who claims that they're Christian and then consult the horoscope, something like that. And because of the evil influence of Ahab and Jezebel, the people are limping between two opinions. They really helped this along by importing these fake gods. The people may have objected in their hearts at this point. They likely did, very likely did. They probably would have said, we serve Yahweh. It would have been false. They couldn't back up their confession with their behavior, with their actions.
Short walk to their house and they would have just exposed their folly. Matthew 6 24, no one can serve two masters or either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God in Mammon.
There of course you can't serve God in money, but the truth, it links to other behaviors also and idolatry being the strongest. To be without God's opinion of God is to be without the salvation of God. Now there are people we come across in life and we don't know. They're not believers and they die and we just hope in the mercy of God. It's a valid hope, but we can't approach it that way. Not while they're living. Amongst the living, we've got to let them have it.
It's not worth taking the chance to be indifferent about Christ. He who is not with me is against me and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad. Jesus said it and he meant it and we believe it. These people that Elijah was dealing with were people of a very rich and wonderful spiritual history. They possessed the scriptures as a people. The word of God, the oracles of God was in their possession. It was still being formed of course, but much of it was already there and yet deliberately choosing Baal because of the license he gave to the flesh.
The Christian will find that they struggle with the flesh in various areas, which still remain faithful to Christ, trusting in his mercy and his kindness and it is abundant. The unbeliever doesn't do that and this distinction cost the individual everything and our message is to try to help them to not come to this awful conclusion in this life at death. Well, here they are deliberately choosing Baal because of the passions that he allowed. They had become polytheists. You know, you can have more than one God, not as of course as a true believer lumping in Yahweh in the mix. Each little God had their share of respect. That's polytheism. The, I don't know, I think the 18th century mystic and not in a bad sense, just more in the sense of a deeper thinker, Francois Fenelon wrote, if it is Baal, follow him, follow the world, give yourself up to him and he shall see on that day of your death if he will deliver you from my hands. And so he just says, you know, see where this ends, you following these fake gods.
See how this is going to end for you. They won't deliver you from judgment. They will not deliver you from evil. It says here in verse 21, but the people answered him not a word.
Why not? When Elijah says, if Yahweh is God, serve him. If Baal is God, serve him. Why do they just not say anything? Because they were compromised and that compromise left them unable to commit. They could not stand up and say, I serve Yahweh and no one else. The devil is a thief and he uses idolatry to steal the heads and hearts of people then and now.
He just doesn't have to use so many statues anymore. So they answered him not a word. Verse 22, then Elijah said to the people, I alone am left a prophet of Yahweh. Baal's prophets are 450 men. There's no mention of the 400 Ashtoreth prophets because they're not there. Jezebel probably wouldn't let those men go.
She of course financed or subsidized them. Elijah is not saying, I alone am left and I need your sympathy. He doesn't need their sympathy. To them, they are grasshoppers to him and he is a giant to them whether they're going to find that out.
But it is still an uncalled for statement because he doesn't let this go. Elijah said to the people, verse 22, I alone am left a prophet of Yahweh. Well, he dismissed Obadiah's faithfulness because he says it, that fact that he continues to say it and God has to put him straight in the end. But he dismisses Obadiah who risked his life to protect the prophets. What about the 100 devout prophets that remained prophets and did not capitulate and go over to Jezebel's side?
They were faithful. Then his own servant who will come to in verse 43 and again in chapter 19, Elijah abandons. So, you know, the fact is the prophet was messing up here. Truth is not changed by our opinions. His opinion was he was the only one and he's a great prophet.
This does not take any of that away. It's just God has said, let me show you something about my prophet. As great as he was, he's still just like you. That's why in the New Testament we read Elijah was a man of like passions. He fought with sin also. He was not above the curse. This notion of being the solitary faithful one sits with him.
When we get to chapter 19, he says it twice more after he runs from Jezebel's henchmen. He is stubborn about this and he is wrong and he's still a great prophet. That is encouraging.
It is encouraging to me and it should be encouraging to you. I tried finding an excuse for Elijah. I tried, well, he was really just talking about this group, but God does not treat him that way when he says, by the way, I've got 7,000 others that are faithful to me. They've not bowed to bow. They don't have to be the prophets on your level.
I love this about the story. As far as we know, it is true that he is the only one outwardly going at the king, but that's not what he is saying and that's why God corrects him on a broader scale. And so he will run for his life and then lament his behavior and continue to boast at the same time. If I were his friend, I would have said, Elijah, you've got issues. It's eating that locust stuff, man. It's messing with your head. Again, he is no less the great prophet for this blunder.
We all have something about us. It says with the prophets of Baal, 450 men, this is a big deal to get all these people walking up the mountain. The prophets of Baal alone, 450. Then you've got all the Israelites coming up. Certainly Elijah is in the minority.
He, his servant, and perhaps a few others here and there that he's really not applauding. Verse 23, therefore, let them give us two bulls and let them choose one bull for themselves. Cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay on it the wood, but put no fire under it. So he's come ready. I mean, you don't just show up on a mountain with bulls.
You have to bring them up there. And so this is premeditated, of course. This is not a Levitical offering. So, you know, how come he's not in Jerusalem or if it's not an act of worship, this is a duel.
This is a contest. And he's using it in the spiritual arena, the religious arena. The prophet is using an abandoned altar. We get more of this in verse 30, and that indicates that God remains ever faithful. Even where worship fails, you can return to God.
Authentic believers can rebuild what Satan has ruined. There's a little story about why these altars that he's going to use. As I said, we'll get to it in verse 30.
There's a story behind that. We'll come to it. Verse 24. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of Yahweh and the God who answers by fire. He is God.
So all the people answered and said, it is well spoken. So he says, call on your collection of make believe gods, because Baal was the main one, but there were others. Take the Greek and Roman mythology. Zeus was the guy or Jupiter, but they had all these other little gods under Zeus.
And that was going on here too. The Greeks and the Romans did not invent that. The Greeks grabbed it from much of it from these in this part of the world. And the Romans, of course, just took them from the Greeks, and they admired the Romans, admired the Greeks and took their gods and renamed them. Well, good for Elijah here when he says you call on the name of your gods, plural. He's avoiding mentioning their names.
Good for him. Exodus 23 verse 13. Make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth. Don't acknowledge them as though they are gods. They're just these made up things from hell.
They're demonic. He says, I will call on the name of Yahweh, the real God. David, leave it to David, King David to expand on this commandment.
Next, it is 23. David writes in Psalm 16, their sorrow shall be multiplied, who hasten after another God. Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, nor take up their names on my lips. Where David says their drink offerings of blood, they're disgusting. That's what he's saying.
I'm not even going to name these things. So you wouldn't hear David give him any attention whatsoever. And the God who answers by fire, he is God. Well, there's a verse for the refrigerator, or the coffee mug, or the t shirt. The God of action. Well, at Pentecost, God answered the expectation of the apostles with tongues as a fire, and he will baptize you with fire and of the Holy Spirit is a big part of our faith.
This is our God of action. It shows up several times in Leviticus, chapter nine, the fire came out from before the Lord and consume the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
You bet they did. Lightning from heaven, boom, set the altar up. And of course, strange fire was brought by the two sons, elder sons of the high priest Aaron, and they were struck nadab and Abihu number 16 and fire came out from Yahweh and consumed the 250 men who were offering incense. Yeah, because they were protesting against Moses and Aaron. They were coming against God's appointed leaders, and God took him out. David when he committed the great sin of numbering the people against God when his flesh was exalted as king, and God dealt with him. And David, of course, repents and makes this altar and First Chronicles 21, David built there an altar to Yahweh and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the name of the Lord. And he, God, answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offerings. And that's how the temple went. Revelation 20 tells us the last time this takes place in human history. This is into the millennial reign after Satan has been bound for a thousand years, then released again. Again, he cannot touch the believers, but he can touch the people who were born after the great tribulation. And Revelation 29, they went up in the breath of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. Now that's impressive because you have armies surrounding the city and fire comes out from heaven and gets them all like on one shot.
Maybe they were all holding hands and it just took one strike of lightning and it just. All right, let's go back. You can't see it.
You can't. You're not there. Did you hear the one about the two guys that walk? I don't have anything. I just want to see if you're listening. Anyway, so all the people here at the bottom of verse 24 answered and said, it is well spoken.
So they say, fair enough. Terms are set and the prophet has perfect assurance that God is not going to fail him because God is the one that started this. In verse one, God said, Go now, show yourself to.
Well, we should read it. First Kings 18, verse one. And it came to pass after many days that the word of Yahweh came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, present yourself to Ahab and I will send rain on the earth. Bookmark that it is a big part of the story when Elijah begins to call for the rain. Verse 25. Now, Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, choose one bowl for yourselves and prepare it first. For you are many. Call on the name of your God, but put no fire under it.
Don't let me see you boys. It matches. This is a duel. So his confidence is born of faith, but it's miraculous at the same time. From the beginning, from the time that the word of the Lord came to him and told him to do this. Now, to prepare these bowls, of course, is time consuming. A lot of labor to construct the earthen or stone altars up there on the mountain. In Elijah's case, he's going to reconstruct an altar. How did they get the bowls up there?
Well, very slowly, but they got them up there. The slaughter, the preparation of the bowls, the hall, the wood, and the water that's necessary. And not only was the water necessary for what Elijah is going to do, but they would want to rinse their hands. Even the pagans would, to some point, want to rinse off. Anyway, the false prophets, here they are, replete with emotion, passion, devotion, intense emotional devotion for their God. And yet, when they fail, they will not convert. When God answers by fire, they will not agree that he is God. And so, they will suffer the consequence. The fire of truth. It is our truth to the world. It is that fire that we bring to convict and to draw.
Still, how few get converted compared to how many reject it. It brought us away wide as the gate and there are many that go in by it. Verse 26, so they took the bowl which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon saying, oh Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. Elijah, again, he came ready. They did not know this was going to be a duel like this until he gets up there, but that doesn't matter. So, they took the bowl and they slaughtered it and called on the name of Baal from morning to evening.
Useless, but energetic. A lot of activity going on there. Boy, you could just see them today. They would be there with their cameras filming this and uploading it to the internet and you could just see their devotion, their passion and people would be putting in the comments.
I just love their passion and their commitment. It's to thin air. It's to vapor. There's nothing there. Saying, Baal, oh, hear us. Well, they pray too.
That's all that you have there. You have pagans praying. But there was no voice, no one answered because there was no such God.
Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. So, they intensified their petition to God. Showing off how devoted they are, he's got to answer. He's got to appreciate that. God has got to be impressed by our passion. Well, Elijah wasn't impressed.
He's over on the side snacking on locusts, watching them. Likely refers to ritual dances leaping about and the truth that comes out of this is sincerity is no proof of truth. Just because someone is devoted doesn't mean they're devoted to the truth.
These people, again, they're devoted to a God that doesn't exist, but is concocted in hell and imparted to them and they willingly receive it and like it and that's where they are. Verse 27, so it was at noon that Elijah mocked them and said, cry aloud for he is a God. Either he is meditating or he is busy or on a journey or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened. This is three hours later. We're not told exactly what time they got there, but we know it's the morning and the reason why I went into the time to get the bulls up to construct because I'm trying to say, hey, these guys probably got there like nine o'clock in the morning at the least. And so three hours later, here we are at noon time and Elijah is like, you know what?
I'm going to have a little fun with this as he's picking out the locust legs from his teeth. So he mocked them. He mocked their hysteria. We mocked the hysteria as we look around at this pagan heathen sick culture.
We mocked them hoping that they're going to say, you know, you do have a point, but unfortunately they just double down and that's what these guys are going to do as he mocks them. He's going to ramp it up. He said, cry aloud for he is a God, louder. You don't want your God to miss what you're saying. That's where all he's far away. They had already been yelling at the top of their lungs from the morning.
They're going to be hoarse by the time this is all over. Elijah did not care because he knew again, he did not care his mocking them. He knew these were evil people.
And I'll bring some of that out in a little bit. Who massacred the prophets in verse four? There we read, for so it was while Jezebel massacred the prophets of Yahweh that Obadiah had taken 100 prophets and hidden them 50 to a cave and fed them with bread and water. Who did the killing? It wasn't Jezebel. She's up in the palace painting her face. Was it her prophets?
Probably was. So again, Elijah knows who these boys are. And he says, either he's meditating. After all, Baal was supposed to be a deep thinker or he's busy.
Now that's a euphemism for he's in the outhouse. Because those who formed their own gods make those gods like them. They give them human characteristics like the mythological Greek gods and they just put them on steroids. Thanks for joining us for today's teaching on Cross Reference Radio. This is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia.
We trust that what you've heard today in the book of First Kings has had a lasting imprint on your life. If you'd like to listen to more teachings from this series or share it with someone you know, please visit CrossReferenceRadio.com. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast too, so you'll never miss another edition. Just visit CrossReferenceRadio.com and follow the links under radio. Again, that's CrossReferenceRadio.com. Our time with you today is about up, but we hope you'll tune in next time to continue studying the word of God. Join us again as Pastor Rick covers more in the book of First Kings on Cross Reference Radio.
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