Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water in the trench.
I. THE PRAYER.
1. It is offered at the time of the evening sacrifice.
(1) The stated evening sacrifice is now on the temple altar. Elijah holds communion with that altar. He, too, though on Carmel, is a true worshipper of the God of David. There are differences in religious worship sanctioned by God which must not be accounted schism. Protestant Nonconformists are not necessarily schismatics.
(2) It is the "hour of prayer." Prayer should ascend with the sacrifice; Christ should be in an our supplications. The hour of prayer was the "ninth hour" (Acts 3:1), that hour in which Jesus "cried with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit" (Matthew 27:50). So in submission must we yield up our spirits with his in prayer to God.
2. It pleads for the honour of God.
(1) It reminds Him of His covenant. "Jehovah Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel." With these patriarchs He had established His covenant. They knew nothing of Baal's covenants.
(2) "Let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel." Let those who will not acknowledge Thee be confounded. (See Joshua 2:11.) Let those who repent be reconciled to Thy favour.
(3) "Let it be known this day in Israel that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word." Else to have so acted would have been the height of presumption. But with the authority of God mistrust would have been presumption. We are bound to believe the promises of God.
3. It sues for mercy to the penitent.
(1) "Hear me, O Jehovah, hear me, that this people may know that thou art Jehovah Elohim;" that Thou art the self existent, covenant keeping God.
(2) "And that thou hast turned their heart back again." The blessings of the covenant are conditioned upon faith. Without repentance there is no tame faith.
(3) How few are the words of this prayer! No vain repetitions. How wide the contrast with the clamour of Baal's priests!
II. THE RESPONSE.
1. Then the fire of the Lord fell.
(1) There was no mistake about it. It was indeed the "fire of Jehovah" - miraculous fire; for it worked downwards, contrary to the ordinary operation of fire, which works upwards. The sacrifice was soon consumed. Then the wood. The water was licked up. The very stones and dust were vitrified and volatilized.
(2) The destruction of the altar pointed to the pleasure of God that patriarchal high places should be removed, and that all Israel should henceforth worship at the Levitical altar of the temple at Jerusalem. This is the last instance on record in which God accepted a sacrifice offered on a patriarchal altar.
(3) But where now is Baal? Is not that celestial fire which was worshipped as a god completely in the hands of Jehovah?
2. The demonstration was irresistible.
(1) "When all the people saw it they fell upon their faces." Here was an act of reverence towards God. It was the sign also of their renunciation of Baal.
(2) This confession in symbol was accompanied by a corresponding confession in words. "And they said, Jehovah, he is the Elohim; Jehovah, he is the Elohim." Words are signs of a fuller expression.
(3) But words must be followed up by deeds. The prophets of Baal have now to be sacrificed. The law required this. (See Deuteronomy 13:1-11.) They were accordingly slaughtered by the brook Kishon. Thus was returned upon their heads the slaughter of the prophets of the Lord. (See vers. 4, 18.)
(4) The retribution was complete. Some are of opinion, because the "prophets of Baal" only are mentioned, that the 400 prophets of Ashere were absent and escaped. But this does not follow, for the prophets of Ashere might be included under the designation "prophets of Baal," as Saul's sons are included in his name. (See 1 Samuel 31:8-18; 2 Samuel 21:13.) The prophets of Ashere certainly were present. (See vers. 19, 20; also 1 Kings 19:1.) Let us confess the Lord. In signs: observing His sacraments and ordinances of worship public and private. In words: confessing Him before men upon all fitting occasions. In deeds: bringing forth the fruits of good living, and sacrificing the idolatries that would lead us astray. - J.A.M.
Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel.
1. A formula — "Jehovah, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel."
2. A personal relation between God and the prophet — "Let it" be known this day that I am Thy servant.
3. The fulfilment of a Divine purpose through the deeds of the man — "And that I have done all these things at Thy word." Taking the prayer itself as a creed, we see embodied in it the formal, the personal, and the practical elements. Notice, first, that the prophet used a formula to express the foundation of his belief. He may have done it unconsciously, full of the idea for which it had stood now six hundred years. Had he not read it in the Law, heard it from the lips of priest and rabbi, and himself used it times without number? No one supposes that the prophet used the formula lightly or ignorantly. In this we might set him in contrast with ourselves. But no creed is complete which does not involve a personal relation between him who utters it and God. So, in this prayer, the relation between God as Lord and Elijah as prophet is clearly drawn. God was invoked to prove this very thing. As a servant, Elijah had taken his life in his hand long before. A man tells you he believes in God. Ask him what essential change of character would be produced by his parting with his belief. His servantship had already been proved by his implicit obedience to every command of God. Now he hid by the brook Cherith, and now tarried at Zarephath. A further element of faith involved in this formal supplication is that of co-operative work. In and through His servant God is fulfilling His purposes; "Let it be known that I have done all these things at Thy word." We are not, of course, to make the Lord responsible for everything a good man does. "A perfect trust" does not shield the human agent from the just charge of misdemeanours. Every servant of God does the will of God. He starts or sustains a tendency, works destruction here, rescues life there, goes to the wilderness, returns to the town, is silent now, again thunders forth, as the Spirit wills, to bring to pass the true conception of God working in the world, without ceasing, to establish and maintain righteousness. So the war goes on, and will go on until the whole earth bows down before Him. Now, all this is made extremely simple in the prayer of the prophet: "God is. God has a servant in me. God through me works His will." Let all men believe this, let their belief take hold of their life as it took hold of Elijah's, so that not to believe is death, and a new earth is in process, and the universal reign of Jehovah is visibly begun.What have we more than had Elijah?
1. We have a new insight of the personality of God. Did not Elijah believe in God as a Person? We must insist that he did. But our vision is clearer. He felt the power of the Person in the "still, small voice." That was his gospel. We know it in the conquering soul of the Christ. We behold the glory of the Divine Personality, and through Him know ourselves as individual members of the Divine household.
2. Again, we realise a new order of mercy. Once there was the relentless call for sacrifice. Elijah was an avenger. He could slay hundreds in one act. It would have been impossible for him to conceive of avenging justice turned into mercy. We, on the other hand, hear a voice pleading for infinitely worse offenders, "Father, forgive them." The Divine expiation is sufficient to cover every sinner. It is ours to make the word of deliverance ring around the world, "Come unto Me," and be free from condemnation.
3. Once more, the duty of every man is now more clear than it could have been in Elijah's day. Can any one, it may be asked, understand his duty more perfectly than did the prophet? Still, duty with us takes on the nature of universality and of privilege.
(C. R. Seymour.)
Let it be known that I have done all these things at Thy wordI. A FIRM GROUND FOR PRAYER.
1. You are a minister of God, or a worker in the cause of Christ, and you go forth and preach the Gospel with many tears and prayers, and you continue to use all means, such as Christ has ordained: do you say to yourself, "May I expect to have fruit of all this?" Of course you may. You are not sent on a frivolous errand "you are not bidden to sow dead seed that will never spring up. But when that anxiety weighs heavily upon your heart, go you to the mercy-seat with this as one of your arguments, "Lord, I have done according to Thy word."
2. Next, I would apply this teaching to a whole church. I am afraid many churches of Christ are not prospering. The congregations are thin, the church is diminishing, the prayer-meeting scantily attended, spiritual life low. If I can conceive of church in such a condition which, nevertheless, can say to God, "We have done all these things at Thy word," I should expect to see that church soon revived in answer to prayer. The reason why some churches do not prosper is, because they have not done according to God's word.
3. The same principle may be applied also to any individual believers who are in trouble through having done right.
4. I would like to apply this principle to the seeking sinner.
II. SELF-EXAMINATION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE DONE ALL THESE THINGS AT GOD'S WORD.
1. Let every worker here who has not been successful answer this question — Have you done all these things at God's word?
2. Did you preach it rightly? That is to say, did you state it affectionately, earnestly, clearly, plainly?
3. And another question — Has there been an example to back your teaching?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
PeopleAhab, Elijah, Isaac, Jacob, Jezebel, Jezreel, Obadiah
PlacesJezreel, Kishon River, Mount Carmel, Samaria, Zarephath
TopicsBurned, Burning, Burnt, Burnt-offering, Burnt-sacrifice, Consumed, Consumeth, Drain, Drinking, Dust, Falleth, Fell, Fire, Licked, Offering, Sacrifice, Soil, Stones, Trench, Wood
Outline1. In the extremity of famine Elijah, sent to Ahab, meets good Obadiah
9. Obadiah brings Ahab to Elijah
17. Elijah, reproving Ahab, by fire from heaven convinces Baal's prophets
41. Elijah, by prayer obtaining rain, follows Ahab to Jezreel
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 18:38
1416 miracles, nature of
1305 God, activity of
1245 God of the fathers
To the Young '... I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.--1 KINGS xviii.12. This Obadiah is one of the obscurer figures in the Old Testament. We never hear of him again, for there is no reason to accept the Jewish tradition which alleges that he was Obadiah the prophet. And yet how distinctly he stands out from the canvas, though he is only sketched with a few bold outlines! He is the 'governor over Ahab's house,' a kind of mayor of the palace, and probably the second man in the kingdom. But …
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