The God that Answereth by Fire
1 Kings 18:21-40
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long halt you between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal…

I. ISRAEL'S SIN (ver. 21).

1. Its nature: indecision, a want of whole-hearted devotion; "How long halt ye?" etc. They tried to combine both worships, bowing before Jehovah in secret, and publicly before Baal in the assemblies commanded by the court. There are two who contend today for our devotion and service - the world and God (1 John 2:15). The world has its rewards and demands; God has His.

2. Its folly. Both cannot be served. What we build in obedience to one we cast down in obedience to the other. "If the Lord be God, follow him," etc.

3. The necessity for its abandonment. The messenger sent to announce blessing (ver. 1) must first convince of sin and secure its removal. The blessings of God stand at the door, but they can enter only as our sins are cast out.

II. THE CHALLENGE (vers. 22-24).

1. A false test rejected. Baal seemed triumphant. Elijah stood alone, the prophets of Baal were many, and yet the cause had still to be decided. The pretensions of a faith are not established by numbering its adherents and weighing their influence. Truth has often stood alone, and may stand alone again.

2. The true test proposed. Baal's claims and Jehovah's are put to the proof. There is wrath against the land; which will remove the cause of it? By which will the sin offering laid upon the altar be accepted and the iniquity be removed? That test which alone met Israel's need could alone prove Israel's God.

3. The true test accepted. "And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken." Israel's answer will yet be the cry of all nations. The heart of the world will yet acknowledge the true God's work.

III. THE DECISION (vers. 25-39).

1. Baal tried and found wanting.

(1) The first choice was given to the priests of Baal. The world has had time enough to prove the truth of its pretensions, and to show whether it can meet man's need. The sacrifice has long lain upon its altar.

(2) The earnestness of the false prophets. The failure is not due to lack of effort on the part of the world's votaries. There is no path which has not been trod to find whether the world has aught to satisfy the cry of man's soul; there is no sacrifice it has called for that has been withheld.

(3) Their perseverance. Midday, the hour of the sun's might, was past, yet still they cried and cut themselves, etc. The boundless faith and unwearied efforts of the world's worshippers.

(4) The failure. The sacrifice lay unconsumed upon the altar, lay still there hastening to corruption, when the darkness fell and the priests lay weltering in their blood.

2. God tried and proved.

(1) God's altar built in the face of the world's discomfiture (vers. 29, 30). It was reared about the time of the evening sacrifice. "In the fulness of the times." "After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased," etc. (1 Corinthians 1:21). The vanity of the world's way was proved ere Christ was manifested.

(2) The altar was one on which God had been served before ("He repaired the altar of the Lord which was broken down"). What was lost in the first is restored in the second Adam. The accepted sacrifice must be offered upon a perfect manhood.

(3) God proved to the uttermost (33-35). There is nothing where that sacrifice is set which the fire of God will not kindle and change into the glory into which that sacrifice itself is lifted.

(4) The answer. The fire fell; the accepted sacrifice went up in living flame which kindled all things round it - wood, stones, dust, water. We cannot test God in His own way without receiving an answer which will lift from the heart's depths the cry, "The Lord, he is God."

IV. THE JUDGMENT OF THE FALSE PROPHETS. The manifestation of God's glory is the hour of sin's overthrow. - J.U.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

WEB: Elijah came near to all the people, and said, "How long will you waver between the two sides? If Yahweh is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." The people answered him not a word.

The Conflict on Carmel
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