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1 Kings 18:17-39 THE SHOWDOWN ON MT. CARMEL

Intro: This passage has it setting when the spiritual tide in Israel is at an extremely low ebb. The people have, for the most part, turned their backs on the Lord and have gone after the Canaanite god Baal. It is against this backdrop of apostasy and idolatry that the prophet Elijah strolls onto the stage. He is introduced in 1 Kings 17:1. When he makes his appearance, he comes with a message from the Lord. It is a clarion call for repentance and for a renewal to loyalty to Jehovah.

In this passage, things come to a head. On the one hand there is Ahab, Jezebel, the prophets and priests of Baal and an entire nation, less 7,000 people of God, 1 Kings 19:18. On the other, there is Elijah and Jehovah. The odds may looked stacked in the favor of evil, but Elijah is about to experience the truth that one plus God is a majority.

As we spend a few minutes looking into this great passage this evening, I want you catch a glimpse of the spiritual peaks that jut from the clouds of this dark setting. A few that come to mind now are:

  • •There is a desperate need for spiritual heroes who will stand against the tide of heresy and apostasy.
  • •There is a need for the people of God to gage their allegiance to the Lord and to determine where we really stand when it comes to being on the Lord's side.
  • •There must be a willingness to flee the evil that surrounds us and be a separate people for the glory of the Lord.
  • •There must be a willingness to renew our commitment to the Lord and place Him above all other pursuits, interests and loyalties.

With these truths plainly given to us in the text before us, let's take a closer look at this great day when there was a showdown on Mt. Carmel. As we look into this passage, let's take the time to allow the Lord to speak to our hearts and to reveal things that might not be as they ought to be whether it be in our personal, private lives, or whether it be in the life of our church. Then, let's be quick to see that for those who are willing to obey the Lord and follow Him single mindedly, there is the great promise of His presence, power and personal ministry in and through our lives. With all this in mind, let's join Elijah and consider The Showdown On Mount Carmel.

I. V. 21-24 THE DILEMMA OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD

A. V. 21a Their Waywardness - This verse tells us that the people of Israel were possessed of a divided allegiance. On the one hand, they enjoyed their name as God's people, but on the other hand, they loved the sensual, fleshly appeal of Baal worship. Elijah described their condition as "one limping along a fence." They were torn between two ideas and as a result, they were accomplishing nothing! (Ill. That is the way of compromise!)

(Ill. Baal was the principle deity of the Canaanites. He, along with his consort, Ashtoreth was worshiped through such abominable practices as human sacrifice and sexual immorality. In some places, women were forced to serve as prostitutes in the groves!)

(Ill. These people had fallen a long way from the nation that had entered and conquered Canaan hundreds of years before. Now they are a politically divided and apostate nation.)

(Ill. Can we be honest and say that the same is true for the church at the ed of the 20th century? Whether we like to admit it or not, the visible church is in the midst of apostasy and waywardness. However, the Lord said that things would be this way, 2 Thes. 2:3. (Ill. Also see - 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4)

(Ill. When we see denominations and churches grapple with issues like abortion and homosexuality. When we see them turn from the proclamation of the truth and see them begin to produce error, such as new translations of the Bible. When we see these kinds of things beginning to take place, isn't it plain to see that we are living in an age of apostasy? I think it is. Some, sadly, refuse to see the truth though it stares them right in the eye. People can attempt to justify it by citing "denominational loyalty" or some other week excuse, but may I remind you that our loyalty is to the Lord and to Him alone?)

B. V. 21 Their Warning - Elijah's admonition is direct and to the point. He tells them that they have to make a choice! Elijah sees their compromise as an affront to God. He is telling them that they must choose which side they will be one, since they cannot genuinely have 2 gods, (Ill. Matt. 12:25.)

(Ill. The hundreds of years that have elapsed since Elijah faced the Ball prophets on Carmel, many things have changed. Culture is vastly different now than it was then, religious practice has changed, the world itself is nothing like it was back then. However, one thing remains the same, God! If a man is going to be right with God, then he must take his stand apart from the world. No one can have both. It is either God or it is the world. There can be no compromise, James 4:4.)

(Ill. We need the same spiritual fortitude that Joshua displayed when he made his great declaration in Joshua 24:15. It is either God, or it the world. It can never be both!)

(Ill. Notice their response - silence! Many think by being quiet about something and maintaining a low-profile, that it will just go away. If you feel this way, then I must tell you that you are deceiving yourself, and anyone who may decide to follow you!)

C. V. 22-24 Their Willingness - (Ill. The context. Elijah describes the terms of the challenge and the people accept.)

(Ill. I find it interesting that this people had the audacity to expect God to prove Himself to them. After all, look at all the God-sized things He had done for them over the years and still they are willing to give Baal a chance to compete with God. We should give them points for being willing to play along with Elijah, but they need to find themselves humbled before a holy God, instead of trying to find a way around His will for their lives!)

I. The Dilemma Of The People Of God

II. V. 25-38 THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE POWER OF GOD

A. V. 25-29 The Futility Of Following Baal - (Ill. The contest. All day long the prophets of Baal prayed and cried out to their god. Yet, they received not so much as "small still voice." Elijah saw the folly of what they were doing and mocked them, v. 27. This sent them into a frenzy. But, when the smoke had cleared and the dust of their activity had settled, Baal was still as dead as he had ever been and they stood humiliated and defeated before the lone prophet of God.)

(Ill. This will be the experience of every person who attempts to follow the false gods of religion and of this world. They are all dead and can do nothing for those who cry out to them. I am sure that many who are caught in this trap feel that they are right and that men who cry out for change and separation are fanatics and are people to be pitied. However, I would like to remind anyone who feels that they can hook up God with worldliness that they are doomed to failure, no matter how right they think they are, Pro. 16:25. Ill. When this things is over and the dust of this life has settled outside the memory of eternity, God will still be God and His way and His Word will still be right and everything else will still be wrong! It is futile to follow the course of this world!)

B. V. 30-37 The Faith Of The Prophet - (Ill. The context. After the prophets of Baal had finished with their shenanigans, Elijah stepped forward. Looking at what he did is very interesting. First, he repaired the altar of God, v. 30. Then, he chose 12 stones to remind Israel that they were one nation in the eyes of God. Then he had 12 barrels of water poured over the sacrifice and the wood and the altar. He did this final thing to remove all doubts as to who was to get the glory for that which was about to happen. Then, He stepped forth and prayed a simple 63 word prayer and the fire of God fell from Heaven and consumed every part of the sacrifice, the altar, the water in the trench and even the dust round about. God answered in a spectacular display of power in response to the faith of His servant.)

(Folks, it takes faith to be an Elijah! This man had hones his faith on the grindstone of affliction. He had already see God do the miraculous, no rain - 1 Kings 17:1; food supplied by ravens - 1 Kings 17:2-7; an endless supply of meal and oil - 1 Kings 17:8-16; and the resurrection of the widow's son - 1 Kings 17:17-24. This man knew that this little thing was nothing for the Lord. He was willing to put his life on the line because he believed that he served a God who moves in response to His people's prayers.)

(Ill. We need that same faith tonight if we are to take our stand with the Lord and do what He leads us to do. We need to exercise faith in the Lord God of Heaven! Some might say, "Well preacher, if I had seen God do all those things, I might be able to have that kind of faith also." What, do you need a miracle to spur you to faith in God? Then, I got one for you! How about the day Jesus Christ responded to your cry of faith and saved you soul? That is about the greatest miracle that I know anything about and if He can do that, then helping you and me to stand for Him in truth and righteousness is mere child's play.)

C. V. 38 The Faithfulness Of The Lord - (Ill. The context. God responded to the cry of His servant and gave Elijah just what he asked God to do.

(Ill. The liberal crowd can attribute this event to anything they would like. When all is said and done, the fact the God honored faith that honored Him is the only explanation! Elijah stepped forward on a dark stage and threw the spotlight on God and said, "My God can!" God always responds to that kind of faith! Ill. Matt. 17:20)

(Ill. All I am saying this evening is that when you and I decide that we will exercise our faith in God and take our stand we will see God come through for us. The reason we don't see this kind of miraculous display of the power of God can be attributed to two great failures on the part of God's people. 1.) Many fail to separate themselves from the world and from the apostasy that surrounds them and God cannot bless! 2.) Many refuse to exercise their faith in God and God doesn't move in response to doubt!)

(Ill. I want you to know this evening that when you as an individual and we as a church body reach the place where we are willing to stand for the Lord alone and we are willing to exercise our faith in Him, then God will not leave hanging out there to flap in the wind. When we take our stand for Him, He will take His stand with us! If you don't believe me, just try it and see!)

I. The Dilemma Of The People Of God

II. The Demonstration Of The Power Of God

III. V. 39 THE DECISION BY THE PEOPLE OF GOD

(Ill. We will have to give these people credit. They said they would honor the God who answered by fire and when He did, they did! These people made a decision on Mount Carmel.)

A. They Had Experienced God In Power - (Ill. He had answered the prophet by fire in their very presence. There was no denying the reality of what they had seen. After this moment, it wasn't just some stories about God told by gray-haired old men, it was reality. They had seen it and they responded to it.)

(Ill. There is no other way to know God than to experience Him in a personal way. I am convinced that this is the root of all apostasy. When men meet the Lord they are changed. When they just go about some religious form they are led and motivated by the flesh. Perhaps this explains why there is a cry from the heart of every saved soul to be free from the bondage of religion without God, to be free from the form of godliness without God that dominates the world, and to be free from worldliness in every form that it takes in the world around. Meeting God will change you forever! I'll go so far as to say that being saved will unfit you from what is happening in the religious world around you. You will be different and the Lord will bless the difference!)

B. They Extolled God In Prostration - (Ill. The context. When the people see the Lord move in such a miraculous manner, they fall on their faces before Him in genuine humility. This signaled a desire on their part to worship and honor the Lord God of Heaven. This is the greatest indicator of change. They are singling God out as the sole object of their worship.)

(Ill. When we come to the place where we are willing to separate ourselves from all the other gods that compete for our attention and yield to the God of Heaven, then we will find ourselves drawn to Him in true, heart worship. Nothing in this world is more precious than a heart that is aflame with love for the Lord and a heart that burns with a desire to see God glorified, whatever the cost.)

(Ill. Does that describe you? Does that describe our church?)

C. They Exalted God In Praise - (Ill. The context. The last sound the Baal prophets and priests heard as they were being led away to their deaths, v. 40, was the sound of the people of God shouting praises to their Lord.) (Ill. What a sight and sound that must have been!)

(Ill. Nothing in this world is quiet so liberating as finding yourself focused on God and on Him alone! When He has your attention, your affection and your allegiance, He will be satisfied and so will you! Nothing liberates the saint more than knowing you are in a place in your walk with the Lord that pleases Him. That there is nothing between you and God. That all sin, all worldliness and all sinful associations have been put away. When you get there, God can and will bless you with gladness of heart and joy of soul. And that, my friends, is worth any price that must be paid! Remember, Jesus came to make us free - John 8:36. As far as I know, everything I have said this evening has been truth and the truth is what will make us free - John 8:32.)

Conc: Are there areas of your life this evening that, if you were honest, you would have to say were worldly and abhorrent to God? Maybe you would like to come to this altar and confess those things and experience God's power in forgiveness. Are you able to see to apostasy that abounds all around us? If so, maybe you would like to come and pray for churches, and pray for this church that we will ever be quick to recognize apostasy and that we will take our stand for Jesus. Maybe you have never been saved and you would like to met this all-powerful, all-loving God. If you will come to Him, He will receive you and He will save you soul if you will ask Him to. Whatever the need of your heart and life this evening, please bring it to the Lord. Will you do that right now?

Sermon By Alan Carr

 

 



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