Sermon – Faith on the Mountain and Unbelief in the Valley (1 Kings 18:36 – 18:46) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 6 of 11

Faith on the Mountain and Unbelief in the Valley

Ben Read, 1 Kings 18:36 - 18:46, 18 October 2020

In our passage today, 1Kings 18:36-46, Elijah's confrontation with the prophets of Baal reaches its climax as Yahweh answers his prayer. Ben shows us God's desire for repentant hearts that turn to him in faith.


1 Kings 18:36 - 18:46

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

So we're going to read. We're finishing off the story from last week, the Battle of the Gods on Mount Carmel. And we're going to read from verses 36 to 46 in chapter 18 of 1 kings. Let's hear what the word of God says. At the time of sacrifice, The prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed.

Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me lord, answer me. So these people will know that you lord are God. And that you are turning their hearts back again.

Then the fire of the lord fell and burned up the sacrifice. The wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried. The Lord, He is God, The Lord, he is God. Then Elijah commanded them, seize the prophets of Barr.

Don't let anyone get away. They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. And Elijah said to Ahab, go eat and drink. For there is the sound of a heavy rain. So Ahab went off to eat and drink.

But Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. Go and look toward the sea he told his servant, and he went up and looked. There is nothing there, he said. 7 times Elijah said, go back. The seventh time, the servant reported a cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea.

So Elijah said, Go and tell Ahab, hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you. Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds the wind rose, a heavy rainstorm came on. And Ahab rode off to Jeezriel. The power of the Lord came on Elijah, and tucking his cloak into his belt. He ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreal.

Thank you, Dean. And good morning, everyone from myself. Good morning to you if you're watching online. It's good to have you here. My name's Ben.

I'm a trainee pastor here at the church. And we are in sort of the aftermath of this incredible event that's just happened where God has indisputably shown that he is the lord. And we we had a bit of a scrap it in the staff team as to who was gonna preach that sermon because it was like getting the sort of the best out of a trilogy of films, you know, to to preach on or whatever. And then I was handed this bit afterwards. And Tom Pete and I were in his office going, is this like, what is what is going on?

Like, is this a good thing Should we try and extend and put more verses onto this bit? Because it's a bit of a random Anyway, we we stuck with this section as it is, these these section of verses. And actually, as I've been preparing it, the Lord's brought out some really great things that I hope we're gonna see this morning. And I've enjoyed looking at it. So let me pray that God would do that, that he would show us great truths in his word.

Father, we give you thanks for this amazing thing that you've done in history, where you showed your people without question Unarguably that you are the lord and that you alone are the living 1, that we should follow and obey. And I pray that you would speak to us, we need to see the same things again today. So would you show us in your word, show us who you are, and most importantly, would you show us the Lord Jesus, who is the sacrifice for for our sins? So we pray this in Jesus' name, amen. Okay.

So as I said, last week, we saw without question that Yartweh is is is the real god. Bale is not the real god. And all of Israel have been there to witness this event So we had if you remember, we had team Ahab with 450 prophets and we had 400 prophets of Asher as well. So 850 prophets on team Ahab, and then we had team Elijah, 1 man, but with God. But verse 19 of chapter 18, Elijah says this to Ahab.

Now some in the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel and bring the 450 prophets of Baal and the 4 prophets of ASHA. So it's not just team Ahab and team Elijah here. This is Israel as well who have come to watch this This is not just Usain Bolt about to embarrass his rivals in an empty Olympic stadium. If you've seen the football matches and the sports are going at the moment. There's no crowds.

It's really odd. So people are playing, it sounds like a sports game. And sometimes, the if you if you've seen they've put like artificial crowd noises on the the games, which is sometimes a few seconds behind, which is quite funny. Because the goal will go in and it's like, Hey. Well, sometimes the really funny ones are when the goal doesn't go in, but the guy clicking the thing, thinks it goes in.

So it's like, and then silence. That is not what's going on here. We have a real crowd here watching this showdown between Yairway and and Bail. So you could hear, you know, the anticipation, people are on the edge of their seats waiting for the victory to emerge. Who's it gonna be?

Is it gonna be yahweh, is it gonna be bale? And it must have been quite a spectacle, I think, for this crowd, because, you know, back in the days before tier 2 where we had flash mob and we were, you know, we're allowed to be shoulder to shoulder to people. And then suddenly the crowds would disperse and people would become organized and they would start dancing and singing and chanting It's quite an amazing thing when you see a flash mob, appear from out of nowhere. And here, we had 850 prophets like a flash mob chanting, dancing, and unison, asking Bale to set fire to this altar. And on top of that, you've got Elijah who's like this sort of he's like He's just wandering up and down taunting these prophets.

And it's almost like he's in a pantomime because he's like, is your god over here? Oh, no. He is it? Is he over here having a wee? Oh, no, he isn't?

And all of that stuff is going on. So this is this is quite a big spectacle. But this goes on all day. Morning turns to afternoon, afternoon turns to evening. There's no response.

There's just silence. So in the evening, up steps Elijah, and he's got a kind of a further theatrical performance for the crowd now. Because he he starts to build this altar before them. There's not like Blue Peter where he says, here's an altar I made earlier and just wheels it out. But he's gonna take the time and go everyone, like, I want you to see this, and he builds this altar, and then he gets some assistance to fill up 4 large jars of water, which he then instructs them to pour on the altar.

And then he gets them to do it 2 more times. So he he gets them to pour these huge jars of water 3 times. He could have just said to them, excuse me. I I really like 12 a quantity of 12 jars of water poured on my altar, please. But he doesn't.

He says, get 4, pour them on. I want the crowd to see this. Do it again. And now third time, do it again. So there's a bit of drama here.

And the third time, you know, everyone's looking at him. And he's like, is that enough? Do you think that's enough to quench the fire of yahweh? Do it again. So 3 times, these jars of water poured on this altar.

There's a lot of drama, and then after all this has been done, a hush descends on the crowd, and Elijah steps forward and he prays a really simple prayer. We had it in the reading. He prays that the people would know that the Lord is God and that he's turning their hearts back to Him. That's his prayer. With these people, Lord, know that you are God, and would they know that you're turning their hearts back to you?

And then the fire of the Lord, instantly, there's not chanting, there's not dancing, there's none of this sort of playing around, a simple prayer, and then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice. The wood, the stones, and the soil. And then the the the fire also licked up the water, the excess water of these jars that had sort of filled up in the trench. And remember, we need to remember the winner of this competition between Yairway and Bail was simply inverse in verse 24, the god who answers by fire, he is God. So this could have been any kind of fire.

This could have been just a little sort of candle flickering away trying to survive on this sudden soaking altar. That would have been enough. But instead, God obliterates this altar. It burns up the sacrifice we're told. A beautiful bit of bull, it burns up the wood, and then it gets really impressive, it burns up the stones and the soil.

We we have a resident geologist among us in the staff team, and I asked I asked him about this. And he could tell me about the stones, and then asked him about the soil, and he he he said something quite impressive about the soil, which I didn't understand. So I went and Google. Can soil burn because I was quite interested. And I found this answer online, which I I can't verify, you know, it's accuracy, but I just really enjoyed it.

So Glen McMillan, former country born and bred Outdoor enthusiast. I mean, it's a good start, isn't it? I immediately trust this guy. He says, I'm a farmer, and I know a few things about soil, loll. Soil with near 0 organic matter will not burn at all, but it may smolder a bit if heated to 4 or 500 degrees or hotter.

So according to Glen, some soil won't burn at all. And here is God doing what would amaze this farmer, burning up even the soil here. But you know, I think the most amazing thing is not what God sort of does here, but it's what he doesn't do here. Because in order to achieve the temperatures needed to have burnt up the stones and the soil, it would have to have been like a bomb going off. Immediately on this altar.

But we're told that the fire doesn't go beyond the edge of the trenches where it licks up the excess water that's been sort of run off there. And that's it. No further or no more than that. The fiery judgment of God for so precisely, so specifically and exclusively on the altar that not even a single hair on Elijah is singed. Who's standing next to it.

That is amazing. God's judgment is applied on the altar, the sacrifice, and not on anything else or anyone else. Now Why have I told you all that again? That was last week's sermon. You've already heard all of that.

Beyond me, you know, wanting to preach it as well because it's so good I think it's important to say that our reaction to that event, our reaction to seeing God do this brings out what is really inside of us. Or in other words, we're shown for what we are. We're our hearts are revealed for what they are when we see this and we respond to this. Because sometimes it takes an extreme situation, doesn't it? Like, the personal a great personal crisis for you to find out what you're really made of, what's really inside of you, or a great challenge, you know, that comes before you.

And then you go, wow, I didn't you didn't now I had it in me. And it's the same thing that's going on here. That's what makes it such a brilliant event that God has done. Such a brilliant piece of theater. Because before remember, Elijah said, yahweh or baal, who are you gonna choose?

You're sort of flitting between the both. Now, that can't be right. 1 of them's got to be real or the other one's not. Now who is it? And they were silent.

They didn't know. They were on the fence. But now God's done this. It's decision making time, isn't it? It's what are you gonna do with this?

So how does everyone respond? That's what I wanna look at this morning. What do the crowd do that I hear? What do the prophets of Bale do? What does King Ahab do and what does Elijah do?

So those 4 things, the crowd, the prophets, the king, and Elijah, and then finally, we'll say, what do you do? So first of all, the crowd. What do the crowd do? So verse 39, we see that immediately they fell prostrate, and they cried, the lord, he is good, the lord, he is good. Straightaway, there's no messing around here, they believe and they're acknowledging that Yahweh is good, and the way they're saying it, the Lord, he is good, the Lord he is God.

It's almost like they're saying, he is God, and then no others, not bail, for example, that yahweh is lord, baal is not God. And it's kind of an echo of the first commandment as well. You shall have no other gods before me in Exodus 20. So I think this is this is a repentance that's going on here. They're coming back to the lord and to his commandments.

They're going back to that first 1 and saying, there were no others. He use the Lord. And they're also on their faces, which represents humility, reverence, repentance, and worship, doesn't it? So It's not a bad start for the crowd, is it? As as far as reactions to this go, it's pretty good.

They're showing real faith. They're making the decision Yahweh, he is the lord. But I want us to know, and it's important to, we will see why later, it's an encouragement when we see it, it's important to know that they could have gone much further than this. They could have done better here. First of all, they only believed because this fire has completely obliterated this altar.

They were given the choice, who are you gonna choose, yahweh or bail? Like, not 5 minutes before. But they didn't choose. They only really believed because they saw this fire. And they could have said, when they had seen it, the Lord He is God, and then they could have gone further.

They could have said, and we will serve and obey him. He's not just God, but we will now obediently follow him. That's what they could have said, because this is something that actually happened at another time in Israel's history. But under very similar circumstances. So Joshua said to the people, throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord the God of Israel.

So get rid of the bales, get rid of these things, and the people said to Joshua, we will serve the lord our God and obey him. So it's not just a declaration, yes, you're right, you are the only god. It's we will trust him, we will serve him, we will love him, and we will obey him. But going back to this crowd around Elijah, there is faith there. It's a bit small, it's kind of pathetic, It's only there because it was shoved in their faces.

You might say it's as small as a mustard seed, but elijah's prayer has been answered. He had prayed, remember. He prayed this to God. Answer me, Lord. Answer me.

So that these people will know Lord that you lord our God and that you're turning their hearts back again, that was his prayer. And now here we have the people, they're saying Yahweh is the lord, and they know he's turning their hearts back to him, even with the little faith that they have. God could have smoked them completely and utterly, that fire could have fallen on them, and rightly so. But instead, that's not what God's like. God would rather burn up an altar, a sacrifice, and leave you completely unhinged, then burn a single hair on your body.

That's what God is like. So the crowd responds with faith when they see this. That's the crowd. They respond with faith. But what about the prophets of Baal?

Because they were there too. They it wasn't like this happened in a separate sports stadium down the road, and all that they were struck with blindness so that they didn't see this fire coming down. They saw what the Lord did and they saw their fake God bail exposed for what he was. So how are they gonna respond? What about them?

Well, last week, Pete explained, didn't they? That people become like their idols. And because bail is silent and empty, doesn't say anything here, doesn't exist, the prophets end up silent in empty, exhausted, dejected, nothing to say. And they thought they were the strong team going into this fight, you saw them limbering up at the beginning. 850 prophets against 1 man and a sudden alter, who's gonna win this fight?

But now, as God sends the fire down, the people have fallen on their faces and cried out to God, the prophets of Baal just stand there, dazed. And silent. So they know now, they know without question, no 1 could stand around this event and go, God doesn't exist. They know that the Huawei is is the living lord. They Because when they look at the 2 altars, if you went up to them with a microphone after the match, you know, like the post match interviews went up to so how do you think your God performed?

How how does that altar look to you? Their altar was completely intact. And God's altar is absolutely demolished. Who's the winner here? So they couldn't deny that Yahweh is is the real good real God, but they're so hard hearted.

They're so steeped in their religion. They're so steeped in their thinking that they're not brought to repentance. They don't wanna follow this God. They're actually a little bit like the demons, not to their credit because even the demons believe but they don't wanna worship him. And so we've got this incredible line in verse 40.

Then Elijah commanded them, seized the prophets of Baal, don't let anyone get away. They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. So here I think here we see most clearly the difference between these 2 groups now, how they've responded. Because you've got the people who have faith and bow down on the mountain, And you've got the prophets who don't have faith, and they go down into the valley. So in this in this little bit of scripture, we've got the mountain.

Sort of represents faith and we've got the valley which is disbelief and unbelief. We've got the mountain in the valley. Now, we we don't live like this anymore. We're under a new covenant, although sometimes you want God to, you've got to God smite that person. I want you to smite that person now.

We don't we don't live like that anymore. But it was part of Jewish law to put to death, anyone who misled you and led you away from Yay, the life giver. So So this is a way of removing evil people, who are leading you astray, who are teaching you lies, who are taking you away. So actually, I think this demonstrates the the obedience and the urgency of this crowd to follow God. They wanna purge bail from their lives.

Profits are a mouthpiece of God, aren't they? And so this is them figuratively chopping the head off bail going, don't wanna listen to you anymore. We wanna listen to Yahweh So we're gonna put you to death bale. But it it is interesting because the the prophets had every opportunity to repent just as the people had. They saw what God had done.

The fire had fallen on the altar. God is providing a sacrifice so that the fight doesn't have to fall on you. And the people had cried out, Yahweh, he is the lord. And so they these guys had the same opportunity, but they say nothing. Even as they're being led down to the Kishan Valley, every step they took they could have gone.

You know what? This my decision is leading me towards death. I don't wanna be in the valley. I wanna be in the mountain. But every step they took, they didn't cry out, Huawei, he is the lord.

They harden the heart and they steeped in their their thinking. So you might ask, what what about Ahab here? I've done that thing that every preacher is afraid of putting his pages in the wrong places. Here we go. We're not on that 1 yet.

Back to the prophets. They've gone down the valley, they haven't repented. So you could say they're convinced, but they're not converted. They're convinced, but they're not converted. Compare that now to Elijah and to Ahab.

So verse 41, Elijah said to Ahab, go eat and drink for there is a sound of heavy rain. So Ahab went off to to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground, and put his face between his knees. So we've got King Ahab now. How is he gonna respond? He's this great ruler of Israel.

He summoned all these people in his kingdom to come to this mountain. He followed bail. He's now also been silenced because his god, his team were shown to be the phonies, Bales revealed for what he is. And so he doesn't like the people drop on his face and go, you know what? I was so wrong.

Yahweh, he is the lord. He's like the prophets. He is is convinced, but he's also not converted. And so you might ask why isn't he put to death like the prophets? Why wasn't he let down the valley as well?

Why doesn't God's judgment apply to him? But I actually think that We do get that here in a slightly different way. Because Elijah turns to him and he says these quite haunting words. He says, Go eat and drink. Go eat and drink.

There's a sound of heavy rain. In other words, go down the mountain. Go eat and drink and be merry. Tomorrow you die, you're not gonna listen. Look what God's just done.

Look what he's just demonstrated in his power and his judgment and his mercy. And you just stand there silently. I even hear the sound of heavy rain coming. In other words, God's blessing is coming now. God is about to bless you and bless this nation even though you've turned away from him and look at you still, you won't even say thank you.

You won't even say, sorry. You're just standing there. So just go and eat and drink because tomorrow you die. That is a kind of judgment on him, I think. Your days are numbered they have.

So just go and eat. So he sent down the mountain. But I actually I actually think this is a this is a gracious warning to him. Because it's like the prophets. As they were walking down, they had every opportunity.

But this time, as he's going down, he ceased the slaughtered prophets. So it's like, do you wanna end up like that, Ahab? And he hears the sound of rain coming. Tomorrow, you die Today you get to experience and see these things, will you turn back to him? So what about Elijah then?

What about Elijah? We'll see we'll see if Ahab Repence or not in a minute. But let's go to Elijah. Verse 42. So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but a larger climb to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

So Ahab goes down the mountain and Elijah goes up the mountain. And what does that tell you? And it's a great little detail here actually that he puts his face between his knees. It's a bit it's a bit odd if you imagine it. It kinda reminds me of like a yoga position or something.

But even after the staggering victory, where he's been like a giant really, pacing up and down, mocking the prophets, praying that God would bring this fire. Even after that, he still knows that it wasn't him, really. It was God's victory. And so as he goes before the lord and he prays, he he puts his head between his knees. This is real humility from him.

And this is a lesson for us, I think. This is definitely a lesson. Dean and I recently did the Corona Chronicles, and we were looking at the transfiguration of Jesus. And as Jesus has glorified on that mountain, 2 men appear with him, Elijah and Moses. So is there is there a greater way to be glorified as a human than to be glorified with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.

I don't think there is. I think that is the epitome. That's like the most amazing thing. Look how God has glorified these men. Moses and Elijah, and yet Moses took his shoes off in the presence of the Burning Bush.

And hear Elijah sticking his head between his knees before the father. So even though these men were glorified, they still humble themselves before god I think we should as well. We can approach the throne boldly. God is our father, but we shouldn't be a reverend before him. So what is he praying?

James chapter 5 17 says Elijah was a human being even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain. And it did not rain on the land for 3 and a half years. So that's the story so far. That's everything we've looked at in 1 kings.

He's prayed that it wouldn't rain and it hasn't. But now verse 18, again, he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. So it's not rain for 3 and a half years, but now that the people have turned back to God, now that God's purposes in holding back the reign have been completed, they've got rid of their false idols. The judgement's been paid for on this altar. Now Elijah is saying, Lord, bring the rain.

Bring the rain. I wonder whether you remember the last time I was here preaching, I was preaching about the widow and her son who died, if you remember that. In that story, Elijah picked up the lifeless boy, and he goes upstairs, and he prays, lord, would you let life return to this boy? Now he's not going upstairs, but he's going up a mountain. He's not praying for the boy, but he's praying for the nation.

He's praying the same thing. Lord, would you let life return now to this nation? Lord, would you bring life back here? Would you bring the reigns of life So the boy really was just a picture of this, and this is a picture of something else which we'll get to. It was just great.

So Elijah tells his servant, he's he's got a servant now, which is quite interesting. We haven't met this servant before, but Elijah has a servant. Good to know. And he sends to a servant, right, I'm praying now. So go and look at the ocean and see if if the rain is on its way.

So the servant goes off, Elijah's praying with his head between his knees, but the servant comes back and he says, oh, there's nothing there. And now this is an interesting moment because Elijah has told Ahab, go because the sound of of heavy rain. There's the sound of heavy rain. And when he said that, I think Ahab must have been like I don't hear it. But this is Elijah.

He so believed the Word of the Lord, that even though he couldn't hear it, he knew that Rain was on its way. So he says to the servant, no. You can't see it yet, but go back because it's coming. So servant goes away, comes back. There's nothing there.

Elijah says, go back. Keeps praying. Servant returns. There's nothing there. Go back.

7 returns, there's still nothing there, mate. Can and and what would you do in this position? I know what I would do. I would I would start to think a little bit like the the prophets of bail. I would go, oh, no.

God hasn't heard me. So I I started off like this. Lord, please, would you send the rain? We know that you we know that your judgment has come in the altar, so peace, would you send your reign? And then as time went on and God wasn't bringing the rain, I'd be like, God, would you bring would you would you please bring the bring the rain?

Lord, send the rain. Send the ray. Come on, people Come on. Let's pray collectively. Send the rain, Lord.

And then, I would get We'd get more and more into it and we'd start dancing and be like, come on, Lord. Why are you listening to us? I think I think that I think our natural instinct is to do that, to treat God a bit like Bale. He's not listening to us. He hasn't heard me, so I need to shout louder.

Need to pray more intently. I need to do these things so that he listens to me. But Elijah knows better than that. He knows actually that God doesn't change. He knows that God said it would rain.

His anger's been poured on the sacrifice, so he doesn't change his tag. Go back. And look for rain. And this happens 7 times till the seventh time we we get this. The man the servant comes back and reports a cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea.

The sound of heavy rain is coming. The sound of heavy rain is coming. So he says he says, to a servant. Go and tell Ahab, hitch up your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you. So at the moment, the servants looked out, it's as small as a fist as cloud.

And you might go, oh, it's just it's just gonna it's gonna be light showers, but Elijah goes, no. Go and tell Ahab that if he doesn't move now, this rain is gonna stop him from moving. It's gonna be that heavy. God's gonna bless the land that much, so tell him to get a move on. Verse 45.

Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds. The wind rose. A heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezebel. The power of the Lord came on Elijah, and tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezebel. So this is just the last verse in the story we're looking at.

And this cements where both of these men are. This is where you're really sure what's going on. So Ahab remember he's convinced, but he's not converted. And even though the rains are now pounding his chariot, God's blessings are coming. 3 and a half years of nothing.

Now, torrential blessed reign is coming down. And he's still unbelievably hard hearted. Because what you should have done was gone Elijah, may come into this chariot with me, You're the prophet of God. You need to be honored. In fact, let's have a discussion.

How are we gonna reform Israel? How are we gonna make sure that we don't follow false gods again in the future? But he doesn't do that. And so Elijah runs ahead of him in the humble position of like a a footman that they would have running ahead of the chariots. And he's running ahead of him.

I love that detail. So Ahab is sat there looking at him the whole time. So it's not like he's got excuse, like he didn't see Elijah. Oh, sorry Elijah. Didn't see that you're coming with me.

He's running ahead of him the whole time, and he's getting soaked Elijah as he as he does this. But the lord honors this in Elijah, because the power of the Lord came on Elijah, and it helped him. So he's been on he's been on this Mount Carmel all day. He's not eating or drinking thing. He's probably emotionally, spiritually, physically exhausted, but he's gonna run now the whole way to Israel, which I worked out is about over 5 hours of running.

That is outrageous, isn't it? 5 hours of running. That that's kind of terrace levels of running. And if you want proof that the power of the lord rests on Tara and just watch that man run. But this is how Elijah responds.

He's faithful. He He's faithful in Ahab. Though he's had time walking down the mountain, he's seeing the slaughtered prophets, he sees the rain now. Even though he sees all these things, he continues to respond with unbelief. His faith on the mountain, his disbelief in the valley.

So Finally, what about us? Because we're here to, how are we gonna respond to this? Well, actually, I wanna say, you don't need to respond to this. You need to respond to the cross because this is just a foreshadow of the cross, which is the event that God really wants you to respond to. The cross of Jesus is like the altar in story.

But instead of a bull, you have the sacrifice of Jesus. But Hebrews chapter 10 says it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. So this sacrifice that Elijah set up with the bull on it is not enough to pay for your sin. It's not enough to pay even for the sins of the people that were present. It's insufficient, a bull.

10000 bulls are insufficient, but in verse 10 of Hebrew's 10. We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. So a bull is not a good substitute for you, is it? You are a bull, but the son of God is a good substitute for you. The son of God can atone for your sins.

And so the fire of God's wrath for your sin was poured out, not on the bull in that story, it's not poured out on something else because you're good enough, it's poured out on the cross of Jesus Christ. And just like the flames consumed totally and utterly the altar, but didn't go any further. So God's wrath for your sins fell completely perfectly exclusively on Jesus. And you stand there next to him without a single hair on your body singed. And it's important to know the pattern of this, the fire falls first, the price is paid first before the reigns of blessing can fall.

So if you let Jesus take the punishment for your sin, if you say, God, I want Jesus to take the fire I want Jesus to take your anger, then you can be blessed with the waters of life. Jesus takes the fire, you take the water, he takes the guilt, You're declared innocent, he bears the punished punishment, you bear the blessing. Elijah in the crowd fell on their faces and said, yahweh, he's the lord. They were so delighted to let the fire fall on the altar. But the prophets of Baal and Ahab were silent.

And so as they went down the mountain, their judgment remained on them. If the fire does not fall on the altar, it will fall on you. So what is your response gonna be to the cross of Christ? I just want to finish with a little encouragement, and this encouraged me massively as I was preparing this. The joy and the wonder of this passage to me is just how ridiculously small and pathetic the faith of the crowd was.

Remember, they only really they'd they'd been they'd been asked a minute ago. Who are you gonna follow? Bale Yowaway. I don't know. They see the fire.

Well, okay. Well, yowaway clearly. And they could have gone further. They could have said, yahweh is God, and we will strive to love and obey him. But this is the joy of the cross that even with faith as feeble and as pathetic as that, it was enough.

For the fire to go on the altar and then for the rains to come. Remember, the prayer that Elijah prayed, would these people know that you are turning their hearts back to you. God is in the business of turning your heart back to him. So it doesn't matter how pathetic and feeble and weak you feel as a Christian, my goodness me. How many times do I not trust God?

How many times do I put other things first? Even with that rubbish week failing faith, the fire falls on the altar, the water around it's licked up, not hair on you, is singed. And then the rains can can fall on you. So if you want a reminder of God's blessing on your life and the judgment of the cross, the next time it rains, which let's face won't be very long because we're now in rain season. Just think, God can hold back the reins in his judgment on us.

The fact that the reins are here means that the judgment has been paid for somewhere. Otherwise, it wouldn't be raining. The judgment would still be over us. And the payment has not been on the bull in the story. Payment is not because you're good enough.

The payment is because of Christ and the cross. So That's the question. Who are you in the story? Are you going to declare with faith on the mountain, or are you in the valley? Do you want to enjoy the rains?

Then let me encourage you, come up the mountain, declare that Yahweh is God and serve and love him. Let me pray for our help from this. Further, we thank you for this picture of the 2 altars your altar demolished, crushed, burnt up, and the people the faithful people around not singed at all, not touched at all. Thank you that that is the cross, that your anger and your wrath is poured out on Jesus so that we are saved, we're untouched, we can go free. Please, father, would you give us faith and help us even though when we falter, when we fail, and we feel if we feel weak and feeble, would you remind us that the cross is enough?

The faith that you've given us as as you turn your hearts back to you is enough. You've paid the price. Please would you keep us in the lord Jesus in his name, we ask, amen.

Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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