THE GOD THAT ANSWERS BY FIRE - MARCH 15, 2009
THE GOD THAT ANSWERS BY FIRE
Sermon of the Week #200909 – March 15, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen, in 1st Kings 18:24 it is written, “And the God that answers by fire, let Him be God.” That statement is certainly true in the careers of two very prominent servants of God in the Old Testament Scriptures—Elijah and Moses. Since that statement is mentioned in regards to Elijah we consider him first.
A confrontation arose between Elijah the prophet, and Ahab King of
So Ahab sent to all
That question, however, is a good one for many Christians today. How long wilt ye halt between two opinions? Make up your mind, are you serving the Lord or the Devil? That is always a good question for the Christian considering that the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters; for he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will either hold to the one and despise the other.”
Then Elijah proposed this test, “Let the prophets of Baal offer up a bull as a sacrifice to Baal, and I will offer a bull as a sacrifice to the Lord. Then let the God who answers by fire be God.” And all the people said, “It is well said.” Elijah gave the prophets of Baal the first crack at it. They dressed their bullock and put it on the altar and called on the name of Baal from morning till late in the afternoon, with no response.
Elijah suggested that perhaps Baal had laid down for a nap, or was on a hunting trip, or maybe he is pursuing; holler a little louder, maybe he will hear.
Now it was Elijah’s turn. He made an altar of twelve stones, one stone for each of the twelve tribes of
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God!”
God had answered by fire. Ladies and Gentlemen, not only did God answer by fire on this occasion, but also there was another time when God answered by fire at the time of the translation of Elijah into Heaven.
And it came to pass, when the time was at hand, Elijah smote the waters of the Jordan, the waters parted, and the two of them passed over on dry ground, and as they went on and talked, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into Heaven. Elisha had told Elijah that he would like a double portion of his spirit. Elijah said, “You can have it if you see me leave.”
When Elijah left this planet he was doing something that is an enviable way to go; he was teaching someone else the Word of God. What a blessing for a professor in the classroom, or a Sunday school teacher teaching the lesson, or a preacher preaching the sermon, or for those present at that time either hearing the Word of God, observing the Lord’s Supper, or contributing to the ongoing of the preaching of the Great Commission. What a blessing to suddenly be taken at such a time. As had been said, “Tis is a consumation devoutly to be wished.”
God answered by fire and took Elijah. That fiery chariot was no ordinary chariot. Think of what the Psalmist said about the Chariots of God: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.” Then again, “Who maketh His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire.” The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God!
The ascension of Elijah on the fiery angel chariot reminds us of our own translation when the Lord returns. Paul tells us in 2nd Thessalonians 1:7, “And to you who are afflicted rest with us at the revelation the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of His power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance on them that know not God, and who have not obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus, who shall suffer punishment, even everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord, and the glory of His might, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and marveled at by all them that believed our testimony in that day.” God answered Elijah by fire and He will answer by fire at His Second Coming by the same fiery chariots of angels. THE LORD, HE IS THE GOD; THE LORD, HE IS THE GOD!
THE FIRE OF MOSES
Another time when God answered by fire was in the life of Moses at the burning Bush. And an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” And then when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses,” And he said, "Here am I.”
If Moses had been too busy to turn aside, the Lord may never have spoken to him. In James 4:8 He said, “Draw nigh to God and God will draw nigh to you.” And then God said, “Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standeth is holy ground.” God had appeared unto Moses by fire in the bush that was not consumed. God had answered by fire. Moses knew for sure that the Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God!
Whenever God wants to get a person’s attention in the Word of God He calls his name twice; “Moses, Moses.” Later on He called, “Samuel, Samuel,” and Samuel said, “Speak, Thy servant heareth.” It sounds like some today may be saying, “Listen Lord, Thy servant speaketh.”
In the New Testament God tried to get the attention of Saul of
Through the preaching of the gospel, God has called unto some of you, not twice, but many times. Every time you hear the gospel preached, He is calling your name for one purpose or another. Many times the call falls on dead ears no matter how many times it comes. Isaiah said, “They have ears that hear not,” and that statement is repeated six times in the New Testament.
It seems like a great mystery that a bush could be on fire, and yet not consumed. The riddle is easily solved; the bush was not consumed, because God was in the bush. The Church has endured the fires of persecution, and it has not been consumed because the Lord is in it. Today the Devil many times has adapted his methods to the times. In many cases today here in
The Church that started on the Day of Pentecost is still here because God is in it. God answered by fire on the Day of Pentecost, the day the church began, “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues parting asunder like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The Holy Spirit gave them the utterance that Jesus died on the cross, and was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day; ascended to Heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. Then they that heard that story were pricked in their hearts, and asked what they must do? Peter told them, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord will call unto Him.” And that was the message that was preached the day the Church was born, and is still preached today on this broadcast, because the fires of evangelism still burn in the hearts of the many who support the preaching of the Great Commission.
I see the bush on fire every time I see a person who believes the gospel, and repents of his sins, and is buried in the waters of baptism. I still see the bush burning every time I am present on the Lord’s Day and observe the Memorial Service of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ; and we have the assurance that the fire will still be burning when the Lord returns. “Ye show forth the Lord’s death till He comes,” so said Paul in 1st Corinthians 11:28.
The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God! Then again the reason the Bible with its 1,189 chapters is still here, is because God is in it; it has been burned and yet it still lives as it is written in Jeremiah 23:29, the prophet said, “Is not My Word as of a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” The Bible also has endured the fires of criticism, and the fires of indifference and neglect. If the Bible had been consumed the next time you reach for it, your hand would find nothing but a pile of ashes. Peter reminds us in 1st Peter 1:25, “The grass withereth and the flower fadeth, but the Word of God abideth forever.”
That book will never be destroyed because the Lord is in it. And that Word is the word Jesus referred to in John 12:48, “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the Word that I spake, the same shall judge him at the last day.” Remember Hebrews 12:29 warns, “Our God is a consuming fire.” And Jesus stressed this truth also in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
Then too the individual Christian is a burning bush; while we may or may not be burned at the stake, Peter said, “Think it not strange the fiery trials that come upon you.” The fire of the faithful to the sin of division has burned out in the faith of many of the unsteadfast, and all that is left is a pile of ashes. Wherever there is an Isaac, there will be an Ishmael to mock him, and wherever there is an Elijah, there is an Ahab; but those who look to Christ and not to men, will not be consumed, and many like Moses will turn aside to see this great sight; the bush that burned and was not consumed. God had again answered by fire. THE LORD, HE IS THE GOD; THE LORD, HE IS THE GOD! Now this final word.
Here is the question again, “How long will ye halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” That question was asked over nine hundred years ago; but actually it goes back further than that. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 2:8-9 it is written, “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in
The Lord said, “Eat of the tree and you die.” The serpent said in Genesis 3:3, “Ye shallt not surely die.” So now the question is just as fresh as the headline on the six o’clock news tonight, “How long will ye halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, then follow Him. If the Devil be god, follow him.” Adam and Eve chose the Devil and died, and so did all the rest of us.
Now just one more thing; the Lord drove them out of the Garden of Eden, and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life. That flaming sword will block every plan of man to live forever.
But the book of John in 19:41 tells us concerning the burial of Jesus, “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb wherein was never man yet laid. There then because the tomb was nigh at hand they laid Jesus.” Jesus was crucified on a tree in the garden, and from there arose from the dead. And Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned.” The flaming sword of the cheribum had pierced the heart of Jesus on the tree in the garden; and Paradise was open to all who would come to the cross; the tree of life in the midst of the garden.