Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Soaking The Altar

Submitted by Kerry Patton

“He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, "Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”  1 Kings 18:33
Elijah Soaks the Altar
In 1 Kings 19:33, Elijah is in a spiritual contest, if you will, against many prophets of the false god Baal.  Across my lifetime, I’ve had several occasions to hear sermons on this passage of scripture.  I love the humor displayed in the following illustration:
A Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the Prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built the altar, put wood upon it, cut the steer in pieces and laid it upon the altar. And then Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar. He had them do this four times.
"Now, said the teacher, "can anyone in the class tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the steer on the altar?"
A little girl in the back of the room raised her hand with great enthusiasm. "To make the gravy," came her enthusiastic reply.
To make the gravy… Isn’t that wonderful?  We can imagine a little girl watching her mother pour water over the roast and seasonings she had placed in a Crock Pot for a special meal.  “Why did you add the water, Mother?” To which the mother replies: “To make the gravy.”  Makes sense doesn’t it.
But we know that Elijah soaking the altar actually didn’t make sense, did it.  Wet wood doesn’t burn.  God was having Elijah do everything possible to make lighting a fire on that altar IMPOSSIBLE.  Not once, not twice…not even three times, but four times the altar was soaked with water.  Verse 35 tells us that water ran off the altar and filled the trench surrounding it.  It was a lot of water.
So, why would God want Elijah to make it effectively impossible to light a fire that God wanted to be lit?  Because God wanted there to be no doubt that Jehovah God was the ONLY God.  Read to see how the story unfolds:
36At 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. 37Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38Then 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.
39When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”   I Kings 18:36-39
Now, Bring it Home
What have you allowed God to do in your life recently that was “impossible” or “water-soaked”?  And I use the word “allowed” because we already know that all things are possible with God.  In Matthew 19:26, Jesus said so!  So, if the impossible is not being accomplished in my living, the problem is very likely not on the end of God’s ability, but on my willingness to let it happen.
Frequently, when we observe circumstances stacking up, we interpret them as proof that something CAN’T happen.  Imagine you and I observing the water being poured on that altar so long ago.  What would we have thought?  “Well, Elijah is done now!  There is no way that a fire is going to be started there.  I’d hate to be in his shoes right now!”  But Elijah was not concerned with the water, because Elijah knew about the fire…GOD’S fire.  We can almost imagine that last container of water being poured out and Elijah turning to the prophets of Baal and saying: “Alright…now, y’all watch this…”  But he didn’t.  He stepped back and prayed.  God provided the fire…a fire so consuming that it licked up the water in the trench as well.  The people were overwhelmingly convinced!  “The Lord—he is God!  The Lord—he is God!!” 
Give God an opportunity to do the impossible in your life today!  Don’t be concerned if life has poured water on your altar…  Live as Jesus, love as Jesus.  And let God bring the fire.

I have been the problem in any lack of the miraculous, Father.  I have been faithless, or unwilling to even try to let you display your power…because I saw the water dripping from the wood on the altar.  As Peter prayed, “I believe, help thou my unbelief!” Help me to always trust you.  This week, I desire to rejoice when the altar is wet.  Because I am confident in your ability to accomplish your will.  I trust you, Father.  Bring the fire. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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