dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday". [Psalm 37:3-6, ESV]
These past few weeks (even more than normal), I have really been in a place of desire for more of God and not willing to settle for what was before--not even the "former glory". Sometimes, it's easy to proverbially settle on our laurels as we think back over past spiritual exploits, and great moments of fasting, and awesome periods of a phenomenal prayer life--or those times when we witnessed God's Hand constantly at work, before us, personally. I can't be satisfied with what was, at this point; in fact, if what was, were to occur right at this moment, it still wouldn't be enough. I thought it would, as I found myself praying for God to restore me to that place, only to realize that place was a stepping stone to a higher place, in Him. The former glory is not the greater (or greatest) glory that He has for me. And, I want it all.
I want an Elijah moment--I just thought about it. I want God to put "Baal" on blast, today. I'm tired of Baal and his prophets. I'm wearied by the "troubling of Israel". Spiritual Israel is just as troubled by Baal, as when Ahab and Jezebelopened the door enabling Baal to trouble Israel, in 1 Kings. "The Phoenician baal of Ahab and Jezebel was a storm-god. The extrabiblical evidence indicates that the baal of Carmel and Baal Shamem were also storm gods." [M. Smith]. "Baal worshipers believed that their god made rain, which is a quite important detail in an agricultural community. Elijah apparently prays for a drought to prove that Yahweh, not Baal, is in charge of crop-enriching rains." [R. Deffinbaugh].
What was Elijah doing? Why a storm-god? First, the people were straddling between God and Baal. Much like today--God is great when we want Him (for things, or to change our situations); really we are more consumed with the things of the world ( our own form of Baalism)--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The lust of the flesh is: "the lust of uncleanness, which includes all unchaste desires, thoughts, words, and actions, fornication, adultery, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; and which make up a considerable part of the all that is in the world: or else intemperance in eating and drinking, gluttony and drunkenness, excess of wine, surfeitings, rioting, and revellings, and all the sensual pleasures of life, by which the carnal mind, and the lusts of it, are gratified; whereby the soul is destroyed, the body is dishonoured, and a wound, dishonour, and reproach brought on the character"
The lust of the eyes: "after unlawful objects, and may design unchaste and lascivious looks, eyes full of adultery, and whereby adultery is committed [see Matthew 5:28]; a sinful curiosity of seeing vain sights, and shows, with which the eye of man is never satisfied [see Ecclesiastes 1:8]; and finally, the sin of covetousness is here designed, the objects of which are visible things, as gold, silver, houses, lands, and possessions, with which riches the eyes of men are never satisfied, and which sin is drawn forth and cherished by the eyes; and indeed a covetous man has little more satisfaction than the beholding his substance with his eyes, and in which he takes much sinful pleasure [see Ecclesiastes 4:8]; and what a poor vain empty thing is this! therefore, love not the world, since this is a principal thing in it."
The pride of life: "ambition of honour, of chief places and high titles, as in the Scribes and Pharisees [see Matthew 23:6], or of grand living, for the word signifies not so much life as living; living in a sumptuous, gay, luxurious, and pompous manner, in rich diet, costly apparel, having fine seats, palaces, and stately buildings, and numerous attendance; all which is but vanity and vexation of spirit [see Ecclesiastes 2:1]. Gill's Exposition of the Bible.
There is a great and vicious storm brewing over us, today; it is a storm of our lusts and it has already overtaken many and threatens to consume many more, if we do not take heed, and mortify these sinful tendencies in ourselves. We have rationalized and justified our stormy lusts by twisting and misusing Scripture to suit our basest desires, in an effort to fill ourselves with the very things that God wants us to oppose and reject--"love not the world"; "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions".
Elijah, in his day, called out the worshippers of baal, to meet him and let the real God prove Himself, by fire. Elijah gave baal every advantage and every opportunity. The so-called storm-god, had the advantage of going first, having a majority (450 prophets) to seek his "help", dry wood on a fresh altar, and many (don't be fooled by numbers--"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.") who believed baal was the one who gave rain. In 1 Kings 17: 1, God sent Elijah to tell Ahab there would be NO rain until God said otherwise. This is really the beginning of the challenge. This is God showing that no one can control His creation, except Him. That struck at the very heart of Baalism, which was the theological center, at that time. And, when God said no rain, there was NO rain, and there was a severe famine as a result in Samaria. Now, the moment was right for the challenge to commence.
Everyone is now assembled at Carmel, and Baal's prophets start calling for Baal to answer--"even from morning to noon". No response. Elijah begins to mock them, saying, "he might be asleep, and needs to be awakened". The false prophets get louder, and start to maim themselves until their blood ran--but to no avail. Finally, after many hours, Elijah calls the people to repair the altar assembling the stones according to the tribes of Israel. Then, it gets weird--he has a trench built around the altar (sometimes, God specializes in things that don't make any sense to the natural/carnal mind--that's why it is an enemy to the Spirit). Then, he has water poured onto the burnt offering and the wood (we all know, wet wood does NOT burn, right???) There was so much water that it flowed all around the altar and filled the trench, after of course, it had drenched the wood and the burnt offering. Then, Elijah prays (rather simply): "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. 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." And God--the REAL Rain-God, responded. BTW, He is the Fire-God, too. "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. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God."
I want that all-consuming fire to fall from Heaven and consume every worldly lust, craving and desire--every vestige--not only from my life, but from the Body of Christ. I want to see us rid ourselves of lukewarmness and crave the "sincere milk of the Word" rather than the next program, or the celebrity of preachers, prophets, evangelists and psalmists and gospel artists. We have become chasers of status and things that will become dust--and corrupted by moths, instead of God-chasers and the eternal things of God--namely love. I desire to see the fire of God lick up the stoniness of selfishness and self-centeredness, until we become a people known for our devotion to God and others--no matter what walk of life they hale from. I want God's fire to erase the dust of complacency that is willing to settle for a few hours of going to "church" rather than continually being "the Church".
When we seek Him for that fire, sincerely and wholeheartedly, He will respond--remember, Elijah was no different from you or I. "Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!" [James 5:17, NLT]. Once, the fire falls and draws us to repentance, then--and only then will the rain fall.
And, this whole world needs the rain. The spiritual rain that can heal the drought.