Turn our Hearts Toward You!

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

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.” [1]

As we get to the really “fun” part of this story, we should keep in mind the purpose of this extraordinary show of God’s strength. The contest was for the benefit of the people to learn who truly ruled Israel—the Baals of Ahab and Jezebel or the Lord God of their fathers.  In this text we found out.

This was like a Houdini moment for the crowd gathered to see whose God was the God of Israel only it wasn’t magic.  It was the power of the Lord God.  Elijah was so confident in his God that he wasn’t concerned about buckets of water on the sacrifice.  Also, notice the difference between the prayer of Elijah and the prayers of the Baalites.  The Baalites franticly screaming Oh Baal, Oh Baal, repeating their montra all the day long.  And Elijah, simply and humbly asks with a pastor’s heart that God would answer him so that the peoples’ hearts would be turned back to the true God.

Of course God did consume the sacrifice in a mighty way, so much that the water in the trench was licked up as well.  So what can we conclude from this story?  Many things of course, but one of the most looming lessons it seems is that God desires to have people turn back toward him and does signs and wonders in order to do that.  This has been true in the book of Acts we have been studying and it is true all throughout scripture.

In our world today, there are multitudes who have turned to other gods to find significance and to fill the void in their lives that material things and in fact religion cannot fill.  I believe it’s time for Christians to step out with boldness in the true God like Elijah did.  I believe we will be amazed at the response of the multitudes when we do.  Maybe it’s that friend or that relative or that boss at your job that is looking for love in all the wrong places.  Please know today that God really does want to show himself strong and turn their hearts toward him.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Ki 18:30–39). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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