Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | July 13, 2015

Man’s “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” versus God’s Almighty Action

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Kings Chapter 18.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+18&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“20 So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel.  21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”  But the people did not answer him a word.  22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.  23 Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it;  and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it.  24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”  And all the people said, “That is a good idea.”

25 So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”  26 Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.”  But there was no voice and no one answered.  And they leaped about the altar which they made.  27 It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.”  28 So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them.  29 When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice;  but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.”  So all the people came near to him.  And he repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn 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 had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.”  32 So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed.  33 Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood.  34 And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”  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 The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.

36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and 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 heart back again.”  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 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces;  and they said, “The Lord, He is God;  the Lord, He is God.”  40 Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.”  So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.”  1 Kings 18:20-40.

———————–

The vivid but futile “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” of the prophets of Baal in today’s Scripture remind us of other doctrine which is also about man and his actions:  “Just do it!  Get more people together.  Show more passion.  Plead more often.  Leap.  It is all about your blood, sweat, and tears.”   

In sharp contrast, the focus on God and the short and simple prayer of Elijah remind us of Reformed Doctrine which is all about God’s Almighty actions:  “Unconditional Election”, “Limited Atonement”, “Irresistible Grace”, and “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.

The prayer of Elijah recognized that if the people’s hearts would be turned back to God, it would need to be God Who would do it.  “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”  Verse 38.

God’s Almighty Action (of His fire which consumed the burnt offering and surrounding elements) caused the people to fall on their faces and confess that the LORD is God.  God did turn their heart back again as Elijah requested.  “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.  When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces;  and they said, “The Lord, He is God;  the Lord, He is God.”  Verses 38-39.

“16 And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing
And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.
18 According to their deeds, so He will repay,
Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies;
To the coastlands He will make recompense.
19 So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west
And His glory from the rising of the sun,
For He will come like a rushing stream
Which the wind of the Lord drives.
20 “A Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord.

21 “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord:  “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.”  Isaiah 59:16-21.

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