Once more the king sent a third captain with fifty men. But this time the
captain went up the hill and fell to his knees before Elijah. He pleaded with See how the fire from heaven came down and destroyed the first two groups. But now please spare my life Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, “Go down with him, and don’t be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went with him to the king.him, “O man of God, please spare my life and the lives of these, your fifty servants. 2 Kings: 1:13-15
When last we left Elijah he was calling fire down from Heaven to burn up some enemy soldiers. You would think that after losing fifty servants to the flames of God King Ahaziah would have wised-up and left well enough alone. Twice more, though, he sent squadrons of fifty to apprehend the rebel prophet. The second time the results were the same. Fifty soldiers went up the hill fifty cremated bodies were carried down the hill.
But the captain of the third squadron was a little wiser than the first two. He was smart enough to know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So instead of confronting the prophet the third captain humbled himself before God and his man. That won the day. Elijah was given the God go-ahead to come down to Ahaziah. All God was looking for was a man humble enough to admit his need rather than rattle his saber.
We aren’t called to tough it out in our own strength. We are called to pray it through by throwing ourselves on the mercy of a God who is so much bigger than we are.
But Elijah replied to the captain, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down
from heaven and destroy you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and
killed them all. 2 Kings 1:10
Do you realize that God is for you? Sometimes I think we forget just what a powerful truth that is. If God is on our side…if God is for us who can be against us? If we truly need it God will even open up the Heavens and rain down fire on our enemies. Whatever we truly need HE will bring us on the basis of His love for us. The trick is for us to recognize we really need.
So what does your fire from Heaven look like today? What do you really need from God?
“And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for [there is] a sound of abundance of rain. …And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.” I Kings 18: 41, 45
Elijah’s prophecy about an abundance of rain comes on the heels of a three-year drought followed by a major confrontation with the spiritual force behind that drought. The people’s failure to follow God and their success at following Baal had brought the drought. Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal and subsequent slaying of more than 400 of them brought the end of the drought, but not all at once. Elijah had to wait a bit after killing the false prophets before the heavens turned black.
Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!'” I Kings 18: 43, 44
Here’s what I see:
We get the part about having to wait for God to move; But many of us are waiting, expecting God to move before we’ve killed our prophets of Baal. This chapter gives us a divine order: disobedience brings drought; drought should bring repentance (getting rid of the false prophets…evil things in our lives); repentance brings waiting; waiting in repentance brings the miracle.
What has to be removed from your life in order for your waiting to produce fruit?
“When Solomon finished making these prayers and petitions to the LORD, he stood up in front of the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands raised toward heaven. He stood and in a loud voice blessed the entire congregation of Israel:” I Kings 8:54,55
In our last “Heaven” post we left Solomon on his knees with his hands stretched out to Heaven asking for God’s blessing. We’ve left him there for a long time and its high time we got back to these Heaven posts on a more regular basis. 🙂
The take away from today’s verse for me is that there must come a time when we finish with our praying and we get up and do something, even if that is only to get out-of-the-way.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in praying through. In most cases we don’t pray enough. Then in other situations we fall to our knees when the time for praying has come and gone and it’s time to act.
The truth is we ought to be praying the blessing of our God upon our days before they even begin. Then as our days happen we can act in cooperation with the Holy Spirit confident of the fact that God is going to move on our behalf.
There’s a time for everything. There is a time to pray. There is a time to finish our praying and a time to get up and move in the faith we have prayed forth.
How do you know when your praying is complete and it’s time to act?
“If your people go out where you send them to fight their enemies, and if they
pray to the LORD by turning toward this city you have chosen and toward this
Temple I have built to honor your name, then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.” I Kings 8: 44-45
This world is not a tip toe through the tulips. It’s a mobilization through a battleground…a battleground we created when we invited sin and Satan in to play. But God has told us that if we let Him He will walk with us through the mine field. He will train our hands for war. He will give us the victory. He will uphold our cause.
What battle are you facing today that you need to ask God to walk with you through?
“then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.” I Kings 8:36 NLT
Our nation is in a cultural battle concerning the source of life. Our schools and government agencies teach us that man is the center of the universe, with the right to decide morality and to pursue his own glory. The message of the church is the same as it has been throughout the ages: God is the center of the universe and He is the source of all forgiveness, right thinking, provision and glory. The call of the world is self-indulgence. The call of God’s kingdom is repentance. Our verse today tells us that only through repentance can we know God’s goodness, provision and presence.
Oh how we need a change!
“When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:” I Kings 8:35 KJV
The purpose of the “Heaven” posts is simply to go through every verse in the Bible that mentions the word “Heaven” and to pull from the verse a devotional thought for the day. As I was pondering today’s verse I began to think of some of the natural disasters that have faced our world in the last few years.
It is so easy to say “God didn’t cause that. He’s a God of love.”
We face a temptation to tell the world to discount all that’s gone on in the natural order lately because we don’t want men thinking we serve a God capable of great destruction. The truth is though that this is an aspect of God’s character and He has built into nature a “kill switch” which is activated by excessive sin in a culture.
“And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations
that were before you.” Lev. 18:28 NIV
“‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am
bringing you to live may not vomit you out.” Lev. 20:20 NIV
Does God desire to destroy us? No. He has done everything in His power to shield us from it by sending His son Jesus to die in our place and seal us for eternal life. While that is true it is also true that destruction is a part of His plan to hinder and undo the works of the Devil. Where we line ourselves and our cultures up with the Dark One’s schemes we put ourselves in the way of natural disaster.
Because of sin we live in a world that is continually groaning in eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8). The groaning will only get louder as that revelation draws closer.
“then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and return them to this land you gave their ancestors.” I Kings 8:34 NLT
The nation of Israel is one of God’s greatest miracles. That a nationsl people could survive 2,000 years without a homeland and then be suddenly granted that homeland back by a vote of the other nations is beyond imagination.
The scriptural prophecy of Israel’s restoration has been fulfilled before our eyes. How can anyone doubt that the other prophecies of Scripture will fail to come to pass when this first impossibility has so clearly been established?
then hear from heaven and judge between your servants—the accuser and the accused. Punish the guilty as they deserve. Acquit the innocent because of their innocence. I Kings 8:32 NLT
Accusation is one of Satan’s greatest tools. He condemns us when we are guilty and accuses us when we are innocent. In either case we as the people of God need to bring our guilt and our innocence to the cross and rely on Christ to justify us or vindicate us. It has never been man’s job to clear his name (as if we were ever capable). Jesus alone can judge and right the wrongs done to us or by us.
Have you ever been falsely accused?
“May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.” I Kings 8:30
It seems sometimes that God and His home in Heaven are so far away from us and our experience. We think things like …
We think maybe God doesn’t know…doesn’t understand…doesn’t have a truly accurate perception of what is happening to us because He is so far away.
The truth is,when we think of Heaven being way out there somewhere past the planet Jupiter we espouse a rather unbiblical view. You see Heaven isn’t just the place we go when we die. It is anywhere where God has rule. That is why Jesus could say, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20,21
God can hear us from Heaven because that kingdom… that rule has already taken up residence within our hearts. We may not physically be in Heaven right now but Heaven is spiritually in us. Honestly, I am not sure which of those things is more real.