“And 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.” Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD.” (1 Kings 18:31-32 NKJV).
The days of King Ahab were undoubtedly time of great spiritual drought, apostasy and bankruptcy in Israel. Ahab led the entire nation of Israel into the worship of Baal, and his wife Jezebel massacred many prophets of God, but nourished and strengthened prophets of Baal in the time of famine and drought.
In those days, many prophets of God went into hiding, thereby allowing evil to continue unabated in the land of Israel. But, God would not give up on the nation of Israel. Therefore, God visited His prophet Elijah in his hiding place, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.” (1 Kings 18:1 NKJV).
In prompt obedience to God’s command, Elijah arose from his hiding place to confront Ahab, to challenge all the prophets of Baal to contest on Mount Carmel, and to call the children of Israel to repentance.
The true prophets of God today, like Elijah, also need to arise from their hiding places to confront and rebuke wicked leaders and false prophets, and to call the backsliding and unbelieving nations to repentance and faith in Christ. This is very crucial to national revival!
When Elijah was brought before Ahab, he said to him in 1 Kings 18:
19 “Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23 “Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it.
24 “Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.” (NKJV).
All the desperate cries and efforts of the prophets of Baal to bring down fire upon their sacrifice on Mount Carmel proved abortive. But the God of Elijah, the only true and living God, answered His prophet by sending down fire from heaven to consume the water-soaked sacrifice on the altar, and thus turned the hearts of His people from Baal to Himself.
The Scripture records in 1 Kings 18:
36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.
37 “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 Now 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 And 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 executed them there. (NKJV).
Where are “the Elijahs” of God today who will boldly confront, challenge, rebuke and silent all the false prophets doing the bidding of Jezebel in the Church and nations of the world?
It is certainly time for them to arise from their hiding places to labour for national revival!
In this piece we shall carefully examine Elijah’s process of bringing down the fire from heaven which resulted in national revival. This is not with a view to finding some divine formulas for national revival, but with a view to discovering and understanding some divine and timeless principles that must govern our labour for national or corporate revival in our generation.
Elijah’s first step or action was the repairing or rebuilding of the broken altar of the LORD.
1 Kings 18
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 that was broken down.
31 And 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 Then 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 seahs of seed. (NKJV).
It is important to note that Elijah did not attempt to build an entirely new altar. All that he did was to repair or rebuild the old altar which had been broken down and forsaken by the people of God.
Elijah also used the prescribed material for building altars according to God’s command to the men of old.
God commands, “And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them.” (Deut. 27:5 NKJV).
It is also very important to note that Elijah built the altar with twelve stones.
What are the underlying divine and timeless principles in Elijah’s actions?
God’s fire of revival will not fall upon just any altar we raise or build for God. Every mighty revival or move of God requires an altar, a foundation or platform. However, not all altars or foundations are suitable to receive, carry, sustain or advance national revival.
Elijah built with twelve stones. This represents apostolic foundation. The Lord Jesus Christ raised, built and empowered twelve apostles to be the foundation of the mighty revival He came into the world to pioneer.
Until Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, so as to make them twelve and complete as the foundation of the New Testament Church, God did not send down His Spirit upon the early disciples who had gathered in the Upper Room awaiting the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise (Acts 1:15-26, Eph. 2:20).
The Scripture reveals that the New Testament Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” (Eph. 2:20 NKJV).
The Church is built upon the doctrines or teachings of the apostles which were taught and given to them by the Lord Jesus when He was with them in person and through the Holy Spirit after He had ascended into heaven.
This is what Jude referred to as “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 NKJV). It is complete and perfect; there is nothing left to be added, removed, or modified.
Any teaching or doctrine that does not conform totally to that of the early apostles of Christ is a false spiritual foundation or altar. We should not expect God to send down His fire for national revival on such false altars or foundations.
After rebuilding the broken altar of God according to its old setting, Elijah went further to prepare the burnt sacrifice and laid it on the wood he had first put in order on the altar.
The Scripture testifies, “And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” (1 Kings 18:33 NKJV).
It is important to note that it was a burnt sacrifice that Elijah prepared and offered to attract God’s fire, and that the burnt sacrifice was laid on the wood he had initially set on the altar.
What are the underlying divine and timeless principles to adopt in these Elijah’s actions?
It is not just any sacrifice we offer to God that would attract His revival fire. While we should not expect God to send His fire upon an empty altar, we should also not expect Him to send down His fire upon any sacrifice that is not a burnt sacrifice.
The burnt sacrifice is the only offering among many offerings under the Law that must be completely burnt on the altar. The priests or the person offering the burnt sacrifice are forbidden to take any part from it; all belong to God and must be brought to God’s altar and offered to Him.
God commands, “Then the priest shall bring it all and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.” (Lev. 1:13 NKJV).
What is the spiritual implication of that to the New Testament believers?
Before the first outpouring God’s Spirit upon men, the Lord Jesus Christ, our ultimate burnt sacrifice, was offered on the cross (the wood). It was the sacrifice of Christ that opened the heavens for the outpouring of God’s Spirit – the first New Testament revival.
We are not yet ready for the outbreak of national revival until we are willing, like the early disciples, to share in the Lord’s suffering and become like Him in His death.
The Lord Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23 NKJV).
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27 NKJV).
Paul writes, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Philip. 3:10 NKJV).
Anyone who is not willing to follow in the Lord’s footsteps or be made conformable unto His death cannot be a divine instrument for national revival.
In every generation, God is always seeking for men He can bring into divine partnership with Him for a mighty outbreak of national or corporate revival in their generation. God’s revival partners are believers who are willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow the Lord daily.
National revival has tarried till now because many believers who desire to see true revival in the Church and nations of the world are merely praying and preaching about revival, but are not yielding themselves to the Lord to work in them and through them as agents or instruments of national or corporate revival.
Until we yield ourselves fully to God, holding back nothing from Him, we shall not experience true national revival outbreak.
Before God will send us the revival fire that will shame and silence the enemies of the gospel, restore the backsliding nations and cause proud nations to fall on their knees and faces before the Lord, the people of God would need to humble themselves before the Lord and become broken, soft and pliable in His hand as a sacrifice cut in pieces.
National revival has tarried till now because we are proud, stubborn, and unyielding to God’s Spirit. Though we claim to belong to God, yet we continually resist His Spirit, but yield to the flesh. Though we present ourselves before God, seeking His face, yet we are not broken, eager and willing to obey Him completely and promptly.
Although we claim to have surrendered our lives to the Lord, however, we shut out the Lord from some rooms, areas or compartments in our lives, and still cling or hold tenaciously to our former ways and lusts (Rev. 3:20).
Beloved, it is not enough to just desire, pray or preach about revival, you must completely and continually present or yield yourself to God as a living sacrifice for His holy fire to completely and continually consume you, thereby making you a sweet fragrance or aroma of Christ in the world.
It is fire that begets fire. It is your personal revival that will culminate in national or corporate revival.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I yield my life unreservedly to You today as a living sacrifice. Make me an instrument of national revival in my generation, in Jesus’ name. Amen.