Helping God Fill the Trench with Water
“Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.”
And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time.
And he said, “Do it the third time.” And they did it the third time.
And the water ran about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
1 Kings 18
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”
One of the snares of ministry that I find myself entangled in occasionally is the thinking that I am somehow helping God by what I am doing…as if He needed my help with anything.
“If I were hungry I would not tell you , for the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” Psalm 50
Elijah wanted to show God’s people that he wasn’t going to try to help God out. He actually went out of his way to prove that he didn’t have any smoldering charcoal briquettes up his sleeve that he shook out into the altar as he repaired it. He wasn’t putting on a religious show as he re-stacked the stones, laid the wood in order and placed the sacrifice for the burnt offering upon the wood.
He then proceeded to dig a trench around the altar with the prophets of Baal looking on, king Ahab, and the people of Israel. Now that was different. That wasn’t normal. Probably took a while ti dig since it hadn’t rained for a few years.
He then asked for four pots or barrels to be taken down the hill, presumably, filled with water, brought back up and poured over the whole altar. Now maybe some of you have stood on Carmel like I have…and the only thought I could muster was, “Where in the world did these guys go and get the water from? How long did that take?”He does it a second time…and a third time.
This guy is going out of his way to do something people had never seen before. He was removing himself from the equation, as much as he possibly could. In my mind, he was utterly convinced that God was going to show up. And the people were in need of being utterly convinced themselves that God is who Elijah says he is.
What is Elijah doing? He wasn’t apologizing or arguing or defending God. He simply afforded God an opportunity to show up.
There is a specific way in which God desires to be approached and worshipped. There is a responsibility on our part to repair the altar by “stacking the stones, and laying the wood in order, to lay the sacrifice in order upon the altar in plain view for all to see.” But even this is nothing, in and of itself, if there is no fire sent from heaven to consume it all, beyond all logical belief and to the amazement of the people we are repairing altars in front of on a regular basis.
In the absence of fire, we are simply doing what the false prophets do…stack the stones, throw on the wood, lay on the sacrifice, and proceed to exert ourselves in vain, putting on one heck of a show to entertain those who are in rebellion against the God who created them and loves them, entertaining them for a brief morning or afternoon, while they continue to falter between two opinions and are destined to be cast into hell.
Am I exerting myself in vain, putting on a show to entertain the starving and the dying, dancing, screaming, and cutting myself to prove just how much I really love God?
Am I defying all logic and stepping outside the box, doing things that aren’t “normal” by pouring water on the altar of my ministry, the altar of my calling, the altar I have been given to repair in the generation I have been born into so that God may be glorified when He proves He is by that manifesting Presence of His holy fire?
“Am I exerting myself in vain, putting on a show to entertain the starving and the dying, dancing, screaming, and cutting myself to prove just how much I really love God?”
Ouch!! Thanks for the timely post, Josh.
I’m with Tim. Timely and painful ;-0