I recently found myself awake in the middle of the night praying for a “Mount Carmel” sort of revival in our day. As I revisited the story of the fire of God falling from heaven on Elijah’s sacrifice on Mount Carmel, two characteristics stood out as vital for the church in America today: (1) Consecration and (1) Confrontation.
Eliah Confronts King Ahab and the False Prophets of Baal
In I Kings 18 we have the story of Elijah confronting Ahab and challenging his prophets of Baal to a duel on Mount Carmel. Ahab accepted the challenge and assembled the 450 prophets of Baal and the people of Israel to Mount Carmel.
Elijah began by confronting the people with their duplicity and compromise. He asked, “How long will you falter between two opinions?” He then challenged, “If the LORD is God, serve Him, but if Baal, follow him.”
Elijah then laid down the mechanics of the duel. He and the prophets of Baal would each offer a sacrifice to their god and the god that answered by fire would be the God that Israel would serve. The people agreed.
Fire is often used in Scripture to symbolize the awe-inspiring presence of God. God appeared to Moses in a fiery burning bush. He led the children of Israel with a cloud by day and A pillar of fire by night. Tongues of fire sat upon the heads of the 120 who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Hebrews 12:29 says, Our God is a consuming fire. This is how “fire” is being used in this passage.
The prophets of Baal went first and one thing we learn about Baal worship is that it was very emotional and demonstrative. The prophets of Baal prayed, danced around their altar, shouted, and prophesied all day, but nothing happened. No fire fell on their sacrifice. Religious hype is a poor substitute for the real awe-inspiring presence and power of God.
Elijah Repairs the Altar of the Lord
When Elijah’s time came to pray, his first act was that he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down (I Kings 18:30). It was broken down because the Israelites had compromised their faith. They had mixed the worship of Yahweh with the worship of Baal. They had become religious pluralists—multiculturalists.
An altar is a place of consecration—a place of sacrifice where one is given completely over to God. Consecration was absent in Israel. They had broken the First Commandment wherein God had said, You shall have no other gods before me . . . you shall not bow down before them or serve them (Exodus 20:2-5).
In a similar way, the altar in American Christianity is broken down and in desperate need of repair. Like ancient Israel, many Christians in America have compromised their faith. They may not have bowed before a pagan shrine, but they have bowed to the gods and goddesses of cultural approval, social trends, and personal expediency.
In Elijah’s situation, the fire, did not fall until after the altar of the LORD was repaired. The fire of God is not going to fall on the American church until we repair the altar of the LORD that is broken down. And “repairing the altar of the Lord” must begin with God’s people, as II Chronicles 7:14 so clearly lays out.
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
As we consecrate our lives anew to Him, we position ourselves to see the awe-inspiring presence of God manifest in our churches once again. When the fire of God fell on Mount Carmel, the people fell on their faces, crying out, “The LORD, He is God!” It can happen again!
A Personal Testimony of the Power of Consecration
My dad was a good Christian man who daily prayed, read his Bible, took his family to church several times per week, and tithed. However, he was lacking in consecration and only a prayer of consecration would bring the fire of God from heaven and the healing miracle that he would need.
Dad was working as a farm hand in west Texas when my older brother, Pete, who was seven years old was run over by a farm tractor. It was 1947 and I was three weeks old. Dad rushed Pete to the nearest hospital as blood and water bubbled out of his nose, mouth, eyes, and ears.
Three doctors examined him and said, “He probably won’t live more than ten minutes.” They explained that even apart from x-rays, they knew that Pete had a broken rib that had punctured a lung, which was the cause of the fluids coming out all his passages.
They wheeled Pete away and Dad was left alone in the small waiting room of the small-town hospital. There all alone he was confronted about his disobedience. His mind was suddenly consumed with the fact that for five years he had ignored the growing sense of God’s call to fulltime ministry. Having only a fourth-grade education and being a poor farm hand, it seemed impossible, and he had told no one.
He intuitively knew what he had to do. Stepping into a nearby restroom, he raised his right hand to heaven, and said, “Lord, I’m ready.” That was it; a three-word prayer! It was, however, a prayer of consecration and the fire of God fell. Suddenly, the gift of faith dropped into his heart, and as he put it, “I knew that I knew that Pete was OK.”
Although he had to wait for an hour before any news was brought to him about Pete, his heart and mind were at perfect rest and peace. Eventually, one of the doctors emerged and said, “Mr. Hyatt, there has been a higher power here tonight.” He went on, “We know your son had a broken rib and punctured lung, but we have completed the x-rays, the bleeding has stopped, and he doesn’t have a broken bone in his body.”
A nurse who attended the same church as my parents was Pete’s attending nurse. She gave a testimony at church that she had never felt the tangible power and presence of God as she felt in Pete’s room.
My dad went on to be a successful pastor in the Assemblies of God and presided over some very powerful revivals, including the one in which I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, some twenty-five years later. The fire of God fell when he repaired the altar of the Lord in his life.
Yes, we need a Mount Carmel sort of revival in this generation. We need a revival of consecration that will bring the fire of God from heaven once again. The prayer and song, “Send the Fire,” by William Booth, cofounder of the Salvation Army, expresses the heart of every person longing for such heaven-sent revival.
God of Elijah hear our cry, send the fire.
And make us fit to live or die, send the fire today.
To burn up every trace of sin, to bring the light and glory in.
The revolution now begin, send the fire today.
To make our weak hearts strong and brave, send the fire.
To live a dying world to save, send the fire today.
Oh see us on Your altar
lay, we give our lives to You today.
So crown the offering now we pray, send the fire today.