The Preservation of Remnant, The Shutting & Opening of the Heavens & the Judgment Against False Gods

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament epistle. “I say then, Hath God cast away his people” God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow their back always” (Romans 11:1-10).

 

            “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their failures? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: IF by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life form the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakes of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these which be the natural branches be graffed into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:11-24).

 

 

            “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:25-32).

 

            “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearched able his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counseller Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the apostle Paul continuing his language concerning the Jewish people—and not just the Jewish people but his people. If you read the writings of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were present in each of the cities he journeyed to and sent epistles unto you will find him speaking of his heritage as a man of Jewish origin. You cannot read the words which are found in the epistles written by the apostle Paul and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul expressing his Jewish roots and his direct association with the sons and daughters of the Abraham. For the apostle Paul he aptly recognized that he was indeed and was in fact a son of Abraham and descended directly from his loins. What’s more is that when you think about and consider the apostle Paul you will discover that he was a son of Abraham on two different fronts. The first front is the apostle Paul descending from Abraham through natural origins as he was a true descendant of the seed of Abraham and specifically through the seed of Abraham. This reality is expressed in the third chapter of the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Philippi. The second front upon which the apostle was a descendant of Abraham was through the seed of promise, the seed of faith and the seed of righteousness. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning Abraham it’s that he was not only a father of the Jews who were born of natural origin but he was also a father of the sons and daughters of faith—those who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and were saved.

 

In order to truly understand this I am absolutely convinced it is necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews (an epistle which many have speculated was written by the apostle Paul, however no one truly knows), the words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints, as well as the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. The words presented in each of these chapters brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding Abraham not only being a father to those who would be born as direct physical descendants of his but also a father unto those who believe. Although Abraham would never be explicitly told by the living God that he would be a father to those who believed we find written in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis a powerful encounter which took place between Abraham and the living God and how Abraham believed that which the living God had spoken unto him and it was credited unto him as righteousness. With this being said I invite you to consider the following passages of Scripture beginning with the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis:

 

After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram,  Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. IN the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis 15:1-21).

 

For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that though death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).

 

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecution the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehended that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, but thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:1-16).

 

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet circumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:1-25).

 

It is quite clear from each of these passages that Abraham was not only the father of those who were born of natural origin from the seed which was promised unto him by the living God but he was also the father to those who believed. Abraham was not only the father of those unto whom was given the covenant, the promises, the sacrifices, the ordinances, the offerings and all that was presented unto Moses atop the mountain in the midst of the wilderness but Abraham was also the father of those who believed according to faith and the free gift of God in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although at the time the Lord was speaking unto Abraham he could never have fathomed that his believing in God would and could be the pattern for a portion of his seed to be made righteous before the living God the apostle Paul brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding Abraham being made a father unto all those who believed. Essentially Abraham was not only a father of faith and believing in the Lord God but he was also a father of righteousness. Abraham was indeed a father of natural origin—both through Ishmael as well as Isaac—and yet he was a father of spiritual origin unto those who after and according to his pattern of belief would believe with their heart that God raised up the eternal and only begotten Christ from the dead and would confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus unto salvation. Abraham would indeed become the father of all those who would believe and whose belief would be credited unto them as righteousness. Abraham would himself believe the word of the Lord God and that belief would be credited unto him as righteousness. The seed which was promised unto Abraham would not only be a physical and natural seed according to birth through the flesh but it would also be a spiritual seed according to spiritual birth—that which the eternal and only begotten of the Lord Jesus Christ spoke when speaking unto Nicodemus.

 

With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the churches which were in Galatia, as well as the words which were spoken by the Lord Jesus unto Nicodemus who came unto him by night to hear and listen to the words He would speak. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John unto the Ephesian congregation as well as the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the churches of Galatia:

 

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a. man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do. Know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought of God” (John 3:1-21).

 

Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by the bondmaid, the other by the freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Gar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is not. Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free” (Galatians 4:21-31).

 

As you come to the eleventh chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find him asking a very pointed and powerful question—a question concerning the children of Israel as directly set against the Gentiles. The apostle Paul opens the eleventh chapter of this epistle by asking if God had cast away His people and then emphatically declares unto them saying, “God forbid.” Following this declaration the apostle Paul also goes on to describe and declare how he was also an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. This would be followed with a powerful declaration made by the apostle Paul concerning how God cannot and will not cast away his people which He foreknew. What makes this particular passage all the more intriguing and captivating is when you consider how the apostle Paul followed this by describing the days of Elijah. What’s more is not only did the apostle Paul describe the days of Elijah but he also used the language of remnant to indicate that although the Jews had rejected the word and name of the Lord Jesus there was a remnant which was preserved in the earth. Not only this but throughout the years and generations—despite the great diaspora that took place after Rome invaded Judaea and Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple together with all its buildings—the living God still preserved a remnant of the Jewish people throughout the years. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the living God is that He has always had a remnant in the earth—regardless of a remnant of His people Israel who were the natural descendants of Abraham or a remnant of His people who are the spiritual seed of Abraham. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the living God preserving—and not only preserving but also faithfully preserving—a remnant of His people in the earth.

 

Beginning with the second verse of the eleventh chapter the apostle Paul speaks of Elijah and how he made intercession to God against Israel. What’s more is the apostle Paul would follow this by describing how the prophet Elijah declared unto the Lord how they had killed all the prophets, and digged down his altars and he alone was left and they sought his life. Of course if we are to truly understand the words which are presented here we must needs recognize the events which are presented in the nineteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings. If you turn and direct your attention to the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings you will discover the prophet Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal in an epic showdown of fire upon mount Carmel. The prophet Elijah called all the people of Israel unto mount Carmel and boldly and emphatically declared that the God who answered by fire would be the one true and living God. The prophet would give space and make room for the prophets of Baal to go first as they would call upon the name of their god Baal that he might respond and answer by fire coming down from heaven. Perhaps one of the greatest realities we must needs recognize and understand concerning this passage is that there is and there was undoubtedly more present here which is not seen in the Scripture. I am absolutely convinced that while we read of Elijah and the prophets of Baal atop mount Carmel there was a spiritual battle and warfare taking place behind the scenes as the living God was directly confronting and combatting the spiritual forces of darkness—even Baal himself in the unseen and spiritual realm.

 

I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings and I can’t help but think about the fact that the same God who shut up the heavens and locked it from bringing forth rain according to the word of Elijah locked the heavens in the spiritual realm and prevented the spiritual forces of darkness from producing any type of fire in response to the prophet of Baal. I would dare say that there was a tremendous significance surrounding the prophetic word of Elijah that locked the heavens from producing the rain for not only did the living God shut up and lock the heavens from producing the rain but He might very well have set up and established a barrier that would prevent the spiritual forces of darkness from directly influencing the people. If you read the words which are found in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of First Kings you will find the prophet Elijah declaring unto Ahab king of Israel that it would not rain upon the earth but by and according to his word. Of course we know that it would be three and a half years the heavens were shut up and rain was prevented from falling from the heaven. What makes this all the more astounding and remarkable when you take time to think about it is this prophetic declaration was in fact a direct exercise of authority against the false god Baal who was considered to be the storm god. In fact I would dare say that just as the living and eternal God directly confronted the false gods in the land of Egypt through the ten plagues and judgments which came upon the land so also did the eternal and living God directly confront Baal the storm god there in the nation and land of the northern kingdom of Israel.

 

It is absolutely incredible to think about and consider this particular declaration and reality for what we find in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of First Kings is not only a direct confrontation of the false god Baal through the shutting of the heavens according to the prophetic word of Elijah but we also find the prophet Elijah directly engaging and confronting this false god of Baal atop mount Carmel. What we find in the seventeenth chapter is the one true and living God shutting the heavens that it might not rain except by the prophetic word of Elijah. That which we find in the eighteenth chapter of the same Old Testament book is the living God not only showing and demonstrating himself as being the God who answers by fire but also the God who answers by sending rain. The words and language that is contained in the eighteenth chapter is the living and eternal God unlocking the heavens atop Carmel through fire which came down and consumed the sacrifice, the water round about the altar and even the dust of the earth around the altar. What’s more is that directly following this we find the living and eternal God responding to prayer of Elijah—and not only the prayer of Elijah but also the repeated prayer of Elijah that it might rain upon the face of the earth. How absolutely incredible it is that the living and eternal God would unlock the heavens through fire according to the intercession of Elijah atop the mountain and would unlock the heavens a second time according to the prayer of the same prophet.

 

Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding this confrontation atop mount Carmel. The prophet Elijah would essentially serve notice unto the false storm god Baal according to the prophetic word of the Lord when he declared that it would not rain upon the earth but by his word. There is not a doubt in my mind that this prophetic declaration was indeed the first of several direct confrontations of the storm god Baal during the days of Elijah. It would be during the days of the prophet Elijah the false worship of Baal would be at the forefront and height of the children of Israel in the northern kingdom of Israel. What we see atop mount Carmel is the prophet Elijah doing the same thing Moses and Joshua did during their days and generation—namely calling the children of Israel to choose between two different opinions and two realities. That which the prophet Elijah did was call the children of Israel to choose worshipping Baal or to choose worshipping the one true and living God. The prophet would do this by emphatically declaring unto them that the God who answers by fire would be the one true and living God. There is a great need for us to pay close and careful attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the unseen spiritual conflict that would ensue behind the scenes during the days of the prophet Elijah. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there was more which took place during those days than what we see and witness in chapters seventeen, eighteen and nineteen. Although we see the prophet Elijah, Ahab the king of Israel, Jezebel the queen of Israel, and the children of Israel themselves there were also unseen spiritual forces which were at work—and not only unseen spiritual forces but also unseen spiritual battles which took place.

 

With all of this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found—first in the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings and then in the eighteenth chapter of the same Old Testament book. It is in the seventeenth chapter we find the prophet Elijah proclaiming and declaring unto Ahab the king of Israel that it would not rain upon the land except by and according to the prophetic word from his mouth. It would be in the eighteenth chapter of the same historical book we find the prophet Elijah directly confronting the prophets of Baal—and not only the prophets of Baal but also the false storm god himself through a showdown and confrontation of fire. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the tremendous truth surrounding these two chapters and how the one true and living God not only directly confronted the false storm god by shutting up the heavens from rain but He also directly confronted the false storm god Baal by being the only one who would and could answer by sending fire down from heaven. What’s more is the one true and living God would not only demonstrate Himself as the only one who could send fire down from heaven but He also demonstrated that He was the only one who would send rain upon the earth. What we find and see with the heavens being shut up from producing rain is an initial direct confrontation of the storm god Baal effectively rendering him completely and utterly powerless against the one true and living God. Perhaps the question I can’t help but ask is why when the living God chose to confront the false storm god atop Carmel He chose to answer by sending fire down upon the earth. Why would the one true and living God not choose to send rain upon the earth and thunder upon the earth as He did during the days of Samuel the prophet when He thundered against the Philistines? Oh we might not know and understand why the living and eternal God not only chose fire to send down upon the earth but also choose fire before the rain, however, what we must needs recognize is that the Lord chose to answer both by fire and rain.

 

Having all of this in mind I feel it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous words and language that is found in these two chapters for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous conflict which took place in the northern kingdom of Israel. It would be during the days of the prophet Elijah the one true and living God deliberately and intentionally chose to confront the false storm god Baal—first by shutting the heavens and effectively rendering him powerless to send rain upon the earth and second by rendering him powerless to produce both fire and rain upon the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that shutting up the heavens that it might not rain but by the prophetic word of Elijah was an initial stripping of the false power of the false storm god Baal before giving him the ultimate gut punch atop Carmel by not only sending fire down from heaven but also sending rain after the heavens were shut up three and a half years. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of these two chapters:

 

And Elijah the Tishbite who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening: and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1 Kings 17:1-7).

 

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are found hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselfves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with kinves and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 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 of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people might know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there” (1 Kings 18:17-40).

 

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 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. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he birded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:41-46).

 

I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words and language which is found in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the fact that during the days when the prophet Elijah thought that he was alone in the northern kingdom of Israel as the only one who served the Lord—not only did the one true and living God directly confront the storm god Baal but that same God also reserved seven thousand who did not bend the knee nor kiss Baal. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about is when you consider the fact that the Lord’s declaration concerning the reserving of seven thousand who had not bowed the knee unto Baal is that it came AFTER the confrontation atop Carmel between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal and the prophets of the grove. It was there atop the mount Carmel the one true and living God demonstrated His authority over the storm god Baal and effectively rendered him completely and utterly powerless before Him. What’s more is that it was during those days when the prophet Elijah was not alone in His service of the one true and living God for the Lord had indeed reserved unto Him seven thousand souls who had not bent or bowed the knee unto the false god Baal. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that during those days—not only was there a remnant reserved and preserved by the one true and living God in the northern kingdom of Israel but so also did the one true and living God directly confront and render completely and utterly powerless the false storm god Baal. It would be the one true and living God who would completely and utterly neuter the false storm god of Baal by shutting up the heavens that it might not rain. Not only this but when the heavens were indeed opened they were first opened by fire, they were next opened by rain, and the storm god would be rendered completely and utterly powerless before the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Israel.

 

I absolutely love that which is contained in this passage of Scripture for by the time we come to the nineteenth chapter—although we find the prophet Elijah fleeing from the presence of the Jezebel—we find the one true and living God having not only shut up the heavens for the space of three and a half years that it might not rain but we also find Him unlocking the heavens. It would be during the days of Elijah the one true and living God would not only unlock the heavens through fire but He would also unlock the heavens through rain. When we come to the nineteenth chapter we find the false god of Baal having been completely and utterly humiliated and defeated by and before the one true and living God. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the one true and living God directly confronting the false storm god of Baal rendering him completely and utterly powerless. There was absolutely nothing the storm god could do when the heavens were shut and locked according to the prophetic word of the Lord as spoken through Elijah and there was absolutely nothing the storm god could do to send fire down from heaven and even send rain upon the face of the earth. How absolutely remarkable it is to read the words which are found in this particular section for even though the prophet Elijah spoke concerning the children of Israel in the northern kingdom of Israel halting between two opinions the living God had reserved unto Himself seven thousand souls who had not bowed the knee unto Baal nor kissed him. During days when the heavens were shut up from producing rain and during the days when fire and rain came down from heaven according to the prayer and intercession of Elijah the one true and living God had reserved unto Himself seven thousand souls who remained faithful—this despite days of tremendous idolatry and wickedness within and throughout the land.

 

It was this reality and concept of remnant which the apostle Paul appealed to in the eleventh chapter of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome. When speaking of the living God casting off and rejecting His people the apostle Paul would appeal to the days of the prophet Elijah when the living God reserved unto Himself a faithful remnant who had not bowed down nor worshipped the false god of Baal. Oh I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the reality of remnant which the one true and living God reserves in the earth—even during days of tremendous spiritual darkness and idolatry. Although Ahab sat upon the throne of the kingdom of Israel, although Jezebel was queen of this northern kingdom of Israel, and although the children of Israel were worshipping the false god Baal the Lord not only had a faithful prophet but He also reserved seven thousand souls who had not bowed down unto Baal nor worshipped him. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely incredible this reality truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth regarding remnant and the confrontation of spiritual forces of darkness which exist in the earth. I would dare say that directly and intrinsically linked to the words which the apostle Paul wrote not only directly speak to the reality of remnant but they also speak to the concept of spiritual warfare which is taking place in the earth. I would dare say that even during those days in which the apostle Paul wrote this epistle the one true and living God was still engaging in spiritual warfare against the false gods and principalities which were present in the midst of the earth.

 

I absolutely love the words and language that is found in the eleventh chapter of the epistle written unto the saints of Rome as well as the words which are found in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of First Kings for they bring us face to face with the one true and living God directly confronting the spiritual forces of darkness in the earth. During the days of the prophet Elijah the one true and living God directly confronted the false storm god of Baal by shutting up the heavens—not only preventing it from raining but also preventing the false storm god Baal from doing anything that would and could have turned and persuaded the hearts of men. I am absolutely convinced the reason the living God shut up the heavens that it might not rain during those three and a half years was because He was effectively casting judgment against and upon the false storm god of Baal. If the living God could not only shut up the heavens that it might not rain upon the earth and if the one true and living God could unlock the heavens by sending fire down from heaven—and not only fire down from heaven but also rain—then it would be the LORD who would be God. During the days of the prophet Elijah the false god Baal would experience a tremendous blow to whatever authority and power he thought he possessed as the Lord God would execute judgment toward and against him. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly powerful about the shutting up of the heavens that it might not rain and then the opening and unlocking of heavens—first through fire and second through rain. It would be the fire of God that would come down and consume the wood, the stone, the dust, the water and the sacrifice upon the altar and it would be the rain which would come after the fire as the heavens would be opened that it might once more produce rain.

 

There is something truly awesome and powerful about that which the one true and living God accomplished during those days for during the days of the prophet Elijah the Lord God directly confronted and judged the false storm god Baal. It would be during those days the one true and living God directly exposed the storm god Baal and not only proved him to be false but also proved His own authority and power as being far greater than that of Baal. There atop mount Carmel Baal was completely and utterly rendered powerless before and against the Lord God of heaven and earth. It was the one true and living God who would not only shut up the heavens preventing it from raining but it would also be the one true and living God who would open the heavens through fire which consumed the altar and the sacrifice and then through rain which would fall upon the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is great truth surrounding the spiritual warfare and conflict which took place during those days—days when the false god Baal was not only confronted but also judged. I firmly believe that during the days of Elijah there was an unseen conflict and spiritual warfare which took place as the false storm god of Baal was judged and found wanting in the sight and presence of the one true and living God. It would be there during the days of the prophet Elijah when we encounter and come face to face with the wonderful reality of the false god Baal being judged after the manner as the gods of Egypt were judged. It would be during the days of the prophet Elijah when the Lord not only confronted the false god of that day but also preserved a faithful remnant before and in the sight of the living God. How absolutely wonderful and powerful this truly when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the truth of the living God who was able to judge the false god of Baal and directly confront the idolatry that was so prevalent and pervasive in the land.

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary to come face to face with the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome for in the eleventh chapter the apostle Paul would go on to declare that at that present time there was a remnant according to the election of grace. The apostle Paul would go on to declare that if this remnant existed upon the earth according to grace then it is no more of works lest grace ceases to be grace. Furthermore the apostle Paul would go on to describe how Israel did not obtain that which they sought after but the election was that which obtained it. This would be followed by the apostle Paul describing how the fall of the natural seed and children of Israel would render and produce salvation coming unto the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy. The apostle Paul would go on to further declare that if the fall of the natural children of Israel would produce and be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles how much more would their fulness. That which the apostle Paul sought to convey unto the saints which were at Rome was that the rejection and apparent casting off of the children of Israel would lead to the salvation of the Gentiles that they too might be grafted together as one people in the sight and presence of the living God. There would be a period of days—the days of covenant and grace—when the natural seed of Abraham would reject and despise the word, the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus and would make room for the Gentiles to be brought unto salvation. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize and understand that salvation has been reserved and appointed unto the Jews and unto the natural seed of Abraham. We dare not and must not think even for a moment that the one true and living God has cast off the children of Israel forever and will not bring them unto salvation. Scripture makes it very clear that the one true and living God can and will bring salvation unto the children of Israel—and not only will He bring salvation unto the children of Israel but He will also graft them together with the Gentiles and make one people and one body. The same way the Lord grafted together the houses of Ephraim and Judah during the days of Ezekiel is the same way the living God will graft together Jews and Gentiles according to the election of grace and the power of salvation.

           

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