Daily Scripture Reading – 1 Kings 18:20-40
Verse of the Day – Psalm 86:10
For You are great, and do wondrous things;You alone are God.
As we have evaluated the need to recover a right view of God, high, holy, sovereign, and glorious, we find that when we have a right view of Him, we see other things as they should be seen. We see ourselves for who we are just as Isaiah did, we sin for the horribleness that it is, we see our own failures and weaknesses, and we see worship in a new light as well.
To truly grasp the holiness and perfection of God means that we see not only how He commands but also deserves our whole-hearted worship and adoration. Worship though is one area where it seems so easy for the church to mess things up. We worship God according to what we think, according to what makes us feel good, instead of according to what He has revealed to us in His Word.
Let us take a moment today and examine worship. Do we worship God as He commands? Or do we worship Him in a manner that fits what we think and desire instead?
Worship that Displeases God – Faltering Uncertainty
From our text in 1 Kings 18, we find a confrontation between the worship of God and the worship of idols. The Prophet Elijah has summoned the false prophets of Baal to Mt. Carmel for a showdown in front of the nation of Israel. As the people gather to watch this confrontation, this battle for their hearts and minds, they hear Elijah proclaim truth boldly and fearlessly. He begins with a question that is always relevant to discerning the true motives of our worship of God.
Elijah proclaimed, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
Here is the question – how long will you vacillate between two positions? How long will you be tossed to and fro on the waves of uncertainty? Is the truth from God so difficult to discern that you sway back and forth between truth and error, not knowing which is which? If God is God, follow Him! If Baal is God, follow him! PICK YOUR GOD and stop being so wishy-washy!
In order to determine who the real God was, Elijah proposed a test. Each “side” in the confrontation would take a bull, prepare it for sacrifice, lay it on the altar on the hillside, but they would not add any fire to it.
Then they would entreat their god and Elijah would pray to God Almighty, and the God who answered the prayer by sending fire to burn the sacrifice, that was the God who was God and should be worshipped.
The people agreed. The worshippers of Baal agreed. And the games began.
The prophets of Baal started, they prepared the bull, put it on the altar, and began crying out for their god to hear and send fire and so prove his divinity. They did this for half the day, and Elijah started mocking them! Oh, he was in grand form. He accused Baal of leaving to go on a journey, being asleep, being in a state of meditation, or even of taking a break to go to the bathroom!! In any case, it was apparent to Elijah that Baal could not hear his prophets.
That was like pouring gas on a fire, for now the prophets of Baal went into high gear – screaming, jumping up on the altar, cutting themselves with knives and bleeding all over the place, going on like this for 5 or 6 hours – all to convince Baal, who was the god of fire and lightening, to send a little fire down on the altar.
And as they all looked toward the sky with expectation there was nothing. No answer. No fire. No power. No great revelation of the truth that Baal had any power whatsoever.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. The first thing he did though was not pray. No. He repaired the altar. For the altar of the Lord was in disrepair. It had to be fixed first, before the sacrifice could be made. He wanted to be ready to worship.
This is a powerful picture to us of the need for worshipping God as He commands. For out of a lack of use the altar had fallen into disrepair and needed to be built back up. Elijah took 12 stones and rebuilt the altar.
Often when we wonder why worship is not as it should be it is because we have left what the Word of God says and we have gone our own way – trying to give God what we want to give Him instead of what He demands. Cain did this. Abel did not. And out of this jealousy, Cain murdered Abel. Amazingly the first murder in human history started with worship that displeased God!
After Elijah rebuilt the altar, after he got ready to pray, he asked that 4 water pots be filled with water and then poured over the altar. These were water pots that were four to six feet tall. And he had them do it a second and even a third time! Seeing that there was a drought on, brought about by the prayers of Elijah three and a half years before, water was scarce, and now they had poured twelve water pots over this altar.
Did Elijah do this to prove that God could burn water? No. He did it because water was so scarce and such a necessity that by the time he and them pour all this water over the altar, the people had made a substantial sacrifice, an incredible investment in this confrontation. Twelve pots of water! Elijah had their attention.
And then he prayed.
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. 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.
Look at that. A 63 word prayer that never even mentions fire once in 2 short verses. He just asked God to prove Himself to His people and turn their hearts back to Him.
And fire fell from heaven and consumed the altar, the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, even the dust and the water.
And the people saw that God was indeed God and at this display of power they fell on their faces and worshipped him.
And God was glorified.
And the prophets of Baal were put to death.
And the people repented and were revived.
And Elijah prayed and the drought was ended.
The worship of idols along with the worship of God was a sign of the wrong view of worship and of God that the people had. Likewise, today, our churches need a right view of worship, because for so long so many churches had added the worship of idols in with the worship of God!
Churches think that Biblical worship is boring or old fashioned or dead, and so they add their own elements to what the Bible tells us about worship. They pollute the worship of God by doing what they want to do – in essence making an idol out of themselves, seeking to please self instead of God!
Think about it. How many people look for a church for what they want to get out of it? This is idolatry! And it is time we stopped faltering between two opinions.
One opinion states that God is God and should be worshipped according to the Bible. The other opinion is that we can do whatever we want whenever we want and God will accept it. The Biblical record is clear though. Read the Book of Joel and Amos. There were times that God said He HATED their worship, because it was all a lie! Their lips and hearts did not match up!
So what kind of worship is it that pleases God? Worship in Spirit and Truth. For more about what this means, look back over the article Does Your Worship Please God?, where we learned what it means to worship God in spirit and truth.
To close today we can answer the question this way – what does God want in our worship? Single minded devotion, love, and obedience.
And here is a brief snapshot of worship that displeases God. Check the list and make sure your worship does not contain any of things – because if it does, you need to repent, forsake your sin of worship that mocks God, and seek to worship Him in spirit and truth.
Worship that Displeases God
A. Worship of Anyone or Anything Other Than or Together with God – Ex. 20:3; Ps 86:10; Rom 1:18-25
B. Worship that involves Disobedience – Ex 20:4-6; Ex 32
C. Worship that Takes God’s Name in Vain – Ex 20:7; Malachi 1:6-14; Matt 15:9
D. Worship that is not Holy – Ex 20:8-11
Worship that is not holy will be:
1. Void of Faith – Heb 11:6; Rom 14:23
2. Lips vs Hearts – Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 12:2; Matt 15:8
3. Based on Lies (false doctrine) – John 4:24; Psalm 17:1
4. Worship that is not Separated from the World – Rom 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15-17
5. Worship that Profanes – Ezekiel 22:23-31