“Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.”

1 Kings 18:37

The people pressed close around Elijah, eyeing the once broken-down, stone altar now repaired and ready. They watched as he dug a trench around the altar and prepared the wood and the sacrifice. They stared with disbelief as Elijah ordered that four pitchers of water be poured out upon the sacrifice, the wood, and the altar. He ordered four more pitchers of water to be poured out again...and once again!

The once-dry wood was now drenched with precious water. The water streamed down the sides of the altar and completely filled the trench. It was a very unlikely spot to kindle a single spark, much less a fire.

With this, Elijah set the stage for what he knew God would do. He went out of his way to make sure the people would know that it was impossible for him to start the fire. He deliberately set the tone by his preparations to focus the people on what God, and God alone, could do.

The priests of Baal failed. Everyone knew it. The question on every other mind but Elijah’s was, Could the Lord God do any better?

“At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again’” (1 Kings 18:36, 37).

Standing in the Presence of God

Elijah risked all to cry out to the Lord God to answer his prayer for fire. He knew what his fate would be at the hands of the faithless crowd if God were silent at the conclusion of his prayer. He prayed for God to do what he knew was God’s will to do!

Elijah stood in the presence of God. In solitude, he prayed and waited on God, taking unrushed time to know the will of the One who called him. In public, he prayed, operated, and lived his life in the confidence of who the Living God was, is, and will always be!

The second that Elijah finished his prayer, God answered! “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38).

God sent fire. Fire fell. Everything on the altar, the stone altar itself, and the water was utterly and completely consumed. Nothing was left behind!

This answer from the Lord God of heaven brought about a clear response from the crowd.

They thought nothing of Elijah in that moment. They thought only of One. “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God’” (1 Kings 18:39).

It's Time for Fire to Fall

It is time for the fire of God to fall again! Not the fire that burns up wood, stone, and water, but the fire from heaven that consumes our pride, lust, self-righteousness, and disbelief. We need the fire from heaven that will burn up our bitterness towards those who have wronged us and our pride that keeps us from making things right with God and with man.

Years after Elijah called for fire, another man came who reminded the crowd by the Jordan River of the prophet on Carmel. The man dressed in “a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist” (Matthew 3:4). He cried out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2).

His name was John the Baptist. He prophesied, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11,12).

Immediately after John proclaimed the coming of the One, Jesus walked onto the scene.

“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John to be baptized by him” (Matthew 3:13). With God, timing is everything.

Jesus, the Carpenter, was baptized by John. “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17).

John said this One coming after him would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Jesus was baptized Himself with the Holy Spirit. The One who was to baptize others with the Holy Spirit would first be baptized by water and the Spirit Himself. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness…And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district” (Luke 4:1, 14).

This same Jesus, after dying on the cross and being resurrected from the grave, prophesied before He returned to heaven, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). Ten days later on the day of Pentecost, all the believers were gathered together in one place. “And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire...and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:2-4).

Believers who were shy, afraid, sidelined, and marginalized, due to all manner of past sins and dark histories, were filled with the Holy Spirit. They had prayed, humbled themselves, and repented, and now they were filled to overflowing with the Gift Jesus had promised. They boldly spoke in the languages of the many pilgrims who had gathered on the streets for the Passover. The crowd testified, “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God” (Acts 4:11).

Peter, the one who had publicly declared he knew nothing of Jesus, the One he had followed for three years, took his stand with the disciples. Peter, the disciple who had been silent when the crowds cried, “Crucify Him!” now publicly lifted up his voice and boldly declared, “‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:17).

This Peter, who was once full of himself and his own agenda, was now filled with the Holy Spirit. He risked his life to say whatever the Holy Spirit gave him to say. When the crowd was moved in their hearts and cried out, “’Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself’” (Acts 2:37-39).

It is time for the fire to fall again!

A woman shyly approached April and me at the end of a revival in a small church across the prairies of Alberta, Canada. “Would you come and call for a revival in my church?” she asked. “We desperately need a revival!”

“Have the pastor of your church call me, and if God calls us to come to your church, we will come.” I assured her. Months went by. Nothing. We prayed for her church.

On Wednesday, June 16, we’ll publish the conclusion of this encouraging story: Cry for Fire (Part 2 of 2).

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman \ Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

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