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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - One Man Against the World

David Jeremiah - One Man Against the World


David Jeremiah - One Man Against the World
David Jeremiah - One Man Against the World
TOPICS: Someone Like You, Elijah

Michael Jordan's book "Driven from Within" tells an eye-opening story about a visit the legendary basketball player once made to a friend's home. Fred Whitfield was the President and Chief Operating Officer of another NBA team, and he and Michael were friends. The two of them were getting ready to go out to dinner when Michael said, "Man, it's cold. Is it all right if I borrow one of your jackets"? And Whitfield said, "Sure," told him where the coat closet was, and Michael disappeared. The house was silent for a few moments, and then Michael Jordan reappeared carrying an armload of branded athletic jackets and shirts and shoes and other gear. He dumped the whole pile on the floor and disappeared down the hall for more. Whitfield looked at the heap and noted that all the items were made by Puma, a rival of Nike.

Jordan had found that the closet had materials made by both manufacturers, and Jordan, so associated in the public mind with the Nike swish, did not approve. The Nike items were there because Whitfield was a close friend of Michael Jordan. The Puma stuff had come as a result of his close friendship with a guy named Ralph Sampson, an ex-player who promoted that brand. Whitfield stood and waited to see the fate of his Puma gear. Jordan walked into the kitchen, came out with a butcher knife and cut the pile of gear on the floor into thousands of pieces. When he had thoroughly destroyed the athletic gear, he gathered it all up and carried it to the dumpster and threw it out. When he was done, Jordan returned to Whitfield's side and he said, "Hey, dude, call my Nike representative tomorrow and tell him to replace all of this, but don't ever let me see you again in anything other than Nike. You cannot ride the fence".

I read that story and I thought, that is the actual message we are going to study today. You cannot ride the fence. If you can't ride the fence with athletic gear, there's a whole lot of things more important than that that demand you make a decision. Today I want to talk with you about what happened when one man stood before his whole nation and demanded that they make a choice, demanded that they get off of the fence, demanded that they throw away everything that was not completely loyal to the one true God.

Today I want to talk with you about the defining moment in the life of Elijah the prophet. As you know, the Lord had been preparing Elijah since the day that he sent him to confront King Ahab with the sin of the nation and prophesied that there would not be any rain on the earth for three years. And when that happened, and that message was delivered, and it became evident that it was going to be fulfilled, Elijah, as you can well imagine, became public enemy number one. And God took him and hid him by the brook Cherith and sustained him there by the ravens who fed him morning and evening, and by the water that came from the brook. And then the brook dried up, and God took him from there to a widow who lived in Zarephath. And she sustained him by the power of God, and he performed the first resurrection recorded in the Bible, bringing back the widow's son to life. All of this was a part of the preparation God was making in the life of Elijah for the moment we are going to look at today.

Now Elijah is ready to stand up on the mountain for God, to pray with confidence, because he knows he has a God who hears prayer, and he knows he has a God who answers prayer. The first half of 1 Kings chapter 18 is kind of some necessary information, but it's not really a part of the plot of the story. So, let me kind of summarize that for you until we get to the mountaintop experience. Three and a half years have passed since this drought has begun, and now verse 1 tells us that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, and this time the Lord tells him to go and present himself to King Ahab and that rain will return to the earth. But before this meeting takes place back in Israel, we are introduced to a character named Obadiah, a faithful man who, though he was a follower of Jehovah God, found himself under the employment of Ahab and worked for Ahab.

During this time in the history of Israel, as you may remember, Ahab's wife Jezebel had gone in an all-out effort to kill all of the prophets of God in the land of Israel. She was on a rampage, taking the lives of every prophet that she met. Obadiah, who worked for her husband, wasn't in favor of that, and the Bible tells us that he would find 50 prophets, hide them in a cave, and feed them, probably out of the king's kitchen, keeping them alive. One day, Ahab came to his trusted servant, Obadiah, and he said, "Look, we've gotta go search out the land and see if we can find some water, maybe some springs or anything that can keep our cattle alive, keep our grass growing, because we're down at the edge here. If we don't find something, we're all going to die". Ahab said, "You go that way, Obadiah. You go that way. Let's see what we can find".

One day, Obadiah is out on his reconnaissance mission trying to find any hope that he can for his nation. And out of nowhere, Elijah appears to Obadiah and says, "Go, tell your master, 'Elijah is here.'" Now, you would think Obadiah would want to run and tell his master that as fast as he could, but that isn't the way the story happened. You see, Obadiah knew that Ahab had looked at every corner of the earth trying to find this prophet. They can have no hope of anything changing if they can't find the prophet. Obadiah feels like if he goes back and tells Ahab, "I have found Elijah," that God will hide Elijah again and then he will be dead meat because he will have given a false word.

So, he doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want to go back and say, "Elijah is here". But Elijah is confident, and Obadiah is frightened; and somehow between the two of those things, Obadiah agrees to go and announce the presence of Elijah back on the stage, back on the scene, back ready to do business with the king. And it happened, according to verse 17, "when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, 'Is that you, O troubler of Israel?'" You can see he held Elijah responsible for every bit of trouble they were having in their nation. And Elijah said, "I have not troubled Israel, but you, you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.

Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table. Get them all to the mountain. Get everybody up there. Invite the whole nation. We're gonna have it out on the mountain". And so the call to Mount Carmel goes out. From verse 20, "Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel". Now let me tell you a little bit about Mount Carmel that's kind of interesting. It's 1800 feet above sea level, and it's located near the Mediterranean Sea, and it's on the border between Israel and Phoenicia. As you remember, Jezebel was a Sidonian. She came from the land of Phoenicia.

So, this place where we're gonna have this thing out is on the top of a mountain in the border between the land of Jezebel and the land of Jehovah, between the land of the Sidonians and the land of Israel, between the land of Baal and the land of God. On a mountain between those two places is the shootout at the OK Corral. I can't imagine what it must've been like for those people on that day as they began to move toward Mount Carmel. I mean, there must've been an incredible sense of expectation. First of all, as you can well imagine, Mount Carmel was the highest mountain in the region, and they were hoping for rain, and the moisture collection always caused the rain to drop on the mountains, and so maybe they thought, "Man, we're going to the mountain, and we're going to get rain. If we don't get it here, we'll get it up there first".

And when Ahab called the people to Mount Carmel, they must've been anticipating that something good was going to happen. As they proceeded to the top of the mountain, they hoped that this was going to be the end of their hunger, the end of their thirst, and maybe it was going to rain again. And thousands of people are walking up on all sides of the mountain, all of them trying to get a better view of the scene, and I can see them jockeying for position. They want to see Elijah. They want to see the prophets. They want to see the king. And all of a sudden, the royal trumpets sound and King Ahab appears, carried on the shoulders of his servants. They march him up to the summit. And then out of nowhere, Elijah arrives all by himself. He has no posse. Nobody's sure exactly what to say or what to do; and, frankly, I don't think anybody wants to get too close to Elijah 'cause he's such a powerful person and he's the one that caused the mess they're in, and they don't know what to think about him.

So, they probably keep their distance. I have a feeling that for a moment there was a bit of silence as everybody looked around. Finally, Elijah and Ahab stand together on the top of Mount Carmel and the challenge is put forth. Verse 21, "And Elijah came to all the people, and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him, and if Baal, follow him.' And the people answered him not a word". Elijah's sermons usually weren't very long, but boy, were they pointed. He said what he had to say and got out, and he challenges the people to get off the fence. He says to them, "If Baal is God, follow him. If the Lord is God, follow Him. Quit faltering between two opinions".

And when he uses the word "faltering," he chooses the Hebrew word that's used to describe a lame man. He says, "Quit limping back and forth between two opinions". It's like you have a racing sandal on one foot and a ski boot on the other. You can't make any progress when you're trying to please two masters. They had one foot in the path of obedience and the other foot down in the ditch of bondage, and Elijah wanted to know just one thing. "How long are you gonna waver between two opinions"? And the people's response to Elijah reveals the true condition of their heart. The Bible says they answered him not a word. One commentator says the silence was embarrassing, like the awkward pause when someone has said something so offensive and so shocking that no one knows quite what to say. Yet, the silence spoke volumes. It meant the people of Israel did not know where they had placed their ultimate allegiance. They did not know which God they trusted.

On the one hand, they were attracted to Baal. On the other hand, they had allegiance to the living God. On the one hand, they had been raised in the traditions of the Torah; and on the other hand, they were connected with the cultural issues of the god of the Sidonians. They were doing what so many people try to do today. They were sitting on the fence. They were trying to serve two gods. They wanted their Baal, and they wanted their Jehovah, but the Word of God does not make room for that. In the book of Matthew, we read these words: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon".

The problem in our day is very similar to the problem in Elijah's day, if I might make that statement. It's not so much that we have rejected God, but that so many of us have made him such a small part of our lives. He's our Sunday God. He's our go-to-church God. We've put him in this little section of our life as one among many, but not as the one and only true God. We worship him, yes, we do, but we also worship other things: success and financial achievement and popularity and you name it. Our lives get filled up with gods, and we share those gods with the one true God, Jehovah.

I love what Joshua said to his people just before he died. He was giving his last public speech to the people of Israel after his long and decorated career. He said, "Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". That was the place Elijah wanted to take the people that day on Mount Carmel.

So, the contest now is to begin. "Then Elijah said to the people, 'I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under it, and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood and put no fire under it. You call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.' All of the people said, 'What a great idea, Elijah,'" which is the translation of, "It is well spoken". Elijah wanted to destroy the idolatry in the land once and for all. He didn't just want to win the battle on the mountain that day, he wanted to destroy idolatry from Israel.

So to do this, he suggested a contest to the people of Israel. Two bulls were to be killed and laid on kindling wood without any fire. Elijah would call on his God. The 450 prophets of Baal would call on their god. And whichever God answered by fire would be acknowledged as the true God. It's Baal against the Lord God of Israel, winner take all. And the commotion is about to begin. The commotion on Mount Carmel begins as Elijah turns from the people now to address the false prophets, and here's what he says to them. "Now, Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, 'Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many. Call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.' So, they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and then they called on the name of Baal from morning, even until noon, saying, 'O Baal, hear us!' But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they had made.'"

Now, if you read these verses carefully, you will discover that Elijah is practicing good sportsmanship. He's giving the prophets of Baal every advantage. Not only do they outnumber him 450 to 1, but Elijah lets them go first. Remember, this was a sudden-death contest, and whoever succeeded in bringing down fire first would win. So, if Baal had answered with fire, Elijah would never have even had a chance to try. Beside all of this, the entire contest plays to Baal's supposed strengths. He was the god of the sun. Baal was the god of warmth and heat, and his area of special expertise was a storm. So, fire was right in his sweet spot. Surely, the God of thunder could manage at least one little lightning bolt and take out an altar on the top of a mountain. But Elijah knew that Baal was nothing, and that even if Baal had 450 prophets, 450 times 0 is still 0. Is that correct math?

The clear teaching of the Word of God is that an idol is a non-entity. It's a circle with the edges rubbed out. It's nothing, and nothing can't do nothing. Nothing can't answer you. Listen to the psalmist who describes this. He says, "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak, eyes they have, but they do not see. They have ears, but they not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell; they have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have but they do not walk, nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them, and so is everyone who trusts in them". After the prophets of Baal prayed to their god all morning and received no answer, Elijah decided to have a little fun with them.

Now, I need to be careful to tell you that this is not a passage of Scripture that gives you the right to develop a sarcastic tongue. But if you're fighting against Satan, a little sarcasm is okay. Notice what Elijah did, verse 27. "And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, 'Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and you have to wake him up.'" I have to be a little indelicate here to tell you one of the funniest things in this story, from my perspective; please forgive me. In the word study, the word "busy" is a euphemism, and to put it more graphically and more literally, Elijah was saying that perhaps Baal had gone to use the men's room.

The prophet was wondering whether Baal had fallen asleep or taken a journey. Maybe he was taking a siesta or he went on a road trip. Maybe he was on vacation. You can hear the twittering in the crowd as people kind of snicker at all of this. I think if I had been a prophet of Baal, I'd have just tried to get off the mountain and get out of there and not be embarrassed any more than I was. But notice verse 28. "So, they cried aloud and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances until the blood gushed out on them". So, we're reminded by the blood flowing from the prophets of Baal that false gods are harsh taskmasters. Idols always abuse their worshipers.

Today, many people believe that it doesn't matter who or what we worship, as long as we believe in something. But the Bible teaches us that it does matter who or what we worship, because false gods always harm their followers. If we worship worldly success, we will pay for it with spiritual failure. If we worship comfort, we will pay for it with spiritual unrest. If we worship sex, we will pay for it with broken relationships. False gods always exact their price. Listen to me, men and women. Satan wants a piece of your body as well as a piece of your soul. At this point, you can almost see the people of Israel reconsidering their position, maybe thinking, "Whoa, maybe this Baal thing isn't anything at all". And they begin to believe in Elijah's God, but the prophets of Baal wouldn't give up. They continued praying until the evening.

You keep thinking that they're gonna quit, but in verse 29 they're still going. "And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice". But notice how many times the word "no" comes in this next sentence. "There was no voice, no one answered, no one paid any attention," you know why? Because nobody was home 'cause there wasn't anybody to be anybody, 'cause they were a bunch of nobodies. So, time is up. And the prophets of Baal have been held scoreless. Let me give you a halftime report. They haven't scored a touchdown. They haven't kicked a field goal. There's no safety, and they have been totally whitewashed, zip. Now, it's Elijah's turn. And I love this man. He's gonna fix this contest so that there is no way that anyone can doubt that God does it. The call to Mount Carmel in verses 18 through 20 is followed by the challenge and the contest, the commotion. Now we come to the conclusion. And under the conclusion, there's a little section of preparation.

I need to read this to you from the Scripture, beginning at verse 30. "Then Elijah said to all the people, 'Come near to me.' So all the people came near to 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, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, 'Israel shall be your name.' Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, laid it on the wood, and said, 'Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.' And then he said, 'Do it a second time.' And they did it a second time. And he said, 'Do it a third time.' And they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar, and he also filled the trench with water".

Now, why is he doing this? He's doing this because the prophets of Baal were notorious for hiding a spark underneath the sacrifice, which they would ignite with a fan in an inconspicuous way to seduce and deceive their own people. They could turn a slight flame into a roaring inferno in seconds, and then they would say, "It was a miracle from Baal". Elijah wanted to make sure that when the fire fell, nobody could say there was a concealed fire under the altar that somehow had been fanned into a flame. So, to eliminate any possibility that the altar might be ignited by anything other than a miracle, Elijah saturated the wood with 12 buckets, 12 pots of water, and just literally drowned the wood, the sacrifice, filled up the trenches all around and all of the space under the wood.

Now it's time for prayer. And the prayer is recorded for us in verses 36 and 37. "And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said", here's his prayer, "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".

What a mighty prayer. In my mind's eye, I see everyone riveted on Elijah. He's standing and praying and invoking God to come down at that moment to demonstrate the reality of who he is. And the contrast between him and the prophets of Baal, watch this. The prophets of Baal have been praying for six hours. They've been cutting themselves, dancing in a craze of discouragement and despair to get their god to respond to them. Elijah prays, and it's a simple prayer, I counted it, 63 words, and you can pray it in 30 seconds. The power of prayer doesn't reside in the prayer, but in the God to whom the prayer is addressed. Elijah didn't have to say a lot of words 'cause he knew the God to whom he was praying.

Now, there are lots of points of confrontation in all of this: the confrontation at the sacrifice, the confrontation at the altar, confrontation at the moment of prayer; thirdly, there's a point of confrontation in the answering by fire. What's going to happen? We have the preparation and the prayer; now, the proof. "And the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench," and I love that last part. "It licked up the water in the trench". The author of the book of Hebrews says, "Our God is a consuming fire". And the praise that followed in verse 39, "All the people saw it. They fell on their faces and they said, 'The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God"!

And this was real worship, not the worship of yelling and shouting and slashing and bloodletting, but the worship of total praise and adoration before the awesome majesty of Almighty God. In some ways, I wish the story ended here because it would keep us from having to answer one of those tough questions that come from the Old Testament. This is the purge, verse 40. "And Elijah said to them, 'Seize the prophets of Baal. Do not let one of them escape!' So, they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there". Wasn't that a little bit harsh? I mean, kill all of those prophets? No, that wasn't harsh at all because these prophets had led God's chosen people into sin and idolatry.

If you read the Word of God carefully, you will see that the one thing that God hates more than anything else is idolatry. He says in his command to us, "You shall have no other gods before Me". And the prophets of Baal had lifted up the gods and idols of Baal, and the people of God had bowed down before them, and the false prophets had deceived and led the people of Israel away from Jehovah God. And when they were finally confronted and it was seen what they truly were, they were put to death. Keep in mind that Elijah's battle points us toward the final conflict with evil, about which we read in the book of Revelation. For in heaven, there is no place for idolatry. The utter defeat of evil, of all that sets itself up against God is part of the goal of history, and Elijah is just a foretaste of what will happen at the culmination of time.

We read a story like this, and we marvel at the courage of this man. In fact, the title of this message is "One Man Against the World". That's what it must've seemed like for him: one man against the whole world. And although we find out Elijah wasn't totally alone, he thought he was alone, and he stood alone on the mountain. And God heard his prayer and miraculously intervened. And I hear somebody say, "Well, does he do that today"? Not on a regular occurrence, because miracles aren't regular occurrences. But once in a while, God intervenes, doesn't he? Once in a while, God moves into something and he does something you just can't explain. Nobody can explain it because there isn't any explanation except for God.

And I want to tell you about one of those moments that happened back in the 1900s. I have checked out this story, and for every way I can, this is a true story; it actually happened this way. The largest and most popular course at Allegheny College was a first-year chemistry class. It was the 1900s, and Dr. Lee, the most renowned professor in the school, taught this class. And every year before Thanksgiving, he lectured his classes against prayer. He would conclude the lecture by offering a challenge to anyone who still believed in prayer.

This is what he would say. "Is there anybody here who still believes in prayer"? And he would say, "Before you answer, let me tell you what I'm going to do, and what I'm going to do is to ask you to do, I will turn around, take a glass flask, and hold it at arm's length, and if you believe that God answers prayer, I want you to stand and pray that when I drop this flask, it won't break. I want you to know that your prayers and the prayers of your parents and Sunday School teachers, and even the prayers of your own pastor cannot prevent this flask from breaking. So, if you wish to have them here, we'll put this off until after Thanksgiving. You can bring anybody you want, and we'll conduct this experiment with all of your prayers". No one had ever heard of anybody standing up to Dr. Lee's challenge until one day a Christian freshman learned about it, and he decided that God had given him the conviction to stand up to Dr. Lee.

So, finally, the day came when the annual challenge would be made. Dr. Lee made it in the same way that he had done for the past 12 years, and the only difference was that this time, this courageous freshman responded when asked if there was somebody who still believed in prayer. "Well," said the professor, "this is most interesting. Now we will be most reverent while this young man prays". And he turned to the young man and said, "Now you may pray". The young man lifted his countenance toward heaven, and he prayed, "God, I know that you can hear me. Please honor the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, and honor me, your servant. Don't let the flask break. Amen".

Dr. Lee stretched out his arm as far as he could, opened his hand, and let the flask fall. It fell in an arc and hit the toe of Dr. Lee's shoe, rolled over, and did not break. There was no movement of air. There was no open doors. The class whistled and clapped. Some of them stood on top of their desks and shouted, and Dr. Lee never conducted his experiment again throughout his whole career.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you go set up such an experiment for yourself. Remember what I told you about miracles? Does God do miracles? Yes, but you can't schedule them. And because he did it once doesn't mean he will do it all the time, or it wouldn't be a miracle. It would be an ongoing occasion. But I tell you that story because in my life as a pastor, over the last almost half-century, I have witnessed four or five times things that God has done that cannot be explained in any other way than that God has intervened in miraculous ways, as miraculous as the story I just told you. We have a God who can do the impossible, and nothing is too hard for him.

Now that we're almost finished, I want to wrap this up with four thoughts that I think are important for us to take home with us from this story. Here's the first one. This story teaches us that all religions are not the same. I don't know where that started, but it came from hell, and it's not from heaven. There aren't many ways to heaven. There's only one way. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me". That day on Mount Carmel, it mattered a great deal what you believe. If you believed in Baal, you were wrong. If you believed in Jehovah, you were right. And the Bible says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is the way of death". Don't let anyone tell you that it doesn't matter what you believe, that all religions are the same. That is not true, and it's a lie that will take you to hell if you believe it.

Number two, this story teaches that activity and enthusiasm are not signs of spirituality. I mean, there was a lot of enthusiasm and activity on the part of the people who believed in Baal. They tried everything they knew, but it wasn't worth anything 'cause sometimes you just say, "Well, they seem so sincere". They seem so sincere. How many of you know you can be sincerely wrong? Mount Carmel proves that.

Number three, the act of faith is not the important thing. Faith is not the important thing. It is important, but it's not the most important thing. It's the object of your faith that's the important thing. I'm sure that the people who followed Baal had a kind of faith. They had worshiped this god all of their lives. They believed in Baal. They had faith in Baal, but their faith was worthless because the object of their faith was worthless. I hear a lot of people say, "Are you a Christian? Oh, I have so much faith. You should've been with me when Grandma was sick. I had so much faith," and they'll tell me these stories and I've heard them over and over all these years, but let me tell you something.

Faith doesn't get you in heaven unless it's faith in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ. And this story teaches us that. Only those who believed in Jehovah ended up on the winning side. Finally, I want you to remember that your faith that you live by better also be good to die by. Another way to say that: if your faith doesn't bring you hope and help in your crisis, it's not very much value to you. Elijah built his faith in the quietness of a brook, the confines of a widow's home, walking in the wilderness, trusting God; but when he needed his faith in the big moment, came through.

I want to ask you a question here today, sir. You say you have faith. Are you comfortable that your faith will be enough when you stand at the door of eternity? Ma'am, do you trust, do you believe, you know in your heart that what you believe in your heart is going to take you not just from here through death, but through death to heaven? If your faith isn't the right faith, if it's not the kind of faith that will help you in the crisis, that will help you at the end of life, it's not the faith of the Bible, because the faith of the Bible is a faith in God who gives you the gift of eternal life, which can never be interrupted.

The Bible is an interesting book. The longer I study it, the more I am impressed. There were a lot of ways I wanted to design this message. First of all, I thought about all the places in the Bible where conflict happens and where good is against evil. You remember all those places? Like Moses against Pharaoh. Jesus against the devil in the wilderness. I can give you eight or ten places where good and evil stood together in one place and duked it out. One of the most interesting things about the Bible is how many important things happened on the top of a mountain. For instance, in the Old Testament on Mount Moriah, Abraham sacrificed Isaac. On Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the law.

Come to the New Testament, and you see Jesus standing on Mount Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration. The two mountains, the mountains that I treasure the most, the first one is the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended to heaven and to which he will one day return. But the center mountain, the mountain that means the most is Mount Calvary. And something seems to be on every of the other mountains that points there. For instance, take Abraham and Isaac. Mount Moriah is a picture of Mount Calvary, where one day God gave his Son as a sacrifice and Almighty God did not hold back the death of Jesus, but he let it go through so that we could be saved. On the Mount of Calvary, the price for sin was paid in full.

And I love to tell you all, no matter what I'm preaching on, that everything ends at the cross. And if you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior today, what a wonderful opportunity God has given you to hear this message and be reminded that you, today, stand on the mount of decision. And just like Michael Jordan said, you've gotta get off the fence. Which side are you gonna be on? Are you gonna live for God and be his follower, or are you gonna keep living for the other things that motivate you in your life? That's the challenge from this message to all of us, and I hope we will hear it.
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