Rabbi Schneider - What Do You Believe?
Today we're gonna be going to Mount Carmel where was that famous show down between Elijah the prophet of God and the 450 false prophets of Baal. I know that you're gonna find application in your life from this message because there's always a battle that's going on in our heart. Every day we're making choices all day long. And the question is, beloved, who will we choose to serve. Will we choose the God of Israel, the One True GOD, or will we bow down to some other idol? Beloved, God loves you and he's gonna strengthen you today. And I love you too. God bless you, and Shalom.
Welcome today to our Israel series. We are today in Mount Carmel. This is one of the most exciting incidents in the history of God's word. I'm gonna take us now to the Book of 1 Kings, chapter number 18, where we look at what happened in this spot, in this mountain where we're standing. I want you to know before I begin as we read about what Elijah the prophet did. Elijah is one of the primary figures in the entire Hebrew Bible. Elijah is one of the most outstanding characters in Israel's history. In fact, when Jesus was on the mount that we call the Mount of Transfiguration, who appeared with Jesus? Moses and who? Elijah. Remember the story, Jesus brought three of his disciples to the top of the mountain. And as they were on the top of the mountain, suddenly Jesus was transfigured. He became a being of light. And who appeared with him? Moses and Elijah, the two primary characters of the Hebrew Bible.
This incident today in 1 Kings, chapter 18, is the most memorable incident in Elijah's history. Let's listen what happened. It says in verse number 17: When Ahab... Now who's Ahab? Ahab was the King of Israel. Ahab had married Jezebel. And when Ahab married Jezebel, who wasn't an Israelite, Jezebel corrupted the King of Israel, Ahab. So Ahab drifted away from the commandments of the God of Israel and began to practice a foreign religion. He began to be seduced into the religion of Jezebel. And so Israel now under King Ahab also fell into idolatry, the idolatry that Jezebel introduced Ahab to. And then Ahab then introduced this idolatry to the children of Israel.
So that's the backdrop of this story. In verse number 17: When Ahab saw Elijah Ahab said to him, Is this you, you troublemaker of Israel? Why did Ahab call Elijah troublemaker? 'Cause Elijah was standing for truth while Ahab was leading the children of Israel into worshipping foreign gods. So the two became enemies. So Ahab saw Elijah, he said, Is this you, you troublemaker of Israel? The same thing happens in the church today. When you have movements, Christian movements, that move into idolatry by forsaking God's truth, forsaking God's commandment, we see for example in the church today that some denominations now are ordaining homosexual pastors, endorsing...
I was invited to speak one time in a mainline church and the pastor invited me in to speak as one of the speakers. He had a panel to decide whether it was good to, to, to endorse abortion. This was a traditional, mainline, denominational church that was no longer standing for righteousness. And rather than having preachers of truth come in and prophets of righteous come in and saying abortion is the, is the murdering of the innocent, instead what they're doing is they're having a panel, each one having their own opinion. This is what was similarly happening to Israel in the time of Elijah. They had drifted away from truth and taking a stand on moral absolutes, and instead it was just a big quagmire of lostness. Elijah was standing for truth still. In fact, Elijah felt that he was the only one left that was standing for truth. And it was in Israel.
And the same thing is happening in the church today. Voices of righteousness and prophetic voices are, are minimalized and marginalized, and they're becoming the minority rather than the majority. So Ahab saw Elijah and said, Is this you, you troublemaker of Israel? And he said, I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. You've followed the false idols. You've compromised. You've been seduced. Now then send and gather to me, Elijah said, all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah, which was another false idol, who eat at Jezebel's table.
So again these were the gods of Jezebel, Baal and Asherah. And Elijah saying, bring all these false prophets together with me to Mount Carmel. And Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. Elijah came near to all the people and said, he's speaking to Israel, How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, if the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. But the people did not answer him a word. So Israel, they had received the revelation. They had received the Word of the Lord, but they had been seduced away. And now they didn't know what they believed. They were fluctuating between the God of Israel, Yahweh, being God and Baal and Asherah being god.
So Elijah's bringing them to a crisis. He's saying, you need to choose today who you're going to serve. It continues on: Then Elijah said to the people, I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. Then you call on the name of your god. You call on the name of Baal, and I will call on the name of Yahweh, I will call on the name of the LORD, the God who answers by fire, He is God. In other words, he was saying, we're gonna put your oxen on this altar sacrifice to Baal. And I'm gonna put my sacrifice, I'm gonna put my oxen on an altar lifted up to Yahweh. And we're gonna both call upon our Gods. And the God that answers by fire, he is the living God. He was forcing them to recognize that the God of Israel is alive and is the One True GOD.
Listen again: Then you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of Yahweh, and the God who answers by fire, He is God. And all the people said, It's a good idea. So Elijah sad to the prophets of Baal, Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, put no fire under it. Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, O Baal, answer us. But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, Call out with a loud voice, for if he is god, he is either occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he's asleep and needs to be awakened. He was making fun of them. Come on where's your god? Keep calling. Call louder. If he's really god, maybe he's out for a walk. Maybe he's asleep, so keep calling louder. Maybe he'll come back from the journey. Maybe you'll awaken him. He's making fun of him. So they cry with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances.
This is what actually happened in church history. They felt if they hurt themselves, if they beat themselves that somehow that would earn them favor before God, that God would answer. You all know what I'm talking about.
Let's continue on. So they cried out with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved. That's a funny word. They raved. They were like, you know, you know what raving is? It's like someone ranting and raving. Elijah uses that language to describe these prophets of Baal. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, Come near to me. So all the people came near to him. And he prepared the altar of Yahweh, he prepared the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of Jacob. Again, Jacob's name was changed to Israel. So these are the twelve tribes of Israel. Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of Jacob, to whom the Word of the LORD had come, saying, Israel shall be your name.
So Elijah's being used to call Israel back to their God. They had drifted away. They had fallen into idolatry. Elijah is now the prophet that's sent to call them back to pure and unadulterated worship. So with the stones, he built an altar in the name of Yahweh, in the name of the LORD, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. The point is, is that Elijah is gonna so drench his sacrifice with water, we're gonna see, that it would be impossible to start this, this altar on fire with natural fire. He drenched it in water. So with the stones he built an altar in the name of Yahweh, in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two measures of seed. Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the bunt offering and on the wood. And 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. And the water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.
He so drenched it with water that there's no way that this altar caught afire and the sacrifice was consumed with fire except a supernatural fire fell on it. That's the point. At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, O Yahweh, LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, 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 might know that You, LORD, that You, Yahweh, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again. 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. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces, and said, Yahweh, He is God. Yahweh, He is God. Then 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 slew them there.
So many thing that are communicated here, the first thing that I'm called to face is lukewarmness. You see, Israel, beloved one, was vacillating between two opinions. On the one hand they said that the God of Israel was their God and that they were Israel his people. They recognized that the Word of, of God had come to them. But at the same time they had been seduced through the King of Israel, Ahab, that had married Jezebel into worshipping false idols, the Baals and the Asheron. So they were fluctuating between two opinions. I wonder how many of us are living lives like that. We love God. We worship God. We give our tithes. We attend services. But yet if we put our life style under a magnifying glass, we're just like these people in ancient Israel. We have two opinions. We're walking two different lives. We have two different dynamics going on. On the one hand we're in the world. But in addition to being in the world, we're actually part of the world. We're supposed to be in the world but not of the world. But each one of us here, there are areas we know in our lives we compromised.
And I think right now the Spirit of God is wanting to speak to us to show us an area in our life that he's calling us to make a decision about. He's saying, if I'm your God, then forsake this thing and choose me. If I'm not God, this, this other system's God, if the world's the right way to walk, if the world's right, then go the way of the world. But if I'm really God and you want me to be God in your life, then choose today who you're gonna serve. And of course, we go over the same things so often in services, those of you that worship with us together, and we talk about the ways that we compromise. You know our worship leader, many of you know, made a covenant with the worship team that because you're being used as sanctified worshippers, I want you to make a covenant with the Lord that you won't listen to any secular music; that the only music you'll listen to is worship music that's actually singing to God and glorifying God.
Some people accuse that of legalism. But you know what? When people don't want to live for the Lord, that's the first thing they shout when you're calling them to holiness. They say legalism. It wasn't about legalism. It was about following Jesus so that we can be in the best place to be used by him. This isn't legalism. Now I'm not saying that every single person here may be called to that type of a covenant. But I wonder how many of us love Jesus but we listen to country music. What's country music? It's when you play the song backwards and it's all about killing your dog, and then killing your cat, getting divorced, and going broke. That's not God's music, right. And so I wonder, is there an area in some of our lives that has to do with music that God's calling us to forsake. It's not just the lyrics, beloved. Sometimes it's the spirit of the musician.
I was telling somebody here earlier that in music a spirit is carried. That's why when we bought that music a little while back when we were in Safed, the center of mystical Judaism, remember when we were in that place and the musicians started playing that beautiful song, and it was actually a song out of the Siddur, the Shabbat prayer book. And it was a really beautiful song they played. So I bought their CD because I thought maybe there'd be other beautiful songs like that. But the song that they actually played for us wasn't on the CD. There was a lot of other songs, and I got a little concerned about what I was listening to. And it reminded me of a time I was listening to some music. It was actually music that was, you know, taken from the, you know, from a religious sect, you know, in Judaism.
Now I'm a Jew. I love Judaism. I love Jews, so people understand that. But this particular artist, a well-known artist out of the Jewish people, very well known, he was also, he also had lived an immoral lifestyle and he was kind of known for that. But his music was beautiful, and awesome, and you know, he sung about holiness, and he sung about good things. And I was listening to his CD one day, and this particular day I was listening to it for like two hours because I just had been doing a lot of driving and I really loved it. I mean, I loved the "li, li, li, li, li, li". I love the Jewish sound. I kept listening to it. But that night when I went to sleep, I had all types of immoral dreams. What I believe happened was his spirit, he was a man that was living in immorality, his spirit came upon me from listening to his music.
And so I want to ask you today, when it comes to music, which God will you serve? Will you make a decision to cut music out of your life that may be taking you outside of the light that Yeshua is calling you into? We all have choices in our life about how we can follow God, what we're choosing to let in through the eye gates and through the ear gates. Spirits come in through the eye gates and through the ear gates. And so if there's something that you're watching on television, it's hard to be sitting at home when you're bored. You want something to do. You want to escape and you want to just kind of go into a zone where you don't have to think, to watch something on television.
But let me ask the question, are we choosing to love Jesus in such a way that we're applying it to what we watch on television? Every day we have to make those choices. Every day we have to make these choices. And beloved ones, as we're here today on top of Mount Carmel, the same fire that fell and consumed the sacrifice to bring Israel back to follow God wholeheartedly, that same fire is speaking to each one of us today. I want to ask you, is there an area in your life that you need to come back to the God of Israel, to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, just like Israel was called back to him here at Mount Carmel.
In Yeshua's name, I just release power over every single one of your lives right now. The Holy Spirit comes in power. And when the Holy Spirit comes with power, he also convicts of sin. The conviction of sin is a gift of the Holy Spirit because when we're convicted of sin, we're given an opportunity to turn away from that sin so God can bless us. God is calling us to deeper and deeper levels of holiness. And the same lesson that the children of Israel learned here at Mount Carmel that they needed to turn away from every false god, from every false idol, to give themselves 100% back to the True and the Living GOD, beloved, we're gonna have to make that choice every single day of our lives. So I leave you with this. Which God will you serve? If the world is God, serve the world. But if Jesus is God, serve Jesus and you'll be blessed every single day of your life.