Luke 24:49, the Lord commanded His disciples to tarry or to wait in the city of Jerusalem UNTIL they were endued or clothed with power from on high. Acts Chpt. 1:4, says again they were commanded. Notice he didn’t say they were requested – they were commanded that they shouldn’t depart from Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father. There were areas, aspects that needed to be adjusted in their lives and ONLY the power of the Holy Spirit could make that adjustment. In other words, they were closed down until the day of Pentecost. Then God poured out His Spirit upon them in the upper room. 50 days behind closed doors! 129 of them! 1 Corinthians 15 says, He appeared unto 500 brethren at once. But when He made that command only 120 men and women were in that upper room. What happened to the rest? I believe they didn’t feel like they needed to really change anything. Instead, they felt that they didn’t need to be dealt with. There are many believers like that in churches today who that they don’t need to change and don’t even want the Lord to deal with them about anything.
FIRE OF GOD ON THE ALTAR OF GOD.
450 Prophets already had their turn and they cried, cut themselves with knives, danced and did somersaults. They barked liked dogs and hollered, but nothing came. When all the dancing, shouting, screaming, clapping and jumping was over, there was NO fire. Then it came to Elijah’s turn to cry unto God to send the fire. Elijah had to convince the nation that Jehovah was still alive and in business. V.24, “the God that answereth by fire – let Him be God.” That’s what church’s needs. The church of Jesus Christ set on fire with His love. And nothing will make any difference in your life. You can try your pills, your psychiatrist, alcohol even therapy – nothing will meet your need. You can preach until your blue in the face and you can pray and put on your sincerity – nothing will make any difference in your ministry and in your life, only the fire of God.
I believe God is working in our midst, but what He is doing is only a start. He’s just giving us a little sample of what He can do. He’s encouraging us! But it’s not enough. We have got to get closer to Him. On Elijah’s turn, he said to the people, come near to me. He didn’t want to shout at them saying, “Will you come to me? Gather round me. Just watch me.” But notice verse 30 when Elijah’s turn came the very first things he did – he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
THE TRUE ALTAR AND THE REAL ALTAR IS IN THE HEARTS OF GOD’S PEOPLE.
My altar is in my heart. Your altar is in your heart and that’s where the fire of the Lord burns. God commanded the priests at the tabernacle in Lev. 6:12 and this was His commission to the priests – “the fire shall be ever burning upon the altar it shall NEVER go out!” The same principle is in the New Testament tabernacle – the church. The fire must always be burning and it must be burning in the morning, noon, evening and night. That’s the mission of the church. That’s how we shine forth as light in the darkness.
IS YOUR ALTAR BROKEN DOWN?
He went to where God required an altar and the altar was broken down. Everyone could see it was broken down and the first thing Elijah did was repair it. The altar is the heart. What needs to be repaired? A broken heart? A hardened heart? An unforgiving heart? A critical heart? Unbelieving heart? Those things can hold you back. God is the God of the heart.
YOUR GREATEST ENEMY.
The devil is a great enemy but not your greatest enemy. Your greatest enemy is yourself and your greatest enemy is your own heart. You know yourself, there are days when your heart can reach great and holy things and there are other days when that heart of yours can reach to great and holy things and there are other days when that heart of yours can reach to terrible things. That’s how desperate and deceiving the heart is. The heart is deceitful, says Jeremiah, above all things and desperately wicked. It’s your heart that deceitful. 1 Samuel 16:7, “Man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Here we go again – the Lord looketh on the heart! Then Psalms 139:25. Prov 1,2 &3, My son, give me thine heart. The heart is the alter and the altar is the heart.
BEFORE GOD WILL TOUCH YOU AND TOUCH ME.
We must all start like Elijah and repair the altar of our heart. You know what needs to be repaired. I don’t need to tell you, but you know what God can do. He can give us a new one. Ezekiel 36 “A new heart will I give you.”
Then in v. 32 he starts to dig a trench around the altar. He dug a trench around the altar. He put the wood in order (and notice the word order). He just didn’t pile up the wood, he put it in such a way that it would ignite. He set the wood in order. But you can have order and yet have no fire! So let’s do everything so that the fire will come. He put it in such a way that it could ignite. Then he cut the bullock in pieces. Elijah repaired the altar that’s broken down; he digs a trench round it; he lays the wood in order and now he cuts the bullock in pieces! This man is working. He’s really making an effort and repairing. It’s not a question of saying – I just knelt down at the bench and said O God have your way.
God doesn’t work like that! Sometimes it takes months to get right with God. It takes months, weeks and days to get right with God. That’s why the old hymn writers were right – take time to be holy. When you’re waiting, that’s when God does work in your heart.
BLOOD AND WATER ON THE ALTAR.
Elijah demonstrated an old and a vital truth – without the shedding of blood there’s NO remission of sins. Then he soaks it with water, filling the very trench to the brim. What does the water speak of? It speaks of the word. The water speaks of the separation – the word of separation. The water separated Elijah and the water separated Elijah’s alter from the prophets of Baal’s altar. Ephesians 5:26 Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. He pours the water upon the sacrifice – what does He do with the sacrifice? He sanctifies and cleanses it with the Word. That’s what Jesus said to His disciples in John 15, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” The water goes over us. Now we are clean. Psalm 119 “Whence shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereon to thy word. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
He prepared from noon to evening. From 12 to 6. Elijah worked over 6 hours non-stop. Could I ask a small personal question just in passing? How long is it since you worked 6 hours for the Lord, non-stop? How long have you worked 6 hours without a break, without a coffee break – there’s no coffee break here in this chapter. No cookies. Nothing. Just work for 6 hours.
He didn’t build a new altar – he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. He had to take away the vines and the weeds and cut away the thorns. He had to take it all away. It had been active and it had been used in the past for the worship of God. When the Holy Spirit looks in our hearts, does He see an altar broken down and covered with weeds and vines? How does it get that way? By being neglected, out of use and that’s what breaks it down. Before God’s fire would burn on it again, Elijah had to repair it.
If you repair the altar God will send the fire. After I repair the altar, what’s the sacrifice? I am.
Then God sends the fire and God looks down and sees a sacrifice on the altar. The trouble of many is, they say, send the fire. The Lord says where will I send it? Send the fire, you say, just send it! God sends the fire on a sacrifice and when you lay yourself on that altar God will send the fire and a mighty work will be accomplished for the glory of