"THE VALLEY OF DECISION"
Intro. The prophet Joel spoke of multitudes in the valley of decision, here in our text we see the multitudes in the valley of decision being called on by Elijah to make up their minds.
I. THE THREE GROUPS ON MOUNT CARMEL.
A. Elijah, the lone prophet standing for Jehovah the true and living God.
B. The 450 prophets of Baal.
1. The first commandment is, "You shall have no other gods before Me."
2. Yet here they are 450 strong standing in rebellion against God, and the prophet of God.
3. They are leading others to turn others away from God and to worship the false god Baal.
C. The indecisive crowd. Those who are wanting to serve both Jehovah and Baal.
D. Those same three crowds exist today.
1. The true servants of God, which always seem to be in the minority.
2. The false prophets who are in open opposition against God, the ACLU, the People for the American Way; the Hollywood movie industry and the media who seek to turn people from faith in God and lure them to worship the flesh.
3. Then you have this halting multitude who are trying to serve both.
E. Jesus said that no man can serve two masters for he will hate the one and love the other or he will hold to the one and despise the other, you cannot serve God and Mammon.
1. In spite of what Jesus said, there are multitudes who are trying to do just that today.
2. People on the fence trying to have enough of the Lord to escape the judgment of hell, while bowing to, and living for the gods of this world.
3. They are like those of whom the scripture said: "They feared the Lord and worshipped their own gods."
4. They want to do their own thing, worship their own gods, but when real trouble rises they hope that God will be there to bail them out.
5. You had better hope that when the real hour of need arises, maybe your child is deathly sick, maybe you are dying and when you cry to God for help, that He doesn't say to you like He did to the children of Israel:
You have forsaken Me, and served other gods: Therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.
6. People play dangerous games with God and gamble with their eternal destiny.
a. Somehow they think that God will always be there for them.
b. They seem to forget that God said that His Spirit would not always strive with man.
c. The prophet Jeremiah said:
Then the LORD said to me, Pray not for the good for these people. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.
d. God said to Hosea, "Ephraim is joined to her idols let her alone.
e. Let them alone, do not pray for their good, what heavy words coming from God.
7. God is under no obligation to save you, He owes you nothing, the book of Hebrews tells us:
For if we go on sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for the judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries of God. Those that despised Moses' law were put to death without mercy when two or three would witnesses against them, how much worse do you suppose the punishment shall be for those who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, an unholy thing, and have done despite to the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
a. That is exactly where many of you are today. You are tramping on the Son of God, you are doing despite to the Spirit of grace.
b. You are in a fearful place.
II. THE CRY OF THE PROPHET ELIJAH TO THE CROWD. "HOW LONG WILL YOU HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS, IF JEHOVAH IS GOD THEN SERVE HIM, IF BAAL IS GOD THEN SERVE HIM."
A. This story took place long ago and far away, but it is as modern as today.
1. People with divided hearts standing in the valley of indecision.
2. Elijah is asking them how long are they going to stand there.
3. You must choose one or the other, you cannot have it both ways.
Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
4. This then is the choice that I must make, to be a friend of God or to be a friend of the world. To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God.
5. Your God is the master passion of your life. You can have many passions, but only one master passion.
B. If Jehovah is God (or the master passion of your life) then serve Him.
C. If Baal is your god, (the master passion of your life) then serve him.
D. Paul wrote to the Romans:
Know ye not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you become; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
1. If you follow the commandments of God to obey God you are a servant of God.
2. If you follow the suggestions of Satan to obey your passions, then you become a servant of Satan.
3. You are either serving God or Satan.
4. How long will you try to halt between the two opinions? How long will you attempt to sit on the fence.
5. In reality, if God is not ruling over your life then Satan is. You are really not on the fence at all.
6. Jesus said, "He that is not for me is against Me."
III. ELIJAH'S PROPOSED CONTEST BETWEEN JEHOVAH AND BAAL.
A. Build two altars.
1. The 450 prophets of Baal build their altar to Baal.
2. I will build an altar unto the Lord.
B. We will put the sacrifices on the altar but no fire. You will then ask Baal to send a fire to consume the sacrifice, and I will ask Jehovah to send a fire to consume my sacrifice.
1. The God that answers by fire, let Him be acknowledged as the true God.
2. The worship of Baal was the worship of the Sun, thus he was the fire god.
a. If he is the fire god, then surely he could send fire to consume the sacrifice.
C. The altars were built and Elijah gave to them the choice of the bullocks, and let them pray first.
1. He wanted to give them every advantage.
2. They prayed all morning to no avail. Now Elijah is going to have some fun with them.
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry louder for he is a god; maybe he is talking, or he is hunting or on a journey, possibly he is asleep and you need to wake him up. And they cried louder, and cut themselves with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
3. The time had come for the evening prayers and Elijah in effect said to them, "OK fellows, you have had your turn now it is my turn, but first dig a trench around my altar, and pour water over my sacrifice. Then he said pour more water."
4. The prayer of Elijah:
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that 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 Jehovah God, and that You have turned their heart back again.
5. The answer of God:
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
6. The result:
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, Jehovah He is the God; Jehovah He is the God.
D. What do you suppose it will take to convince you that the right choice is to allow Jesus to master your life?
1. What calamity or disaster will it take to cause you to call on Him?
2. Joshua called on the people saying, "Choose you this day whom you will serve."
3. As you walk out of the doors of this sanctuary this day you will have made your choice.
4. As you walk out today, you are walking out as a servant of Jesus Christ, or a servant of Satan. You are what you are by your own deliberate choice.