Friday, December 17, 2010

THE CAVE - Principle #2

In my last post we saw the first principle about THE CAVE (the place where ministry becomes misery) as seen in the story of the Old Testament prophet, Elijah:

"THE CAVE can become reality even to the most successful of pastors and ministry leaders!"

Today we see principle #2:

"THE CAVE can become even more possible after a great spiritual victory!

In 1 Kings 19 we find Elijah in THE CAVE. But where was this great man of God in chapter 18? He was standing on top of Mt Carmel where he had just been the victor in one of the greatest battles in all of Scripture.

Elijah had ordered Ahab to meet him on Mt Carmel with all of Israel and the 450 prophets of Baal. Here he challenged these prophets to a "winner take all" showdown. Each side would take an ox, prepare it for sacrifice, and then call on the name of their God to provide the fire. Whichever God responded first would be the winner. The Prophets of Baal had all of the advantages:

It was 450 of them against just 1 prophet of Jehovah!

Mt Carmel supposedly was the home of Baal, so they had "home field advantage" sort of speak!

Baal would get to go first! What a risk this was. If Baal answered first, the contest would be over before Elijah could ever get the first prayer out of his mouth.

Elijah would have his sacrifice drenched with water!

The prophets of Baal started. From morning until noon they cried out to Baal but with no response whatsoever. Elijah began to mock Baal by using simple human terms to describe this so-called deity. The false prophets even cut themselves to get Baal's attention. 1 Kings 18 goes on to say that they cried out with a "loud voice" which is a term used in Deuteronomy 14:1 to describe the cry of those grieving and mourning for the dead. This emotional frenzy continued until evening but still there was no response.

It was then Elijah's turn. The prophet of God took 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and repaired the altar of the Lord. He had a trench dug around the altar and prepared the wood and the sacrifice. He then had the sacrifice and the wood soaked to the point that it filled the trench with water. Then Elijah prayed and fire immediately came down from heaven with such force that it consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the altar and the water that was in the trench.

There would be no question to all of Israel as to who the real God was. It was Jehovah - not Baal. So Elijah commanded that all the false prophets of Baal be killed. This was not an act of vengeance but one of obedience to the command of God to put to death all false prophets as seen in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.

It's almost funny, isn't it (at least to everyone except Elijah)? In one chapter Elijah is standing in victory on Mt Carmel and in the next chapter he is in THE CAVE saying, "God, just kill me." But I have found that this is exactly how Satan seems to work.

Maybe it is because we have a tendency to let our spiritual guard down while we are basking in the sweet glow of ministry success. Maybe it's because these victories have a tendency to cause us to start depending on God far less and depending on ourselves far more. But either way you look at it, the principle about THE CAVE remains true..."THE CAVE becomes even more possible after a great spiritual victory!"

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