Who Are The Enemies Of Revival?February 1, 2016 Save Article
Who Are the Enemies of Revival?
A Study in 1st Kings
Although he said this many years ago, no one today would disagree with the great social critic and philosopher Dr. Francis Schaeffer, who warned that we would wake up one day and find the America we once knew is gone. We’re here. The America we once knew is gone. We’re living in the midst of a crisis.
The nation of Israel faced many crises in its ancient history—brought about by Israel’s own disobedience. How often might God’s hand of judgment been stayed if there had been revival throughout the nation of Israel!
In the 18th chapter of 1st Kings, there’s a story of revival in dark days. This will be the focus of our study. And it’s a lesson for us. Do you believe it’s hopeless? Do you say there will never be another revival in our nation? Some think we’re past the days of revival, but nothing says we can’t have revival in these last days. What God has done before, God can do, and God will do again under the same circumstances if it pleases Him. Abandon the notion that it’s too late.
A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT’S NOT OUR FOCUS
Before we go further, I’m not focusing on Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. If you think I am, you don’t understand. I’m talking about revival where God is revered in America again—a revival news anchors can’t explain—something that’s absolutely of God, not someone’s program, propaganda, preaching, or paraphernalia. A revival where the fire of God falls. Fire that consumes, fire that convicts, fire that converts. We’ve got some problems in Washington. I don’t know how it’s going to end. But I do know we are desperate for revival.
I realize “revival” to some people is a shop-worn word. Many don’t fully understand what revival is; others don’t believe it’s possible in today’s world.
1. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 28:16-20, the last instructions from the Lord Jesus before He ascended back to the Father.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw Him, they worshipped Him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, “All _________ is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. 19 ____ ye therefore, and _________ all nations, _______________ them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, ___ _____ _____ ____ __________, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Our Lord’s power has not diminished. He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations…,” then promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. Even in this world.
But it would be rare indeed for God to move and change the course of a nation and opposition not rise up to stop it. In fact, it won’t happen without opposition.
2. Turn in your Bible to 1st Kings 18.
In 1st Kings 18, we’re going to encounter the enemies of revival—the same enemies who are at work today—and I want you to see who and what they are. Many nations are ripe for judgment and need revival to rescue them from the sure destruction they are headed for.
Read the 1st 6 verses:
1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the _______ year, saying, “Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send ________ upon the earth.”
2 And Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore ______________ in Samaria.
3 And Ahab called Obadiah [not the same person as the prophet Obadiah, who wrote one of the books of the Bible], which was the _____________ of his house.
Obadiah was like the steward or the manager of the king’s household.
(Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: 4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
a. How many years had this drought been going on ?
Do you get the feeling we’re coming in at the middle of the story? We are, to an extent.
5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find __________ to save the horses and mules alive, that we ______ ____ ____ ____ ___________.
6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
b. What are they searching for?
c. What’s about to happen if they don’t find it?
7 And as Obadiah was in the way [traveling on his way], behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, “Art thou that my lord Elijah?”
8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’”
Look at Obadiah’s fearful reply to Elijah:
9 And he [Obadiah] said, “What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? 10 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord [Ahab] hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, “He is not there,” he [Ahab] took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. 11 And now thou sayest, ‘Go, tell thy lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not;
[Elijah must have had a known reputation in those days of being here one moment and gone the next, as the Spirit of the Lord would whisk him away.]
and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I, thy servant, fear the Lord from my youth. 13 Was it not told my lord Elijah what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now thou sayest, ‘Go, tell thy lord, “Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.”’” 15 And Elijah said,” As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself unto him [Ahab] to day.”
3. What is Obadiah’s mindset as Elijah asks this of him?
Elijah has asked him to do something very dangerous. One of Israel’s most wicked kings, Ahab, ruled, aided by his wife, Jezebel. They were open enemies, not only of revival, but of God Himself and through Him, His prophet Elijah. We’ll get to Ahab and Jezebel in a moment But what about those like Obadiah who hoped to “go along to get along.”
The Ahabs and the Jezebels cannot hold back revival; but the Obadiahs can, the people of God who refuse to take the stand they ought to take. These are unwitting enemies of revival.
We’ve met other compromisers in the scripture.
4. Turn to Genesis 13: 10-12. Who is about to take up residence in Sodom?
a. What were the residents of Sodom like (v. 13)?
b. Why had Abraham’s nephew chosen such a place to settle his family? (v. 10)
c. Chapter 14 tells the story of how Abraham himself (at this time known as “Abram”) has to go and rescue his nephew Lot, who’s gotten himself kidnapped by reason of being a part of the civilization there in Sodom. (v. 16-17).
One close call should be enough. After Abraham bails him out, so to speak, does Lot cut ties with Sodom and Gomorrah?
d. Moving forward to Genesis chapter 18, What does Abraham do to try secure the safety of his foolish nephew?
e. See v. 32. Does Abraham succeed?
5. Go two verses forward to Genesis 19:2.
And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
a. What in this verse tells you that Lot was a compromiser with Sodom and Gomorrah?
b. The outcome of compromise is a sorry one in deed in the life of Abraham’s nephew. Here he had every opportunity to follow his uncle’s example and become one of the great patriarchs of the Old Testament.
Read chapter 19 to see, instead, his sorry outcome.
Lot had compromised so much that when the angels came to rescue his family (note, the compromiser needed rescue yet again) look at what happened:
14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, “Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.” But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, “Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.”
16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
c. Who was lingering in v. 16?
d. Because Lot’s compromise over many years with the forces of evil so shredded his reputation, what did his sons-in-law do when he came to warn them? (v. 14).
e. Why do you think the Lord was so merciful to Lot?
The rest of Lot’s sorry story doesn’t improve. Read the rest of the chapter to see the fate of the compromiser and his family.
6. Samson is another famous compromiser. Judges 13 through 16 tell his tragic story.
Remember that he began as one of the judges of Israel and was granted special abilities. We are familiar with his story.
a. Turn to Judges 16:20. Samson had so compromised his values and his character, that when the Philistines came, the Bible says,
“…The Philistines be upon thee, Samson.” And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself.” And he wist [knew] not _________________________________________________.
b. What, in addition to his position in the nation of Israel, did Samson lose when he compromised?
His ________________. His _________________. His ___________________
Obadiah the steward, Abraham’s nephew Lot, and Samson the Judge in Israel, all 3 compromisers, became men with absolutely no spiritual power because they sold themselves out to the world and in two of these cases were in league with some of the most wicked kings in the Bible.
Do you see any part of yourself in these men? So many Christians today line up with the enemy rather than standing for Almighty God. No power, no influence, sold out to the world.
The Bible says Lot was vexed in his soul with the way the Sodomites were living, yet he continued to live with them and go his own way. When judgment finally came and he was trying to save his family, some of his own family members mocked and resisted because he had lost his testimony.
A MOMENT OF INTROSPECTION
Are you a compromiser? A “go along to get along” Christian who, for some reason, lines up with the enemy rather than standing for Almighty God? Compromising Christians have no power, no influence—they stand in the way of revival because they’re sold out to the world.
The Samsons, the Lots, the Obadiahs represent so many in our churches who are backslidden, compromising, “salt without savor.” They are the heartbreak of God, the alibi of the lost, and stumbling blocks to the saved. They make pastors and angels weep.
- You may be a compromiser like Lot, who felt comfortable even though immersed in an ungodly culture.
- You may be a compromiser like Samson, who didn’t even know the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him.
There is nothing wrong in America that cannot be radically, dramatically and swiftly put right if all God’s people would stand up and speak up, if our pulpits in America and worldwide were aflame with the power of God.
The Corrupters — Other Enemies of Revival
Beside the compromisers, there are the more obvious enemies. In the time of Elijah, Ahab sat on Israel’s throne, the epitome of evil, and his wife, equally so. He was doubly dangerous because he would quote Scripture to advance his causes. He claimed to be a believer, but notice God’s biography of him.
6. Turn back a couple of chapters to 1 Kings 16. Read verses 30-31.
And Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a _________ ________ for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat [that is, he casually sinned], that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him.
Notice the words in the blanks. What attitude did Ahab have toward his sin and rebellion against God, his idol worship?
A CLOSER LOOK AT BAAL
We hear this false god’s name throughout the Old Testament, but who was he? A pagan, demonic sex god. He was a fertility god. Part of the worship of Baal included the sacrifice of little babies. The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible article “BAAL” says,
“... Baal worship apparently had its origin in the belief that every tract of ground owed its productivity to a supernatural being, or baal, that dwelt there. The farmers probably thought that from the Baalim, or fertility gods, of various regions came the increase of crops, fruit and cattle ... The worship of Baal was accompanied with lascivious rites, (1 Kings 14: 24) the sacrifice of children in the fire by parents, (Jeremiah 19: 5) and kissing the image. (1 Kings 19: 18; Hosea 13: 2)
“Lascivious” means lewd, lustful, licentious, lecherous, bawdy. In other words, Baal worship was accompanied with sinful sexual acts expressly forbidden in God’s law, and child sacrifice.”
7. Continue to verses 32-33:
And Ahab ___________________________________ in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And…Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. (v.32-33).
Can you imagine such worship among the children of Israel—the people of God?
8. Turn for a moment back to Exodus 23:23, to the Israelites with Moses on their journey into Canaan. God has just given them the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20), then He begins to flesh out the Commandments with an expansion of His laws.
a. As early in their history as that, In Exodus 23:23, what had God told them?
Ahab had a form of godliness. He used religious language. But he was mastered by his own lust and pride, and greatly influenced by his evil wife.
There are many enemies of the Gospel today that would hold us back from revival. They hate all we stand for. They hate people who speak the truth without compromise.
9. Turning forward now, to 1st Kings 18 where we began. Elijah now comes face to face with Ahab.
a. What does Ahab accused Elijah of? (v. 17)
b. No shrinking violet, Elijah shot back,
“I have not troubled Israel; but _______ and _____ ____________ ___________, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and hast followed Balaam” (1 Kings 18:17-18).
When prophets of God speak, when pastors in the pulpit address the sin of a nation, there are always those like Ahab who will say, “I wish that guy would shut up. He’s a troublemaker.” To those who are in rebellion against God, we are the troublemakers. It was that way millennia ago, and it’s that way today.
c. We are indeed thorns in the flesh of God’s enemies. But what does the Bible command us to do? Turn to Isaiah 58:1.
_______up your __________, and _______ the house of Israel their sin.
Whether we who speak out and speak up for God are praised or ridiculed, we must do it. I don’t expect to be loved or admired by these people. We ought to be giving them insomnia.
God has more to say on this.
10. Turn to Psalm 2.
1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, 3 “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
a. What is God’s response to leaders like Ahab who oppose His will and stand athwart His purposes?
4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall ___________: the Lord shall have them in ________________. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 “Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion.”
b. Who will be the King sitting upon God’s holy hill?
It reminds me of the hymn,
“Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run.
His kingdom rule from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.”
11. Turn now to Daniel 4:17
…that the living may know that the Most High ______ in the kingdom of men…
What does this mean for you as you look at the current state of our world?
The actions of the king, the actions of the court, and the actions of a president can never thwart the power and plan of Almighty God. God is above all of this. There is no panic in heaven. God is not hopeless and helpless to do something, and revival is not denied unless it is routed through the UN, Washington, or any other world capital.
For three years not a drop of rain had fallen from the sky a punishment from God. Severe drought stalked the land. Often the citizens suffer when a wicked leader is in charge. In response, God closed the heavens.
12. But I want you to think about this: Whose wickedness was God responding to? Ahab’s? Israel’s? Both? and why?
Remember, God gives us the leaders we deserve.
13. When God’s prophet Elijah called for a contest, things came to a head. There’s a summit meeting at Mount Carmel. Continuing in the 18th chapter,
“Now, therefore, send, and gather unto me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal, four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves, four hundred, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel. 1 Kings 18:19-20
a. Notice what Elijah says to this great throng of people, clearly the confused, who’ve come to watch the spectacle.
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ______________________
________________________________ ? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.” v. 21
That is, how long are you going to straddle both sides of the fence? All around us, we see people who don’t understand the situation. They haven’t got a clue.
b. How did the people respond to this challenge? “And the people _____________ ____________ v. 21
The Confused might also be called the cowardly. They didn’t have enough grace to serve God or enough courage to serve the devil. If you wonder, “Why are the polls like they are today? Why is there so much ambivalence? Why do we have a generation that doesn’t have a clue as to what is going on?” it’s because the confused are a result of the compromisers—the Obadiahs. People have not seen enough in the church of the living God to convince them one way or the other. The Church today has lost it power.
14. Turn to Matthew 5:13.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Who is speaking?
What is the occasion (see v. 1)?
A CLOSER LOOK AT SAVOR-LESS SALT
In Bible times, if left outside in the elements, the flavor of salt would leach out, and it became a nauseous mess on the ground. Salt without savor, the Bible says, is worthless.
What could you do with salt like that? You couldn’t put it in the well or the river; it would poison the streams. You couldn’t put it in the fields; it would kill the crops. Only one thing to do with that kind of salt: put it on the roadways where it would cake and harden and become like soil cement. It was good for nothing but to be “cast out and trodden under foot of men.”
The church is being walked on today, denigrated, hated and despised because we are salt without savor. We have lost our bite as a generation of salt-less saints. No wonder the crowd is so confused.
The fourth group who are enemies of revival are competitors to the gospel of our Lord and His kingdom.
15. Here we see the man of God vs. the demon-inspired competition. In v. 22, who were Elijah’s competition at this showdown?
“…but ______ _____________ are ________ men.
Elijah was in a minority. Today, even in America, God’s people are in a minority.
Humanism, witchcraft, narcissism and unbelief surround us.
But they cannot hold back revival, because Jesus said, “Greater is He that is in us, than he (Satan and his minions) in the world.” Two-thirds of the angels didn’t fall. We have two angels for every demon. And we have the Holy Spirit who is greater than the spirit of evil.
We have people who don’t want Americans to be able to pray in public schools. They say they believe in pluralism, but they don’t; they want Christians and Christians alone to be silenced.
I’m not afraid of pluralism. Elijah wasn’t afraid to let the priests of Baal pray. He said, “Let them pray, and let us pray. We’ll see who is God. The God that answers by fire, let Him be God.”
The great danger in America is not that the people of Baal pray but the people of God don’t.
Read the rest of this account to the end of the chapter to see how God shows up mightily.
Elijah followed a formula, if you will, a pattern we must use to bring revival.
- Solidarity: He brought the people together in solidarity. We need to begin to unify the body of Christ, a unity that will cross denominational lines, with people who are blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Separation: The trench Elijah dug formed a line of demarcation to separate the worshipers of Jehovah from the worshipers of Baal. For us, we need to separate from those who do not believe the great foundational truths of the Word of God.
- Sacrifice: The blood of Jesus, the power of Christ on the cross, has absolutely decimated the kingdom of Satan. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb…” (Revelation 12:11). The blood is the basis of our warfare.
- Supplication: Listen to Isaiah’s prayer, a prayer of only 63 words.
Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”
His prayer was precise, powerful, and purposeful: “…this people may know that thou art the Lord God.”
Ask yourself this question:
Why do I want revival? Why am I asking for revival?
Our problem is, we’re trying to have revival for America’s sake, for our family’s sake, for our children’s’ sake, our grandchildren’s’ sake, for our reputation, for our church, for our denomination.
We need to get more concerned for the glory of God.
Father God, I pray with a broken heart for this nation. Lord, I pray that by whatever means You will awaken this nation. And, Lord, You’ve said in Your Word that Your judgment would come like a whirlwind.
O, God, we live in a nation that seems to be dead to Your Word and blind to danger, a nation with a hard heart, with lustful thoughts, and eyes filled with greed, where we mercilessly slaughter babies in the mother’s womb, where we cannot mention God in the public schools, but dispense birth control devices, and give sexual advice without a moral basis. Lord, we take our tax money and pay to have our children taught that they are an accident, that they were created by chance rather than by Your beneficent hand.
O, God, like Ezra of old, we blush to lift our face to You. And, God, even in your churches, we know we are ready to be judged.
Father, we pray You would forgive our pride, our arrogance, our sinfulness, and, Lord, that revival might begin in my heart, in my family, in our church, in our city. Lord God, one more time, let the fire fall. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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