Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries International gives us a timely warning: “with all of the talk of a potential revival sweeping the nation right now, I think it’s a good time to discuss the difference between “the fire of spiritual revival” and “the whisper of daily obedience.”
Greg uses the experience Elijah had with Jezebel and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. What happened after God sent the lightning bolt from heaven to consume the sacrifice?
Shocked and frightened, the people collapsed to the ground and started chanting, “The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!” But Elijah wasn’t finished. He commanded the people to kill all the false prophets of Baal. and that’s exactly what they did.
Elijah scored his victory in an instant. Not only did he win the showdown, but he also wiped out the competition. At that moment, he must have been convinced that the fire of revival would strike in Israel, just as that lightning bolt from Heaven had struck the sacrifice.
Instead, it led to a death threat from the evil queen Jezebel, whose prophets he had humbled and slaughtered on Mt. Carmel that day and what did Elijah do?
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life… He came to a broom bush, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” 1 Kings 19:3-4
We know that God provided for him miraculously on the journey but fueled by terror and adrenaline, he ran, then walked, and then slogged, ending up in a cave 280 miles away from Mt. Carmel, in the middle of a desolate wilderness. It was in the pitch black of that cold cave that he finally fell asleep, after 40 straight days and nights of weeping, wondering, and wandering.
After he awoke the next day, God gave him an earth, wind, and fire object lesson he would never forget. At the mouth of the cave that day, Elijah learned the difference between the fire of spiritual revival and the whisper of daily obedience.
We must learn that same lesson, especially as it seems “the prophets of Baal” (the world, the flesh, and the devil) are being defeated at Asbury University and that young people across the nation are increasingly chanting: “The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!”
We all love the fire of revival. We all love it when God seems to send a lightning bolt of awakening, and the people, especially young people, hold high the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all love it when there seems to be a move of God that brings revival.
But what happened at Mt. Carmel didn’t translate to a true revival that transformed the culture and truly turned it back to God. It was a flash in a pan, and soon after, things went back to the norm.
What does the object lesson God gave to Elijah have to do with all of this?
We tend to look at God’s work primarily as the hurricane-force wind that brings in the Spirit of God and sets everyone’s tongue ablaze with the Gospel (Acts 2:1-4). Or the earth-shaking power of God that rattles the building when His people pray (Acts 4:31). Or the lightning bolt of fire from Heaven that consumes the sacrifice (1 Kings 18).
But, as amazing as those experiences are, they aren’t God’s primary modes of working. Of course, He uses those to accomplish His will and, sometimes, to launch spiritual movements. But His primary mode is in the whisper of daily obedience.
Elijah thought he was alone (“I am the only one left…” 1 Kings 19:10). He thought he’d failed at launching a revival (“I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:4) and that his ministry hadn’t made a difference. Why? Because his dramatic victory on Mt. Carmel didn’t lead to a lasting revival.
But God showed him something different. He whispered encouragement into his soul. He reminded Elijah:
‘Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.’ 1 Kings 19:18
Guess whose example inspired them? Elijah’s!
Guess who was not only their hero but also the hero of a hundred prophets hidden away in caves (1 Kings 18:4)? Elijah!
Guess who most likely inspired the thought of launching a school for prophets? Elijah!
God had used the whisper of daily obedience in Elijah’s life to produce a radicalized remnant of the few rather than triggering a sweeping revival of the many. And God was reminding him of that.
He had made a difference. And that difference had been made long before the showdown on Mt. Carmel.
What does all of this mean for the current revival happening at Asbury and in more and more spots across the nation and around the world? It means we need to keep being obedient, no matter what. We need to be daily fixated on Jesus in our everyday jobs or school classes. We need to make the grind a godly one. We need a relentless consecration of self and dealing with sin in our own lives, making sure we’re not “kissing the baals” of our culture. We need to have a steady flow of outward activation for the Gospel, sharing God’s message with everyone.
If this fire that struck Asbury University a few weeks ago is from God, it will continue to burn. But either way, we must continue to be overcomers.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:4-5
And God will use your relentless obedience, boldness, and faith to raise up a radicalized remnant to change the world.
Praise God for the spiritual hurricanes, earthquakes, and lightning bolts when they happen. But don’t underestimate the transforming power of God’s whisper in the dust of everyday life.
Great message from Greg Stier.