I have often likened the work we do in EAF to the experience of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. In a sense we are issuing a call like the one Elijah raised -- "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."
And as with Elijah, our call is often met with stony silence, even on the part of those who agree with us.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Elijah recorded in I Kings 18. After the prophets of Baal had exhausted themselves, dancing about and calling on their non-existent god to hear their cry and send fire to consume the ox they had laid out on an altar, they inflicted gaping wounds upon themselves and "raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice.
"But there was no voice, no one answered, no one paid attention." That is the ultimate futility in contemporary religion. In the final analysis it is idolatry, substituting for the true God that which is no god. And those who succumb to the influence of contemporary religion find that, when they need God most, they don't know how to find Him, and from their own gods of intellectualism or social liberalism they hear "no voice, no one answers, no one pays attention."
Enter Elijah. He knows what needs to be done. The true God must be approached in the correct fashion. Elijah "repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn down. (He) took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob... So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord..." Then he dug a trench around the altar, cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the altar, and soaked the ox and the wood on the altar and filled the trench around the altar with water.
A Prophetic Word
In all these things, Elijah was doing something similar to the work of EAF. He was making sure the people knew the truth about God and how it would be possible, the only way it would be possible, for them to experience the presence and power of God. He wanted to make sure that their belief and their practice were consistent with the revealed truth of God. That's precisely what EAF seeks to do-to call the people of God to a renewed affirmation of revealed truth.
But Elijah did not stop there, and neither must we. After rebuilding the altar and reaffirming the revelation of God's truth, he prayed. "Then it came about at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, 'O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O Lord, art God, and that Thou has turned their heart back again.' Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.'" (I Kings 18:36-39)
"Lord, Send The Fire"
For five years we in EAF have been, for the most part, rebuilding the altar, arranging the stones, insisting that genuinely right behavior can only come from a base of right belief. And while we have focused our energies on rebuilding the altar, we have been content to do that, without ever observing that there has been little sign of fire on the altar. Perhaps I should qualify that statement. That is what I have been doing. I have convinced myself that the absence of fire was no big deal. I have contented myself with the work of shoring up the altar, emphasizing the need for renewed commitment to orthodox doctrine as the foundation for true biblical faith. I now understand that, in addition to the altar, we also need the fire.
I asked the Lord for a special message to share with our EAF family on this our fifth anniversary. This is what He gave me. "Tell them how you have been content to lay the stones, rearrange the pieces of the sacrifice, without concern that there has been not a spark of fire on the altar. Tell them you repent, and that you have confessed your sin of believing unbelief. Ask them to join you in a prayer that, once more, on the altar of truth, so carefully constructed, and on the sacrifice, so carefully laid, the fire of God might fall."
And that is what I have done. And on that carefully constructed altar of truth I have laid myself, my family, my ministry and the work of EAF.
And in the sincerest way I know how I am praying, "Lord, send the fire."