During one of the darkest times in the history of the people of Israel, there lived a faithful servant and prophet of God: Elijah the Tishbite. Nearly 3000 years have passed since this time. However, whenever we read the account of his life, starting in 1 Kings 17, we notice again and again a special zeal, a clear and visible fire in the heart of the prophet for his God, the God of Israel.
Elijah’s zeal led to persecution by King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. However, the God of Israel, whom Elijah loved with all his heart and whom he served, protected him from their hands. In response to the testimony and prayer of Elijah in front of the king and the people of Israel, the Lord let fire fall from heaven. The people had to recognize the true God. They fell on their faces and cried: “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39)
The need for godly fire in our hearts
This event shows us the lives of the people in Israel. The Bible tells of their attitude and their worship but also about outward influences that negatively impacted their faith. The godless government of King Ahab suppressed the clear preaching of the Word of God. In addition, the various connections with heathen nations led to a general indecisiveness and indifference in their faith.
We do not read that they cared about the persecution and murders of the prophets of the Lord. Hardly anyone was interested in the preaching of God’s Word. On the contrary, they lived in a state of apathy and indifference in regard to their own souls. The blame for the long-lasting drought was put on the prophet Elijah.
Which of the men in Israel were able to protect their living faith during this time? Only those whose hearts burned in love and zeal for the God of Israel and His laws. But this attitude was missing greatly at this time. The people didn’t know anymore on which side they should stand: on the side of the living God, or on Baal’s side.
Dear reader, the fire of God in our souls protects us from indifference. The love of Christ has sparked this flame in us. The thought of the sacrifice Jesus gave on the cross of Golgotha stokes the fire with love and gratitude.
Elijah’s burning heart
How did the prophet receive this zeal? How was he able to preserve it in the most difficult circumstances? Elijah loved his God. He loved nothing more on earth and nothing was more important to him than the living God of Israel, whom he served with all his heart.
Godly messages were also more important to him than everything else. Nothing could distract him from that. Earthly treasures, a powerful position with the king, or something similar could not influence him.
Elijah’s heart was pure before God and people. He lived in the favor of God. Such a pure heart is also critical today if God wants to ignite His fire in it.
Elijah’s zeal did not begin during this dramatic situation on Mount Carmel. It was burning in him long before his God-given task of confronting Ahab. God was able to send him because He saw Elijah’s love, faithfulness, and complete obedience.
Elijah could freely say: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand…” (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah saw himself standing before the great God. This does not merely mean that we should make a habit of being present at worship services on Sundays and prayer meetings on Wednesdays. In fact, it brings across the deep conviction that the living God completely knows me; every little corner of my heart is exposed before Him. It indicates the readiness to serve Him with all devotion, to live and die for Him, to be zealous and to burn until the last moment of life. This burning love to God is the true driving force so that we do not become tired and inattentive. Our hearts and lives consume themselves in devotion and love to our Master.
Does your heart burn for the Lord?
First, this godly spark in our hearts must be ignited. In order for this to happen, God must purify our hearts so that He can pour His love into them. Then He begins to use us as His children in His hands. The experiences and blessings in the service of the Lord cause our love and zeal for God to increase. God leads us farther on and develops us so that we can become more useful and steadfast.
In great love, He allows us to recognize that the total dedication of our hearts and lives and the complete consecration to His service will cause our love to grow complete (Romans 12:1). When we, as a living sacrifice on the altar, are then touched by the flame of the Holy Spirit, like the disciples were at Pentecost, then we will be powerful witnesses of Christ, as Elijah was.
This burning in our hearts changes us. It allows us to become people who do not take notice of difficulties and obstacles when it comes to carrying out and furthering the work of the Lord. The fire of God makes us prayer warriors and people who can be a witness to others with the zeal of Elijah. Through the fire of God, we become useful tools of God in His Church and can encourage other believers to joyfully serve God. The fire and working of the Holy Spirit in our souls will make the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) visible in our everyday lives. We will become guides for other people.
Dear reader, do you have this burning in your soul? We sing in a song: “Is the Spirit glowing in your heart? O my brother, can you say that you feel the burning love of God?” Can you truly testify of this today? The blood of the Lamb has the power to erase all guilt and to create a pure heart. Allow all impulses of your heart to glow with the godly fire of the Spirit, and then you will be able to stand steadfastly in the service of your Lord until your victorious end.
How long can we preserve this burning heart? How long did Elijah’s heart keep burning; how long did the hearts of the apostles burn for their Lord? How long did the hearts of the martyrs glow for their Savior? Wouldn’t you also like to stand with the thousands, with the throng of overcomers, before the heavenly throne – with those who did not spare their lives for their Master? However, in order to join in the song of the Lamb with them, we have to be worthy of it. Each one of these victors burned with zeal and love for their Lord during their time on earth.
Dear Reader, allow yourself to be enveloped as a living sacrifice by this godly fire so that you can stand unwaveringly in the service of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ wants to preserve you and help you.
Weil am Rhein, Germany