Worship on the Mountain
Nobody knows where the fire fell on Mt. Carmel in the days of Elijah. Nevertheless, gathering our congregations together there on the Day of Shavuot (Pentecost) one year, I couldn’t help feeling enhanced expectation for our time.
Firefalling from heaven is a phenomenon signaling God’s sovereign intervention. At key moments in history He has sent fire as a demonstration of His power, glory and intervention.
Sinai, Carmel & Zion
Moshe ascended to Mt. Sinai and God descended. While all Israel waited at the foot of the mountain, God sent fire from heaven, forever marking the day that His word was transmitted to mankind. According to well-established Jewish scholarship and tradition, that day was the Day of Shavuot.
When Elijah prophesied Israel was backslidden and drawn to pagan idols; what was God’s answer to the spiritual crisis? He inspired the prophet to set up an altar (representing true worship unto the Lord) with a sacrifice that could only burn if fire came from heaven. Elijah waited; and the fire fell.
Again, in the first century, Yeshua’s disciples waited, per His instructions, for the coming of the Ruach (God’s Spirit). Their prayers were rewarded by the sound of a rushing mighty wind (wind and spirit are the same word in Hebrew: ruach). It was a clear message to them from heaven. The Most High was filling them with His Ruach, His Spirit. Then, tongues of fire appeared upon the head of each disciple. Fire had indeed come again from heaven in response to expectant hearts.
These three classic incidents are like punctuation marks linking the Torah (Moshe), the Prophets (Elijah) and the Brit Chadasha (New Covenant disciples). I am thoroughly convinced that our era parallels these momentous turning points in spiritual history. What is God saying? What is the message of Shavuot today? The message is that we can and must expect the fire of God to fall upon us. Our portion is to pray, seek, intercede and believe for it with all our hearts.
Pine Trees and Praise Teams
That Shavuot, twelve years ago, our families came from Haifa, Nazareth, Akko, Poriya (near Tiberias) and the Kriyot to give praise to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Our worship was led by praise teams from the interrelated congregations. We danced and prayed and heard the Word and picnicked. Children and teens, parents and grandparents, all came together, enjoying the pine forest of Carmel Mountain. We see this mountain every day, but few members of the congregations ever get up to the mountain to taste the clean air and feast their eyes on pine boughs and wild flowers.
Together with the festive atmosphere, I felt God speaking this message about fire. How ARE we to prepare for the coming combination of conflict and harvest? How can we follow in the footsteps of Moses, Elijah and the apostles … waiting upon God, ’till He answers with fire? How can we obey Yeshua’s command to make disciples of every nation, proclaim Him in His native Israel and remain victoriously faithful until He comes?
Preparation for the Bridegroom
I believe a simple key is found in Matthew 25. The story of the 10 virgins also contains the element of fire. It is the fire that must burn within our hearts, as we wait for the Bridegroom, Yeshua, to take up His throne in Jerusalem. He is the man of fire pictured in Ezekiel 1:26-28. Next time, we will not see Him as a hillside rabbi with a simple cloak and sandals, but as the magnificent Sovereign of Revelation 1. His eyes will burn as flames of fire. His countenance will shine like the sun.
The five wise virgins had plenty of oil for their lamps to burn through the long night of waiting for His coming. The foolish ones had too small a supply. Oil burning? This is the fire inside – the passion Yeshua has ignited in our hearts by His awesome sacrificial, suffering love. This is the fire that must be stoked daily. It is the fire that will grow cold – the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:12) – if we do not fan the flames of love for our Lover.
So, here is our part, to again bring God’s fiery Presence from heaven to earth, especially Israel.
My colleague, Asher Intrater, teaches that each of us receives the fire of God when we are filled with the Spirit. We join those first disciples in catching the fire that falls from heaven. It is continually within us, always to be stirred, fueled by praying in the Spirit, worshiping whole-heartedly and speaking forth the word of God.
As I write these words, some are hearing the winds of war. Further conflict is likely in our region. But whatever happens; let us prepare ourselves, depending wholly on Messiah Yeshua, being filled with His Ruach, seeking/loving/praying/expecting/believing whole-heartedly in His promises of revival in these latter days.