When I think of the reality of God and the current condition within most of our lives, I am continually driven to look at the 18th chapter of I Kings. This is the episode where Elijah meets the enemies of God on Mount Carmel. Consider it the “Battle of the Gods.” The prophets of Baal do their best to get their god to come down and show himself. Of course, Elijah gets a little cocky, challenging them to keep calling on their god, even though he doesn’t respond. “Oh Baal, answer us!” they shout. Elijah counters, “Hey, shout louder. Surely, he is a god! Maybe he’s deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he sleeping and you have to wake him up. Maybe he’s taking a leak and can’t come right now.” So they keep on shouting and dancing. They cut themselves with knives and spears, do all sorts of things to get this god of there’s up and working. But there’s no answer, no response, no one paying attention.
So then, Elijah fixed up his altar, puts the sacrifice on it, arranges it nice and pretty and even pours water on it to make it harder for his God to light the fire. (Go read the story, it’s great!).
Unfortunately, in our individual lives, as A.W. Tozer pointed out, we lay out an altar, divide the sacrifice, arrange it real nice and pretty, just like Elijah did on Mount Carmel. But then we are satisfied to sit and count the stones and rearrange the pieces . . . but we are never concerned that there is no sign of fire. Sure, we love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, yet how are we to reconcile ourselves with the continued absence of fire?
There are all kinds of Bible teachers out there. I am just one of millions. Each of us tries to present correct doctrine, but too many of those preachers out there seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of faith and remain totally unaware there is no power, no “unction,” in their ministry or anything unusual in their personal lives.
The people we are ministering to certainly feel something is lacking in their hearts, but our teaching never satisfies that hunger, that longing. It is simply outrageous when we realize that believers are starving, even though we are still seated at our Father’s table. A. W. Tozer was right when he pointed out that “it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself.”
My encouragement is for you to read Tozer’s classic work The Pursuit of God. It is writing that will stir your heart and challenge you to a holy pursuit. Listen to his words of wisdom, desire, and passion:
. . . there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct `interpretations’ of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied til they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water . . .
“. . . They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the `piercing sweetness’ of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing . . .
“. . . unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience, they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God . . .
“. . . The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word . . . the whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego . . . The man is `saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God . . . we have almost forgotten that God is a Person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can . . . but full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving . . . intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored.
“. . . God is a Person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys feels, loves, desires and suffers . . .
“ You and I are in little (our sins excepted) what God is in large. Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him. In our sins we lack only the power. The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end. . . .
“. . . come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. `Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight’; and from there he rose to make the daring request, `I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ God was frankly pleased by this display of ardour, and the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before him . . .
“David’s life was a torrent of spiritual desire, and his psalms ring with the cry of the seeker and the glad shout oft he finder. Paul confessed the mainspring of his life to be his burning desire after Christ. `That I may know Him,’ was the goal of his heart, and to this he sacrificed everything. `Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ’ (Philippians 3:8).
“. . . How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of `accepting’ Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him.
“. . . every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and the servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all . . .
“. . . If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity . . .”
“. . . When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself . . .”
If spending time with Jesus here on Earth does not excite you, what makes you think things will change in heaven?
Here is Job complaining and carrying on when he finally states, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face” (Job 13:15). Whoa! Now, I truly wish he would quit blaming God for his crisis, but with these words, God has just won His wager with Satan. I realize that on earth Job and his friends will continue to slug it out for a while longer. Nevertheless, in Heaven everything is now settled, and it is settled on the basis of Job’s clear and stunning declaration, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”
Remember the Devil’s initial taunt, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9). Without realizing what he was doing, Job delivered a direct answer to that taunt, and his answer was a resounding yes! YES! Job’s trust in God was unconditional. YES! He was not just out for himself.
Even in our there is such a thing as faith that carries absolutely no ulterior motive—in other words, there is such a thing as love! And YES! Job demonstrated an entirely devoted faith and love towards God. Even if God Himself should strike him dead, Job declares he will not cease to trust Him.
This is the kind of faith against which the Devil has nothing to say. Here is the faith of a man in which neither death nor hell has any hold. I can think of only two other places in the Bible in which such faith is so purely and intensely expressed. The first occasion is in the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and secondly, in the willing death of the Son of God on a cross.
What is the secret of such faith? Maybe the secret lies in the second part of Job’s statement. “I will surely defend my ways to his face.” We need to accept without questioning, without hesitation and without equivocation our gift of righteousness. Even when the reality of that righteousness is what seems most in question. The time we need to cling the hardest to the promised and inalienable truth of our righteousness, is when we feel most overwhelmed and defeated by the onslaughts of the Devil! Even when we are tormented by the pressures of the world, the weight of our own sin, and by the threat of death itself, we can know we can stand before our King. This is the hope of the gospel. This is the time we cannot afford to fail to defend our way to God’s face. What is our way? Our way is Jesus Christ!
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
Other Bible Studies and Commentary are available at Doulos Studies