Dousing the altar

I have some encouragement to give in light of last week’s news about the death penalty being pursued for Jahar.

My message comes out of 1 Kings 18:20-39. Rather than quote the entire thing here, I’ll tell the story myself.

The prophet Elijah, the prophets of the god Baal, and the people of Israel were gathered upon Mount Carmel. The people of Israel, God’s chosen people, had been trying to serve both God and Baal, and Elijah tells them how they cannot go on serving both. So he devises a test in which he and the prophets of Baal would build altars to sacrifice a bull. He and the prophets would call upon the name of God and Baal, respectively, and the God that answers by fire would be the true God.

Elijah appears to have the odds stacked against him. Baal’s prophets are 450 men, while Elijah is the only one of the prophets of the Lord willing to make a public stand against the prophets of Baal. Elijah also gives the prophets of Baal a head start, allowing them the first opportunity to try to get their god to answer.

After the prophets of Baal cry out to no avail from morning to midday, Elijah rebuilds the altar of the Lord and prepares the bull for sacrifice.

Then he does the unthinkable. The odds already appearing to be against him, he douses the altar with water three times, so that the entire altar and the area around it is saturated with water.

Imagine the reaction of any person there who was actually serving God instead of Baal: “Elijah, what are you doing? Are you out of your mind? The sacrifice will never be consumed by fire now.” As an act of great faith, Elijah effectively renders it impossible for combustion to occur. If the sacrifice were to be consumed by fire, it would have to be entirely the Lord’s miraculous doing.

The altar now built and doused, Elijah calls upon the name of the Lord. And God answers with fire! Not only is the offering consumed but so is the wood, the stones, the dust, and all of the water that was in the trench by the altar.

So it’s possible you’re wondering at this point how this connects to Jahar and the death penalty. It all has to do with trusting God when bad news comes.

Think of each bit of bad news about Jahar as a dousing of water. When the special administrative measures were put in place and we could no longer share Christ with Jahar through letters, that was a dousing of water. When Eric Holder announced that the death penalty is being pursued for Jahar, that was a dousing of water. An already bad situation has gotten worse with each of those pieces of news. In other words, it appears to be getting far more impossible that God’s answer to our prayers will come.

But let’s take pieces of bad news with the faith of Elijah. Elijah saw dousings of water not as a reason to doubt God’s provision but as a way for God to be glorified all the greater when His answer does come.

It seemed impossible that the sacrifice on the altar would start on fire. It seems impossible that Jahar will leave Islam and come to Christ. But as Matthew 19:26b says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” God provided with fire when the dousing of the altar made that seem impossible, and God can provide with salvation when Jahar’s circumstances make that seem impossible.

With last week’s news, water has been poured on the altar, so to speak, but let’s pray unmoved by that for God to send His fire.

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8 Responses to Dousing the altar

  1. brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

    This is so beautifully written Bri. I have never in my life had such crazy faith that God would pull off something so seemingly impossible. A huge part of the reason I believe is just the way that He has called so many of His people to pray for Jahar. Sometimes I find myself starting to doubt….like maybe I made this up in my head…maybe I’m rationalizing it….maybe God really didn’t call me to pray for Jahar. But then I see more and more people “coming out of the woodwork” so-to-speak, with almost identical stories – and I am encouraged.

    I am currently reading “Dreams and Visions” – and last night the story of Amir really spoke to me. I know you’ve read it, but for those who haven’t – Amir was born into a Christian family in Jordan and had come to hate religion in general, but more specifically Muslims. On a trip to Saudi Arabia – they accidentally labeled him as Muslim on his passport, which would allow him entrance into Mecca. He was subsequently visited by both an angel and Jesus – calling him to go to Mecca and pray for the Muslims there. He followed that calling – and one day as he walks around the Kaaba praying – he overhears several Muslims whispering about how they had been visited by Jesus in several dreams since they had been there. He ended up being followed by this guy who he thought was out to get him for being a Christian. Instead – this guy also had the same exact experience and calling. He said to Amir, “But He has called me – us. There are others. Many were led here, just like you. ‘Pray for them’ is all He told us.” That story blew me away – and it suddenly put this all into perspective to me that the world may think we are crazy – but we know what we were called to do, and we’re going to do it. God will work through us. I feel so blessed to be a part of this story. Our amazing God has called us to prayer for a reason – and He will come through!

    • Bri says:

      Thanks, sister. I’ve never trusted God for something even as remotely impossible-sounding as this. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t even think of anything that I would consider impossible or almost impossible. So this kind of crazy faith is completely new to me.

      “But He has called me – us. There are others. Many were led here, just like you. ‘Pray for them’ is all He told us.”

      That reminds me so much from a part of the blog entry I wrote about my story of being called to pray for Jahar:

      As my prayers the night of his capture and the following day revolved around praying that he would survive his injuries, wake up, and be able to speak to the authorities, God spoke to my heart. It was like God whispering into my ear, sharing with me a piece of His heart.

      “I love him.”

      -Wait… what was that?

      “I love him. I love Dzhokhar. I want him to become My beloved son. It is not too late for him. Pray for him.”

      • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

        And this part of mine:

        From the beginning, it was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “Pray for him. Pray without ceasing.”

        🙂

    • brokenheart4whatbreakshis says:

      Lynn ~ It’s so crazy that not only has God called us to pray for Jahar in such similar ways, but the enemy has also placed the same doubts on our hearts. I would love to hear your whole story. You should write it for the blog! Ours are all on here, and yours should be too. 🙂 “Dreams and Visions” is by Tom Doyle. It’s incredible! The next one on my list is “Miraculous Movements” by Jerry Trousdale.

    • Bri says:

      “You are no different than all those ‘fan girls’ who think Jahar is cute. You just Christianized it to make yourself feel better.” – I’ve got that one thrown at me so many times by people that we term “haters” on Twitter. I’ll put it out there that I do find him attractive. But I know for a fact that the reason I pray for him has absolutely nothing to do with that because I made my daily commitment to pray for him all the way back on April 21 when the only pictures I had seen of him are the grainy surveillance photos and that photo the media always uses that’s a few years old. So I won’t even buy into that lie from the enemy for a second. He could be the absolute ugliest person in the world, and I’d still love and pray for him because the heart that God gave me for him.

      I agree with brokenheart4whatbreakshis that you should share your share of being called to pray for Jahar as a blog entry.

      I second that “Dreams and Visions” is incredible. I’ve read six books on Islam from a Christian perspective (and have three coming in the mail!), and it’s either my first or second favorite. It’s really encouraging to see how God is revealing Himself to Muslims throughout the world. I pray at least once a day (but usually even more) for Jesus to come to Jahar in dreams and/or visions. I think that’s potentially so important since he has so little contact with anybody.

  2. Bri says:

    “I am doing those deep, wonderful things on the inside of Jahar that can’t be seen and will only be known between Jahar and Me for now.” – I so hope that’s true. I wish we could see all that God is doing in Jahar’s heart right now. It’s so hard that we can’t outwardly see any change, but we have to trust that God has already done a lot and will continue to do so. I believe He’s working as we speak.

    I love that song “New Man.” I hardly ever listen to Christian radio, as I always have CDs playing in my car, so I actually didn’t even know the song. Thanks for sharing. The chorus of that song is my prayer for Jahar. Beautiful.

    I did already know the song “Pray,” but I love it too. My prayer has often been that in his brokenness and and desperation, he would cry out to God.

    I was talking with others about writing various people, including band members, and asking them to pray for Jahar, but for whatever reason, that never really happened. Hopefully those who you write will respond.

    So you want me to post those two songs together in a separate blog post? If so, what should I write along with sharing the embedded videos?

    • Bri says:

      “I know it won’t be for the last time, you were led of God to create this site.” – I firmly believe that. I’m so glad that I followed through on that call. It’s been a huge blessing in my life, and I believe that God is using/will use Christians United for Jahar to do beautiful things beyond our imagination.

      “Every day since this started, my burden for Jahar has been something I could not escape; only prayer made it bearable. I know you know exactly what I mean because you experience it too.” Yep, I know exactly where you’re coming from there. I think if I tried to stop praying for Jahar, it would be like trying to quit drugs. That’s how strong the burden is on my heart. I fully intend to fulfill my crazy commitment to pray for Jahar daily for the rest of my/his life, whichever comes first.

      I can honestly say that throughout the past ten months I have yet to feel an ounce of hatred toward Jahar, even though I believe it’s guilty and recognize that what he did was so evil and tragic. That’s another reason why I’m certain that God has given me this compassion for Jahar. I’d never be able to muster up such compassion and prevent myself from hatred on my own.

      “I see Jahar as a willing instrument in God’s hands, leading countless Muslims and non-Muslims to faith in Jesus.” – That’s ultimately my dream. I believe that if Jahar comes to Christ, he’s going to have such a powerful testimony to share with his family and numerous other people. I’m already praying that God would open up doors for him to be able to share his testimony since under his current conditions, he could only share with his family and his lawyers.

      I’ve also been praying that when Jahar sees who Jesus is and what He offers him, he will see that what he gains in Christ is more than worth everything he could possibly lose, including his family.

  3. Pingback: Our Prayer is Part of His Plan | Christians United For Jahar

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