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Insight Archive

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fire from Heaven

"Suppose you were able to travel back in time and have a conversation with people who lived a thousand or even a hundred years ago." President Dieter F. Uchdorf explained, "Imagine trying to describe to them some of the modern technologies that you and I take for granted today. For example, what might these people think of us if we told them stories of jumbo jets, microwave ovens, handheld devices that contain vast digital libraries, and videos of our grandchildren that we instantly share with millions of people around the world? Some might believe us. Most would ridicule, oppose, or perhaps even seek to silence or harm us. Some might attempt to apply logic, reason, and facts as they know them to show that we are misguided, foolish, or even dangerous. They might condemn us for attempting to mislead others. But of course, these people would be completely mistaken. They might be well-meaning and sincere. They might feel absolutely positive of their opinion. But they simply would not be able to see clearly because they had not yet received the more complete light of truth." In our day, people read experiences which have occurred in the past in Holy Scripture. They, similarly, say, "that can't be true, but it is a good fiction novel." One of my favorite "stories" involves a BOLD servant of God, even Elijah the Tishbite, who was worried for the people of the Lord. 
We read, "Then said Elijah unto the people, 'I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.' And all the people answered and said, 'It is well spoken.' And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, 'Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.' And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon saying, 'O Baal, hear us.' But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, 'Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure [perhaps] he sleepeth, and must be awaked.' And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, 'Come near unto me.' And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob... And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. (1 Kings 18: 22-35, punctuation modernized)

There are many elements I love about this experience recorded in the Holy Writ. The poetry and the mocking by the prophet are my favorites. Then, when it came time for him to fulfill his prophetic duties "at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice," Elijah the prophet became quiet and reverent in sincere concern for the Lord's people as he knelt a prayed, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again." (1 Kings 18: 36-37)

In answer to the servant's humble prayer, "the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." (1 Kings 18: 38) And when all the people saw the fire from heaven, "they fell on their faces: and they said, 'The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.'"(1 Kings 18: 39 punctuation modernized)

This miracle demonstrates the love our Father has for us. It seems as if He went out of His way to show His existence. It seems as if He stepped out of the bounds of modern science. As a result many people say, "The science and the things written in the Bible just don't go together." Some of my companions and I have been told, "I don't believe any of it. It's a good story though." The scriptures have many marvelous miracles recorded which seem to be too good to be true. Stepping out of the bounds of science. Our God is a loving Father. He is "the same, yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13: 8). So, how can that miracle occur when we don't see things like that in this day? Fire and water do not mix. If we look at the face of this miracle, it makes absolutely no sense; especially since he asked for barrels of water to be thrown upon the bullock before the sacrifice. A message President Uchdorf shared this past General Conference exemplified this principle: "just because we don't know it now, doesn't mean we can't later, nor does it means the other is wrong." 

A miracle is the natural consequence of the application of correct principles. The Lord has declared, "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all [miracles] are predicated--And when we obtain any [miracle] from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (Doctrine and Covenants 130: 20-21) I have affirmed science has been able to describe some of these laws. So, using modern science, how could fire from heaven ignite a very wet sacrifice?

During the dressing of the bullock, the prophet must have had to prepare it under the strict guidelines of the levitical law, which reads, "every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt." (Leviticus 2:13, italics added) This is an important observation, considering that he had to add a LOT of salt. Because if he added water with the normal amount of salt, it would be lacking and therefore an invalid burnt offering, so he was, more than likely, VERY liberal with it. But salt is not flammable. It doesn't attract nor create a flame quite like gasoline, butane, or napalm. Anyone who knows the workings of salt and oxygen knows that it must be at an extremely high temperature for salt to ignite. Now he had his offering drenched in salt water.

After reading the account, it was placed into my mind that fire was the only way to describe what was seen, but it was not indeed fire. Due to the fact the unique properties of salt water. Unlike fresh water, salt water has free-flowing ions which creates free-flowing electrons, and thus conducts electricity. Hence, it created a spot which was more conductive than the surrounding areas. Then, when the electrons were built up in the atmosphere to their peak, they discharged in, probably, several bolts of lightning striking the same place. Lighting is hotter than the surface of the sun, and would  evaporate the water and leave the sacrifice in a burning heap.

"Less than a century ago," President Uchdorf observed, "most astronomers assumed that our Milky Way galaxy was the only galaxy in the universe. They supposed all that lay beyond our galaxy was an immense nothingness, an infinite void—empty, cold, and devoid of stars, light, and life. As telescopes became more sophisticated—including telescopes that could be launched into space—astronomers began to grasp a spectacular, almost incomprehensible truth: the universe is mind-bogglingly bigger than anyone had previously believed, and the heavens are filled with numberless galaxies, unimaginably far away from us, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. In a very short period of time, our understanding of the universe changed forever. Today we can see some of these distant galaxies. We know that they are there. They have been there for a very long time. But before mankind had instruments powerful enough to gather celestial light and bring these galaxies into visibility, we did not believe such a thing was possible. The immensity of the universe didn't suddenly change, but our ability to see and understand this truth changed dramatically. And with that greater light, mankind was introduced to glorious vistas we had never before imagined." Science and faith are similar to both eyes. If we use only one, the world seems one dimensional, without depth; but with both, the depths of life are unfolded to our minds. I hope I have helped you see and understand truth differently. I promise as you remain open minded to receive more truth, utilizing both "eyes," faith and science, The Lord will introduce you to "glorious vistas you had never before imagined."

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