One of my favorite Bible characters is the great prophet Elijah. He came on the scene as the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell deeper and deeper into idolatry and immorality. Ahab was the king of that region, and he epitomized everything that we can’t stand about a politician. He was weak, spineless, and was willing to look the other way as great evils were being committed. The Bible sets his reign as the benchmark of wicked kings (1 Kings 16:33).
Perhaps the worst part of Ahab was not even him. It was his wicked wife, Jezebel. Nothing illustrates God’s command for his people to not marry outside of their own people like Ahab and Jezebels marriage. She made the worship of the idol Baal mainstream, and made killing God’s prophets a national pastime (1 Kings 18:4).
Elijah was the great prophet of God during this time. He stood up to Ahab and became a thorn in Ahab and Jezebel’s side.
In the peak of Jezebel’s persecution against the prophets of God, Elijah presents himself to a secret ally named Obadiah who was in charge of Ahab’s house, and tells him, “Go tell your master Elijah is here”. Obadiah was frightened because he was certain that he would be killed just like the prophets. Elijah promises him that things are going to work out and Obadiah sends the word to Ahab.
Ahab goes to meet Elijah, and just as you would expect, he puts the blame for the division and problems on Elijah. “Is that you oh troubler of Israel?”. Elijah’s response is filled with grit, bravery, and loyalty to God. “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed after Baal.”(1 Kings 18:17-19). The division was not because of the truth, it was because of error!
Elijah then makes a challenge. He asks for a contest to see if Jehovah is the true God or if Baal was. The challenge would be to make an altar, slaughter a bull, and then ask Baal to bring the fire upon the sacrifice, and Elijah would do the same thing asking the Lord. The terms were agreed upon, and the story plays out as we would expect. The prophets of Baal embarrassed themselves while Elijah proved his claim that Jehovah is the one true God (1 Kings 18:20-40).
Before the actual contest starts, Elijah makes a statement to the people of the land. They straddled the fence. They were both God and Baal worshippers. So Elijah says to them, “how long will you limp between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him” (18:21).
One thing that is very important to realize is that both parties could not be right. The first of the ten commandments was “You shall have no other god’s before me” (Ex 20:2). Elijah is saying, you can’t worship God and worship Baal, these two things are diametrically opposed to one another. They were enemies.
This lesson is lost in many today. Especially in the world of religion. There are people who claim to be Christians but you couldn’t tell by the way they live. They may wear a cross around their neck but they are just as quick to run to evil as the most worldly person there is. How long are you going to limp between these two opinions. If God is God, then serve him!
There are over 30,000 denominations in the world. They teach doctrines that are contrary to one another but many of them have an attitude of “as long as you say Jesus is your lord, you are ok”. One group teaches that babies are born lost and another teaches they aren’t. One group says we should listen to the Pope, another group says we shouldn’t. One group says that Jesus is coming back to set up his kingdom on earth, and another group says it’s already here. We have a world and a community of theological limpers who jump back and forth between two opinions and perfectly okay with never taking a stand on any doctrinal matter.
On January 16th, 2021 at 4pm there will be a “religious contest” of sorts, in the form of a biblical debate. One person will be affirming that baptism is essential for salvation, and the other will deny it. This is such an important event because both of us can not be right. One of us is wrong. Our hope is that the evidence in God’s word is presented is so clear, that all those who attend can see it as clear as the fire that came down on Mt. Carmel.
We want to invite all who can to attend. It will be at the LaFollette Church of Christ.
Due to Covid uncertainties, we need to have a good estimate of how many people plan on attending. Please send me an rsvp email if possible firstname.lastname@example.org.
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