In 1 Kings 18 we read the well-known story of the challenge between Elijah, the prophet of God, and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to see who could call on their God to ignite a fire to burn up a sacrificial bull.
Despite their shouts to their god and their best efforts to get their god to respond to their cries, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal were unable to rouse their god to respond. In contrast, despite drenching his fire and offering in water, it was Elijah’s simple cry to God that received a positive response, as the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice and even the ground around it!
Immediately we read that when all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried: “The LORD – he is God! The LORD – he is God!”
All well and good, we might think. But that commitment is the start of the process, not its conclusion. Theology needs to lead to discipleship. Or, putting it another way, commitments have consequences. The big question is not so much who the true God is but, rather, what will the people do when that truth is made undeniable?
As one Bible commentator said of this story: “Elijah will not allow you to attend a ‘God contest’ simply so that you can conclude, ‘Well, now we know that Yahweh is the real God. Now … what movie do you want to see?” Neither Elijah, the whole story of the Bible throughout history, nor God Himself, will allow us the comfort of such flippancy or detachment. If the LORD is God, then we must follow Him. The God of the Bible refuses to simply be an idea to discuss. Or, as another writer said, “He is not an idea to play with but a King to whom we submit.”
As those who have seen enough to put our trust in Jesus as LORD, then that commitment has consequences for us. Either Jesus is to be LORD of all, or He isn’t really LORD at all. What a challenge! I wonder what each of us will do with it in this messy, confusing, and broken world of today.
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