The story of Elijah taking on the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) is one of my favorites. The backdrop of the scene involves the King of Israel, Ahab, who is described in Scriptures as a man who led Israel into evil like none other (1 Kings 16:30). The dude was bad news, and God called Elijah to lead His people back.
Elijah gathered all Israel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (two of the false Gods Ahab had led Israel to worship). Then, right before one of the most iconic showdowns between God and His rivals, Elijah called the children of God to account.
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. (1 Kings 18:21)
Elijah broke things down into very black and white options – either worship God, or worship Baal – but, stop wavering between the two. Surely that had to make sense to the people since it wasn’t possible for both God and Baal to be true gods? Yet, waver between the two they did. Other translations say that they hesitated between the two (NIV), or were paralyzed by indecision (NET). However, I appreciated the way the English Standard Version (ESV) phrased Elijah’s question – “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?”
The original language used a word that described someone who had become lame in their feet. Such was the state of the people of Israel. They were vacillating between serving God and chasing after many other things at the same time. The result? They weren’t getting anywhere.
The names have changed today, but the wavering really hasn’t. The temptation to pursue the lures of this world remains. We find ourselves immersed in temporary pursuits and try to throw God into the mix for good measure. Unfortunately, that recipe has never worked well for God’s people. So, let me gently ask, “How long will you limp along between God and the world?” –Dave
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