Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grace and indecision

" When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, 'Is it you, you troubler of Israel' He answered,'I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table' So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.  Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, 'How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.' The people did not answer him a word." 1 Kings 18 17-21 (NRSV).

Ahab was King of Israel for about 22 years, and according to 1 Kings 16: 29-34, he was an evil king and worshipped Baal. During Ahab's reign, there was a three year drought in Israel because God had told Elijah to predict it. Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought, but God had other purposes for this dry period of time. In the scripture above, the word of the LORD came to Elijah and told him to go to Ahab and tell him that the Lord will send rain. Elijah devised a test to prove it was God who was going to send the rain, not Baal. Baal's priests and Elijah set up alters to sacrifice a bull. Both sides were to pray for the one that they worshiped to light the fire for the sacrifice. All of Israel gathered to watch Baal's priests pray for fire to consume a sacrificial offering. After a while, it was evident that the prayers of Baal's priests were unanswered.

Then, Elijah soaked his alter with water, then prayed to the LORD. The fire from the LORD came down and consumed the sacrifice and the stone alter as well. In the scripture above, Elijah's reminds both King Ahab and the people of Israel that a very big God is at work in their lives, and modern Christians need to be reminded of this as well.

Modern American Christians struggle with the idea that our government enacts laws that differ from our moral sensibility, but there are countries in our world that even prohibit the worship of Christ! A decision for or against a Christian political agenda is not nearly as important as the decisions we must make every minute of the day to seek Christ in all we do.

Christ gives us grace to cover our sins, and to cover our wrong and ill informed decisions. This is exactly what happened to Adam and Eve in the garden. After their eyes were opened and they saw their own nakedness, Adam and Eve hid.  They hid, not because they thought that God would not find them, but because they did not want to decide to come forward. They hid from themselves, but God's grace covered them anyway. The LORD covered their nakedness in animal skins, and from then on, all mankind was given the responsibility to seek God for ourselves. We must do this today. The best encouragement we can give to each other is to remind one another to seek the LORD.