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(Part 7)


June 13, 2012
Today’s reading: 1 Kings 18:20-39

Today’s reading is about the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal. It is a fascinating account of the contest between them to show who was the true prophet serving the true God. There are some lessons for us to learn.

“Elijah appealed to all the people and said, ‘How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.’ The people, however, did not answer him.” (1 Kgs 18:21). God through Moses gave the Israelites a choice, as today He gives all of us the same choice: life or death, prosperity or doom, blessing or curse (Dt 30:15-20). Unfortunately, many Christians today straddle the issue or refuse to give an answer.

What does this choice mean?

Well, it is an either-or choice. There are only two choices and no more. You are either for God or against Him. If you are not for Him, then you are automatically against Him. This is where many fail to appreciate the gravity of their non-choice. They of course have not declared themselves against God, but if they do not declare themselves for God, then they automatically belong to the other camp. There is no middle or neutral ground.

If people do not place themselves under the protective dominion of God, then they are left to fend for themselves in a world under the dominion of the evil one. If people do not actively obey God, they will end up obeying what is dictated to them by the world, the flesh and the devil. If they do not do the work of God that is evangelization, by gathering people back to God, then they in effect contribute to the continued scattering of the sheep.

Thus Elijah’s simple choice: If the Lord is God, then follow Him.

What was Elijah’s criterion in the contest? “The God who answers with fire is God.” (1 Kgs 18:24b). Now both God and Satan play with fire. God poured out tongues of fire on the disciples at Pentecost; Satan dwells in the fires of hell. God’s fire fired up His people, and gave them passion and zeal to proclaim the good news, and thus help bring people back to true life; Satan’s fire is punishment for unrepentant sinners, keeping them in eternal death. God’s fire is the beginning of all good things; Satan’s fire is the end for all bad things.

John the Baptist said of Jesus: “He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire ..... but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mt 3:11c,12c). Jesus baptizes us with his Holy Spirit in order that we might be His instruments to proclaim his good news of salvation to all. As such, God’s fire at Pentecost is to be used by us to “save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 1:23a).

Towards the end of the dramatic contest, Elijah called on God. “The Lord’s fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench.” (1 Kgs 18:38). “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29)!

The Lord’s fire consumes the wood that represents idols in our lives (Jer 10:8b) and yokes we bear (Jer 28:13). It consumes the stones that weigh us down in life. It consumes the dust that makes us dirty and litters our surroundings. It consumes the water that at times overwhelms us and makes us feel like drowning in troubles, sorrows and oppression.

Best of all, the Lord’s fire consumes the holocaust, and blessed are we if we have made ourselves as that offering.

We have to make our choice. For us it can only be God. May it be for all people as well. May “all the people (fall) prostrate and (say), ‘The Lord is God! The Lord is God!’” (1 Kgs 18:39).

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