geezeronthequad: Prelude to a Slam Down – I Kings 18: 20-35
Louie Palu shoots photos in the darkest corners of the world – war zones, disasters, urban poverty, etc. An interviewer asked him how constant exposure to death, suffering and hardship affected him. Louie replied that he was not religious but he came to realize he had a soul and that it was nearly destroyed. Souls of people, universities and nations die slowly – almost evaporating while we numbly go about our stuff, absorbed with ourselves. Wake ups from this creeping death come neither cheaply nor subtly.
Israel stood right there without knowing it. Rump deep in pagan sexually immoral Baal worship, they mouthed God but worshipped the cravings of their bellies and glands (just like today). God uses times like this to unveil someone He’s been building in the shade but now it’s time to step into the noonday sun. Elijah was now “the man”. He called the shots even over the king. He ordered everyone to Mt. Carmel and the king as well as 450 prophets of Baal got in line and showed up. Whatever the Lord calls and gifts us to be and do, a time will come when we must step up, step out and own it. Maybe we’ve been asked to lead a small group, be part of the worship team, spearhead a new outreach or just to go public and be out there with our faith. Yes, Elijah made the call on the years of famine (I Kings 17:1-6). But then he bugged out in seclusion for those years. He then had two big step up moments (miraculous provision of food and a healing, I Kings 17: 7-24) with the widow of Zarephath. But these were hidden. As the Holy Spirit gives gifts, a time comes when this Jesus thing can’t stay private; we must jump on and start pedaling. And Elijah sported a few rough edges; he said he was the last of the Lord’s prophets. That wasn’t true and he knew it. (I Kings 18:13). But on that day in the noonday sun, Elijah was the only prophet of the Lord standing on the summit of Mt. Hermon.
Elijah asked the Big Question. “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” God’s existence is not THE big question. WHO HE IS stands as the big enchilada. Believing in god is no big deal as long as I can make him up after my own tastes like this. Michael Green, the British evangelist, nails it in saying, “Once we say God exists, it doesn’t matter a hill of beans what we think about Him. We’d better find out what He thinks about us.” Baal, a god of fertility and the harvest, stood powerless to reverse the famine. God had beaten Baal’s dog in his own living room. The entire nation of Israel stood there with a thumb up each nostril; they said nothing – one of the telltale signs of cowardly guilt.
Elijah sets the table proposing a showdown of two prepared sacrifices; the god who answers with fire wins. The Baal gang goes first. There were a lot of them. At a big deal like this, I’m sure they wore their robes and Baal priestly stuff. One must represent and all. You have to style, walk the look. A shame those expensive clothes must have gotten smeared with dirt, wood chips, blood, fat and other icky gook. Servants usually did this and they’d have brought some if they’d only known. But they got it done.
Elijah set up his sacrifice nearby – all by himself. No help. the important people of the world have people, an entourage, to do the menial stuff. That’s how you know who’s important; they have people. And their people wear expensive sunglasses and strike poses. Elijah hauled his own wood, did his own slaughtering and butchering. A lot of those that some seem to think are the big guns today dress more like the Baal gang – and they have people. If we will press on to spiritual depth and excellence in following the Lord, we will do most of our own hauling. Celebrity and/or “fat cat” treatment will always dull and smooth the edges of anyone desiring to run hard after God.
And the Baal boys flat-out went after it. I mean yelling and screaming, flailing the air, slicing themselves up. You’d think they were fighting for a good spot in line for the latest Apple phone. Christians talk about God being sovereign, in control, on the throne, etc. That just means that God is always fine to let evil go first; He will make the last play. Consider the opening of the Book of Job. Go ahead and touch Job, his possessions and his family. How about Daniel with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Anyone who doesn’t bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol gets the fiery furnace. Paul and Silas preach in Philippi and then get beaten and jailed. Jesus grabbed by thugs, beaten and whipped, framed in a corrupt pretense of a trial and then crucified and buried. And then God slams down his ace.
That “ace” will wait until next time. Meanwhile, if we think this will encourage a student or someone who loves them, then share, subscribe, Twitter and all that social media stuff. If we already subscribe, then may we need to be part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leader,professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, business people, theologians, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats and a Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Take a look and see what you think.
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Pleas return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.