A DIVIDED HEART
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 1 Kings 18:21
In one of the great historical accounts of the O.T., Elijah confronts King Ahab for leading God’s people astray from Yahweh. The prophet challenges Ahab’s prophets of the idol Baal to a winner-take-all showdown, Elijah standing alone against 450 Baal prophets. Elijah suggests each side sacrifice a bull and await fire upon their respective altar. The Baal prophets take the bull that is given, and prepare it, and call upon the name of Baal from morning to noon, “O Baal, answer us!” Approaching noon, Elijah taunts, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
The confrontation is, of course, not fair. One side represents what is false; Elijah stands with the true and living God. The people watch. Elijah calls upon God, “Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” On cue, the fire falls from Heaven and consumes the offering. The people fall on their faces and turn back, and choose the Lord.
I have occasionally imagined this scene since first hearing of it as a child. The confrontation demonstrates the power of God, so that the people are reproved for their vacillation and idolatry, and challenged to choose for the Lord. They must choose fully for the Lord. Elijah insightfully asks, “How long will you go limping between the two different opinions?” Such a question lands squarely in our laps as well. Can we expect to worship God in spirit and in truth while embracing different opinions? We cannot.
We live in what theologians declare the “Already, Not Yet” time of human history. A great battle rages, between that which is false and that which is true. A battle between that which seeks to deceive, stealing our hearts, and that which offers truth and an unabashed demand for worship and obedience from the created.
These are matters of paramount importance that have practical impact upon the way we live our days. Who shall we worship, and will we do so fully? The tempter still tempts, with one overarching goal – to have us take our eyes off our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, dividing our attention.
John Newton, the great Anglican preacher and abolitionisht, once wrote “I find no Scriptural evidence that we serve the Lord at all, any farther than we find a habitual desire and aim to serve Him wholly. He is gracious to our imperfections and weakness; yet he requires all the heart, and will not be served by halves, nor accept what is performed by a divided heart.”
In August, Pastor Dan will preach through the culmination text of Ephesians, “The Armor of God”. The word armor rightly brings forth images in our minds of battle. One doesn’t accidently wear armor; it is worn on purpose, anticipating action, trusting it will serve the wearer well. It protects, aiming to deflect or absorb impacts thrown from one’s enemy with the intention of hurt or fatality.
Beloved, we do not walk in peacetime. The enemy is crafty and intends to deceive us into a divided worship; Ephesians 6:10-20 shall steady us and prepare us for his manuevers and battletime conditions.
Let us rally under the preaching of God’s Word this month, keeping alert with all perseverance, so that we may be able to stand against the schemes of our enemy.