“How long will you hesitate between two opinions?
1 Kings 18 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now it happened after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 Ahab called Obadiah who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly; 4 for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.) 5 Then Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys; perhaps we will find grass and keep the horses and mules alive, and not have to kill some of the cattle.” 6 So they divided the land between them to survey it; Ahab went one way by himself and Obadiah went another way by himself.
7 Now as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him, and he recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is this you, Elijah my master?” 8 He said to him, “It is I. Go, say to your master, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” 9 He said, “What sin have I committed, that you are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab to put me to death? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to search for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made the kingdom or nation swear that they could not find you. 11 And now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your master, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12 It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth. 13 Has it not been told to my master what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, that I hid a hundred prophets of the Lord by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water? 14 And now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your master, “Behold, Elijah is here”’; he will then kill me.” 15 Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals. 19 Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people said, “That is a good idea.”
25 So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26 Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. 27 It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.” 28 So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. 29 When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. 33 Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. 34 And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.
36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.” 40 Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
41 Now Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go back” seven times. 44 It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.’” 45 In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46 Then the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.
In Joshua 24:14-18 it says: “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. The Lord drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.” In today’s text it says: Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. The choice given to the people was the same; chose who you will follow and serve, either the Lord, or other gods. Throughout human history, from Adam and Eve to the present, the same choice remains for every person to decide and choose, whom will you serve. Throughout human history and surely today, many do just as Elijah said, they hesitate and hold to both, they say Jesus is Lord, but they follow and serve other gods. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus says: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment.” When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3-5 it says: “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Perhaps the greatest hindrance to loving God with our whole heart, soul and mind, is not other gods, it is not carved images, but it is serving the idol of self-satisfaction. It is choosing to do what feels good and right rather than what is good and right.
In Genesis 1:26-27 it says: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Rather than following God and being conformed to His image and likeness, when we serve self, we create a god in the image of ourselves. We create a god who fits our own preferences, desires and lusts and it is that god that we serve, even while we call Jesus Lord. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” In Joshua’s day, the people were convinced by the miracles they had seen. Elijah showed the Lord to be God by the evidence of His fire. Those testimonies of God’s greatness remain for us today. The greatest testimony though, the greatest reason to follow and serve the Lord is that: “God so loved the world, that He gave His ]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the grave, so that we could live with and for Him. When Jesus called His disciples, His words were simple, He said: “Follow Me.” That is the choice each person must make, we must decide, whom we will follow.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. There is none like You. How could I not follow the God who died so that I could live? Holy Spirit help me to never hesitate between the gods of this world or the god of self. Help me fully follow the Lord. My desire is that I would love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind; and that I would follow Him. May I never try to conform God to my image, but instead, may I be conformed and restored to the image and likeness of Him who created me. Amen.