Friday, October 12, 2012

Which is God

So they took the bull given them and prepared it.  Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling.  Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.  Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.  1 King 18:26-29

As I studied this passage, I had to wonder at the behavior of the Baal priests.  They danced; they shouted; they cut themselves; they became frantic.

But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

To serve a god that didn't answer.  How could they serve a god they didn't feel or see its majesty?  The work of its hand?  

If you look at this passage in context (1 Kings 16:29-19:21), the end of a three year drought is about to end.  This god hadn't sent rain.  They only thing it "did" was enable these priest to eat at Jezabel's table - meaning they had food, despite a nation that was probably starving.

We experienced a short drought in the Midwest this summer.  The crops didn't grow well.  The streams dried up.  Lakes lowered or disappeared.  People frustration were in their words with complaints of the heat and dieing landscapes.  I can only imagine what would happen if it had lasted three years!

Ahab in this story is concerned for himself and his possessions.  Instead of looking for water to help the people, he wanted to feed and water his animals.  Instead of repenting and seeing God's mighty hand in the drought, he continued to sacrifice to all gods and live for himself.

We can't forget that God didn't answer prayers with rain during this drought either.  However, He provided for Elijah, the 100 prophets and for any Isrealite that adhered to His decrees.  Although the Bible doesn't reference any, so I can't be sure of that one.  

The Isrealites had a history with God.  They knew what He had done leading their people to the promise land.   Yet this story does indicate that they served Baal and Asherah poles, just as Ahab did.

Perhaps Baal was a demon.  With Elijah's  presence on the mountain, God being with Elijah, Baal couldn't come there, couldn't be that close to God.  

The priest of Baal were weak with the bleeding.  After God showed up mightily and burned everything down to the ground, these weak priest were easily carried off and killed.  Ahab did nothing, for he still only served himself.

I'm called to look closer at idols.  How does it make me weak, easily carried off by the enemy?  How does it not do anything, yet has my full attention?

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