How Long

Submitted by Hannah D. on Sat, 10/24/2015 - 01:18

In the midst of the historical accounts of Israel in the Old Testament, there exists this jewel of a verse:

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
- 1 Kings 18:21

A little context may be needed. Elijah was one of the great prophets of God to Israel. He lived and preached during a time when God's chosen people had turned to idols. A pagan king sat on the throne, and had ordered all prophets of Yahweh executed. His god of choice was Baal, adopted from foreign countries around them, and while a few of God's people were hidden away by a clandestinely faithful official, Elijah was, by all appearances, the only worshipping Jew left in Israel.

Despite this, he is fearless. Here he is on Mount Carmel, daring the people to take a stand. Right here, right now - choose. Will you profess faith in the God who brought you out of Egypt? Or do you instead opt to serve this mute idol?

But the people answered him not a word.

Consider this, now. This is an openly pagan country, with a very openly pagan king, and all servants of the LORD - save for this tenacious fellow Elijah - are either dead or hiding in a cave somewhere. And yet, given this environment, they will not openly confess faith in Baal.

This shocked me. Why the heavens not? All of Israel seems to be joined in pagan worship. Why not just admit it and confess to worshipping a statue in lieu of the God of their fathers?

I think - and this is a mere guess, mind you - that this had to do with the fact that Israel still wanted ties to her heritage. Her people still wanted God sprinkled into their lives in a merry, perhaps nostalgic fashion. At the same time, they had been seduced by the allure of the foreign god Baal. In short, they wanted the best of both worlds. To answer Elijah's question would be to abandon one for the other; the Israelites were in a happy-medium that nobody wanted to change.

Now take a peek at the other end of your Bible, where God speaks to the church at Laodicea:

"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth."
- Revelation 3:15-16

This seems to be the state that Israel was in when Elijah first addressed them. And as that verse from Revelation shows, that is a rather dangerous place to be. God will not settle for half of our hearts, half of our souls, half of our minds, half of our strength. We are either with Him, or against Him. Let us not pretend that friendship with the world is amity with God; let us instead seek to serve Him with all of ourselves, boldly declaring truth from falsehood, and willing to answer Elijah's question definitively and boldly.

Author's age when written


Ahhh! I love your writing! This paper was so clear, concise, written in an easy manner but not dumbed down at all. Love it!

What an interesting thing--I never really knew about the pagans not confessing their worship of Baal.
Isn't Rev 3:15-16 an excellent scripture? It's so good...and I love how it especially tied in beautifully with the last paragraph and completed the whole essay wonderfully.
Enjoyed it thoroughly
Just a few typos ;)

"God who brought you ought of Egypt?" "out"

"Now take a peak at the other end of your Bible" "peek"

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh