Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“Have faith in God.”
“We ask and are answered not,
And so we say, ‘God has forgot,
Or else, there is no God.’
The years roll back and through
A mist of tears,
I see a child turn from her play,
And seek with eager feet, the way
That led her to her father’s knee.
‘If God is wise and kind,’ said she,
‘Why did He let my roses die?’
A moment’s pause, a smile, a sigh,
And then, ‘I do not know, my dear,
Some questions are not answered here’
‘But is it wrong to ask?’ ‘Not so, My child;
that we should seek to know
proves right to know, beyond a doubt;
and someday we shall yet find out why roses die.’
And then I wait, sure of my answer,
Soon or late; secure that love doth hold
for me the key to life’s great mystery.
And oh, so glad to leave it there,
Tho’ my dead roses were so fair.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the One who answers by fire, let Him be God. And all the people answered, ‘It is well spoken.’”
“Who Do You Trust To Answer?”
“Trusting means drawing on the inexhaustible resources of God.”
Is there something specific in my life that I need to trust God for at this moment?
If I had been Elijah, would I have been able to trust God to answer my prayers?
When I review my entire life, on what occasions have I found my God to be worthy of my trust?
“It is not our trust that keeps us, but the God in whom we trust who keeps us.”
“Trust is the bridge over the raging river. Trust is how we access God’s way for us. Trust is acting on your belief that God will make a way. You will never benefit from your faith in God until you step on the bridge and start walking across. Trust is both an attitude and an action.”
Henry Cloud and
God Will Make a Way
As I read our study text for today, I found myself transported to the top of Mount Carmel, a place historians tell us was a fertile area with oak, olive, and fig trees. Here in this verdant region, Elijah called for a national time of renewal -- a moment when Israel was convened so they could take time to look deep within their hearts and make a choice between the God of heaven and earth and Baal, the creation of a god made by earthly hands.
After asking the assembled multitude how long they were going to waver between God and Baal, a stunning silence was all Elijah could illicit. There was dead quiet, broken only by the sound of the wind in the trees.
It is at this point that Elijah proceeded by suggesting a showdown between the false prophets and himself. The specifics of Elijah’s proposal were the following:
1. Two altars were to be built and wood laid on them. There was to be no hidden fire. If you are wondering why Elijah made this stipulation, it is because as author William Petersen informs us, “the prophets of Baal often built tunnels under their altars which would channel a gust of air to the altar. A slight flame could become a roaring inferno in seconds…One of Elijah’s rules was, ‘no fire.’
2. There were to be two bullocks or oxen. One for the prophets of Baal and one for Elijah, which were to be cut up and laid atop the wood on the altars. Maybe, like myself, you are wondering why Elijah specifically asked for bullocks. We find the answer in Leviticus 16: 6, “And Aaron shall present the bull as the sin offering for himself and make atonement for himself and for his house.” (Amplified Bible) Phillip Keller expands on the text above with these words, “The bullock was a sin offering. It showed that the true in heart must be made right always with God in utter humility and complete contrition…it is the person humble in mind, broken in heart, contrite in spirit with whom God, by His Spirit, designs to come and dwell…(God) draws near to the one who senses his sin, seeks cleansing, and believes implicitly that he will come to abide. None of this was true of the prophets of Baal…Despite all of the great deeds done on his behalf by God, (Elijah) still knew his own unworthiness. So, when he prayed, his requests would be honored. God always honors those who honor Him.”
3. The prophets of Baal would go first and call on their gods. Elijah would follow and call upon Jehovah.
4. The God who answered by fire would be declared “the God of all.”
This is when we find that the silent mass found their voices again and responded with, “It is well spoken,” which is just another way of telling Elijah to proceed as planned!
I find the way F. W. Krummacher lays out the scenario which unfolds in a very fascinating way. The people, “agreed to the proposal; some from curiosity, to see what would happen; others, in the hope that Baal would gain the victory; but some few, perhaps, from a real desire to be certain whether Jehovah was the true God.”
How tragic to confront the reality that even with a first hand witness to the fact that a drought, of unparalleled proportions, had impacted their lives for 3 ½ years, the people of Israel still questioned the validity of God’s rulership.
This reminded me of Jesus’ words in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus where he observed, “If they do not hear and listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded and convinced and believe even if someone should rise from the dead. “What more, “we might ask, “Did Israel need to prove God was in control?”
The essence of the real question to be decided atop Carmel was simply this, as laid out by Dale Ralph Davis: “For three years people realized that Baal had a massive case of impotence, but had Yahweh simply given rain again, they would have blabbered about how Baal had ‘recovered,’ that Baal had been rejuvenated. So before it was safe for Yahweh to send rain, Baal must be discredited -- clearly, publicly, obviously, decisively, in living color, and on national prime time. Hence the extreme measure. After Baal was exposed as a non-god, no one with a clear head should think the rain came from him. ‘Who is the real God?’ was the question that dominated.”
I’ll go a step further. Who was the only God who could be trusted? Interestingly enough, if we review the Old Testament history of Israel, it was at Mount Sinai, where the God of heaven and earth, Jehovah, writing with His own finger on tablets of stone, penned the words, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” But now, we find Elijah, in making a stand for God on Mount Carmel, saying loud and clear, “There is no other God.” At Mount Carmel, as M. B. Van’t Veer clearly notes, “the Israelites were led from the purely practical confession ‘we have only one God,’ to an absolute recognition, ‘there is no other God.’”
Would an idol made by the hands of man answer the plea of the prophets of Baal? Or would the Creator, God of heaven and earth speak in an unquestionable way? This was not a question just for Israel. It is also a question that comes to each of us today for we all find ourselves facing a god called Baal, in some form or other. May our answer be, “O Lord, in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.”
“Put thou thy trust in God,
In duty’s path go on;
Walk in His strength with
faith and hope,
So shall thy work be done.”
Translation John Wesley
“Trust in the Lord, and do good…Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”
“In darkness and in light,
in trouble and joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust Your love,
to serve Your purpose
and to praise Your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Daily Office
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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