Scripture Reading: I Kings 14 - 18 ...
As we continue to read the history of the now divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, we hear again of God's anger against the sin of idolatry - the act of worshiping ANY OTHER god. God had taken ten of the twelve tribes of Israel away from Solomon's son, Rehoboam, and had given them to Jereboam. But Jereboam had set up idols for the people to worship because he did not want them to go to the temple in Jerusalem. He thought he was wiser than God and that he could control the outcome of his reign and his kingdom better than God could. How often people get into trouble because we think we can "run things" better than God can!
While the line of the kings of Judah continued from the descendants of David, the kings of Israel were repeatedly killed and replaced by those who rebelled against them. The reason could not be clearer! God said to Jereboam (through his wife): "You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back" (14:9). What an insult to God! God had said that He is a "jealous God" and we need to understand that the worship of anything else provokes God to anger. The only difference between then and now is that God is withholding His awesome anger and wrath for the coming "day of the Lord." But rest assured, His judgment will come!
The kings of Israel were compared to Jereboam, the idolater, while the kings of Judah were compared to David, the man after God's own heart. "For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD ... except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (15:5). David, too, had sinned, but he had repented; he had confessed his sin before the LORD and had pleaded for forgiveness, resting in God's grace. As David wrote in Psalm 51:17: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." The kings of Israel, and some of the kings of Judah, were anything but sorry for their idolatry and they did not repent and turn from their evil deeds. God's anger and judgment fell on them, and it will fall on all who follow in their ways.
Many of you who are reading this live in the United States of America. Others of you live in other countries around the world. The United States was founded on the principles of truth found in God's Word, the Bible, but has strayed from God as fewer and fewer people believe in Jesus Christ, accept the Bible as the Word of God or desire to obey His commands. Other nations in Europe followed the same path and still other nations have never had a majority of people who claimed to know the one true God. Whatever the case where you live, when a people turn their back on God or refuse to worship Him, God's judgment will eventually follow. Indeed, God's judgment is already being seen all over the world and meanwhile many in the church continue to proclaim that God loves everybody ... don't worry about it!!
During the reign of wicked King Ahab, the prophet Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal ... all 450 of them, plus the 400 prophets of the Asherah ... the other false gods. Quite the odds: 850 to 1! But who really had the advantage? Someone has said, "You and God are a majority!" So Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him, but if Baal is God follow him" (18:21). Then they set up the altars and the wood and Elijah said, "The god who answers by fire - HE is God!" (18:24).
The outcome was predictable! The prophets of Baal cried out to their gods for hours, "but there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention" (18:29). Then it was Elijah's turn. He commanded that the altar and the wood be doused with water ... three times ... then he prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Jacob's name had been changed to "Israel"), let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that You, O LORD, are God and that You are turning their hearts back again" (18:36-37).
"Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench" (18:38). And the people responded by falling down on their faces and crying, "The LORD - HE is God! The LORD - He is God!" (18:39). Elijah ordered the prophets of Baal to be put to death and then told Ahab that God would send rain, leaving no doubt who was GOD in Israel.
The fact is, there should have been no doubt to begin with. God had revealed Himself then, as He has even more ways today. Anyone who looks at the creation around them should know that the God who created all things is the same God who reveals Himself in His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ. But those without His Spirit are spiritually DEAD and spiritually blind! Only those who have been born again by the Spirit of God through hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ will confess their sins, repent and place their faith in Jesus Christ, and so be saved.
Who is your God? It is not enough to believe in some generic "god." Satan and his demons believe in God, but do not confess their sin, repent and trust in Jesus for forgiveness. Many believe in "a" god, but do not find forgiveness in the blood of Jesus. Who is YOUR God? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or one of the many gods worshiped by those who reject the truth God has revealed in His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ? In the words of Joshua to Israel centuries before:
"Now fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped ... But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve! ... As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD!" (Joshua 24:14-16).
"O Lord, my God, YOU alone are God! I take refuge in You and cling to Your promise of forgiveness through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your warnings and for Your Holy Spirit, Who has opened my eyes to behold Your glory, to confess my sin and to find hope in Jesus. I humble myself before You and ask that You would use me to warn others so that they, too, may be saved. In Jesus' name, Amen"