Saturday 16 March 2024

If the Lord is God, follow Him!

 And so it is today; if the Lord is God, then follow Him. We cannot serve two masters

We are blessed to have so many English translations of the Bible, each lending its own nuance to the true meaning of the Word; but translations they are, each with its imperfections and limitations of contemporary language.

When we do find a particular word that the different versions cannot agree on, then it must be interesting and worthy of deeper research.

1Kings 18:21 says: Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. (NLT)

Elijah has challenged King Ahab, who has been vacillating between his wife Jezebel's influence in serving the false gods of Baal and Asherah, and his chief official Obadiah's example in serving the one true God of Israel. So Elijah invites the king and all the people to a showdown on Mt Carmel, a stronghold of Baal worship, and now he confronts the people with their syncretistic dithering.

The word 'waver' is translated elsewhere as falter, halt, limp, hesitate, and comes from the Hebrew 'pasach'.  The word is also found in Exodus 12 when the Lord would see the blood on the door lintels and 'pass over', not settling upon the Hebrew occupants but visit death on the Egyptian firstborn. 'Pesach' is the festival fulfilled by Jesus, the Hebrew firstborn whose blood was smeared on a cross to remove the curse of sin so that death would no longer settle on the repentant sinner. 

This positive meaning of pasach is contrasted with a more negative sense by Elijah. It portrays a bird fluttering around from branch to branch and not settling, hence being interpreted as flitting from one opinion to another. Completing the analogy the word for 'opinion' describes a cleft in a branch - trying to walk on both at once will end in a fall. This is the challenge that Elijah puts to the people; they have to make a decision.  The Bible suggests that God hates syncretism (mixing religions) even more than He hates apostasy (rejecting faith altogether). 

The people kept quiet, but it was time to choose, for they were about to witness the miraculous humiliation of the false gods of the day.  And so it is today; if the Lord is God, then follow Him. We cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13), we will love one and hate the other.  There is no compromise.  God is a jealous God, a consuming fire, who will not tolerate rivals (Deuteronomy 4:24). If we choose to follow Jesus we cannot do so part time, and we can serve no other. Whatever we do is for Him, and so we shall be with our Lord Jesus forever.

Author: John Plumb

May God bless and enrich your life

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