The One True God

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by Jenny Thompson

Introduction

Elijah was about to prove to the prophets of Baal who really was the true God. Only the God of Israel could end the drought by sending the rain!

To think that these prophets worshipped Baal who was supposed to be a god of the weather! God certainly does have a sense of humour!

John the Baptist, who was the greatest of all prophets clearly said when asked that he was not the Messiah or Elijah but Isaiah 40:3,

“A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Of course John was commissioned from God to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, who was and is, the only Son of the true God!

1 Kings 17:17-39

Ahab had greeted Elijah in a very unpleasant manner. Of course Elijah did not deserve Ahab’s insult. You see rain had stopped because Ahab worshipped Baal gods. So soon Elijah would prove that God is the only true God.

What we see here is the amazing confidence that Elijah had in God to show up in a very powerful way that day. Would we have had that same confidence in God? Interesting thought!

So Elijah challenged Ahab to a meeting on Mount Carmel. Actually, this mountain was one of the places where people had worshipped Baal gods.

This shows that Elijah was not intimidated or spooked by the thought! People from all the tribes of Israel came. So did the prophets who led the worship of the Baal gods. Perhaps Ahab was afraid not to obey Elijah, or perhaps Ahab thought that he would do anything to get rain.

So, on this occasion, Ahab obeyed Elijah. But Ahab still did not want to obey God. This is a very powerful story.

The purpose of the event was to show which god was the real god. You see what was happening here is that the people wanted to mix the worship of God with the worship of Baal. But Elijah told the people that they could not do this. Just like Joshua said to the Israelites in Joshua 24:15.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

He told the people to choose the God whom they would serve.

Today, the challenge still goes forth, are we going to serve the true God or are we going to serve the gods of materialism, sex, power or money?

Are there other things on the altar of our hearts that we need to deal with?

So Elijah allowed the prophets of Baal to pray to their god first. They prayed in the manner that their religion ordered.

When Baal did not answer their many prayers, they became more and more desperate. They shouted and they cut themselves. They hoped that their blood would make their god listen. Elijah laughed at them. If Baal were a god, surely he would hear them.

But perhaps he was thinking about something else? Perhaps he was too busy to answer their prayers? Elijah again suggested that Baal was too weak. Perhaps he had gone to sleep and they should wake him up!

The prophets of Baal shouted for another three hours until 3pm in the afternoon, but still nobody answered.

Then it was Elijah’s turn and he repaired an altar that people had used to worship God. He did this to show that he was not introducing a new religion. Instead, he wanted to bring back the belief and worship of the real God.

He used 12 stones to do this representing the 12 tribes of Israel and this also showed that all the people still belonged to God.

Elijah poured water which was perhaps from the sea to show that he was not cheating. Everyone could see that Elijah had not lit a fire, and of course the altar was too wet for anyone to start a fire on it.

So he prepared in a way which made it humanly speaking, impossible for anything to happen! I love this!

Then Elijah prayed to God in a humble manner. He prayed that people would know two things.

The first was that God was the real God.

The second was that he was a God of mercy.

He still wanted the people to turn back to Him. He still wanted to show them His kindness.

Suddenly, something happened that astonished all the people – fire came down from the sky. The fire destroyed the sacrifice and the altar, it also burnt the soil and dried up the water.

It seems that this event caused great terror. Well of course, if we had witnessed this we would have been terrified as well!

The prophets of Baal had failed. Elijah had proved that God was the real God. God then told the Israelites to kill those who led them to worship these gods of Baal. We would not of course do this today, but in Colossians 3:5-8, the Apostle Paul uses a similar description.

He is explaining that with God’s help, we as Christians must end our own wrong desires. He writes this,

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

So if we really follow God, we will obey him. My word, what a tall order this is! But the more we do this by the grace of God, increasingly our lives will be changed and we will be more effective for Him.

John 1:19-28

John the Baptist was an unusual man to say the least!

He lived in the desert and wore clothes that he had made from camel’s hair. He probably could also be seen with a piece of locust stuck between his teeth! He was not a political leader but he was a powerful man and because of this many people listened to his message.

He told them to repent and to be baptised.

The people could see that God had given authority to him. Therefore, they obeyed him. The people recognised that he spoke God’s instructions to them.

So when the Jewish leaders heard about John the Baptist, they sent some priests to him. Probably, the priests came to see John the Baptist for several reasons. Perhaps they wanted to know if John was teaching wrong beliefs.

They needed to know if he was a genuine prophet.

Also I think they were jealous, because John was popular with the people. John was gaining more followers than they were, and they didn’t like it!

The Jews were eager for the Messiah to come. Most Jews expected him to be a great military leader. They expected him to lead Israel’s armies and to defeat all their enemies.

Sometimes, men would pretend to be the Messiah and they would persuade people to join them and to fight against the Roman rulers.

However, the Roman rulers soon sniffed these people out and always overcame them and punished them. So John was a very popular man who had God’s authority.

So if we think about it, it was probably quite natural for them to think that he might be the Messiah. But immediately, John said that he was not the Messiah.

The Jews believed that Elijah would return. Then he would tell people that the messiah was coming soon. When asked John told them that he was not Elijah either! John 1:20-21 reads,

“He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ ”

You see John wanted people to concentrate on his message, not on himself. He wanted them to think about the Messiah, not about John the Baptist.

The Pharisees were a group of Jews who were experts in the Law. They believed that people had to obey every part of the Law. The most important Jewish teachers had added many new rules to the Law. This was so that people had rules for every situation.

What a terrible burden they placed on the backs of people!

The Pharisees said that these new rules were just as important as God’s rules in the Law. Many Pharisees became proud and they thought that they were better than other people.

Both Jesus and John the Baptist argued with them. So these Pharisees wanted to know why John the Baptist was baptising Jews.

John the Baptist used water to baptise people after they had repented. They washed their bodies to show that they wanted to be clean inside their hearts and minds. But of course, the only person who could truly forgive their sins was coming soon.

Actually he was among them, in the crowd. But they did not recognise their Messiah.

He is here among us now in our world, in our situations, but sadly so many do not recognise Him! Let’s not be one of those!

John knew his place, he knew that he was called to prepare the coming of Jesus. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth – wow!

He was a Nazarite, which meant that he was dedicated to the Lord from birth and was not allowed to cut his hair or to drink any fermented drink or wine. John was honest and was not afraid to speak the truth boldly and passionately.

John enabled Jesus to take his rightful place, so he paved the way. In a sense, he laid the red carpet down in order for Jesus to walk upon it. Jesus asked John to be baptised by him, showing how important the life and ministry of John was to Jesus Himself. God used John to launch His Son into ministry!

What an incredible honour that must have been!

So what do we see in Elijah? – a prophet who was totally committed to the one true God of Israel and who had total confidence in Him!

What do we see in John the Baptist? – a prophet who was totally committed to preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. Who walked in humility, knew who he was and what he was called to do!

How easy it is, if our heart is not filled with the love of God, it can so easily grow cold and our faith can grow weak.

So if our heart feels emptied of God, we can seek to fill that void with other things.

So these other things cannot bring true satisfaction to our hearts, because only He can give us true fulfilment in our hearts.

If we want to be like John the Baptist, then we must set our heart, mind, soul and strength on the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

There is no room for compromise. We are either for Jesus and His kingdom or against it. We either give Him our full allegiance and submission or we hold on to the reigns of running life as we want it to go.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, please free us from complacency and from compromising with the ways of sin and the wrong things of this world, so that we may be wholeheartedly devoted to you and to your kingdom. Amen.

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