Why has the flow of blog posts here dried up? (Both readers noticed! 🙂 )
Two reasons: first, I’m putting together a website to be the focus of my writing, albeit in a slightly different vein, and that has taken a lot of time. But that’s not the main reason. As I’m reading through the Bible, I’m in 1 Kings, just passing over to 2 Kings. I’ve read these stories many a time, but this is the first time I’m experiencing some emotional reactions.
Aghast might be an overstatement, but not by much. As I read about each of the northern tribes’ kings rejecting Jehovah as their Lord, I find an incredulous anger in me that’s new. What a bunch of idiots! And what a moronic clown king so-and-so was! (And all of them were.) Scratching my head, I can’t help wondering: if God knew in advance this would happen, why did He embark on this course (splitting the kingdom)? Why did He pick out Jeroboam when He knew he would be such a loser? And it’s not just one dynasty – four times He tossed out a dynasty and installed a new one, and every time with the same result. Why?
I have no answer. Knowing God, I’m sure there is one; there always is. So I’m reading the history with this undertone of frustrated incredulity, when the Mt. Carmel event shifts into view. I settle down. I know this is going to be good. After the parting of the Red Sea, this was probably the most stunning miracle God dropped from the sky to show humanity who God is and who is God. Mentally, I begin rubbing my hands and reading slower to savor the unfolding of this drama. In this sea of crappy futility, we’re approaching an island of heroic victory. This is guaranteed to be good!
Sure enough, the bad guys get zapped, just like I knew they would. But then, surprise! I see something I never saw before, and this just crumbles all the hopes I stored up for the reading of this event. The Great Miracle turns into one of the biggest let-downs, even tragedies, in the Old Testament!
Ask yourself: what exactly did this awesome miracle accomplish? No matter how hard I look, I just can’t see any answer but zip, zero, nada. Nothing! Nothing changed. All the leaders of the nation were there at Ahab’s command. That would be like a joint session of Congress: all were in attendance. All witnessed an incontrovertible and dramatic demonstration of Jehovah’s power. And they all confirmed it by saying, “Jehovah, He is God!” And then they killed the false prophets to top it off. Nice, right?
Wrong. Nothing changed after that. Great emotional event, but nothing changed. Ahab and Jezebel, and the nation’s leaders, made not one single change after proclaiming that Jehovah alone is God. When the sun rose the following morning, Baal was still their god. Less than 24 hours after being shown up as a loser god, totally worthless, Baal is their god again. Can you imagine that??? I am still shaking my head, trying to wrap my mind around that. Hardcore apostasy at its worst.
Oh, then there’s the rain. Elijah said it would stop until he said. Well, after the Great Miracle he said, and, sure enough, it rained almost immediately. What more did Ahab and the nation’s leaders need?
If I was Elijah and I had just facilitated the second greatest miracle in the nation’s history, and I saw myself and my God get blown off like that, how would I have felt? Devastated, incredulous, angry, frustrated, shaking my head and my fist. What, Lord, what? Why are we even doing this?
I can imagine Elijah taking all this in. Blown off like a wisp of steam from a cup of tea. Then, worse, he had to run for his life! I always wondered why he felt the need to flee, but I’m beginning to understand. The Great Miracle didn’t work. It didn’t even last 24 hours. And, rather than the hero and savior, he found himself a fugitive. A fugitive! This was not supposed to happen; this was not in the script. He had pulled off the Great Miracle flawlessly, but… no impact, no change.
How do I know nothing changed? God Himself said so. When Elijah, all devastated and discouraged, was whining to the Lord in the cave about the futility of it all, the Lord told Elijah He had seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Seven thousand? Out of a nation of three or four million? Really!? Remember, this is barely a month AFTER the Mt. Carmel miracle! That miracle, by God’s own math, had zero impact on the nation. God, remember, has total knowledge; He would have an immediate tally of any and all who repented and were added to His number. And none apparently were.
I could go on and make application to us today. (What would happen if you or I did a Mt. Carmel miracle in Times Square or the Mall today?) Israel’s history leaves me too dismayed to go there, though.
What am I missing? Please, talk to me!