“How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
IT was a day to be remembered, when the multitudes of Israel were assembled at the foot of Carmel and when the solitary Prophet of the Lord came forth to defy the four hundred and fifty priests of the false god. We might look upon that scene with the eye of historical curiosity and we should find it rich with interest. Instead of so doing, however, we shall look upon it with the eye of attentive consideration and see whether we cannot learn from its teachings. We have upon that hill of Carmel and along the plain three kinds of persons.
We have first the devoted servant of Jehovah, a solitary Prophet. We have, on the other hand, the decided servants of the Evil One, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. But the vast mass of that day belonged to a third class–they were those who had not fully determined whether fully to worship Jehovah, the God of their fathers, or Baal, the god of Jezebel. On the one hand their ancient traditions led them to fear Jehovah and on the other hand their interest at court led them to bow before Baal. Many of them, therefore, were secret and half-hearted followers of Jehovah while they were the public worshippers of Baal.
The whole of them at this juncture were faltering between two opinions. Elijah does not address his sermon to the priests of Baal. He will have something to say to them by-and-by. He will preach them horrible sermons in deeds of blood. Nor has he anything to say to those who are the thorough servants of Jehovah, for they are not there. But his discourse is alone directed to those who are faltering between two opinions.
Now, we have these three classes here this morning. We have, I hope, a very large number who are on Jehovah’s side–who fear God and serve Him. We have a number who are on the side of the Evil One–who make no profession of religion and do not observe even the outward symptoms of it. They are both inwardly and outwardly the servants of the Evil One. But the great mass of my hearers belong to the third class–the waverers. Like empty clouds they are driven here and there by the wind. Like painted beauties, they lack the freshness of life, they have a name to live and are dead.
Procrastinators, double-minded men, undecided persons, to you I speak this morning–“How long will you falter between two opinions?” If the question is answered by God’s Spirit in your hearts may you be led to answer, “No longer, Lord, do I falter. But this day I decide for You and am Your servant forever!” Let us proceed at once to the text. Instead of giving the divisions at the commencement, I will mention them one by one as I proceed.
First, you will note that the Prophet insisted upon the distinction which existed between the worship of Baal and the worship of Jehovah. Most of the people who were before him thought that Jehovah was God and that Baal was God, too. For this reason the worship of both was quite consistent. The great mass of them did not reject the God of their fathers wholly, nor did they bow before Baal wholly. But as polytheists, believing in many gods, they thought both Gods might be worshipped and each of them have a share in their hearts.
“No,” said the Prophet when he began, “this will not do. These are two answers–you can never make them one–they are two contradictory things which cannot be combined. I tell you that instead of combining the two, which is impossible, you are faltering between the two, which makes a vast difference.” “I will build in my house,” said one of them, “an altar for Jehovah here and an altar for Baal there. I am of one opinion, I believe them both to be God.” “No, no,” said Elijah, “it cannot be so. They are two and must be two. These things are not one answer but two answers. No, you cannot unite them.” . .