5.62 1 Kings -- Elijah vs Ahab

The three years of drought had no affect on Ahab's conduct.  Those who are at the top of the social pyramid insulate themselves from the sufferings of the common people which are caused by their own policies.  That is a political fact that never changes, no matter what the form of government.  Solomon shared in the same illusions of omnipotence that Ahab indulged in.  When Ahab met Elijah, he accused Elijah of being the troublemaker! (1 Kings 18:17)  The idea that he should repent never entered his thick skull.  Israel and its ruler needed a first-hand demonstration of the reality of God.  But whereas the starving widow experienced God as provider and life-giver, Ahab and the prophets of Baal encountered His anger and judgment.

       

The prophetic warnings had no effect, the drought made no impact on rulers or people.  So God upped the ante, and instigated a show-down with the spiritual forces that had overrun His people.  In the same way that God took on the gods of Egypt, so now He challenged the idols to "put up or shut up."   

       

To all the Israelites who were summoned to Mt Carmel, as to modern men, the story of deliverance from Egypt was only that -- a story, a myth handed down from the ancients.  It conveyed nothing of existential truth to anyone.  The people did not hate their God, they just didn't know Him.  He was one of a pantheon of deities that they acknowledged.  They, like today's multi-culturalists, were polytheists, drinking from many wells without discrimination.  They offered sacrifices in Jerusalem, but if that wasn't convenient, there was an altar to Baal closer at hand, and a high place dedicated to Asherah.  "All roads lead to heaven."  And it is this very tolerance that Elijah overthrew.  He stood before them with that awful imperative:  make a choice.  It is Either/Or, but never Both.  

 

        "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing (1 Kings 18:21).

         The RSV has

         How long will you go limping with two different opinions?"

         It is similar to Jesus' rebuke of the Laodicean church:

        "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Rev 3:15-16).

       

God was about to spit Israel out of His mouth, because they were neither hot or cold:  "The people said nothing."  But first, He would show Himself as He really was, and at the same time reveal to them what their false gods were really like.  He was going to make the alternatives of their choice very clear to them.  This meeting on the mountain was a genuine revelation.  Carmel was to be a new Sinai -- not in promulgating another Covenant, but in validating the original one.