Tuesday Reflection – October 22, 2019
Return to God and Rebuild.
The record of the encounter between the prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel is well known. There were four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah. These religions had been introduced among the Israelites by the gentile Queen Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. In his displeasure at Israel’s embracing these false god’s and forgetting their covenant with God, God caused a severe drought to affect Israel. After three years of drought, the prophet Elijah challenged these prophets to prove which God would answer by fire. He allowed the prophets of Baal to call on their god first and after nothing happened following hours of their calling and mutilating themselves, it was Elijah’s turn. Before Elijah prayed however, there was something the people needed to do. We read this in today’s watchword from 1 Kings 18: 30. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. For God’s action to be seen and accepted, one must be grounded in their faith.
Israel had strayed from God and begun worshipping idols. They prayed to these idols rather than to God and ascribed God’s blessings and miracles as coming from idols and not from God. Elijah’s challenge was therefore not only to prove that God was who He proclaimed Himself to be, but to get the covenant people to return to covenant living. This had to begin with a return and refocus on God. With the failure of Baal to act, God was now left to remind Israel who he was. It had to begin with Israel’s return to God. The prophet therefore calls the people to draw near to him. He is God’s representative. He was the lone prophet standing for God. When the Israelites were stranded by the Red Sea, Moses had challenged them in Exodus 14: 13 to ‘stand still and see the salvation of the Lord’. In the same way, today’s watchword is a challenge to the people to come closer to God so that they could see God’s action, God’s salvation. When we learn to come closer to God, we will realize just how close God has always been to us.
Closeness to God also reveals brokenness. The first thing they saw as the people returned to God, was the broken-down altar of God, which they repaired. When we return to God He will always abundantly pardon. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and boundless in loyal love. (Joel 2: 13) Our return to God is an abatement of God’s justice for God will act in mercy towards the repentant. As we encounter brokenness around us, we who are God’s tools are expected to do something about it. What are the areas of brokenness around you where God is calling you be a solution? God calls us in our drifting and our brokenness to return to Him through service to our fellowmen. May we pause today to examine our lives in order to discover those areas in which we have drifted away from God and may our repairing of those areas through Christ, leave us with a closeness to each other. Returning to God should lead to rebuilding relationships, both heavenly and earthly. Amen.