Elijah went before the people and said, "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
Whether it is the world or the Christian arena there is a huge number of opinions that we have to sort through to make sense of life. We agree with some of the opinions and accept them as fact and others we reject as utter nonsense as fast as they enter our ears. Are we being responsible when we believe opinions because they support the way we think? Men are generally followers of other men and the difference of opinions we follow is addressed here in this passage. For the most part we follow men (such as prophets and politicians) because of their opinions.
Large numbers of Christians use godly men as an example to follow. We may think we are following Christ when we listen to men called into the ministry. They are called to preach the word of God but does their message agree with the inspired word of God? All men of God are called to follow Christ but are they going with the flow by preaching the most popular and prevailing views. Their words have the potential to convince people to believe in a lie and eventually stray from the truth. On the other hand their views should be uniting the church through faith to the full measure of Christ.
Joshua was committed to serve the Lord and made the public declaration that he and his house would serve the Lord. When Joshuaís committed leadership went the way of the earth the people began to do what was right in their eyes. This meant they departed from doing what was right in Godís eyes and Israel began to follow other gods.
Serving other gods overtime led to the degrading of the spirit that God wanted to shape into the image of his son. In addition the gods men were serving were lifeless and unable to save them. To teach Israel who to serve God gave Israel an object lesson. It was a lesson clearly definable and one that men was able to see with their eyes. This lesson left no doubt who was God.
What made Godís lesson clear is that God used the ritual of 450 of Baalís prophetís that we see in common sideshows to illustrate their power to conjure up things. However Samuel jeered them into taking more drastic steps to get the attention of Baal. Hours went by and Baal remained silent and nothing they did caused the pile of wood to ignite.
The ritual time for evening sacrifices was fast approaching so Samuel rebuilt the altar of God arranged the wood and then dug a trench around the base of the altar. He called for the people to pour water on the wood not once but several times. The wood was saturated with water and the trench was overflowing with water. In the eyes of the average onlooker it was impossible for the wood to burn or smolder.
From the eyes of the people the prophets of Baal were unsuccessful and Samuel was faced with the prospect of failure as well. Yet at the time of evening sacrifice Samuel humbly bowed down before God an uttered a simple prayer. No flashy sideshow, no hocus pocus, nothing to draw the peopleís attention to Samuel, just fire that consumed the altar, wood, stone and the water in the trench.
In utter amazement the people saw with their eyes the power of God and realized God passed the test and became an almighty God in their eyes. Convinced by what was seen with their eyes their perspective changed. Doing what was right in their eyes now was to worship the God of Samuel.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were men of Judahís royal family taken to Babylon during the exile. Their beliefs in God were deeply embedded from childhood so much that they insisted in continuing to live right in the sight of God. However when it came to whom they worshipped there was a difference of opinion.
The king decreed a royal decision to make an image of tremendous size and everyone from the greatest to the least would worship it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused saying even if we were to die we will serve the Lord. In the Kingís eye their words showed a total disregard for the decree to worship an image the king had made.
Refusing to obey the royal decision Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a furnace fueled and stoked for the occasion. The king knowing he ordered three persons thrown into the fire asked why do I see four persons treading on the bed of coals.
The king recognized Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego but who was the fourth man? Was it a premonition from God that the King of Babylon recognized the fourth man as the son of the gods? Itís evident that the kingís eyes distinguished the difference between an image and an act of God.
The king was further astonished when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego showed no signs neither by sight nor smell of being in a fire. The kingís opinion of whom and what was god became fact. The God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was God.
Even the disciples had an opinion about Jesus being the son of God. Some said he was just a man while others said he was Elijah a prophet. All of their hopes were dashed when he was nailed to the cross. Was he the coming King after dying on the cross? What changed their opinion was seeing him in all his glory in the upper room. There he appeared alive to the disciples and a second time filling the hundred and twenty with his spirit.
Dramatic sights make a convincing argument but faith in God will make or break the opinion God has of you. Godís opinion is based on truth ours is based on a confident belief. That belief can be wrong when it is just an opinion. Some hope they are good enough to go to heaven while others base their faith on the truth of Godís promises.
Opinions are worthless on Judgment day. God offered mankind a plan to ensure going to heaven but only those who seek God find it. What value does your opinion have when God seeks the truth about the decisions you made during your life. When you stand before the Judgment seat of God it will be too late to repent from what you have done. Your opinions have no value in God's court. What counts is whether your name written in the Lamb's book of Life? 12/2/2015