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 (NIV)
Read: 1 Kings 18:16-39
Consider: When you read about Elijah’s confrontation of the people of Israel regarding their worship of Baal, he is very direct in what he says to them. Elijah knew that the people wavered between worshipping God and being led astray to worship other gods. What I find interesting is that when Elijah challenged the people on Mount Carmel we are told that ‘… the people said nothing’. I’ve often wondered why they remained silent. Surely they knew they were in the wrong? It occurred to me that as the people assembled on Mount Carmel and the challenge was given to the prophets of Baal, the people were willing to sit on the fence to see which god would be the winner. When the prophets of Baal failed in their attempt and Elijah demonstrated the power of God, only then were the people convinced. In 1 Kings 18:39 we read: When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD – he is God! The LORD – he is God!’
Unfortunately this cycle repeats and repeats itself throughout the Old Testament, as we see the people of Israel and Judah cycle between fervour for God and falling away. Are we really any different today? There are a great many people in society who are sitting on the fence, waiting to be convinced that God is real. There are many others who waver between decision and indecision; perhaps at times being convinced of the reality of God, while at other times being convinced by the secular views of society. Elijah’s words ring out over the centuries and are still as relevant today as they were then: ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him …’
In John 20:24-29 we have the account of Thomas’ encounter with the risen Jesus. It starts with Thomas telling the disciples (who had seen the risen Jesus) that he would not believe unless he could see the nail marks in his hands and put his finger where the nails were, and put his hand into his side. We know that Jesus was very gracious to Thomas, in that when he next appeared to the disciples he gave Thomas the evidence he needed, but he also challenged him with these words: ‘Stop doubting and believe’ (v27). The account goes on to say: Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’ (John 20:29).
God would rather have people believe in him because he is God, not because they are convinced by some theological argument, or wanting evidence before they are willing to commit.
Pray: Father, we pray for our friends and relatives who sit on the fence, unwilling to believe in you. May your Holy Spirit bring them to a point of commitment, acknowledging your Son as Saviour and Lord. Amen