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.” (1 Kings 18:21 NIV)
Have you heard the saying, “I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure”? Indecision can be fatal. If we just stand still in the middle of a road when a car is coming wondering should I run to the right or to the left the chances are we’ll be run over.
Indecision is what we see in our header verse. The people had experienced three and half years of famine because of their disobedience to the Lord, and now Elijah stands before them asking for a decision – will you follow the Lord or Baal? The response of the people was indecisive; they said nothing
(1 Kings 18:21). At a time of national crisis they should have turned to the Lord and wholeheartedly followed him, but instead they wavered – should we run to the left or the right?
In fact running between two opinions is giving the people too much credit. The sense of what Elijah is saying is brought out in the English Standard Version
“How long will you go limping between two different opinions?”. The literal translation of this is:
“How long do you mean to hobble first on one leg and then on the other?”. or
“How long will you continue to hop back and forth on two branches?”. The wording suggests jumping around, never getting situated in one spot, like a bird bouncing around from branch to branch, never knowing where to settle.
In contrast to these people Paul commends the Thessalonians for
“[turning] to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). An idol is anything we place before the true God and this ‘turning to God from idols’ means we are to flee from idols
(1 Corinthians 10:14) to God, not hobble back and forth between them.
How should we run away from an idol to serve the living God? By
“throw[ing] off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”, (Hebrews 12:1-2), and not running aimlessly but in a self-disciplined way
(1 Corinthians 9:24–27)
In our lives we Christians are to be like Olympic runners who are speeding toward their goal – streaking down the track, flying over hurdles, straining toward the prize.
Sadly the ancient Israelites weren’t like that. Instead of running like Olympic runners, the ancient people of Israel were limping and hobbling, not even always going the correct way. How tragic.
Let us take Elijah’s call seriously – If the Lord is God, follow him, and give ourselves wholeheartedly to running with him.
Father as we run the Christian race, rejecting idols and wholeheartedly following you, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who is the originator and perfecter of our faith.
Have a good week running with the Lord.