My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to 1 Kings 17-19 where I studied about Elijah. As with most scripture blocks, this one contained numerous principles. The principle that I wish to discuss in this post is “If the Lord be God, follow Him” (1 Kings 18). The introduction to this lesson is as follows.
The house of Israel was in disarray. The unity and prosperity achieved under David and Solomon were long past, and the nation’s covenant relationship with the Lord was, for many people, a distant memory. The Kingdom of Israel had divided, with ten tribes forming the Northern Kingdom of Israel and two tribes forming the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Both kingdoms were unstable spiritually, led by kings who violated their covenants with the Lord and influenced others to do likewise (see 1 Kings 11-16). But the apostasy was especially severe in the Northern Kingdom, where King Ahab encouraged Israel to worship the false god Baal.
It was in this setting that the prophet Elijah was called to preach. The account of his ministry makes clear that personal faith in the Lord can thrive among the righteous even in a wicked environment. Sometimes the Lord responds to such faith with impressive, public miracles, like fire falling from heaven. But He also works quiet, private miracles, like meeting the personal needs of a faithful widow and her son. And most often His miracles are so individual that they are known only to you – for example, when the Lord reveals Himself and His will through “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).
The topic of this discussion is “If the Lord be God, follow him” (1 Kings 18). When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, the first commandment was “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). The Israelites in the time of Elijah must have forgotten this commandment, or they felt that they had good reasons to worship Baal despite the commandment. Their reason may have been that “Baal was known as the god of storms and rain,” and they had been in a drought for three years. Besides, the king and queen endorsed Baal worship and made it socially accepted.
We all face situations where we have to make decisions. However, I have never been forced to choose between worshipping Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and worshipping another god. Nevertheless, I have faced numerous times when I chose to watch the news or look at Facebook when I should have been studying the scriptures. I eventually get to the scriptures, but I put other things before God for a few minutes from time to time.
In 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah asked the people of Israel: “How long halt ye between two opinions?” Halt means to hesitate, waver, or limp, so Elijah asked the people why they were unsure about following God. Elijah then set up a competition between Baal and God. He had two bulls brought, one for the priests of Baal and one for him. The priests of Baal built an altar, placed wood on the altar, and cut the bull into pieces and placed the pieces on the altar. They then proceeded to cry unto Baal from morning until noon to start a fire. They even climbed atop the altar to be closer to Baal, but there was no fire.
Elijah rebuilt the altar to God with twelve stones to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and dug a trench around the altar. He put wood on the altar and cut the bull into pieces before placing it on the altar. Then he ordered four barrels filled with water and poured over the sacrifice. He made the order a second time, a third time, and a fourth time. Water ran around the altar and filled the trench.
36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.
The people saw a powerful miracle, one that they could not deny. God sent fire from heaven and burned the sacrifice, wood, stones, and dried sixteen barrels of water. Elder D. Todd Christofferson made the following statement in a worldwide devotional for young adults on January 12, 2020.
In the end, there is no neutral, uncommitted path to follow, at least when it comes to things of eternal consequence. Alma made this point when he taught that Christ, the Good Shepherd, calls us to follow Him in the path of discipleship and happiness:
“Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
“And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this?”
Alma is teaching the reality that there are only two options, and that Christ is the only good alternative. If you are not choosing Christ, you are automatically following a false god, an erroneous path leading to eventual and even eternal disappointment, to say the least. So, unless you follow the Savior, you are rejecting Him. [Emphasis added.]
Knowing this, we should feel no reluctance to commit to the Lord and seek to become one with Him. As He prayed at the Last Supper for His apostles and all who would believe on their words, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” Isn’t that where we want to be? Why then hesitate in becoming fully and unreservedly committed? Why hold back in taking His yoke upon us, knowing that his “yoke is easy, and [his] burden is light”?
Jesus Christ is the only way back to Heavenly Father. If we “are not choosing Christ, you are automatically following a false god.” If we are not following the Savior, we “are rejecting Him.” In past months we studied Joshua, where he taught the Israelites: “… choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
The choice is before each of us. Will we choose to follow Christ to eternal life, or to follow other gods to eternal damnation? Like Joshua, me and my house will serve the Lord.
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