It happened in Israel sometime before 561 B.C., but it could be happening here, reported on Newsmax or Epoch News at any moment.
The nation’s people had again turned their backs on God. They had all the historical reports of the early prophets and knew better. They didn’t want to do better. As always happens, their daily living habits had drifted, what personal convictions they had were conveniently left in the dresser drawer, and they declared themselves free to be and do whatever they wanted – all the while ignoring what of their conscience remained by indulging themselves in what passed socially for ‘worship’. It was hedonistic, sensual. But, hey, everybody was doing it . . .
Everyone was comfortable in their exterior religion. Except not everyone was.
Israel had a real prophet in those days. Being by himself, though, it was easy to sneer and ridicule him; to shrug off his strong preaching and teaching against their personal and national sin; and to wink at each other and settle back into their familiar, fun, feel-good worship.
“Who? Ol’ Elijah? Get real! All he does is condemn us and badmouth our prophets. Doesn’t have one good thing to say about us or them. Far as I’m concerned, that ought to be classified as hate speech! I mean, seriously, dude – does that sound like the God who loved us enough to give us our own nation? He’s the one who oughta be locked up!”
Sound familiar? The ones in political power had been busily corrupting all Israel’s personal and corporate life, ignoring the needs of the people while enriching themselves in every possible way. Right was now wrong. There were no longer boundaries of decency or moral guidance. Any worship of the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was closely monitored to the point the First Lady had put a hit on Elijah because his preaching was revealing her own depraved lifestyle.
That’s the ticket, right? Don’t stop the corruption and vile, disgusting practices you know God’s clearly said He will not tolerate. Change the narrative. Make it woke, even classy to defy God and the Bible. Accuse and make life miserable for anyone claiming Jesus as Lord. If anything, accelerate the destruction. Criminalize Good. Praise Evil and make the compromise as permanent as possible before the people rise up under good leadership and restore their nation.
All ten of God’s original directions – okay, His commands – are casually broken from the highest offices in our land down to your neighbors; it’s looking like all bets are off, and in many ways we have a free-range “Church” in modern America.
If anything, accelerate the destruction. Criminalize Good. Praise Evil and make the compromise as permanent as possible before the people rise up under good leadership and restore their nation. And when God’s had enough and steps in? Bluster on through by blaming His people for being too straight-laced, too good, too ‘holy’.
Maintain the lying, even using God’s name and Word to twist, manipulate, and distort His Truth into proof-texted messages saying the exact opposite of what God inspired the Bible’s authors to write. Make plausible, great-sounding excuses but never clean up the act. Don’t for a minute admit wrong. Instead, go after those shining Light – or, in the case of Elijah and historic Israelites, calling down purifying fire – on the whole mess.
You’ll find the account of what happened back then in 1 Kings 18-19. Many accounts entitle it, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, or Elijah and the 450 Prophets of Baal. Though popular, there were eight hundred and fifty ‘prophets’ on the mountain that day. The popular god Baal’s prophets were officially responsible for what passed for Israel’s spiritual oversight.
Yet there were another 400 ‘spirit guides’ or religious luminaries representing Asherah, whom elitist scholars say was God’s wife and became the goddess of motherhood and fertility. The chief object of her worship? huge poles carved or fashioned like giant phallic symbols and sunk in the ground. The creation and sale of smaller local and home Asherah symbols was big business. And you thought adult gift stores were a recent thing . . .
My friends, the Internet and social media long ago lost its ability to blush. It takes little imagination to understand the nature of how Israelites ‘worshiped’ her.
Most of you know the account of what happened that day on Mt. Carmel:
“Then the fire of the Lord fell…” You’re getting that, right?
“Then the fire of the Lord fell.”
The 450 official Baal prophets/preachers/holy men tried to get away but didn’t make it. The fickle crowd was stunned by what just happened: used to the elaborate ‘prayers’ that were little more than entertaining theater, they’d just seen this crusty, rough-edged prophet of Jehovah God pray a short, powerful prayer He INSTANTLY answered right before their eyes! I imagine they were looking at each other and saying things like, “Hey–isn’t that the way the rabbi used to tell us Jehovah answered in the old days? Maybe, uh—” When Elijah whirled around and yelled, “Don’t you DARE let even one of those imposters get away!”, they obeyed and grabbed them all.
The other 400 Asherah types had somehow lost their appetite for a confrontation with the Living God and had managed to melt back through the crowd and disappear. I’m sure as the day wore on and the Ba’al clergy were bloody and sweaty from hours of screaming for their play god to answer, they decided to retire “to spend more time with their families”, or whatever other convenient excuse they gave. Whatever the case, when it looked like Ol’ Lije and God were going to be publicly humiliated and the busybody prophet killed, the Asherah purveyors were right out there in their finery, lookin’ good, smellin’ good, and struttin’ their stuff.
When it was time to face the music? They weren’t even man eno– woman eno– whatever enough to at least take the stand the Baal guys did. The minute things started going south, the Asherah types began quietly heading for the exits. When the false prophet roundup started, the Asherah brand was nowhere to be found.
Again, looking at current events, doesn’t this sound familiar? Use political influence and ill-gotten wealth to insulate oneself from notice and prosecution? Disappear, keep quiet, and hunker down when the hammer drops?
The point of all this? I’ve held up writing this for several days, waiting on God for direction, and His message seems stark: His fire is going to fall again.
As God’s men and women pray, God’s fire is going to fall again. By what means, or in what amount, or even when? I don’t know. I do know these two things.
If you are a contemporary of ancient Israel’s Asherahites? God will not be mocked. I pray there’s somewhere deep inside where you know that. No matter who you are or what your position, your time of influence is limited. If you retain a spiritual component to your daily life, it is immaterial how popular or socially acceptable it is. The measure by which you will be held accountable is the same one by which we all will be: God’s Word as revealed in the Person and earthly ministry of Jesus, the risen Christ.
If you are a man or woman of prayer, be bold and persistent – and keep praying. I don’t care how desperate the American situation seems, God is God, and He rules the entire created order through the risen Christ. When He knows the time is right, His cleansing, revealing, verifying, purifying, forever-altering fire will fall. God will always honor your prayers. God will always honor His Word.
“Oh, you Bible-thumpers all come off sounding so righteous! You forget we know a lot of you! We know your backgrounds, and you’ve got skeletons in your own closets! Where do you get off trying to—”
With respect, the verse reads that ALL have sinned and fall short of God’s desires for us. Yep – including ol’ Elijah. The thing that makes Christian men and women so passionate about praying for, praying over, our children, our extended family, our cities, states, and nation is because we know what it’s like to be lost and without God in this world.
Every one of us made the choice to confess our sin to God, receive His gift of forgiveness through Jesus’s death and Resurrection, and accept Jesus as our personal Savior. When that happens, God instantly removes the guilt of past living and establishes a personal relationship with Him. As the Bible puts it, we’re a new creation!
Sure, we all have a past. ALL. Being saved doesn’t mean we no longer face tough life experiences and heartache. It doesn’t mean we no longer think, do, or say the wrong things. It means when corrected by God’s Spirit, we do our best to make those things right, clean up our mess, and keep growing.
Oh, yeah, babe. We’re not saying we’re better than anyone else. As the Scripture says, each day has its own share of trouble; we’ve the scars of all sorts to prove it. I’m convinced they’re there to remind us how far God brings us from the lives we once led. Perfection? HERE? Hardly. It took Adam and Eve no time at all to put that accusation to rest. Yet none – no person who has made Jesus Lord of his or her life – has any business trying to use our lack of Earthly perfection as an excuse to not make the daily mission to live every moment for God, to honor His Word by our thoughts, words, and actions.
Well. This is a lot to consider. I don’t know who God will use as the Elijah of Now to help create the tipping point, and that doesn’t matter. What matters is that God is faithful to honor His Word, His Son, and His people. As a mentor of mine often said, we don’t break God’s law; we only break ourselves on it. That Law is found in the Bible.
Keep that in mind. Keep your devotional life fresh, and your personal relationship with God vibrant. Something is coming, and I’ve a sense it won’t be long.
© D. Dean Boone, December 2021