Summary: Is it a Hard Decision to kill the idols that separate us from Jesus? It shouldn’t be.
by Pastor James May
In the book of I Kings we find one of the most familiar incidents of the Bible concerning Ahab, the worst king that Israel ever had, and the Elijah, the prophet of God. Ahab had led Israel into absolute idolatry and the worship of Baal. But God had called Elijah, and appointed him as God’s messenger to bring Israel back to the worship of the one True God.
This has all the makings of a showdown that was sure to come. That showdown happened at a place called Mt. Carmel. Let us look at this incident again this morning to see what the Lord will have to say to us.
Idolatry – this has been Israel’s greatest problem from the moment that it became a nation. But Israel never made a choice, on the spur of the moment, to worship any of the idols that came into their land. They simply allowed the idols to hang around long enough until, little by little, subtly, and in an imperceptible manner, the idols became the greatest factor of their lives. The idols went from something that was just tolerated to something that was venerated.
That’s the way that idols still enter into the lives of men and women today. None of us suddenly wake up one morning and say, “today I am going to start worshipping an idol”. And yet how often do I see those who have allowed idols to hang around long enough until now those idols are the very center of their lives.
I don’t think that anyone of you would consider yourself as an idol worshipper as you sit in the church this morning, but are we idol worshippers? If we closely examine our lives, where do our loyalties stand, to what are we really committed and before what, or whom, do we bow our will and give our allegiance?
Perhaps there are some of you this morning who are already thinking to yourself, “Oh well, here we go again. This is just another sermon on being committed and dedicated to God and to His service.” Do you know what? YOU ARE RIGHT!
In many ways that’s what I am talking about this morning, but remember this, how many times did God bring a prophet like Elijah, Elisha, Ezra, Isaiah or Jeremiah before Israel to call them to forsake their idols? How many times did Israel hear the warnings? How many times did God try to reach out to them to bring them back where they should be? And how many times did Israel turn a deaf ear, and then what did God always have to do to get their attention?
Hundreds of times, Israel fell into idolatry because it’s easier to “go with the flow” of the world and fall into idolatry, than it is to “fight against the tide” and stay faithful to the God of Heaven. If you read your Bible you will find that God sent literally hundreds of prophetic messages to Israel calling them to turn their hearts back to God, and yet Israel would not heed the call. So every time they failed to listen and repent, God had to allow them to fall into captivity and become slaves to those idols until finally Israel would get enough and turn back to Him.
I can still see that same pattern working every day in the lives of the people of God who are still running from the call of God in their lives.
It’s not easy turning from idols! Turning back to God means making some really hard decisions! They are especially hard if we are still in love with the things of the world.
Finally, there came a day in Israel when there was a showdown between the idols of their heart and the God of Israel! It was high drama, even more than the “Gunfight at the OK Corral”, or “the Normandy Invasion on D-Day”, or the “Shock and Awe of the war in Iraq.” The prophets of Baal, 450 in number, were arrayed for battle against one prophet of the True God, Elijah. The odds in the eyes of man were staggering. How could one man stand alone against 450? But, in the eyes of God, this was a purely one-sided battle and the idolatrous prophets and their false gods didn’t stand a chance.
I think it’s important for us to notice here that God is still God. It doesn’t matter how many things become idols in our lives, or how much the world pulls on us to serve the things that bring pleasure to the flesh, God is stronger than all of those things and if we will decide to turn back to Him, all of those things that we think are so important will fall by the wayside.