Summary: Just because some gods let us down does not mean there is no God at all... god's let us down but God does not!
Title: How Much Is Enough and Who Do You Trust for It? Part I
Text: I Kings 17:8-16 (16:29-33 and 17:1-7)
Thesis: Just because some gods let us down does not mean there is no God at all… god’s let us down but God does not!
I always shudder when I hear someone suggest that God punishes us through natural disasters. I not only shudder but I am embarrassed when it is a Christian politician, pastor or televangelist who makes such claims. They say hurricanes and tornados and floods and droughts and earthquakes and fires are God’s wrath being poured out against the sins of America. So… if natural disasters are indeed expressions of God’s anger then who are we to pray for relief from an extended drought or step in to aid those whose lives have been ripped apart by a tornado? Some even suggest that the severity of the disaster indicates the degree of God’s anger. So we can tell if God is a little irked or if God is really “Sodom and Gomorrah ticked-off.” (God must really be mad at Moore, OK.)
The reason it bothers me is that such claims suggest that God’s wrath for the sin of mankind was not satisfied in the death of Christ… it suggests God still has some anger bottled up inside that requires a good natural disaster to relieve the pressure.
Yet there was a time when God was in the natural disaster business. I confess it bothers me and confuses me but one of those times is found in I Kings 17.
I. God was in the disaster business… back in Elijah’s day
“As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel lives, the God I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain during the next few years until I give the word!” I Kings 17:1
Of course there is a back story.
A. Ahab had come to power and was the new King of Israel.
B. Ahab did more evil in the sight of God than any of the kings before him.
C. Ahab married Jezebel, a pagan princess from Sidon and began to worship Baal.
D. Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria and set up an Asherah pole.
Twice in the brief span of just four verses Scripture says, “Ahab did more to provoke the anger of God of Israel than any of the other kings of Israel before him.” I Kings 16:29-33
That’s why and when God got involved in the climate change business. He sent his prophet, Elijah, to confront King Ahab and to inform him that there would be consequences for his idolatry, i.e., a severe, extended drought.
Droughts are not periods of plenty. Droughts are periods of scarcity. There is no water and since there is no water there is no food.
Earlier this week the Denver Post ran an article in the business section about the drought in southeastern Colorado. There is a photo of farmer, Burl Scherler, walking in what is supposed to be a field of wheat. A farmer in Kiowa County, Chris Tallman, stated, “We are at zero. We will have absolutely no wheat crop this year.” (Steve Raab, Southeastern Colorado Wheat Crop a Disaster, Denver Post, 6/6/13) Of course those farmers were thinking in terms of economic loss locally… not widespread food shortages and starvation.
I do not mean to downplay a drought in southeast Colorado but that does not preclude a bumper wheat crop in northeast Colorado. But, were there to be a drought in southeast Colorado and northeast Colorado and North and South Dakota and Nebraska and Kansas and Oklahoma and Texas… that would be a problem. And were the drought to spread east through the corn-belt it would be disastrous over time. No rain. No food. No food, people starve to death. No water, people die of dehydration.
Sixteen days after the Bangladesh factory collapsed in May, rescue workers pulled a woman from the rubble… she survived only because she had some bottled water within reach of where she was trapped. You can live up to 8 weeks without food but under ideal circumstances 3 – 5 days without water.
I read a sardonic remark this past week to the effect that, “We can live without love for a long time, but we cannot live without water.”
So we’ve said all this to simply say, a nationwide drought was about to strike the nation of Israel.
There is more to this back story…
II. God’s interest in climate control is about trust.
Earlier I said, “First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal… then he set up an Asherah pole.” I Kings 16:32-33
Baal was a pagan god that was generally believed to be a fertility god who enabled the earth to produce crops and people to produce children…. there are many variations but all are very connected to controlling the weather. That is why Elijah challenged Ahab in 17:1 w/a drought, i.e., God vs. Baal. The idea carries over into chapter 18 where Elijah the Prophet of God challenged the prophets of Baal to see which could make it rain. Ultimately Baal offered only empty promises…