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April 3, 2021 12:01 am
The prophet Elijah's purpose was to call the people of Israel back to the original terms of their covenant with God, reminding them of their origin and heritage at Sinai. Today, R.C. Sproul recounts the story of how the Lord raised up Elijah to remind His people that they had been chosen and redeemed by Him alone.
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An evil queen had risen to power in Israel and she entice people to follow pagan gods instead of our reformation in Israel were having a D formation in Israel where the country is now lapsing into paganism and moving away from its roots in godliness, as at this moment in this crisis.
That God raises up Elijah to address the issue is that I do show the people that their pursuits were fruitless welcome to the Standard Edition of Renewing Your Mind and are ongoing. Look at the people God you to expand his kingdom through miraculous intervention and the faithfulness of his profit. God rounded the evil influence and enslaved his people in this segment of our study of great men and women to live by.
Were going to look briefly at one of my favorite characters in the Old Testament, a man who has something of a bizarre reputation and about whom there is much mystery and intrigue in the history of religion, I'm thinking of course of the prophet Elijah the one who is known for his very strange forms of behavior and his radical types of dress that was imitated to a degree by John the Baptist in the New Testament.
Elijah is of special importance to us because he stands at the beginning of a line of men who have especially important role to perform in Old Testament Israel that we know that there were men before Elijah who heard prophecies.
We find prophecies as early as the opening chapters of the book of Genesis and of course Moses spoke prophetically at times. But when we talk about the distinctive calling the distinctive vocation of the prophets of Israel. We normally see the line of departure the beginning point for that whole institution as found with the person of Elijah and before I look at him specifically limit just a couple of things about the role of the prophets in the Old Testament member that the whole Bible is sometimes by the Jews. At least the Old Testament is divided up in terms of what the law and the prophets. The first five books. The Pentateuch of the Old Testament and then of course the prophetic writings others. Also, what was called the graph are the writings which would incorporate the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, solve problems, Ecclesiastes, Job, and so on and also some of the other historical books, but we think of that body of literature that has been produced by the prophets, and we know that that represents a significant amount of the content of the Old Testament so that the prophets were men selected by God and endowed in a unique way by the Holy Spirit so that they could open their mouths and preach in behalf of God.
They practiced their statements by saying what DOS sayeth the Lord so that when they spoke they didn't just articulate their opinions or their theological insights, but that they were vessels of divine revelation. Thus saith the Lord, and they would give an Oracle that came from God. Meredith Kline has argued that the function that the prophet played was almost like an attorney that the people of Israel had entered into a covenant with their God and they broke that covenant again and again and again and God sent his attorney to bring suit against the parties who had broken his covenant and those who would deliver the subpoena and bring the charges against the violators of the covenant were the prophets, not because of their bizarre behavior and the harshness of times of their message in the rebuke that they brought to the people.
Many have perceived the Old Testament prophets to be radicals or revolutionaries.
In fact, in today's society where we see certain people taking a posture of radicalism in the social and political realm and involved in all kinds of protest movements and the like. They will frequently appeal to the prophets for their models and for the justification of the radical acts of protest and at times even terrorism but there's a distinction here that we need to understand we may say that in a certain sense the prophets were radical in the original meaning of the term. The term radical is is built on the Latin root rot acts which means root and the prophets were designed and sent to speak to the root of the problem of the nation that since they were radical they were not radicals in the sense of being revolutionaries calling for the overthrow of the nation or establishing some kind of new social and political order. Rather, it would be more accurate I think to call them, as most historians to the reformers of Israel.
The prophets were the right wing of Israel, not the left-wing.
The prophets were the advocates and agents of orthodoxy, not a dead orthodoxy, not a sterile orthodoxy, not a surface and superficial type of orthodoxy, but they kept calling the people of Israel back to the original terms of the covenant that they had made with God and reminded them of their origins and of their heritage at Sinai, and that they were had been chosen by God and been redeemed by God delivered in the Exodus and they kept trying to reform things by going back to the pristine purity of the faith once delivered to the people of God that we don't believe that the 16th century Reformation saw the reemergence of divinely anointed and endowed prophets, Martin Luther was not in the status of Elijah, Irma, Jeremiah, if he were we would have to take the writings of Luther and do what put them in the Bible. Nevertheless, the role of Luther and Knox and Zwingli, and Calvin of of reformers had real parallels with the Old Testament prophets in that what the Reformation was about was not a radical revolution where you start over again with the Christian faith. But the whole point of the Reformation was to set the church back on the right course and back to faithfulness to biblical Christianity so that the Reformation was a conservative movement, not a revolutionary movement are now having said that, let's look at a cameo portrait of the life of Elijah, and I'm going to read a portion of the tax to choose one event, one of the most famous events in Elijah's life and use it as a springboard for understanding not only the personality of Elijah but also of the struggles that the prophets had to go through in Israel.
I'm thinking of the confrontation. The famous confrontation Elijah had with the prophets of bail at Mount Carmel which is recorded in the 18th chapter of the first book of the King's. Let me read it to you in verse 21 are picking up a logic came near to all the people and said, how long will you hesitate between two opinions. If the Lord is God, follow him. But if bail is God, follow him.
The people did not answer him a word. Now here's the scenario. A Crisis Has Taken Pl. in Israel hundred 50 years of past now since the reign of David, the king. Now the kingdom has been divided in half and here in the middle of the ninth century BC.
The people of Israel are doing the very thing that God had taken great pains to prohibit. When they first entered into the promised land.
The people in Israel began to be involved with paganism, with pagan religions with pagan customs with pagan practices so that the purity of the religion that God had revealed through Moses, to these people was now in serious jeopardy. The problem we call is of the problem of syncretism that we know what syncretism is syncretism as the synonym suggests is that because of the Greek word sewing which means with Emily talk about the syncopation or synchronization were talking about getting things together with something else. And so what syncretism is in religion is where you have a situation in a culture where there are two coexisting religions and when you have two religions that are disparate say for example the Canaanite religion in the Jewish religion totally different religions.
You're inevitably going to have what conflict between them and have debates and arguments about religion until somebody comes along and says will one thing I never argue about his religion that people will want to bring about peace between these disparate views of religion. Why does religion cause so much controversy in history. Even wars at times because it represents a conflict of what you believe to be ultimately true, and of ultimate significance of ultimate value and of ultimate duty relative to people have a completely different understanding as to what ultimate truth is about ultimate righteousness and about ultimate value you're inevitably going to have a titanic struggle, and every attempt to pass over that in history has failed and will continue but when different religions come together. Inevitably somebody will say will look to stop this conflict by will find the best of this religion and the best of this religion and the best of this religion.
Let's be ecumenical about open them altogether and one big happy family. And that's fine as long as you ignore the ultimate points of conflict and negotiate with no Christian can and no Jew was allowed the Christians would obstinately refuse to bow the knee to the religion of Emperor worship in their day and they were considered by their neighbors troublemakers. They were considered by their neighbors to be narrowminded, rigid, brittle, contentious, lower, assuming out of the images to Versed before I started reading this text came about when Ahab saw Elijah that I have said them. Is this you who troubles Israel, the king considered Elijah, a troublemaker, because everywhere Elijah went controversy went just thought has little book called Christ the controversy almost as a great title because nobody in the history of mankind has third up more controversy cause more trouble on this planet than Jesus of Nazareth, the Prince of peace is the Prince of peace, who divides men. I came not to bring peace. He said, but a sword to set mother against father and sister, his brother, not because think he enjoyed conflict because truth and godliness were at stake, and Christians are again is the biblical motive is to live as much as possible with peace and all men but when the real controversy comes you don't negotiate your loyalty to Christ. Well, syncretism was going on in Israel and a peaceful coexistence had taken place. If you remember the outline of the nation of Israel is several oblong country around the Fertile Crescent that the Mediterranean Sea and Israel. Sorta like a passageway that comes down between the city in the desert over here sort of a corridor between Africa and Asia, and so on will write up in here right near the seacoast. There is a mountain that rises up almost exactly from the sea, and it is a spectacular sight in Palestine edits of strategic importance.
Historically that it represented the line of demarcation.
At one point between the nation of Israel and the seacoast nation right here of synesthesia you heard of the finishes and their highly advanced and technical seafaring trade that they established the physicians were involved with pagan religion and in the Canaanite shrine here was built on Mount caramel overlooking the sea was a shrine to buy car and bail was the supreme Canaanite pagan God. Now the Jews when they came in the promised land. They built an altar to Yahweh on that mountain and if you remember God had commanded that Israel drive out all these pagan religions and not become involved with the and they did that first season, but then the people began to be intoxicated with the local customs. They wanted to be with that in their culture. So that's the tension that every child of God has ever had to struggle with member when Israel was in captivity. Their song was how do we sing the Lord's song in a strange and foreign lamp. How can you be a Christian today in the American culture. We all want to get along with everybody else. Peer pressure is one of the strongest influences in our lives. We certainly don't want to be counted out of it.
We want to be included as those in the know those that are with it. Those that are not in a square and anyone so the Jews started playing around with the local practice then what happens is that the king of history has a consort who is from Felicity and he has this affair with this woman and brings her into Israel and she said I'll come and beer consort, your virtual queen, but only if I'm allowed to bring my customs my practice my religion, my priests with me. So this woman comes the time as she breaks her entourage of priests and begin to activate the warship of paganism on my Carmel and other places in the land was turning Jezebel. The consort to King Ahab and so now instead of a reformation in Israel were having a D formation in Israel where the country is now lapsing into paganism and moving away from its roots and godliness at us.
At this moment this crisis. But God raises up Elijah to address the issue and he sends Elijah to take on the religious establishment and the political establishment he comes and he pronounces the oracles of God of judgment against the king. Ahab and the specific issue with what she confronts I have is what Naboth's vineyard, but that confrontation were most concerned about here is the religious and theological controversy were comes down to the question that he raced okay. She said why are you halting between two opinions. You people can't make up your mind. You don't know whether you want to be a Christian or a pagan you really want to be a Jew or a Canaanite you really want to follow God or obey bail. Now make up your mind's like Joshua space earlier when he said choose this day whom you will start why are you halting between two opinions now homages, and that that's the way I see the church today. The church is halting the church is not moving the church is not marching the churches paralyze the churches confuse the church doesn't know whether she wants to be the church or she wants to be the world. She does know whether she was to be devoted to Christ or to be up with the latest fad in the secular culture in the church that's abstract streak in the church an institution to comes down to people who go to church on Sunday morning who are have some kind of outward involvement with religion but they've never settled their loyalty so blatantly play both sides. They play Christianity, but they're very comfortable playing there all the pagan that won't do in the sight of God. There is no room for a divided allegiance and undivided loyalty here and this is what the crisis provokes here with Elijah and he says okay were to settle this sending gather to me all of Israel at Mount caramel together with 450 prophets of Bayonne 400 props. The Asherah we digestible stable so I have sent the message he brought the prophecy given amount caramel and Elijah said to the people I alone am left, a prophet of the Lord, but Bales profits are 450 men, so we have this religious controversy and we have 450 of the theological representatives of bail standing on one side and over here opposing them is one man, Elijah. Like Luther at the diet of orcs by himself replacing look at this 450 Frenchmen can't be wrong. 450 clinicians can be rough Elijah over there is demented all by himself so okay what Elijah said if God is God, follow him is not though follow the Bales God fully built. Let's find out is to not let them give us two oxen and let them choose one auction themselves, placed on the wood but put no fire under them will prepare the other oxalate of the women I will not put a fire under it should be at the picture would have a contest you cut up your animal, and you put them on your altar, I am open all my altar. We will put a 500 then you call the name of your God knuckle name, my Lord, and the God who answers by fire. She is God and the people so that's a great idea. The terms of the contest or settle what happened like two theocracies given them there.
He called on the name of bail from morning until noon say all well answer us. There is no voice and no one answered.
And they leapt about the altar which they made.
Can you imagine there screaming and yelling and then jumping up on the altar and prayed about the order to award damages or income on bail. Hurry up them in your name's at stake here you go there's something came about at noon Elijah mocked them and said, with a loud voice for he's a God either is occupied or gone insiders on a journey.
Perhaps she's asleep in these the white collar little louder guys never hear God's ticket. Matt maybe he's out to lunch. Maybe he's not answering his phone but just keep on going haulers not as you can is all by himself. 450 preserving our site jumping up documents also glances Elijah now to make sure forces placed on the altar. Three times he has these great bases of water poured over the altar and in the trench around it, filled with water.
How I wish God would give us Elijah today would take us to that decisive contest and proof once and for all who God is, so that just as what happened in Israel after this would happen here. So after God performed this miraculous demonstration of his power and everybody said the Lord he is God, the Lord he is God. For the next 950 years.
Everybody in Israel was faithful and loyal to Yahweh, nobody ever again turned aside their hearts to bail nobody ever again became involved in paganism because after God demonstrated absolutely clear that he was God. That was the end of all doubt. It was the end of all disobedience right now. How many times has God open the heavens and manifested that he is God. It wasn't three weeks after this that God had to do it again and another three weeks if that because that's the way we are. We want our God's close at hand. Were we can touch them or we can see them or we can feel them were we can get some immediate pleasure is our God today, the God of immediate pleasure. Elijah said I know who God's is a mandala by somebody who's not confused, not paralyzed. Jumping back and forth between different science knows who God is and has a sentence and someone who is willing to take the consequences for standing firm. There is no doubt that our Christian faith is becoming more and more offensive to the culture around us, may we be permitted women who like Elijah trusted God's truth never changes were glad you joined us for the Saturday addition of Renewing Your Mind each week were making our way through Dr. RC Sproul series great men and women of the Bible and were reminded week after week how important Bible study is we learn God's perspective on every nuance of life as we read our Bibles if you'd like to increase your understanding that let me recommend our resource offer today when you contact us with a financial gift of any amount to look at your ministries. We will send you RC series. Thus, the glory in 57 messages.
He surveys every book of the Bible and explains how they fit with the rest of Scripture plus will include a disk containing the study guides for each message to request duster glory. When you call us at 800-435-4343.
You can also make a request firstname.lastname@example.org Elijah's life and ministry brought about great things in the nation of Israel, but unfortunately the people continue to stray from God.
Another profit was retained. Continue Elijah's work. We hope you'll join us next Saturday as we study the life of Elisha here on renewing your my