“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” —Matthew 6:21
Think back for a moment to an episode recorded in 1 Kings 18. The passage is a well-known portion of scripture and widely preached: the account of the LORD’s showdown with the 450 false prophets of Ba’al and 400 prophets of the groves. Elijah challenged wicked Queen Jezebel’s false prophets and pagan priests to call upon their gods. To the people Elijah said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word (1 Kings 18:21, ESV).
Altars were set up and sacrifices placed thereon. When the cries of the false prophets went unheard, amidst their wailing, theatrics, and even cutting their flesh, Elijah ordered the altar of Jehovah drenched with water. Barrel after barrel was poured upon the altar and sacrifices until a moat of water surrounded the altar. When Elijah prayed in the sight of all the people:
“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” vv36-37, ESV
“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” (1 Kings 18:38).
The people fell upon their faces and said, “The LORD, He alone is God; Jehovah, He is THE God” (1 Kings 18:39). It might make us wonder if much of what was said that day was lip service because Elijah felt that he was the only one left that served the LORD, not only before, but even after the event (1 Kings 19:10). There were people in the northern kingdom of Israel who served the LORD God, most certainly. That is evident as Jeroboam tried to keep people from leaving for Jerusalem to worship Jehovah by setting up golden idols in Bethel and Dan; and the LORD tells us specifically that Obadiah hid 100 prophets in caves (1 Kings 18:4), and that there were 7,000 who had not bowed or kissed Ba’al (1 Kings 19:18).
When we consider much of Israel’s history, and her attitude throughout in the depravity so prevalent in fallen flesh, it would seem very reasonable for the incarnate LORD, Jesus Christ, to preach repentance and the truths of the heavenly kingdom on the shores of Galilee. It had not changed much since the days of Elijah. Too many people placed an emphasis upon the apportioned blessings from God rather than the Living God being THE blessing as “the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:26). Israel sought the kingdom primarily as a temporal blessing, with land, and oblations, and prosperity, and apportionments, as promised in the last chapter of Ezekiel.
Have we done the same thing? personally; and also corporately, as the church of Jesus Christ? Are we going along to get along as the people under Ahab’s reign, requiring a heavenly fire to come down before we acknowledge, “the LORD, He is the God”? Are we seeking the temporal blessings of God as the fuel to serve Him, or worse, the reason to serve Him? Or can we fall upon our faces in true repentance?
Let it be said of the Lord’s people that we are a repentant people, a humble people because of the majesty of His presence, and a people with a focused desire for one thing alone, to have this truth not only fall from our lips, but realized in our hearts, meditated upon by our minds, and manifested in our deeds:
“Lord Jesus, if I have not You, I have nothing.”