June 13th – Who is God ?

Those children, now a tiny minority of our population, who have the wondrous advantage of being part of a Sunday School, have heard those wonderful Old Testament stories of Joshua taking over the promised land for the 12 tribes of Israel, they have heard of David and Goliath, of the battles between Israel and the Philistines, and so on; but the significance of the overall story often has to wait for their maturer years.
The truly big question confronting the nation of Israel, as they took up residence in the land which the British later called Palestine, and became farmers, vineyard owners, and city dwellers, was never ‘Is there a God?’: the big question which racked the nation for a thousand years was (and to some extent remains) and is: ‘WHO IS GOD?’ The cutting edge of this question bit deep every day. On whom do we depend for water, for fertile fields, for harvests, for every good thing? The local inhabitants all said ‘Your God Jehovah may be good at bringing slaves out of Egypt, and providing survival in the desert, but here in this land, Baal, the God of productivity is in charge’. Hence the real question was not, is there a God, but around here, WHO IS GOD? Please don’t think that question has been answered by our world today. It hasn’t. The gods of productivity still rule billions of lives and hearts.
One of the most dramatic confrontations in this issue took place on the Mount Carmel range of mountains, when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest before all the people. The Baal people should prepare a sacrifice on an altar, and ask their god to accept it. Elijah would do the same, calling on the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel. The One who answered by fire would be seen to be God. The whole gripping story is told in I Kings, Chapter 18 from which these excepts are taken, one from the beginning, one from later in the story:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waiver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him: but if Baal is God, following him”.
(v21-The God who answers by fire – he is God. … Baal’s people prayed. Nothing happened.(v.24)
Elijah prayed …. Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench(v.38)

Has it ever struck you that Holy fire is always the sign of God’s acceptance of human offering?

A Prayer
Into our cold hearts, and on our dark lives, and in our cold church, light your holy fire, O Lord.

Now read I Kings Chapter 18.

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