Choices are hard. I remember when I was finally old enough to order for myself at McDonald’s, the idea of chicken McNuggets or a hamburger in my happy meal could throw me into a fit. I am talking some serious 6-year-old anxiety. I remember when my sister and I got old enough to just split our two orders. We both could live in nugget and burger world.
There is a problem with splitting things up like this. We rarely are able to make it equal. At first, it starts out with “can I have a piece of your side of the pizza?” and the next thing you know you end up taking advantage of the 2 medium for $5.00 a piece deal at Dominos.
I really need to stop thinking about food analogies here.
This month we are looking at the books of 1st and 2nd Kings. While the title says Kings, they are really about division. And in the midst of this giant story of division and inequitable sharing, is the story of two men. Elijah and Elisha, two prophets…speaking messages of unity in the face of a divided country, a divided people, and a divided faith.
This Sunday, we are jumping straight into the thunder dome. The big lesson for us to contemplate and begin to understand how a group of people living halfway around the world thousands of years ago learned lessons about being divided. And they learned the hard way.
Double means divided and divided means done.
The center of the whole conversation, and in many ways the center of the whole book of Kings is this verse.
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing. 1 Kings 18:21
And the story gets more intense. In the middle of a 3 year drought, Elijah, a prophet of the LORD, decided to take care of things one and for all.
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs[a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
38 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.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valleyand slaughtered there. 1 Kings 18:22-40
Come be part of a narrative retelling of the story and an honest conversation about how we all find ourselves attempting to live divided lives. And in spite of that, Jesus brings us together in bigger ways than we can ever imagine.