Will the real God stand and be recognized? I can almost hear Elijah saying that to King Ahab when he told him to gather the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah at Mount Carmel (I Kings 18). It was at Mount Carmel that the people would see who the true God is, and who was the false. It was also there that the people would have to decide who it was they were going to serve. The people had apparently been wavering between following God and following after Baal, probably trying to follow both without excluding the other, something that people tend to do even in our time in history. We like to call it being “on the fence”, but in Revelation 3:16 Jesus calls it “lukewarm” and tells us the consequences are not pleasant to think about. One problem with this idea of being “on the fence” is that God will not share us with another, another god that is, and anyone or anything that we put as a priority in our life before Him is a god in our life.
Going back to I Kings 18, specifically verses 26-29, we see the prophets of Baal, alone without the prophets of Asherah, doing their best to summon a response from their god to consume their offering with fire. We read that they spent several hours trying to illicit a response from Baal only to end later without even a hint of Baal’s presence, much less his power. Yet we find in verses 36-38, after repairing the alter and drenching it and the sacrifice in water, after one very short and simple prayer God responds by not only burning up the sacrifice, but also the alter made of stones and all the water. This was a very decisive show of who truly is God and has all power.
There is an interesting statement made in verse 28 referring to the prophets of Baal. Referring to their cutting themselves, the statement says “as was their custom”. Something comes to mind when I read that statement, as well as the whole story. Apparently they had no doubt that Baal would respond to their pleas and various actions otherwise they wouldn’t have gone to such measures. Perhaps there were times in the past that Baal would respond to their worship by consuming their sacrifices with fire, and if so they had no reason to doubt he would respond this time. Before you quickly argue that Baal, or Satan, has no power to do this, you need to remember when Moses dealt with Pharaoh regarding the release of the Israelites found in the book of Exodus. Each time the power of God was done through Moses the sorcerers and magicians of Pharaoh did likewise. This tells us that Satan does have power that he can manifest through whatever god he presents himself as, powers that are merely a counterfeit of what God can and does do. For us to stick our heads in the sand, so to speak, embracing the view that Satan is powerless, including that which is connected to in practice or symbolism to sorcery, witchcraft, the occult or cults, or anything else, is ignorance to the truth of God’s Word.
There are two things that we can gather from these stories. The first one is that Satan does have power and can counterfeit manifestations of Gods power. The second thing is that when there is a genuine “showdown” between God and the powers of darkness, not only is God able to “show up”, but He is also more than capable of completely neutralizing and rendering powerless anything or anyone who dares to challenge Him.
Many churches today are very guarded, and in some cases so much so that even God can’t manifest Himself in their presence. They are either afraid that the congregation will get too much into the “flesh”, or that they would be deceived by the counterfeit manifestations brought on by the enemy of our souls. Because of these fears they will often times regulate their services in such a way so as to minimize any chance or opportunity for such occurrences to happen, all the while they are saying that God is free to move in their midst should He choose to do so. I realize that deception will be rampant in these last days and that it is important for us to not be deceived, as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24, but are we to combat deception by squelching or significantly limiting even the moving of God in our midst? Or should we create a list of criteria by which we can tell what is and is not of God? I’ve heard someone share many times on the radio a list of criteria he uses to determine whether or not something is of God, but the sad thing is that by that same criteria even Jesus and the Apostles would be disqualified. So, we need to make sure that the criteria we use is solid and grounded in scripture, and not something that is used to support our own opinions and personal views on the subject, even to the point of twisting scripture to do so. In I Corinthians 12:10, we are told that one of the gifts of the Spirit is the discerning of spirits, and I believe that is one very powerful weapon for combating the deception and counterfeits of the enemy in our midst. In I John 4:1-3, not only are we told to test the spirits, but we are also given the test and how to grade it. Knowing that the Devil is the father of all lies, and the best lie is 99% true, I can’t help but believe that the test mentioned in this passage is more than just mere words spoken, but whether or not the life lived and walked backs up and supports the words spoken. Anyone can say they are a Christian, but only a Christian lives it and backs it up by their priorities, their choices and decisions, the placement of their loyalties, and the way they deal with things. So, do their lives reflect a life submitted and obedient to Christ?
We also need to remember that God is more than able to silence and render powerless the enemy in our lives and situations. When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, no matter what they had seen or experienced in the past, God was not going to allow “Baal” to be His counterfeit on that day. The people on that day were going to know that God, and God alone, was God, and any other was false and powerless compared to Him. Before the prophets of Baal started to call on their god Elijah asked the people a question followed by a statement in verse 21. He asked, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” What was the response of the people? Complete silence. Then after God consumed Elijah’s alter with fire the people fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” Sometimes it isn’t until people see the power of God manifested in their presence that they decide to give their lives over to Him, yet for one reason or another we want or try to limit God in this way to some extent. Moreover, it isn’t until they see that the power of God is greater than any other god in their life will they surrender to Him. If God is not God in your life, then what are the gods in your life? And when will you get to the point that you genuinely want to know who is true between the gods in your life and God? If you don’t care to know if God is who He says He is, the great I AM, or whether or not He’s greater than the other gods in your life, then He may just allow you to continue in your deception because that is what you want. But, if you truly want to know, then He’ll make Himself known though it may not be as you want Him to, at which time the other gods in your life will be powerless against Him.
As we patiently wait for His return, watching and praying that we are ready when He comes, may we not just in our speech but also in our lives echo the words of the Israelites in I Kings 18:39. “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” If you can’t say that in your speech and in your life, then I encourage you to seek Him out and He will be found. Your eternal destination may hinge on that. And so I conclude by asking the question, “Will the real God stand and be recognized?”