Sincerity is not Enough

And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.[1]

If you recall from yesterday, the prophet Elijah had challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest to determine whose God was the real deal. Turns out this was not so easy for the prophets of Baal. Baal’s prophets attempt to rouse him from the dead. They shout, but no one responds. Next, they “dance” or “limp” (pāsaḥ) around the altar, again trying to get the god’s attention. This ritual dance also gets no response. At noon Elijah begins to taunt them, suggesting Baal is preoccupied in some manner. G. E. Saint-Laurent demonstrates that ancient Baal worshipers indeed did imply in their writings that not only could Baal die, but he also could go on a journey, fall asleep, or even resort to bloody self-mutilation.

Desperate now, their authority at stake, the Baalists cut themselves and practice frenzied prophesying, not unlike self-hypnosis. Though they try for hours, the text says as explicitly as it can that their god is unable to answer because he is not real.

Tomorrow, we will cover “the rest of the story.”  However, for today suffice it to say that there are still millions of people who are calling upon “gods” who are not real.  There are many who say that it really doesn’t matter what you believe or to what deity you pray to, as long as you are sincere.  Unfortunately, there are way too many sincere people who have sincerely believed and been wrong.  Even today, “drinking the kool-aid” carries with it the connotation from the terrible massacre from cult leader Jim Jones who ordered all of his followers to drink kool-aid laced with cyanide.

Someone once said, it’s not the sincerity or the amount of your belief or faith that counts, but rather, it’s the object of your belief and faith that makes the difference.  Down through the ages, millions have found the Bible, when read in context to be an object of their faith that they can trust in.  I put my faith in the truth of scripture over 41 years ago this month.  I have discovered that I don’t need to shout to him or wake him up or do something crazy to get his attention.  He is the God who is there.  He has revealed himself in scripture.  If you have never taken a serious look at the Bible, why not do so today?



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Ki 18:24–29). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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