How long will you limp over your choice?
– 1 Kings 18: 21
A powerful question put forth by the Prophet Elijah to the people of Israel was in regard to their waffling between their faith in YHWH and following the pagan religions of the Canaanites. From the time of Moses, YHWH was to be the ONLY GOD of Israel. Yet, throughout the years they regularly slipped into apostasy, the worship of other gods. Each time they would slip the punishment would be greater than before. Each nation who was allowed to oppress them was stronger than last. Finally, Elijah put the challenge to them and to us. His question resonates from nearly one thousand years before Christ to the modern day.
Elijah knew that faith involves commitment and, often, risk. Faith is dynamic and is manifested in decisive action. He condemns the tepid and weak faith of Israel. This was not monotheism, the belief in one God. It was a corruption, called Henotheism. Henotheism is maintaining the belief in one supreme God, but recognizing the existence and power of other gods. It is a weak and diluted type of faith that is safe and without risk or commitment. Therefore, it is empty. Elijah calls upon Israel to commit to YHWH and follow Him, not give empty worship and words while looking to other gods out of fear that YHWH will not care for our needs.
The severe challenge of Elijah speaks to the contemporary person as well. While God may be recognized, how many people put their faith and loyalty in the myriad of powers presented by society; typified by money and status. We are not to live henotheistic lives, with God being one power among many. God is the ultimate power and deserves ultimate commitment from us. Elijah asks that we stand strong in our faith, that we make a powerful decision and not “hedge our bets” with societal trappings and temptations.
In the Covenant, given through Moses on Sinai, God committed to us- now it is time we commit to Him.