Throughout the issues of the Standard Bearer one finds many, many meditations of the late Rev. G. Vos. In his inimitable way he presented the truths of the Word of God that touched the hearts of many children of God. Still, among many of our older generation, there are those who will begin, “Do you remember that meditation of Rev. Vos, when he wrote….?” Herewith follows one of those meditations from the Standard Bearer of February 1, 1951.
“And Elijah came unto all the people and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
Times were evil in the days of Elijah, the prophet of the Lord.
There was a very wicked king on the throne, and he had ruled Israel for twenty two years at the time of this speech of the prophet. And when Elijah speaks of two opinions, causing the people of God to halt ridiculously, you can imagine where they received their incentive; their example.
This wicked king had married a heathen princess, named Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians. And ever since her appearance on the stage of history, her name has been synonymous with the brazen harlot. She was a very wicked woman, indeed.
Israel numbered four hundred and fifty Baal priests. And they were a sorry lot. Priests of that which is not. What vanity!
The Holy Bible tells us that the people of God walked in vanities. There was Baal worship and the adoration of the Ashtaroth on every side.
No, there was no historical incentive to follow these detestable deities. The history of Israel is comprised in the NAME! That was all. It was all Jehovah. They were a people of miracles. Every man, woman, and child was the offspring of Abraham, after he was dead, and after his wife, Sarah, was dead. They were a people that were born through the miracle of Jehovah. They were miraculously called too. And they went to the land of miracles. If you please: God dwelled there. The Holy God, before whose countenance the angels cover their faces.
Were they not a miraculous people? And did they not dwell in a miraculous land? Go to Jerusalem and you will marvel. There is a place where Jehovah dwells. It is called the Holy of Holies. God feels at home with man, elect man.
And now they will serve Baal, and adore Ashtaroth? For shame!
Yes, but wait: they are not done with Jehovah. Oh no, they have Baal and they have Ashtaroth, but they also have Jehovah on their lips. They serve both.
Jereboarn had given expression to it: he pointed to the two golden calves, and said: Behold the God that brought you up from Egypt.
And the result?
It is this: they halted.
And to halt is a ridiculous situation.
To halt is ridiculous. It is laughable.
Try to walk with one foot on the sidewalk, and with the other in the gutter.
To halt, literally, is to have different planes for your feet.
Figuratively, it is to be double minded.
Spiritually, it is to be more abominable than the out and out wicked.
Let us see. Who was Baal? Baal was the sun god of the Syro-phenecian nations. Literally it meant Lord or Master. It signified the productive power and fertility of the sun. In a word: it was expressive of power, might.
But it was all a dream. It did not exist. It was literally nothing and vanity. When Israel worshipped Baal, they worshipped the nothing, the nihil.
But on the other hand, there was Jehovah. Ah me, how shall I circumscribe Jehovah? What shall I say of Him?
He is the God of whom Moses sang. He had gone back through all the generations and had arrived at that moment when God created the worlds. And looking still further he saw Jehovah who is from everlasting to everlasting. Read the ninetieth psalm, and worship.
And He is truly the adorable God. He had revealed Himself to Israel. And that revelation found its climax in the Holy of Holies. That place spoke of the eternal Mystery: God and Man united into one. He had taken Israel from out of Ur of Chaldees, and He had labored with Israel until he dwelled in the land of God, in the Wonderland. And in that Wonderland He told them of still greater beauties to come. Read the psalm of Asaph (73).
And all His footsteps were grace, love, and lovingkindness.
Certainly Jehovah had revealed Himself to Israel, and all such revelation should tend to praise, honor and worship. In a word: the revelation of Jehovah should find among Israel just one reaction: they should serve Him.
But they did not. That is, they served Him alright, but they also served the great NOTHING. And that is Baal.
And so they made themselves ridiculous.
In their foolish halting between two opinions.
Israel was halting between two opinions, and made themselves detestable in the eyes of God and man.
And God remembered His covenant, and He sent the man of God to speak to this foolish people. And the name of that man of God was Elijah. What an appropriate name! It means: Jehovah is God! His very introduction was a message itself. What do I say?! It was the only message he was about to bring.
What little child among us does not know of that wonderful man of God?
His main characteristic was this: he stood before God. He always fought for God. And through the Holy Spirit he prayed to God that it might not rain, and it rained not for three years and six months. And why? Because of this wicked halting between two opinions. Remember that Ahab had been on the throne for 22 years. Conditions were terrible in the land of miracles.
And at the conclusion of this three year period, Elijah called all Israel together at Mount Carmel.
There they come! I see thousands and thousands. And among them is the host of Baal priests. They are there at Elijah’s bidding.
And when the scene is set, Elijah preached his introductory sermon.
And what a sermon!
He goes, at once to the very heart of the abomination: How long halt ye between two opinions? He is a rather ruthless preacher.
Imagine yourself to be a wise man. You are going to reprove a friend. And you prepare many pretty speeches. You are going to captivate him with many subtilties.
Not so Elijah. The man has no tact at all. His introduction comes to this: Why be a fool, O Israel!
Yes, and they were fools. On the one hand they hang on to the great NOTHING. And that is Baal. They prostrate themselves before the NOTHING.
And on the other hand, they say that they serve Jehovah.
They made spiritual fools of themselves.
The picture of any man who endeavors to hang on to Baal and to Jehovah.
Ridiculous halting between two opinions.
Why halt ye between two opinions?
If Jehovah be God. . . follow Him!But if Baal, then follow him!
By the way: note that there are but two possibilities. You either serve Jehovah or you serve Baal, or anything Baal stands for.
What awful injunction! Jehovah or Baal!
Much later we hear something that is somewhat of an echo to this injunction of Elijah: Christ or Bar abbas!
Awful injunction: Jehovah or Baal.
Jehovah is all that is lovely, just and good.
Baal is all that is vain, idle, empty and corrupt
Dear reader, do you know what makes me shudder at this point? It is this: how marvelous is God’s patience. He suffers long and is kind. He is even willing to stand on a duo with the devil himself. And standing before Israel, He asks the question: Whom do you want? After all is said and done, the voice of Elijah was really the voice of God.
What is Israel going to do?
To ask the question seems sinful. What else but to choose God! Who will be fool enough to choose the devil, Baal, the murderer Bar abbas?
Ah, but do not be too hasty: these people are halting. They try to keep from choosing. They walk on two planes. They say that they serve both Jehovah and Baal. And of that kind of people you can expect anything.
And so the choice is set before the face of God’s people.
They are bidden to choose.
They may not halt between two opinions.
They must cease their ridiculous halting.
Later, much later, Jesus asks of His church in Laodicea: Oh that you were either cold or hot!
The luke warm is abominable.
And what is the result?
The people answered him not a word.
Tell me, would you not expect to see the columns of fire descending from a wrathful God? Here is God standing on a duo: Jehovah contra Lucifer! Here stands beauty such as will make heaven musical forever, over against ugliness such as will make hell abominable for all eternity.
And the people utter not a word.
Well, let us see….
O God, forgive! We are so wicked and perverse.
Wonder what the angels were thinking at this juncture?
The people just stand there. There is no reaction. What do I say? Not reaction? It is the abominable indifference of the apostate. It is the striking of the beauteous Face of God. It is the insult against heaven and heaven’s God.
Does this not remind you of our very day? Is it any different now?
Who does not call himself a Christian? We all serve God, do we not? Everyone knows the Almighty, and everyone calls himself after His name. Try to call a man a heathen, a pagan, and you will have trouble on your hands.
Such it is in the church universal, be they orthodox or liberal.
Such it is in the world of the so called Christian nations.
Yes, they know God and call themselves after His name. They are said to serve Him.
But they serve also Baal. No, I do not mean the old sun god of the Syro phenecians. People are too modem, they are too wise for that nonsense.
But they serve Baal nevertheless.
That is, they serve the great NOTHING.
There is a great hurrying, a great pondering, a great philosophizing of the vain, the empty, the idle, the deceptive, the lying. In short, there is a great service of the devil. And it were well if we do not look too far from home. Let us enter into the recesses of our hearts, and we will be surprised at the abominations we will find.
I would like to make this very clear: there is much halting between two opinions in anno Domini 1951.
There is much folly, much ludicrous behavior among us today.
It is good sense today to read I Kings 18, and to apply it to ourselves.
And still, the choice is so easy. Of course, Jehovah is God, and He ought to be and He must be served.
Serve Baal and try at the same time to serve Jehovah, and you become a fool, and your end is hell.
Serve Baal? Yes, if you do, you become a fool.
Did you read that chapter in First Kings? Do, and you will be inclined to laugh.
It is one of the places of Holy Writ that uses irony in order to portray the fool in his folly. I receive the impression that Elijah stood near the altar with aperpetual smile on his face.
At least he can hold himself no longer. He steps forth and politely addresses the priests of Baal. These poor deluded people are in a dither about their precious god. But Elijah intervenes and says, Just a minute! Baal is a god: perhaps he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, yes, he may even be asleep. Cry a little louder!
Holy irony of God!
And the priests jump against the altar: they cut themselves with knives, but the fire from heaven is absent. The sum of all their work is exactly zero.
And what would you expect? Baal is not. He is the NOTHING.
And the ridiculousness of halting between two opinions is manifested.
But Elijah is going to assure us that Jehovah is God.
And that He should be served.
You know the story. It is surpassingly beautiful. Do not forget that water. Water is the very enemy of fire. Elijah will prevent the invention of the sinner. Everything is soaking wet.
And then comes the prayer of faith to Him who is. Baal is the NOTHING. But do you know that the root meaning of Jehovah is the I AM? And He will prove it today.
The prayer: Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that Thou art God in Israel….
Beautiful prayer of faith!
And the fire fell and consumed, and consumed….
Of course, God is God. And salvation is of the Lord. And that is Jesus.
And so let us not halt. Let us stand firm on the Rock.
And the Rock is Christ.