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June 28, Day 180 – Twisting Reality Into Absurdity

Today’s readings show us how easily people twist reality into absurdity to fit their paradigms. 1 Kings 18:16-19:21 begins with Ahab calling Elijah “the troubler of Israel” (verse 17), when actually, Ahab is the one who has made trouble for Israel by “abandoning the LORD’s commands and following the Baals” (verse 18). Here, we encounter Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal. This portion of Scripture is especially interesting and a little humorous. It shows us the difference between reality and absurdity. Elijah demonstrates before the false prophets and the people that the “LORD is God” (verse 19). The prophets of Baal and of Asherah are so ridiculous; why would anyone “slash” himself up for nothing? Indeed, Baal is a “nothing” – a figment of peoples’ imaginations! God demonstrates the reality of His existence by divine fire which consumes everything – even the water – and the people cannot argue with reality. It’s the same today. It is pointless to concoct a silly idea (such as gender identification and/or re-assignment) that will never equate with what actually is. Worshipping Baal – who was a nothing and a non-entity - was simply a denial of reality and an excuse to avoid worshipping the true God. I praise God for the truth that He is there, and He is not silent. After Elijah “called on God, God sent His fire that burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil – even licking up the water” (verses 31-38). This was Elijah’s fourth miracle. Then, Elijah performed his fifth miracle – praying for rain after three and a half years of no rain – whereby God answered his prayer (verses 41-46; cf., James 5:17-18). In chapter 19, we see that Elijah – exhausted and discouraged – flees out of fear into the desert. He asks God to take his life, but God makes him rest and eat. God comes to Elijah, who felt like he was “serving the Lord alone, but God tells that He has reserved seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed down to Baal” (verses 14-18). Here are two lessons that we need to apply. First, we need to be careful about the things we pray for. Elijah asked God to let him die, but God did not answer that prayer. We recall that Elijah – like Enoch – did not die. God had a special experience planned just for Elijah, and it did not include death. We will see that event in a forthcoming reading (cf., 2 Kings 2:8). Second, God instructed Elijah to anoint Hazael as king of Aram and Jehu as king of Israel. Here, we see how God called a godly man to appoint two ungodly men to be His instruments of wrath to bring about His judgment. Finally, we see that Elijah appoints Elisha to become his replacement.

In Psalm 78:17-31, we see how contentious the Israelites were toward God in spite of His provisions of food and water for them. “They continued to sin against Him – willfully putting God to the test” (verse 17-18). “They spoke against Him, saying, ‘can God spread a table in the desert?’” (verse 19). Contending with God is never a good idea. Contention is almost tantamount to contempt - biting the hand that feeds you. People who show contempt for God will pay a heavy penalty for doing so. Verse 22 says, “they did not believe God or trust in His deliverance.” Yet, God – in His mercy – “rained down manna for the people to eat … and meat like dust … all the food they could eat” (verses 24-25). But because of their contempt toward God, His anger rose against them, and He put to death the sturdiest among them” (verse 31). People would do well to recognize that God is the Sovereign Reality over all, and we simply cannot stand against Him. Nothing is more absurd.

Today, in Acts 17:22-18:8, we read about Paul in Athens and Corinth. Although Paul was actually bringing life-saving good news to the Greeks, they simply considered him to be a “babbler” (verse 18). However, notice Luke’s comment about them: “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (verse 21). This description almost sounds like our contemporary politicians. I remember standing on the Areopagus (also known as Mars Hill) when I was in Athens and imagining Paul delivering his message to the Athenian crowds below. In chapter 18, we see that Paul received much abuse and opposition from the Jews in Corinth, and for that – with God’s blessing – he “turned to the Gentiles” (verse 6). The Jews probably thought that was absurd. However, as a Gentile, I am thankful that God was personally interested in me and that He has made provisions for the Gentiles to be saved, too. And ... that's reality.

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In light of recent events, these reflections seem well-timed. Unfortunately, throughout the history of man, people selfishly twisted their own desires and thoughts into reality. This was a good reminder of our predicament.

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Thank you, Skip, for your thoughtful comment. I continue to pray for you every day!

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