King Ahab had led Israel to accept Baal as a god along with Jehovah; still offering their principal loyalty to Jehovah but rendering some obeisance to Baal. They did not utterly repudiate Jehovah, to set up Baal as the true and only God, but, along with the services of God, they practiced also those services of Baal, which appealed to them as good and desirable. They halted (wavered) between the opinion that Jehovah is God, and there can be no God beside Him, and the opinion that they could render to Baal such services as seemed to them to be “in harmony” with the will of God. Thus Elijah said unto them, “…How long halt you between two opinions. If the Lord be God; follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18: 21).
Elijah sternly rebuked the foolishness of their thinking and cast before them the challenge to get off the fence on one side or the other. He reasoned that if Jehovah be God, then He must be followed to the very letter of His Law, if He is not, then there is no need to respect His Person, His Law, or His worship. If there be any good or power or authority in Baal, then Baal is truly God, and service to him should be total; unshared with Jehovah or any other. The waverer, the fence-straddler, the middle-of-the-roader served neither Jehovah nor Baal worthily. They were as the apostle John wrote to the Laodiceans, “lukewarm”. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev 3:15,16).
There is a startling and forceful parallel between the people and circumstances of this narrative and the people and circumstances in the Lord’s church today. He must be exceedingly and willfully blind who cannot see it.
We have today the same three classes, occupying the same positions and holding the same opinions concerning man’s service to God. There are those who stand firm in their insistence that God must be followed in His every utterance and respected in His every silence, who will not turn aside to the right hand nor to the left, and who will not tolerate in silence the turning aside of others. Directly opposed to these are those who have openly espoused the worship and service of the Baal of Modernism, with its flamboyant human innovations and gaudy, absurd promotions, justifying anything and everything upon the sandy ground of “it seems good to us.”
In between these two there is a great body of “waverers.” Some of these will accept and support only a little of the modern idolatry of going beyond that which is written (1 Cor 4:6), justifying themselves in the deadly delusion that small departures are alright if they seem to be “in harmony” with the law of God. Then there are those who will do and endorse almost anything so long as the Lord has not specifically said, “thou shalt not!” To these Baal is a very nice god, splendid in concept, beautiful to behold and satisfying to serve. Yet they hesitate to renounce God completely; restrained by lingering vestiges of the fierce and single-hearted loyalty of their forefathers in the Faith. Together, these “waverers” run the full gamut of opinion from “almost Christians” to “almost Baal worshipers”.
If any of these waverers be rebuked for their straying or exhorted to return to Truth, they belligerently reply, “We have not turned to Baal altogether; we are still God’s people!” Yet God has no people who serve Baal in any degree whatever. He who departs a single step is an eternity away from God. Nothing can be properly considered “in harmony” with God’s law except that which is specifically authorized in that Law (Col 3:17).
How long, then, will our unconvinced brethren waver between two opinions? If they will believe in God, then let Him BE GOD: supreme, omnipotent in all things; whose way must be followed without any deviation. If God’s Law may be trifled with, if man may with impunity improvise there upon, then He is no real God at all and man is free to exercise his own judgment and follow his own will. Let every man be convinced in his own heart, and stand firm on the ground he covers. ” . . . he that wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord!” (Jam. 1:6-7). The apostle Paul warned the Ephesians by saying, “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —” (Eph 4:15,16). If Christ be the head and Savior of the Church follow Him, but if not, follow the ways of the world (Eph 5:23,24). Let us be as Joshua who said, “If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).