Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I.D. CRISIS--Series 9 of 20--God's Prophet Elijah and his challenge

Author: Kurt Koppetsch, Publisher, Shepherd News Trust

The purpose of this blog is shedding light, i.e. truth, on contemporary religious views.

The goal of the Shepherd Blog is to help people secure quality of life--as prefaced by truth, justice, peace, health, shelter, and economic independence--by resolving human stress as an acute spiritual problem that overwhelms people and nations.

The book I.D. Crisis by Kurt Koppetsch deals with the spiritual, intellectual, and social conflict in modern times. Confusion about the past and uncertainties in the present prevent us from knowing our true nature. As a direct consequence of such confusion, visions of the future are clouded. Some of the diversions that prevent us from realizing our true identity as children of God are philosophies, politics, economics, and falsehood such as religious cults. The solution is remembering that human beings are dependent creatures of God.

Each series of the book I.D. Crisis will conclude with the poem "Rays of Hope and Freedom" to assure readers that God cares about our lives and we are his children of hope. Hope is the From/to process at work in the modern Era of Faith repairing life and circumstance. Hope is making the impossible come true.

Topic for April 21 through April 28: GOD'S PROPHET ELIJAH AND HIS CHALLENGE

If our desire to overcome the current identity crisis is at all sincere, spiritual reawakening must become the order of the day. Good intentions alone never accomplish anything.

Newness of life and restored fellowship with God are based on God's righteousness. It is, therefore, important to thoroughly comprehend Old Testament writings.

Biblical stories are a distinct part of our Christian heritage. But Old Testament literature must be read and understood in terms of Cross and Gospel. The revealed meaning of these writings completes the total presentation of the truth about God.

We must recognize God's sacrifice on the Cross as the fulfillment of Law and Prophets. Christ's teaching confirmed this eternal truth. And through God's action on the Cross, we can now experience salvation by grace through faith.

This gift has its firm foundation established on the righteousness of God. Its reality in daily life is demonstrated through an intimate working relationship with the living God. Christianity details this opportunity from God for spiritually enslaved people to become free again through a life of union with Christ. Christ says, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)

However, as a free people of God, we can choose the quality of our life. We have the option, for example, to seek or reject God's purpose for our life. We also have the freedom to receive God's blessing in Biblical literature as a matter of faith. Or, we can study the Word of God judicially from a strictly intellectual point of view, where critical scholarship is like an investigative tool.

Each approach has its own merits. But only when we commit ourselves to learn the truth about God with a dedication that demands faith will we benefit from God's blessing when reading the Bible.

The function of theology is to help faith appreciate what God through Christ has done.

God has demonstrated divine power in action for billions of years. Specifically we are forced to admit perfection in the movement of the planet Earth within the constellation of the heavenly bodies for over four-and-one-half billion years. New discoveries of scientifically documented facts serve as additional evidence that even the smallest particle is pertinent to the perfect motion of the universe.

With this knowledge, we have no choice but to suddenly feel humbled. Humility compels us to acknowledge our privileged status as redeemed people of God. We are blessed to know, worship, and serve the Almighty God of Creation, who, in His wisdom, also saw to it that every part of the human body is functional and unique.

Let there be no doubt, the eternal power of God is truly visible in the exactness that sustains the performance of the universe as well as in the perfection of grace that provides care for human beings on earth. The supplement of grace to the miraculous space-time continuum is beyond all descriptive language, even the words of Babylonian mythology. It requires faith to experience God in personal life and see God in all that exists. We must yield to eternal truth.

There is no theology in existence that can fathom God's eternal power. Nor are there adequate words in any language to fully describe the divine will that Christians know and witness to as the grace of God in Cross and Gospel.

Thus, full appreciation and revealed understanding of eternal truth and universal salvation is a matter of faith. All meaningful relationships with the living God are a matter of faith and dedication.

So we find that within this context of a faith relationship--though in the setting of the legalistic covenant--the prophet Elijah confronted Israelites in the Northern Kingdom: "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." (1Kings 18:21)

Let us explore some of the background leading up to this encounter. About 1,200 years before Elijah's challenge, the covenant of faith and promise with Abraham was the means by which God had chosen to make Himself known. God's offer to relate to people on earth was consummated when Abraham "believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6) Abraham had responded to God's expectation by giving up his old identity. Because of it, he subsequently found perfection through his new relationship to God. Abraham lived in God's presence.

As time went on divine promise was fulfilled some 400 years later when on Mount Sinai God declared a covenant with Abraham's progeny.

A nation was born!

All the reasons for everlasting celebration were contained in God's covenant that crowned Israel's miraculous rescue from bondage and slavery in Egypt. Though the conditions for sharing God's blessings were clearly defined, pride and outright rejection immediately separated God and people. The evil in human nature surfaced on so many occasions that God punished the evil generation of the newly formed nation by denying them the blessing of the promised land.

The historian of Deuteronomy framed the rocky start of Judaism in the words of God's unforgettable challenge. In it blessing and curse are equated to life and death: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days...." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Life on earth is a matter of priorities. This message was explicitly given in Deuteronomy and again vociferously proclaimed by Elijah on Mount Carmel: "If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." (1 Kings 18:21)

The ultimate question as to "how long will you go limping with two different opinions?" (1 Kings 18:21) culminated the three years of drought that Elijah had previously predicted. Starvation, physical as well as spiritual, produced the agony that set the stage for exposing apostasy in Northern Israel.

The prearranged marriage between King Ahab and the Tyrian princess Jezebel was but a minor detail in the long events of rampant faithlessness in Northern Israel. The marriage only served to magnify the ongoing problem of rebellion against God.

Through heinous manipulation of power, Jezebel returned idol worship, specifically the worship of the Phoenician fertility god Baal, to the land that God had previously destined for the Israelites because of the very fact that its earlier inhabitants had lavished in idol worship. Jezebel's vicious threats intimidated the residents of the urban centers. She had succeeded in imposing her version of Baal worship. Hindrances were solved by a very efficient process--which, unfortunately, has carried over into modern times in the form of character assassination. Jezebel was determined to destroy the Israelites' orthodox view of dependence on God. Death was the ultimate enforcer of her ambition.

But during the heat of conflict, God stood by His prophet. God answered Elijah's prayer for mercy on the people and the LORD sent fire down in approval of Elijah's sacrifice offering. The event on Mount Carmel was not intended to teach people conversion through fear, although this was precisely the result: "And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God' " (1 Kings 18:39)

God's eternal lesson through this incident on Mount Carmel was to expose the futility of idol worship. The language used by Elijah to lead on the prophets of Baal excels satire and comedy, especially because of its Biblical setting: "At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, 'Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.' " (1 Kings 18:27)

Now about 800 years later, roughly 2,000 years from the present time, the Elijah of Christianity was pointing to the Master we all must serve. John the Baptist opened the prelude to the Gospel. And Jesus Christ preached the Good News from God: "I have come in order that you might have life--life in all its fullness." (John 10:10)TEV

Christians have reason to bask in the promise of the resurrected Christ: "I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:20)


My life was in chaos.
Darkness clouded my senses.
My heart trembled in fear.

I prayed to God:
"Father, help me!"
And God transformed my life.

The world is still the same.
But I am now secure.
Christ is my Savior!

His love fills my heart,
His faith is my faith.
Rays of hope now light up my soul.

Rays of hope and freedom
Show me the way to God,
And where Christ lives I too will live.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Kurt Koppetsch/Shepherd News Trust. All rights reserved.

(Excerpt from the books I.D. Crisis and Era of Faith by Kurt Koppetsch, published by Shepherd News Trust,

This blog will be the primary text from April 21 through April 28, 2010.

Starting on April 29, 2010: Government