“How long will ye halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God follow Him, but if Baal then follow him.”

Elijah’s cry to the Israelites atop Mount Carmel typifies the ministry of two Elijah antitypes that were to follow him: John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus Christ’s first advent and the 144000 who are the forerunners of Jesus Christ’s second advent at the end time.

Elijah’s cry, “How long will ye halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God follow Him, but if Baal then follow him,” parallels John’s signature message which was similar in character: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 3:2, and “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John 1:29. What do these two messages have in common? What were the people to repent of in both Elijah messages? If we consider that the Greek word for “repent” is metanoia, which means to have a change of mind, to reconsider, we will realize that this message has more to do with the righteousness of God than with our own righteousness. John was not calling the people to repent of their sins per se, although that certainly comes into play as well, but to repent of “the” sin of mistaking God for Baal.

The word “sin” after all means to miss the mark; missing the mark about God’s true character is the foundational sin that leads to all other sins. In both Elijah messages the people were called to repent of their false view of God. They were to reconsider their understanding of God so that they would be enabled to accept Jesus Christ, who was the express image of the Father. They were to open their hearts and minds to the possibility that perhaps their perception of God was not altogether correct. They were to consider the probability that their interpretation of the Scriptures could be faulty and consequently could have led them to see God in a false light.

This is exactly where the Jews at the time of Christ failed: they had the oracles of God but they did not recognize the God of the Bible when He came to earth in human flesh. Their gross error caused them to reject and kill the same Creator whom they claimed to worship. John the Baptist’s message directed his generation to behold JesusChrist, the One who alone could give them a true revelation of the Father’s character. He alone could show the human race a God whose character was entirely different from that of Baal, that is, Satan.

What we Laodiceans need to know is that we don’t need to claim to worship Baal in the form of a calf in order to be worshipping him. All we need is to ascribe his character to the God of heaven and that will be sufficient to make us Baal worshippers.

John the Baptist’s poignant call was in essence the same as that of Elijah theTishbite: reconsider your understanding of God because if not, you will find yourself worshipping Baal, the god of reward and punishment instead of Jehovah, the Creator and giver of life whose law and character is agape love. It is no coincidence that Elijah’sname means “God of Jehovah” meaning, “my God, Jehovah is He. Jehovah the Creator is the true God, not Baal the Destroyer.

Ever since the beginning of Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven God’scharacter has been put on trial. Lucifer has so smeared and maligned Him that even the un-fallen universe did not know what to believe about Him. God’s only true witness has ever been His Son, Jesus Christ: “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful andTrue Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God,” Revelation3:14. That is why John cried out: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Notice that according to this verse the Lamb of God takes away the sin, not the “sins’ of the world.

Ever since the fall, “the” sin of the world, “the” great SIN of the world, capital “S,” has been to confuse the true God with the false god of this world, Satan. Only Jesus can take that confusion away. The message to the Laodiceans points to the fact that Jesus Christ is the “Faithful” representation and the “Faithful Witness” of God. This reminder is given to the Laodiceans because it is in their midst that the third Elijah will arise, pointing them to the worship of the true God and not Baal.

The relevance of the Elijah message for the end time was highlighted in the 4th chapter of Malachi:

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”Says the Lord of hosts,“That will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.3 You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,” says the Lord of hosts. 4 “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,  with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. 6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

The cataclysmic future predicted for the earth will be a world-wide destruction such as never was or ever will be. If we don’t listen to Elijah’s message we will be so confused as to the source of this chaos and devastation that we will conclude it is of God. But if we hear and understand it we will know that the Lord Jehovah, the Creator God, the only true God, is for us, and not against us, Romans 8:31. Those that fear God’s name, that is, in biblical lingo, that understand and honor His true character, will know that the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in His wings at this time.

It is when Satan’s greatest destruction takes place that Jesus will return to earth to take us home to be with Him forever. Jesus Christ did not come to destroy and He will never come to destroy: “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them,” Luke 9:56. Put that together with the following verse: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” Hebrews 13:8, and we will know who God is. Another passage that can help take away our confusion is found in John 10:7:

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will goin and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

There is a Good Shepherd and there is a Thief. There is a Creator and there is a Destroyer. God cannot be Shepherd and Thief or Creator and Destroyer at the same time. The true enemy of God and mankind is Satan, the Devil. To him belongs all the credit for destruction, punishment, suffering and pain.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” John 17:3.

Jesus’ parable of the vineyard depicts a people that rejects God’s repeated warning through His chosen vessels. When God sent His Son, the only true authority to remove all confusion about God’s true character, they rejected Him because their understanding of the Scriptures did not align itself with His revelation of God. The Elijah messages will always point the people to worship the true God as revealed by His Son Jesus Christ. The final Elijah message is given to our generation in Revelation 14, as the three angels’ messages:

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— 7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” 8 And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink ofthe wine of the wrath of her fornication.” 9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice,“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day ornight, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:6-11.

Like the messages preceding it, this Elijah message divides the true God from the false god. The true God is the Creator who made the heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” The false god hides himself behind the power of a false church and will use force through rewards and punishments to compel the conscience thorough fear. The true knowledge of God is needed now like never before. Knowing God’s true character will transform our relationship withHim as well as our characters. A true knowledge of God will enable us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Knowing that the God of the Sabbath, our Creator and redeemer, is single in character will remove the confusion to which Satan has subjected us through his own duality of good and evil as was represented by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then we will be prepared to receiveHim as He comes to earth a second time.

What’s in a word

Elijah: God of Jehovah

Tishbite: recourse

Gilead: heap of testimony

Carmel: fruitful field

Who is Baal?

Baal: “The most active of the gods was Baal, whose consort was Anat. Baal, identified with he Mesopotamian storm god, Adad, was the god of storms and rain and giver of fertility. He embodied deity in its immanent power. Baal, whose name means “lord, husband, owner,” was widely worshipped throughout the region. He was described as the “powerful one,” “king,” “lord of the earth,” and “rider of the clouds.” Anat, like Isthar a goddess of love and war, was the special protector of Baal.” The Oxford Study Bible, p. 147.

“The myths surrounding Baal “obviously reflected the seasonal and general climatic conditions in the region where a rainless summer when vegetation disappears is followed by a rainy season with new growth.” The Oxford Study Bible, p. 147. “The Canaanite texts have almost no overt discussion of theology. A brief resume of what can be inferred, primarily from Ugaritic religious texts, follows. The gods are called qds, “holy,” stressing their “otherness” in relation to human beings. They are both terrible and fascinating. The gods together make up the “assembly of the gods” and are thought to dwell in the north on Mt. Saphon (Mt. Cassios). Possessing the gift of  long life, the gods give it to whom they will. But, as Aqhat knows in his contests with Anath only the gods are immortal, all human beings die. Mankind serves the gods through the temple sacrificial system. In return they trust in divine retribution in which righteousness receives reward and sin involves punishment. While the gods are exalted lords of life, personal names link human beings and gods together in familial relationships (Abibaal, “my father is Baal;” Ahibaal, “my brother is Baal”). Prayer to the gods is common, with long life a priority request. Guidance for the future is provided through various forms of divination, including liver extispicy, oracles, ritual incubation, astrology, and direct prophecy. While worship of the dead among the Canaanites indicates some concept of life after death, the extent and nature of that belief remains unclear.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 4, p. 97, by Geoffrey W. Bromiley.

“This false deity (Baal) is frequently mentioned in Scripture in the plural number, BAALIM: which may signify, either that the name Baal was given to several different gods; or that there were many statues, bearing different appellations, consecrated this idol. Arnobious tells us that Baal was of an uncertain sex; and that his votaries, when they called upon him, invoked him thus: Hear us, whether thou art a god or a goddess. Some learned men think that the Baal of the Phoenicians is the Saturn of the Greeks; which is probable enough from the conformity there is between the human sacrifices offered to Saturn, and those which the Scripture tells us were offered to Baal. Others are of opinion that Baal was the Phoenician or Tyrian Hercules, a god of great antiquity in Phoenicia.” Encyclopedia Perthensis.

“In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Law-giver. It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone. By misrepresenting the attributes of God, Satan leads men to conceive of Him in a false character. With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of Jehovah; while the living God, as He is revealed in His word, in Christ, and in the works of creation, is worshiped by but few. Thousands deify nature while they deny the God of nature. Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. The god of many professedly wise men, of philosophers, poets, politicians, journalists—the god of polished fashionable circles, of many colleges and universities, even of some theological institutions—is little better than Baal, the sun-god of Phoenicia. {DD 29.1}

“The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ is the knowledge that all who are saved must have. This is the knowledge that works transformation of character. Received into the life, it will re-create the soul in the image of Christ. This is the knowledge that God invites His children to receive, beside which all else is vanity and nothingness.{AA 475.1}

“The theme of greatest importance is the third angel’s message, embracing the messages of the first and second angels. All should understand the truths contained in these messages and demonstrate them in daily life, for this is essential to salvation. We shall havento study earnestly, prayerfully, in order to understand these grand truths; and our power to learn and comprehend will be taxed to the utmost.—Letter 97, 1902.{Ev 196.1}

 “…the prince of darkness, working through his agents, represents God as a revengeful tyrant, declaring that He plunges into hell all those who do notnplease Him, and causes them ever to feel His wrath; and that while they suffer unutterable anguish and writhe in the eternal flames, their Creator looks down upon them with satisfaction.{DD 15.2}

Thus the archfiend clothes with his own attributes the Creator and Benefactor of mankind. Cruelty is satanic. God is love; and all that He created was pure, holy, and lovely, until sin was brought in by the first great rebel. Satan himself is the enemy who tempts man to sin, and then destroys him if he can; and when he has made sure of his victim, then he exults in the ruin he has wrought. If permitted, he would sweep the entire race into his net. Were it not for the interposition of divine power, not one son or daughter of Adam would escape. {DD 15.3}