Lessons From Expert Feelers (3.7): Pointing out the elephant in the room

26 07 2010

Let me give a couple Biblical examples of the power of words to scatter darkness, and bring order to creation – from two very emotionally expressive people in the Bible:

(First example now; second one later this week!)

1. Elijah on Mount Carmel: Pointing out the elephant in the room.

Here’s the scene: Nearly all of Israel has turned away from following God.  The king (Ahab) is an evil king who openly worships false gods.  He also endorses 450 prophets who follow Baal, a false god.  So Elijah, the last remaining prophet of God, calls all the people of Israel to gather on Mount Carmel, along with all the prophets of Baal, to have a sort of “contest” to determine once and for all whose God is the true God.  I’ll spoil the ending for you: God wins and Baal loses.  But before that happens, Elijah sets the stage with a proclamation to the people:

“How long will you waver between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

This proclamation sets the stage for what is to come.  The people have been on the fence for a long time, claiming to be a nation that follows God, but messing around with false gods on the side.  Elijah uses his words to draw the line in the sand, making it very clear exactly how foolish the peoples’ behavior has been.

My point here is not that Elijahs’ words had some great effect on the people hearing him.  (In fact, they didn’t.  The people just stared blankly at him like idiots and said nothing.)  My point is that his words took a situation that was vague and unclear and transformed it so that it was crystal clear.

Application: Have you ever been in a situation where people refuse to acknowledge the elephant in the room?  Maybe you grew up in an alcoholic home, but nobody was allowed to talk about alcoholism.  Maybe you’ve been in a situation where you or others insist on pretending everything’s just fine even though everybody’s mad at everybody else.  Maybe you have a friend who is engaged in some inappropriate or unhealthy behavior, but you’re afraid to say anything about it. 

All of these are situations where the Images of God (us) are called to “speak the truth in love”, shaping the world through bold, courageous (and appropriately gentle) speech.

That's it: The real Mt. Carmel. I've been there!

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One response

26 07 2010
Tim Broe

Thank you for this message and insight. I also like this chapter for I can sense God as a mighty warrior that did not allow this elephant type belief to roam too freely in the minds and hearts of the people that fallen away, or did not believe that He is God.
Verse 30 read on…

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs [a] of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

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