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1 Kings 18:40 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:53 mins 24 secs

The Solution to Self-deception. 1 Kings 18:40

 

1 Kings 18:40 NASB "Then Elijah said to them, 'Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.' So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there."

 

Just as the Word of God through divine viewpoint touches on every area of human life and thought, so human viewpoint addresses every area of human life and thought. And if the foundation is wrong then ultimately that is going to work itself out in many wrong directions in its permutations as it touches on everything from law, politics, economics, etc.; these will be affected but if the starting point is off center then to some degree the conclusion will also be off center. If an individual builds his life on shifting sands what he has done is he has rejected the solid rock of biblical truth and he has manufactured  a fantasy in his own soul. E.G. "I think the sand is going to provide just as good a foundation as the rock." He is in self-delusion, self-deception, and he continues to live in that self-deception and builds a magnificent house on that shifting sand foundation. What will eventually happen is that that house will come tumbling down like a house of cards, because the foundation is false. No matter how intricate the rationalizations may be to justify building the house on those sounds it will nevertheless collapse. On the other hand, those individuals who build their life, their thinking, their viewpoint on the solid rock of eternal truth as found in the Scriptures, then no matter what happens they will have perfect stability in their thinking because it is based on truth: what conforms to reality as God has defined it.

 

If we take those two individuals and extrapolate that to groups of individuals then what we end up with is two different cultures. There is one culture made up of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who are totally committed to the fact that this house that they have constructed on the shifting sands is solid and nothing can shake it, nothing can upset it, it is absolutely unshakeable. They are living in a fantasy world, they have built a castle in the sky and they have moved in. They have gone through a psychotic break so that they have defined reality which is not reality because it is separate from God's Word. On the other hand, if we take a group hundreds and thousands of people who build their lives, their thinking and their values, politics, economics and relationships on the unshakeable truth of God's Word then there is inevitably going to be a tension and a conflict and hostility between these two groups of people. Until Jesus Christ returns and establishes His kingdom there will always be this conflict between those who are completely sold out to the fantasy myth of human viewpoint and those who are sold out to the absolute unshakeable truths of God's Word.

 

In the Bible we see this incredible confrontation between these two viewpoints take place at Mount Carmel between the one man, Elijah, who represents the truth of God's Word and the eight hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the Asherah who have led the northern kingdom of Israel into this fantasy myth of the false religion, paganism and polytheism of the fertility religions that came out of Phoenicia and brought into the northern kingdom of Israel by Queen Jezebel who is married to Ahab. At the very foundation of this religion is basically a worship of the creature rather than the creator.

 

Summary:

 

1.  Since the entrance of sin into the human race the default position of the sin nature is to worship the creation, the creature, rather than the creator. That is foundational. When we talk about the foundation of the rock versus the foundation of the sand ultimately we have to look at how a person views ultimate reality in the universe. Is it a personal infinite God who stands totally distinct from this creation or is it some lower case god, or is it impersonal finite matter that somehow generates out of itself living, organic life? Romans 1:18 NASB "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Men are characterized as truth suppressors. As the passage goes on to say, when people start suppressing that truth they want to leap out and try to force all of this false thinking into a box which is already full. So when they start pressing down and trying to push this inner witness of God into the corners and into the shadows it has really uncomfortable ways of popping up at different times, and when God pops up in people's lives when they have been working hard to suppress that truth then they often present a very hostile reaction, one that is not equivalent to whatever the cause may be.  Why God makes such an emphasis on this is because the tragic consequences in the lives of the people who follow the pied pipers of false religion, false philosophy and false science are going to just destroy themselves in that process. They are fools, God says [v. 22], for they have "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." As a result of their rejection God gives them up to their own desires, lust, wills.

2.  This rebellion has taken many forms in history from the worship of the nature gods and fertility religions in the ancient world to modern deep environmentalism that we see influencing legislation, business policy, exploration for oil and energy. All of these things are influenced because legislatures and policy makers are living consistently with the nature worshipping philosophies that they have accepted. We have seen that human viewpoint religion sees "God," man and nature as part of the same continuum. In other words, God is just man blown up big; He is not a separate, distinct entity from creation like the God of the Bible is. So they are able to cover things up with a pseudo God-talk, a talk that makes people comfortable because they mention the Bible, they mention Jesus and they mention God. They have bought into a bland sort of civil religion and can follow its leadership. In contrast, divine viewpoint sees nature as God's distinct creation and man is set over nature. Man is distinct from the rest of creation, and this really angers the human viewpoint environmentalists.

3.  Biblically, any study of nature that has a starting point other than special ex nihilo creation [the view that God who stands completely distinct from creation created everything in the universe out of nothing] will have major problems when it starts extrapolating macro-universal observations—about ethics, values and the environment. When they do that then what happens is that their worldview, their view of ultimate reality begins to shape and direct their conclusions; and when they come to certain conclusions those conclusions get foisted upon policy makers, upon business leaders, upon legislators. When those are then enacted into law or into business policy then it is forcing everybody else in that culture to live on the basis of a totally false view of reality, and it is basically forcing the rest of the culture to build and live in a house built on sand whether they want to live there or not. That is a direct attack and destruction of freedom and an assault on religious freedom.

4.  What happens is, if we are not starting with the truth of what God's Word says and we are starting on the false foundation then when we start extrapolating to making universal statement related climate control, related to going to last only for a few more decades, etc. Then very core of human viewpoint thought is a denial of the sovereignty of God, a denial that He still controls and rules over His creation, and it also denies that God has actively predicted how history will end; it is a complete rejection of the fact that God has outlines how the human race will end and it won't end any other way.

5.  When man operates from these false constructs of fantasy origin myths, such as evolution, this begins to penetrate every area of thinking. The result of fantasy and living on the basis of fantasy is self-destruction.

6.  Since the consequence of introducing this kind of error is so destructive to so many people God had a special penalty for this in the nation Israel in the Old Testament—death, because God understood what really had to happen to the victims. That is hard for us to understand in our world today because we no longer think about the long term consequences to the victims as a result of faulty thinking; we think only in terms of short-term solutions and somehow protecting the person who comes up with the idea, or protecting a criminal if it applies to crime. God instituted the penalties in the Mosaic law, which we think are so harsh, because He understood that if we let this cancer grow and have its influence throughout the culture then it is going to destroy the lives of all those who follow it and it will destroy the culture. So it had to be cut off radically at the very beginning and completely excised from the culture.

7.  The foundation for this is in the law of Moses. God didn't put this on other nations. There is a model there for us but he did not give the law to anyone other than Israel and they were to be a pattern for others.  In the Mosaic law there the foundation, the prelude, the summary of all the principles in the law given to Moses is a preamble which we refer to as the Ten Commandments. The first two commandments relate to God—Exodus 20:1-5, which begins, "Then God spoke all these words, saying…" The people heard it, He is not just speaking privately to Moses… "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." Notice how He defines this: I have given you empirical, verifiable evidence through the ten plagues you just witnessed and through My ability to deliver you from the bondage of Egypt that I am able to handle any of the problems that comes your way. Then the first commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me." Just Me; no one else. He recognizes that if they go to another god, even add other gods to Him, then the long term consequences of that are incredibly destructive. The second commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth." That is related back to the Romans chapter one passage that we saw. This is what man does, he substitutes the creature for the creator. But God completely prohibits that and says don't make a physical idol of it. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…" That doesn't mean He has the sin of jealousy or that He has a poor self-image, it emphasizes the fact that you just can't have any other God because once you do it leads to horrible consequences. So it is Me and me alone, for good reason. "…visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me." In other words, there are consequences for going into false religions and false philosophies.

8.  Later on in the Mosaic law when Moses reiterated it and summarized it for the Israelites just before they went into the land he laid out two particular laws related to what to do with those who commit false religion and false philosophy. The first passage is given in Deuteronomy chapter thirteen. Deuteronomy 13:1 NASB "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder…" This is somebody who actually does something that from all observance is a genuine miracle. This doesn't mean it has come from God; the Antichrist is going to have real miracles, but the source isn't God. So this is somebody who comes along and say they have had a vision from God and substantiate that with some kind of miracle. [2] "and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them.'" There is the message. What did God say? Don't have any other gods before Me! So when a prophet comes along and says, we are going to go after these gods, he is contradicting what God says. It is the message that is important, not the miracle that substantiates it. Just because somebody comes along and brings down fire from heaven it doesn't mean that their message is validated by God. What validates the message from God is the Word of God that is in the sixty-six books of the Bible; that defines truth. What happens to this person who leads them into a false religion? [3] "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Are you going to obey Exodus 20, or are you going to run off after this feel-good preacher who has deceived you? Do you really love God so that the Word of God is more important to you than any experience, any event, any charismatic human being that comes along with a promise? [4] "You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. [5] But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you." God is looking at this in terms of the consequence in people's lives, the damaging, destructive results of listening to false teaching. God is showing love and protecting people by these penalties. God recognizes that once we compromise with false thinking, with those myths that we tell ourselves, the little rationalizations to justify sin, that we allow sin to plant itself in our souls and for those roots to go down deep, and for it to lead to damaging consequences in our life.  

9.  In Deuteronomy 18:9-14 the discussion is about what happens when they come into the land that the Lord their God is going to give them, the land of Canaan. God is taking it from the Canaanites because their idolatry has reached such an extremity and they are such a perverse people that this threatens the rest of the human race. They have to be surgically removed from the human race in order to protect the rest of the human race from the cancer of their carnality. NASB "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you {to do} so."

10.  Then in verse 20: "But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. [21] "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'" What is our criterion for evaluating this. [22] "When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." There is a one hundred per cent verifiability.

 

What happened on Mount Carmel? There is a challenge between two claims to truth. There were the Baal worshippers, the philosophers of the fertility religion and prosperity religion on one side, saying this is how we ought to understand reality; reality is pictured by Baal, he is the one who brought you out of Egypt and if you engage in all of the fertility rituals that is how you will entice God to bless you. Elijah comes along and says no, the God Yahweh Elohim who brought you out of Egypt, He is the one who provides rain, and just to show you He will not let it rain until I say it rains. And now they are going to come to the great empirical test on Mount Carmel. Elijah says whoever's God answers the prayer, that is God.

 

What was the result of this? 1 Kings 18:39 NASB "When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God'." Then there was the response of Elijah. [40] "Then Elijah said to them, 'Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.' So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there." Why did he do that? Was Elijah out of line? Not at all. Elijah as a prophet, as the legal representative of God calling the people to obedience to God, is forcing them to obey the Mosaic law and to execute these prophets, because without their execution the cancer is allowed to continue in the nation of Israel. So there are consequences clearly outlined by God that they are to be destroyed.

 

How does that apply to us? In a very significant way, and this is outlined in Romans 6:11, 12. We have to recognize that in the church age the basic enemy that we face is in our own selves. It is our own sin nature, our own bent and propensity to sin and rebel against God and to still be deceived by these false views of reality and the self-delusion that we can live our lives apart from God. NASB "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Just as in the Old Testament the physical representatives of false views were to be killed, the operation of the believer in the church age is to take the Word of God in order to kill, to execute, the false views of reality that still bounce around inside our souls. All of the lust patterns, all of the sinful thoughts, are to be executed because if they are allowed to survive and we rationalize and justify them then the long term result is that it is destructive to our souls. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin. We have been separated from it by virtue of our position in Christ. We are distinct as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This power of the sin nature has been broken and we are to begin to live in control of it by virtue of the application of the Word of God and Bible doctrine to our souls and the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Just as physically Elijah confronted the human viewpoint of the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel what we have to do in our souls is confront the human viewpoint that still dominates and runs around in so many ways with the absolute truth of God's Word so that we can execute that human viewpoint in the same way that Elijah did. Only when that occurs is God going to be able to bless us in our life, or bless Israel.

 

What happens next is that after Elijah executes the false prophets he turns to Ahab and says, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a {heavy} shower." Rain is coming. God was not going to be able to bless them through the rain until they first dealt with the sin that was destroying the spiritual life in the nation. That is why we have confession of sin. As long as we continue in carnality there can be no real blessing from God in our lives. Only when we are growing spiritually and putting to death the deeds of the flesh in our own souls can we advance and really experience all of the spiritual blessings that God has for us.

 

Illustrations