1 Corinthians 8: The Only One
Idolatry(the embracing of things, ideals, or any other thing besides the One true God) surrounded the culture of the Corinthian Christians—not unlike our own culture. The apostle Paul reminded them and reminds us today—
“yet for us there is but one God, the Father,
from whom are all things,
and we exist for Him;
and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
by whom are all things,
and we exist through Him.” (6)
The parched ground split into a spiderweb pattern as far as the eye could see. Brown, barren dust played across its surface as the hot breath of wind swept over it. For three years no rain fell. Creek beds dried up. Springs no longer flowed. The king wanted the man responsible found, but searches produced no more than the barren earth. Until Elijah, God’s prophet, sent word telling Ahab to gather the 450 prophets of Baal, the 400 prophets of Asherah, and all Israel to meet him at Mount Carmel.
I don’t know what happened to Asherah’s 400 prophets, but Baal’s 450 showed up with the king and all Israel to hear Elijah’s challenge. He begins—
“I alone am left a prophet of the LORD,
but Baal’s prophets are 450 men…”
1 Kings 18:22
He instructed the people, “Give us two oxen. Baal’s prophets, go first. Build your god an altar and offer your sacrifice. But don’t put any fire under it. If he is really god, let him burn it himself. When you are done, I’ll do the same…” (author’s paraphrase)
“I will call on the name of the LORD,
and the God who answers by fire,
He is God.”(24)
The contest began. Baal’s prophets called from morning to noon—no answer. (Here I can’t resist to offer up my opinion in one word—Duh!) Honestly, I like Elijah’s response even better—
“Elijah mocked them and said,
‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god;
either he is occupied or gone aside,
or is on a journey,
or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.’”
Now, we jump to the end of this contest in two words. “God wins!” Of course, Baal did not answer. He didn’t exist except in the minds of deluded people. But after drenching the Lord’s altar and sacrifice in water, Elijah came near and spoke to the Lord God of his people.
“Let it be known that Thou art God in Israel,
and that I am Thy servant,
and that I have done all these things at Thy word.
Answer me, O LORD, answer me,
that this people may know
that Thou, O LORD, art God,
and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.”
The fire fell … and shortly after so did the rain. Elijah stood for his God. He loved his God and as the apostle Paul told the Corinthians in 8:3—
“but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
Elijah knew his God. He did not seek fame for himself but faith for Israel. He wanted them to know their God. Paul wanted the Corinthians to stop trusting in their own knowledge and come to know what they didn’t know.
“If anyone supposes that he knows anything,
he has not yet known as he ought to know;” (8:2)
Their knowledge led them to arrogance without regard to their weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. They misused their liberty and became a stumbling block to the weaker ones who did not understand,
“food will not commend us to God;
we are neither the worse if we do not eat,
nor the better if we do eat.” (8:8)
As Elijah desired for God’s people to turn their hearts back to God and worship him only, Paul wanted the Corinthians to remember God had brought them together through Jesus Christ. He is the Father of them; Jesus Christ the Lord of them; And we exist for Him and through Him. Our heart belongs to Him.
For Thought: Is there anything you might need to turn from in order not to cause another to stumble in their faith? Is your faith such others know the Lord is God? Is knowledge or any other thing besides the one true God ruling in your heart?
Today’s Reading: Romans 14:13-19. How can we as God’s people begin to pursue peace in our chaotic world and build up one another instead of tear down? Remember we are one in Him.
Our Prayer: Father, you are God. There can be no other. May we not build our own gods, filling our minds with the emptiness that exists in them. May we walk in the knowledge of you and strive to build up one another in love.