February 1, 1992 Issue
by Murl R. Helwig

Rock piles seldom attract much attention unless there is something unusual about them. However, our attention is riveted to a pile of rocks on a mountain top in Israel. These rocks had at one time been used as an altar for the worship of God, (I Kings 18:30). We do not know how long it had been since they had been used as an altar for the purpose of worshiping God or if the altar had been destroyed or had simply fallen apart because of a lack of attention. The one thing that we do understand is that the altar had to be repaired before it was usable for the offering of a sacrifice.

We have very little knowledge about the background of that altar. We do not know who it was that built it or how long it had been built. We have no idea when it was last used nor are we sure of the cause of its ruin or destruction. It is very possible that it was destroyed by the worshipers of Baal because of what is recorded in I Kings 19:10,".. .for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword..."

Why is our attention riveted to this mountain top and the pile of rocks that Elijah found? The reason is because of the indifference on the part of Israel. They simply did not give enough attention to those things that were spiritual. They had allowed them to slip away or to be eroded by the false teachings of idolatry. The people of Israel were challenged by Elijah when he said, "How long halt ye between two opinions?.. .the people answered him not a word," I Kings 18:21).

It is sad when the people of God do not care for the things that He has provided for them. It should have been a heart rending experience for the people of Israel to watch Elijah, one single man, as he began to arrange the twelve stones into an altar. While he toiled and struggled at his task, not one individual of all Israel offered to lend a hand. Elijah's heart must have been quite heavy realizing that he was the only prophet of the Lord to take his stand for what was right, (I Kings 18:22). Israel had grown indifferent to those things that were spiritual. They were not concerned enough to maintain the altar of the Lord nor were they willing to defend it when people spoke against it and wanted to throw it down. They did not care when someone introduced an idol to be worshiped instead of the true and the living God. Their attitude was much like the attitude of many people today--it really doesn't matter what one believes or practices as long as it is done in the name of religion.

The people of Israel should be eternally grateful that there was one man, Elijah, who did care. He was not content to accept things as he found them. He knew that a change had to be made, and since no one was willing to effect the change, he would use what power, strength, and influence he had to bring about this change. Elijah was the man that caused an entire nation to turn back and fall on their faces and say, "The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God," (I Kings 18:39).

Our hearts are thrilled and excited as we read of the courage of one such as Elijah. It should cause us to have the same love and compassion for truth and right as he had those many, long years ago. Elijah had within him a heart that loved the Lord, and he wanted to be faithful to his Lord. He, also, wanted to do all that was possible to encourage others to be faithful. The church needs more individuals like Elijah--those who are not content with the things that are not according to the will of God and who will take their stand for truth and right.

It appears that in the days of Elijah the majority of the people were quite satisfied with the way things were. It is very probable that many had not paid enough attention to realize just how far they had slipped away from God. Many probably felt that it was easier to go with the flow than to take a stand. Some, however, might have wanted to take a stand, but they did not know how much error was wrong before the stand should be taken. It should be remembered that error is wrong without regard to the quantity of it. The Bible declares that a "little leaven" (I Corinthians 5:6) will soon affect the entire lump. The faithful, down the stream of time, have always had to deal with that "little leaven" before it affected the whole. Today, as members of the Lord's church, we should be eternally grateful for every battle that has been fought in defense of the truth. Blood of devout Christians has been shed because they were defending the truth. Many of the world might conclude that those who died defending the truth were just lives lost, but the Bible declares that it was their gain, (Philippians 1:21). Therefore, the Christian today should be alert for the presence of that "little leaven" that has a degrading influence upon the church, and then he must be willing and prepared to "purge out" that leaven before it can spread to the degrading of all. We should be so very thankful that there are brethren in the church today that are willing to deal with the "leaven" when it appears.

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