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"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice -- the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him." Romans 12:1

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Advent 12

Posted by on in Advent 2015
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Read 1 Kings 18:16-46.

After King David came Solomon as King over all of Israel. Then then kingdom split with Israel to the north and Judah to the south. And once these kings stopped listening to God, God sent prophets to call the people back to Him, one being Elijah.

Here, on Mount Carmel, Elijah stands against all the prophets of Baal to wake the people up to who the true God is. They shouldn't have needed this powerful reminder, though, since their ancestors were rescued out of Egypt through the Red Sea, sustained in the wilderness, and brought into the Promised Land but history tends to get forgotten and the people moved on. You know the attitude, "God did those things in the past, but this is now ... and what has God done for me lately?" To them, Baal looked like the right god to side with.

So they turned to Baal, whose presence was represented by an idol, and they worshipped him. But not for much longer, if Elijah has anything to say about it. The showdown on Mount Carmel (complete with Elijah's taunting - see verse 27 - and soaking his wood so thoroughly it should never light - see verses 33-35) was proof that the Lord, "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel ... is God in Israel," (verse 36) and was called for the very purpose that, "these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." (verse 37)

Fire came down from heaven, and it burned up everything, and the people fell to their knees and worshipped the Lord. 

But history would again repeat itself. Even after this miraculous sign the people didn't turn back to the Lord forever. They didn't stop chasing after other gods. It didn't end. 

The good news is neither did God's pursuit of His people. As the people turn from Him throughout the book of 1 and 2 Kings, God never lets His people go. They will be punished because they failed to hold up their end of the covenant. God must be just. But He is still gracious, and so there is always hope even after the destruction of Jerusalem in 2 Kings 25 (Our Scripture reading for tomorrow).

That's the good news that we dwell on in this Advent season. Our past may look like the people of Israel chasing after our desires and turning our backs on God, but destruction is never the last word for God's people. There is always hope for those who trust in God. For He has given us another miraculous sign - one for all time: He sent His Son to that Bethlehem manger to give us hope today and always.

God would look on Him and forgive us; God would punish Him for our sins so that we might receive grace. The miracle of Immanuel, God with us, gives us hope today and always.

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