1 Kings 18:21
Then Elijah approached all the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him. But if Baal is God, follow him." But the people did not answer a word.
A Call to DecisionJ. Caughey.1 Kings 18:21
A Solemn AlternativeJ. Waite 1 Kings 18:21
An Undecided CharacterJames, Psychology."1 Kings 18:21
Decision for GodD. Rowlands, B. A.1 Kings 18:21
Decision of CharacterEbenezer Temple.1 Kings 18:21
Elijah on CarmelD. Merson, M. A., B. D.1 Kings 18:21
Elijah's Appeal to the UndecidedSpurgeon, Charles Haddon1 Kings 18:21
Elijah's Appeal to the UndecidedSpurgeon, Charles Haddon1 Kings 18:21
Elijah's Appeal to the UndecidedCharles Haddon Spurgeon 1 Kings 18:21
God's Call to Undecided SoulsC. D. Marston.1 Kings 18:21
Half-Purposes Hindrances to ConversionBaxter, Richard1 Kings 18:21
Halting Between Two OpinionsN. W. Taylor, D. D.1 Kings 18:21
Immediate DecisionSilas Henn.1 Kings 18:21
IndecisionChristian Observer1 Kings 18:21
IndecisionT. J. Judkin, M. A.1 Kings 18:21
Indecision in ReligionD. Barnes, D. D.1 Kings 18:21
On the Fence in Religious MattersT. De Witt Talmage.1 Kings 18:21
Religious IndecisionA. Rowland 1 Kings 18:21
The Call for DecisionAlexander Maclaren, D. D.1 Kings 18:21
The Conflict on CarmelW. C. Minifie, B. D.1 Kings 18:21
The Great AlternativeWilliam Clarkson, B. A.1 Kings 18:21
The Prophet's QuestionW J. Mayers.1 Kings 18:21
Elijah and the Prophets of BaalE. De Pressense 1 Kings 18:1-46
Christ or Belial!J.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 18:19-21
Elijah and the Prophets of BaalJ. H. Cadoux.1 Kings 18:19-40
Elijah and the Prophets of BaalC. J. Baldwin.1 Kings 18:19-40
The Priests of BaalMonday Club Sermons1 Kings 18:19-40
The Prophet of the LordH. M. Booth, D. D.1 Kings 18:19-40
The God that Answereth by FireJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 18:21-40

It must have been by special Divine direction that Elijah was moved thus to put the relative claims of God and of Baal to a public test. The command to gather the priests and people together on Carmel was one that Ahab, defiant as he was, dared not resist. We may suppose these words to have been uttered just before the crisis of the tragedy, when the people were waiting in breathless silence and suspense upon the issue. Nothing is more impressive than a pause like this before some expected catastrophe. The prophet improves it by making one brief pointed appeal to the judgment and conscience of the people. "How long?" etc. His voice of stern, yet sorrowful, rebuke must have struck deep into many hearts; but "they answered him not a word." "Halting between two opinions" was probably a true description of the mental condition of the great mass of the people. Some, no doubt, were blind devotees of the reigning idolatry; others consented to its rites, and practised them through fear of the penalty of resistance, or in hope of some form of secular reward. But the greater part of them were just in this state of moral hesitancy, leaning sometimes to one side and sometimes to the other, swayed by the influences that happened to be strongest upon them at the time. It was the fatal defect of their national character, the sad heritage of earlier days - the "forty years" provocation in the wilderness." What have we here but a true picture of religious indecision? Learn from the prophet's remonstrance -

I. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY MAN AS REGARDS HIS OWN RELIGIOUS OPINIONS. That the people are rebuked for "halting between two" implies their power and obligation to decide. "Opinions," mental judgments, convictions (marg. "thoughts"), these are the root from which the fruits of all religious feeling and action grow. Here lies the secret guiding and formative power of a man's life. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." It is thought that inspires affection, moulds character, guides the will, determines conduct, rules the man. We cannot well exaggerate the importance of the relation thought bears to the highest interests of our being. But how are these "thoughts" of ours determined? Every man's religious ideas and beliefs, say some, are determined for him by a thousand influences over which he has no control - by early education, by the books that fall in his way, by human associations, native temperament, conformation of brain, etc. There is a measure of truth in this that we dare not ignore. These things have a great deal to do with the matter, and the fact should modify our judgment of the mental position of others in relation to religious truth, and teach us to watch carefully the bearing on ourselves of such influences. Many of us owe our Christian beliefs far more than we imagine to the force of favouring circumstances. We may well thank God that it is so; for as we mourn to think how many things there are that tend to distort the truth and hide it from man's eyes, so we rejoice that there should be so many channels through which the Light of Life may find its way into the soul. But however this may be, God holds every one of us under obligation to think for himself, judge for himself, believe for himself; to use with uprightness of spirit all the means within his reach for the formation of right opinions, to welcome and follow the light that shines from heaven upon his way.

II. THE DUTY OF A PRACTICAL CARRYING OUT OF ONE'S OWN HONEST CONVICTIONS. "If the Lord be God, follow him." The startling "sign" that was about to be given them was intended to decide this grave alternative. "The God that answereth by fire, let him be God." It was great condescension in Jehovah to suffer His claims to be thus put in seeming competition with those of Baal. But the prophet would have the decision of the people to spring from real conviction, and that conviction to be based on sufficient proof. And then let it be a practical decision - final, conclusive, manifest. Let there be an end to all this miserable vacillation, this shameful subserviency to the leading of Ahab and Jezebel and the Baal priesthood, this dark dishonour done to the God of Israel by the multiplication all over the land of heathen groves and altars. All true religious thoughts and opinions have reference to a true life. They are hollow and worthless unless consummated in tiffs. "Faith without works is dead being alone" (James 2:17). A heavy condemnation rests on those who "profess that they know God, but in works deny him" (Titus 1:16). It is a fatal inconsistency to believe in a God and yet not "follow Him." Have you true religious ideas and convictions? Translate your thinking into life.

III. THE URGENCY OF THE NEED FOR THIS PRACTICAL DECISION. "How long?" etc. We may suppose that the prophet was not only impressed with the tardiness of that generation in declaring once for all for the service of Jehovah, but with the memory of the weary provocation of the past, When will Israel be true and steadfast in her allegiance to her God and King? It is in every respect unreasonable, unmanly, and infinitely perilous to allow the question of your religious position to remain unsettled. - W.

How long halt ye between two opinions?




V. And now the prophet cries, "If the Lord be God, follow Him; if Baal, then follow him"; and in so doing HE STATES THE GROUND OF HIS PRACTICAL CLAIM.

VI. And now I make MY APPEAL TO THE HALTERS AND WAVERERS, with some questions, which I pray the Lord to apply. Now I will put this question to them: "How long halt ye" When Elijah says, that "The God that answereth by fire let him be God," I fancy I hear some of them saying, "No; the God that answereth by water let him be God; we want rain badly enough." "No," said Elijah, "if rain should come, you would say that it was the common course of providence; and that would not decide you." I tell you all the providences that befall you undecided ones will not decide you. God may surround you with providences; He may surround you with frequent warnings from the deathbed of your fellows; but providences will never decide you. It is not the God of rain, but the God of fire that will do it. There are two ways in which you undecided ones will be decided by and by. You that are decided for God will want no decision; you that are decided for Satan will want no decision; you are on Satan's side, and must dwell for ever in eternal burning. But these undecided ones want something to decide them, and will have either one of the two things; they will either have the fire of God's Spirit to decide them, or else the fire of eternal judgment, and that will decide them.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. Now, from this stirring incident, I learn that we must be prepared like Elijah to stand alone for God. Examine the biographies of great men, and you will not find a brighter example of sanctified courage than that which shone in the man of God on Carmel. Think of it! One man against a whole nation! Here was a Reformer, who had the patience of the ox, the courage of the lion, the eye of the eagle, and the intelligence of the man. Prince Bismarck once said in a characteristic epigram, "We Germans fear God, and nothing else in the world." This was especially true of Elijah, the Whirlwind Prophet, who struck Ahab pale with fright. Fearing God so much, he feared man so little. He was as a mighty rock standing alone in the midst of a stormy sea, braving and outliving the tempest. Take your stand for God wherever you may be, either in the office, or the shop, the workroom, or the home. You, like Elijah, have a Carmel. See that you play the man, and quit yourself right bravely.

2. From the incident on Carmel I also learn that the most of men are desirous of worshipping God and Baal at the same time. This is what the Israelites wanted to do, for you must know that the worship of idols was not proposed as a substitute for, but an accompaniment to, the worship of Jehovah. They wanted to do an impossibility — to amalgamate opposites. This God would not have, and will not allow to-day. Men must be either one thing or the other. Religions diametrically opposed cannot both be right. Things which are contradictory cannot be reconciled. You cannot have an altar to Baal and an altar to Jehovah standing side by side. Mark Antony is said to have yoked two lions to his chariot, but there are two lions which can never be yoked — the Church and the world. Yet men everywhere are trying to win the smile of the world and the" well done" of Christ. They want to serve God and Baal at the same time.

3. From my text I gather the further lesson that all men are called upon to make a choice between God and Baal. "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him." This searching remonstrance uttered by the solitary witness on Carmel is perhaps still more impressive in the original, for one rendering gives, "How long limp ye on two knees?" He likens them to a cripple hobbling along, first on one knee and then on another. Another translation gives the quest!on thus, "How long hop ye on two sprays?" like a bird which keeps hopping from bough to bough and is never still, and consequently never builds a nest.

4. Our text also clearly shows that God has given to us the power of choice, which power involves tremendous responsibility. We are endowed with the power of will, and are not to be like those derelicts that go floating about in the Atlantic and never reach any port. God asks us to take the evidence for and against, and then deliberately decide whether or not He is to be our king.

5. And in this matter God has not left us without evidence of His superiority over Baal. Still the infallible test is "The God that answereth by fire let Him be God." If you will sit down and compare the claims of God and the claims of Baal, you will soon see which God has the sole right to your worship. If we translate Elijah's speech into nineteenth-century English, it simply means this, Will you have Christ or Barabbas; God or self?, God can do what Baal cannot! An eminent evangelist once declared in a newspaper controversy that he was prepared any day, at a few hours' notice, to summon five hundred witnesses, ready to declare upon oath, if need be, the truth of that Gospel of Salvation from the power of sin which every week he preached. To-day the cry rings forth, "The God that answereth by saved men, let Him be God." There can be no comparison between the claims of Christ and the claims of the world.

6. I beg you to observe that God calls for immediate decision. You are this day to decide between God and the devil. Some of you have been halting till your hair has grown grey. How much longer are you going to fly from bough to bough?

(W. C. Minifie, B. D.)

Christian Observer.
A more striking appeal is scarcely to be found in the whole volume of inspiration. It was delivered under circumstances peculiarly impressive, and by one of the most eminent and most honoured among the prophets.


II. LET US THEN CONSIDER THE GROUNDS AND CAUSES OF THIS INDECISION. The source of all this evil is the deceitfulness of the human heart.

1. The love of the world. — The Apostle St. John has left it upon record, that this disposition is totally inconsistent with the love of God. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world," etc.

2. The fear of the world. — Nothing is more certain, than that the disposition and habits of the great majority of mankind, even in a Christian country, are totally and radically opposed to the precepts of the Gospel; and the world loves its own: and if any are not of the world, it beholds them with aversion.

3. The fashion of the world. — Under this term, I include the example and authority of those with whom we are conversant; or to whom it is customary to appeal.


1. It is unreasonable, on account of the great importance of the subject.

2. Something, perhaps, might be said in vindication of indifference and indecision, if these things were only obscurely revealed; but the fact is, that as we are more interested in the knowledge of salvation, than of all other things, so is the will of God most distinctly made known in respect to it.

(Christian Observer.)

I. AN ALTERNATIVE PRESENTED. The alternative lay between Jehovah and Baal, and the object of this national gathering was to decide which was to be Israel's God. Notice the different elements composing this gathering.

II. AN INCONSISTENCY EXPOSED. The inconsistency lay in blending the claims of Jehovah and Baal. Many, apparently, had no objection to divide their allegiance, their only concern being to keep on good terms with the ruling powers. The service of God is an exclusive service, it admits of no compromise. This truth is put in language of unmistakable clearness by lips that cannot err — "No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."

1. A religious compromise, it is sometimes said, is surely better than no religion at all. However plausible this may sound, we are bound to say that, from the nature of the case, it is an absurd position. A compromise in religion is, to say the least, unmanly and hypocritical; it is an attempt to pass off for what you are not.

2. Such conduct yields no satisfaction to the waverer. The troubles arising from indecision are endless. The man who will not take a decided stand exposes himself to the constant banter of his companions, and there is no end of annoyance to the man who cannot say, No.

3. Divided service is dishonouring to God. Why? Because it puts Him on a level with Baal, and robs Him of the glory which is His sole due. If you worship two or more gods at the same time, you put them on an equal footing; and the God of heaven has told us, in a way not to be mistaken, that He will not share His glory with another. A divided heart will not satisfy the Maker of it.

III. A DECISION DEMANDED. The assemblage on Carmel was, for the most part, wavering between the claims of Jehovah and Baal, and Elijah urged them to take a side. The reasons for immediate decision are powerful and urgent. Time is short, the matter is of supreme moment, and there is no middle ground. You have to be either on the one side or on the other. Let no unmanly fears sway your choice. Be a Daniel, and if need be stand alone. Be an Elijah, a champion for God and the truth.

(D. Merson, M. A., B. D.)


1. Two opinions. Like others they tried to do both. Few like this in worldly matters. Some render this: "How long hop ye from twig to twig?" They were — uneasy: unhappy: unstable.

2. Two Gods. Baal. An ancient god: a spreading religion: a gaudy and costly religion: all this very attractive. God. The only God: The only God we need the only true God we can have.

3. Two positions. Halting and following: show the difference.


1. His manner. Firm: fearless: faithful.

2. His opportunity. Before all the people. How willingly he embraced it.

3. His question. "How long?" etc. They had already had time. They had time then. God did not want time. He could receive them at once.

III. HEAR THE PREACHER, FOR HE SPEAKS EARNESTLY. Enlarge upon the theme, and address those who halt concerning —

1. God's ordinances.

2. God's service.

3. God's people — i.e., joining them.

4. God Himself.

(W J. Mayers.)


1. It is not honest. It exists rather in appearance than in reality. It is an attempt to accomplish an utter impossibility. No man can have two objects of supreme affection. So long as their hearts are not fixed supremely on God, they are the servants of mammon. In all that they seem to do for God, nothing is truly done for Him.

2. They derive no full enjoyment from religion or the world. They resort to two opposite sources of enjoyment. What they derive from one is embittered by what flows from the other.

3. They have no peace of conscience,

4. This state of mind is attended more or less with a sense of shame. Few things are more wounding to the pride of man, than conscious imbecility of purpose and character. And in no case, perhaps, is this consciousness more inevitable than in a state of indecision with respect to religion.

5. This state of mind is full of danger. If such are not sooner or later discouraged, and led to abandon all thoughts of becoming religious, nothing will be effected, as the result of such a course. Indecision never did anything to the purpose in worldly pursuits, much less in religion. Analyse this state of mind, and you will see that it must be so. An undecided purpose is the want of all purpose. At the same time it has an awfully deceptive influence. The openly profligate can hardly admit that he is either right or safe. He can at least be more easily shown his danger. But the man who imagines himself but at a little distance from the path of rectitude and safety, who supposes at most but a few steps need be taken to reach it, and who perhaps persuades himself that he is fast approaching it, has of all men most cause for alarm. While the real danger of his condition is as great as that of any other, he is blind to the fact.

6. This state of mind is highly criminal. Whether Jehovah or Baal be God, he is the supreme good, the being who has a right to command; he ought to be obeyed. These obligations exist somewhere. We cannot annul or lessen them. We are created, we are upheld, we are blessed in this world, we are capable of joy and blessedness through eternity. There is one to whom we owe all that we are and possess. This being is Jehovah or Baal; there cannot be more than one supreme God. There must be one. There car, be no conflicting claims, no compromise of services.

II. THE TEXT ENFORCES THE DUTY OF DECIDING WHO IS TRULY GOD, and of serving him, whether Jehovah or mammon, God or the world. This may be done by considering what they are in themselves, what they have done for you, and what they can and will do for you.

1. What they are in themselves.

2. Consider what they have done for you.

3. What can the world, what can God do for you?

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

I. THIS WORD OF GOD DOES NOT COME TO THE DULL, THE DEAD, THE SLEEPING SINNER. There are some of whom you cannot say that they are halting between two opinions. That awful stillness — I dare not call it a calm — that awful stillness which pervades their spiritual being has not been broken. They are led, blindfolded, by the devil; and there does not seem even to be a wish — not to say an effort — there does not seem even to be a wish to shake off that fold which is over their eyes. One opinion they are quite settled in; and that is, that sin is sweet, that the world is sweet, that self is sweet, and that sin, the world, and self are all satisfying objects. To them the word cannot be said to come — "How long halt ye between two opinions?" But it is not so with all. Besides those who have no care for their souls and those who have learned to prize Jesus Christ as a Saviour, there is a third class — the class of awakened, interested, inquiring, anxious souls; and unto them does this word come, "How long halt ye?" Their stillness has been broken; their eyes, as it were, have been opened a little; a few dashes of light have broken in upon them; a fresh opinion has forced itself upon them now and then. As yet, indecision is their great Characteristic.

II. Let us notice, in the next place, THE OBJECTS BETWEEN WHICH THEY HALT. What were those objects in Israel's case? Baal and Jehovah the great God of Israel! What is there on the one side? On the one side there are objects, of which you have proved, and even confess, that they are unsatisfying. There are things which you know are empty things. There are courses which you know, which conscience tells you too plainly, must end in disappointment, and in sorrow and death. There are habits which only strengthen the cords of corruption, and draw you more and more into sin. There are pleasures which, alas! you know too often end in pain. There are sweets which, alas! you know crumble to very gall and bitterness when a man puts them in his mouth. There is that upon the one side; and what on the other? God. God, who is the source of all life; God, who is the fountain of all joy; God, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift; God, who is the perfection of every thing which the really enlightened soul can long for and enjoy; God is upon the other side, God the Father calls you.

III. LET US CONSIDER THE REASONS WHY THEY HALT. One reason I would venture to speak of is ignorance. But I can say that there is ignorance of the danger of indecision. But besides this there is ignorance of the blessedness of following God. Then again, besides this ignorance there is unbelief, from which indeed ignorance springs. Then another reason is this — unbelief and ignorance spring from the carnal corruption of man's fallen nature.

(C. D. Marston.)

Our first inquiry will be: —

I. WHO ARE THEY THAT HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? They are not far to seek, nor difficult to describe. They may differ widely among themselves, but there are some points in which they all agree. We may say concerning all such that they are more or less enlightened in things divine. Moreover, the knowledge they possess makes them dissatisfied with their present condition. Their consciences tell them that if Christianity be true — and of this they have not the slightest doubt — their state is far from satisfactory. They know the destructive influence of sin here, and the terrible consequences of sin hereafter, and yet they remain in its power. They know that those who believe the Gospel enjoy liberty, are set free from condemnation, are made heirs of glory; and yet they are not believers, they have not obeyed the truth, and consequently they cannot claim these privileges — their position is that of men longing for something which they have not determined to seek. Our next inquiry will be: —

II. WHY DO MEN HALT BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? Some halt because they have never given the subject of religion that earnest, thoughtful, prayerful consideration which it deserves. Others halt because the interests of this life occupy too large a share of their attention. Others halt because they have not sufficient courage to abandon their present course of life. Others halt because they look forward to a time when it will be easier to decide. This leads me to call your attention to

III. THE IMMENSE DANGER OF HALTING BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS. The longer you halt, the harder it will be to decide. Thus your chief object in halting is effectually defeated. Whatever may be your difficulties now, depend upon it, time will only increase their strength and add to their number. We know how speedily habits are formed, and how difficult it is to cast them off. They throw around us cords and fetters which we endeavour in vain to break through. Again, our time is very uncertain. Though the future were quite as advantageous as the present, though it were quite as easy to seek God's peace next year as this, it would be the height of imprudence to put the matter off until then; for the future is so very doubtful that you cannot reasonably build the slightest hope upon it. "Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Finally, the loss you may incur by halting will be irreparable.

(D. Rowlands, B. A.)

In regard to the state of things existing at that time in Israel, we may remark —(1) That a large portion of the nation was decidedly inclined to the worship of Baal.(2) There were some who were as decidedly the friends of Jehovah. They were indeed few in number.(3) There was another, and evidently a large class, that was undecided. This was the class which Elijah particularly addressed in the text. The doctrine which is, therefore, taught in this passage, is the unreasonableness of indecision on the subject of religion. In discoursing on it, my object will be,


1. Those who are thus undecided may be regarded as comprising the following classes.(1) Those who are undecided about the truth or reality of religion at all, or of any system of religion. They embrace no system; they make no pretensions to any religion. They are lookers-on in the world, and observers of the various forms and systems of worship, professing liberality to all, and manifesting a preference for none.(2) A second class is composed of those who hesitate between Christianity and infidelity.(3) There are those, as a third class, who are awakened to see their guilt, and who are hesitating about giving up their hearts to God. They see that they are sinners.(4) A fourth class is made up of those who are constantly forming resolutions to attend to the subject of religion, and to become decided Christians.(5) A fifth class is made up of those who are undecided about making a profession of religion. That it is a duty they feel and admit; and it is a duty which they often purpose to perform.

II. REASONS WHY A DECISION SHOULD BE MADE WITHOUT DELAY.(1) The first is, that our great interests, if we have any great interests, or any that are much worth regarding, are on the subject of religion. If this be so, then religion is the last thing that should remain unsettled anti undetermined.(2) You would suffer no other matter to remain undecided as this does. If you are sick, you leave no means untried to secure returning health. If you were in as much danger of becoming a bankrupt as you are of losing the soul, you would give yourself no rest until, if possible, you should feel yourself safe.(3) It is possible to come to a decision on this subject; and if possible, an affair of so much importance should not remain undecided.(4) The things about which a man is to decide are few in number, and may easily be determined. In our text, it was a simple choice which was to be made. There were but two objects before the mind, and the call was to determine which of them was to be acknowledged as God. So it is still.(5) This state of mind must be one that is infinitely displeasing to God.(6) You will never be in circumstances more favourable for a decision than the present.(7) I add but one other consideration. The present is the only time which you may have to decide this point. To-morrow may find you in another world. Tomorrow God may have decided the question for ever.

(D. Barnes, D. D.)

I. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY HALTING BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? Literally, how long hop ye about on two boughs? This is a metaphor taken from birds hopping about from bough to bough, not knowing on which to settle — balanced between opposing claims. To halt is to stop, to hesitate between opposite interests. Paul was balanced between a life of usefulness on earth and a life of enjoyment in heaven. The people, in the days of Elijah, were balanced between the worship of an idol and the worship of the God of heaven. Multitudes in our day are balanced between heaven and hell; two contrary influences acting upon them, as though God and heaven and holy beings were pulling one way, and the fiends of darkness and hell pulling the other, and they halt between the two claims.


1. The influence of the Spirit of God on the mind. This may seem strange, but we think it will be evident to you. The Spirit of God is not directly, but indirectly, the cause. He produces such effects on the head and heart, by the doctrines of the Bible, that the sinner is made to see his position, to see the awful future, to see the consequences of moving on in that direction, to see hell at the end of the path. He halts, stops to ponder whether to go backward or forward. Man is a free agent. "What is that?" says one. I answer, a power to choose or reject. There is a consciousness within you that you possess this power, and all the reasoning in the world cannot make a thing more clear to you than consciousness.

2. Secondly, heart weights. Many of you know something about these heart weights. You have had considerable experience in these matters. You have many a time been troubled by abstractions of mind, vacancy of thought, secret uneasiness. Sometimes that unbidden tear has stolen down your cheeks, and you could scarcely tell why — some unaccountable alarm about the future — some undefined dread of some all-pervading spirit fixing a searching gaze upon you.

3. You are unwilling to pay the price.

(J. Caughey.)

1. For different reasons, unconverted persons postpone deciding this question. They await a more convenient season — until after they get married, settled down, make money, grow old. I would not limit the mercy of God.

2. Reasons why the unconverted should make an immediate decision: —

(1)You have the power to decide. Not independent of God. But aided by the power that God is ever ready to bestow, you can decide.

(2)Decide, because in no other way can you be happy.

(3)Decide, because your present example is injurious.

(4)Decide, because God has the first claim upon you.

(5)Decide, because the time is short.I wish the unconverted to remember —

1. That, if they neglect —neglect, that's all — this salvation, they have no Scriptural warrant whatever for believing that they will be saved.

2. That they have almost to force their way to perdition.

3. Remember, there is nothing that stands between the sinner and salvation but sin, and that comes from himself.

(Silas Henn.)


II. DISTRACTION WITHIN THE KINGDOM. Within this spiritual realm are opposing forces which contend with one another, and there is deep unsettlement, a harassing and restless indecision.

1. Conscience insists that we ought to live unto Him from whom we came.

2. The heavenly voices and the best human voices summon us to consecrate our powers to duty and holy service.

3. Prudence, wisdom, exhorts us to seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).

III. THE ONE WISE COURSE. Why halt and hesitate?

1. Indecision is(1) unmanly: we have our mental faculties that we may conclude and act. A man should know his mind and use his strength. It is(2) guilty: God has a right to require immediate obedience. Jesus Christ has a right to require acceptance and the service of a whole life. We have no right to keep Him waiting.(3) It is wasteful: for while we are halting and choosing life is passing; and with the passage of our life there are left behind us opportunities that are unemployed and that will not recur. Delay is death, in part if not indeed altogether; for(4) it is perilous in a very high degree. Duty seems less imperative and service less inviting the longer it is neglected. And(5) it is miserable.

(William Clarkson, B. A.)



III. THE INDECISION OF THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS THE TIME TO ATTEND TO RELIGION. There are two clarion voices in that man's soul. The one says, "Now." The other says, "Tomorrow."

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Generally speaking, a strict consistency is maintained betwixt the character of a man and the object of his pursuit. His actions bear a conclusive testimony as to the nature of his individual purpose. There is a oneness of his whole being with the matter at issue. As his companion, you are left to no uncertain guess-work in determining the uppermost thing which engrosses his thoughts, concentrates his affections, quickens his desires, or invigorates his endeavours. The worldling is ever true to the worldling's creed; his god will not allow of any dereliction of duty, of any miserness of service, of any neglects or deficiencies in the homage required. Let thus ambition be the ruling idol — and the devotedness of his powers proves the sincerity of his affiance. Let wealth be the ruling idol — and his "rising up early, and sitting up late, and eating the bread of carefulness," show how perfect is the agreement betwixt him and the influence which presides.


1. In its nature. The mass of society does not consist of only two descriptions of persons — those who are eminently pious and those who are flagrantly wicked — but there is also an intermediate class, the victims of indecision; bespeaking that state of the mind and the heart which, instead of cleaving wholly to God, or yielding altogether to the world, alternates with both; an indecision which, as if passive to the influence of opposite claims, bends now to the one and now to the other, as accident or circumstances shall determine — now governed by the human, now by the Divine claims; an indecision that in seeking to couple the allegiance of two masters is a traitor to both — admitting, more or less, the force of Gospel statements, the powerful appeals of "the truth as it is in Jesus," while the occasion lasts, so that there is a sort of turning to Him, and being again open to the seductions of sensual objects, so that there is a turning to them; an equi-ponderant weight, having no settled place, but shifting to this side or that, as the case may be — the opponents pitching and pulling the man now hither and now thither, as if in contention for his whole captivity — the voice of the one saying "You are mine," and that of the other saying "You are mine," and the man is neither's.

2. The prevalence of indecision. By far the larger mass of all our congregations is composed of the undecided. Thousands say their prayers, who do not pray; thousands verbally assent to the truths of Christ, where there is nothing but the dead letter, where there is no spirit, no demonstration, no power.

II. INDECISION IN ITS CAUSES. And these are multiform.

1. One is pride. This is ever lingering within us, checking the fulness of our reliance upon God.

2. Indecision, again, arises from ignorance — ignorance of the relative value and comparative importance of things.

3. Indecision springs-from our sloth. It is the reverse of the effort to maintain "a good confession." Decision in being "on the Lord's side," involves the necessity of great and painful self-denial.

4. Indecision proceeds from the love of the world. Whilst the heart is buried there, how can it be given to another? The affections cannot be placed upon two objects diametrically opposed to each other.

5. Indecision sometimes arises from the fear of man. It partakes of that moral cowardice which shrinks from the names that the malicious may invent to stigmatise, or the oppressions which the powerful may bear down upon an honest profession; though perhaps the fear of ridicule may tend morE to prevent religious decision than the edicts of the sternest persecution.

6. Indecision has another cause in presumption.

7. Indecision has a cause in the neglect of prayer — of prayer for the assistance of that Holy Spirit, who being the "Guide into all truth," enables us to apprehend all the mysteries of godliness.

III. INDECISION IN ITS CONSEQUENCES. And these are full of evil.

1. Indecision, in the first place, is an insult to the authority and the character of God.

2. Indecision works evil upon others. Every man, whether he thinks it or not, is surrounded by witnesses; and the world is sharp sighted in observing those flaws of inconsistency which bring so many professions of religion into contempt; where such as attend its ordinances, only leave them to exhibit the selfishness, the covetousness, and the earthly-mindedness of the natural man.

3. The undecided am the self-deceived. A hope is begotten which will never be realised; their daydream of good, as a dream, cheats them with its images and all passes away in air.

4. The undecided, again, are criminal. "Whatsoever," it is said, "is not of faith is sin."

5. The undecided man is the unrecompensed man; self excluded from the privileges to be enjoyed within the Christian pale. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways; let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord."

6. The undecided man is the unsafe man. Hanging doubtfully, as betwixt two worlds, he has two worlds around him; he neither belongs to this world, nor to that kingdom which Christ said "is not of this world."

7. The undecided man is a condemned man. He being "neither hot nor cold," presents a state of Divine rejection. To die is to die under the ban of utter retribution. It is said that "the fearful and unbelieving shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."

(T. J. Judkin, M. A.)


II. In the second place, THE PROPHET CALLS THESE WAVERERS TO AN ACCOUNT FOR THE AMOUNT OF TIME WHICH THEY HAD CONSUMED IN MAKING THEIR CHOICE. Some of them might have replied, "We have not yet had an opportunity of judging between God and Baal, we have not yet had time enough to make up our minds"; but the prophet puts away that objection, and he says, "How long halt ye between two opinions? How long? For three years and a half not a drop of rain has fallen at the command of Jehovah; is not that proof enough? Ye have been all this time, three years and a half, expecting till I should come, Jehovah's servant, and give you rain; and yet, though you yourselves are starving, your cattle dead, your fields parched, and your meadows covered with dust, like the very deserts, yet all this time of judgment, and trial, and affliction, has not been enough for you to make up your minds. How long, then," said he, "halt ye between two opinions?"

III. BUT THE PROPHET CHARGES THESE PEOPLE WITH THE ABSURDITY OF THEIR POSITION. Some of them said, "What! prophet, may we not continue to halt between two opinions? We are not desperately irreligious, so we are better than the profane; certainly we are not thoroughly pious; but, at any rate, a little piety is better than none, and the mere profession of it keeps us decent, let us try both!" "Now," says the prophet, "how long halt ye?" or, if you like to read it so, "how long limp ye between two opinions?" (how long wriggle ye between two opinions? would be a good word if I might employ it.) He represents them as like a man whose legs are entirely out of joint; he first goes on one side, and then on the other, and cannot go far either way.

IV. THE ABSURDITY OF THIS HALTING. The multitude who had worshipped Jehovah and Baal, and who were now undecided, might reply, "But how do you know that we do not believe that Jehovah is God? How do you know we are not decided in opinion?" The prophet meets this objection by saying, "I know you are not decided in opinion, because you are not decided in practice. If God be God, follow Him; if Baal, follow him."

V. And now the prophet cries, "If the Lord be God, follow Him; if Baal, then follow him," and in so doing HE STATES THE GROUND OF HIS PRACTICAL CLAIM. Let your conduct be consistent with your opinions.

VI. Now I will put this question: "HOW LONG HALT YE?" I will tell them; ye will halt between two opinions, all of you who are undecided, until God shall answer by fire.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. GIVES A STATEMENT OF OPPOSITE CLAIMS. There are many Baals in our land. What are they? Examine them. Hear their claims. We shall mention four:

1. Worldly gain.

2. Sensual pleasures. Nothing is more deceptive than the pleasures of the world; and the young have the greatest need to guard against indulging in them.

3. Vain speculation. In every age there have beer, those who have set up their own feeble reason in opposition to the word of God. We live in a day when knowledge is more extensively diffused, and there is in many, who once lived in ignorance, a thirst for information; and this tends to prepare the way for the increased progress and success of the Gospel.

4. Pharisaic pride.


1. It is important in its nature.

2. It is uncompromising in its demands.

3. It is satisfactory in its evidence.

4. It is beneficial in its results.

5. It is urgent in its claims. It is to be done without delay.

(Ebenezer Temple.)

Against this impulse [to act and end suspense] we have the dread of the irrevocable, which often engenders a type of character incapable of prompt and vigorous resolve, except perhaps when surprised into sudden activity. These two opposing motives twine round whatever other motives may be present at the moment when decision is imminent, and tend to precipitate or retard it. The conflict of these motives so far as they alone affect the matter of decision is a conflict as to when it shall occur. One says "now," the other says "not yet."

(James, "Psychology.")

I believe, for my part, that the most of the life of the bulk of men is lived without any adequate exercise of their own deliberate volition and determination. Sadly, too, many of us seem to think that Nansen's way of getting to the North Pole is the best way of getting through the world — to put ourselves into a current and let it carry us. We drift. We do not decide, or, if we do, we let deliberate choice be coerced by inclination, and let wishes put their claws into the scale, and drag it down. Or we allow our environment to settle a large part of our beliefs and of our practices. It must settle a great deal of both for all of us, and none of us can get rid of the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere, but we are meant to be hammers and not anvils; to mould circumstances, not to be battered and moulded by them; to exercise a deliberate choice, and not to be like dead fish in the river, who are carried by the stream, or like derelicts in the Atlantic that go floating about for years, and never reach any port at all, but are caught by the currents, and are slaves of every wind that blows.

(Alexander Maclaren, D. D.)

Another hindrance of conversion is unresolvedness, and half-purposes; when men will hang wavering between God and the world, and though the light be never so clear to convince them, yet they will not be persuaded to resolve... If you would be converted and saved, do not stand wavering, but resolve, and presently turn to God. If it were a doubtful business, I would not persuade you to do it rashly, or if there were any danger to your souls in resolving, then I would say no more. But when it is a case that should be beyond all dispute with men of reason, why should you stand staggering as if it were a doubtful case? What a horrible shame is it to be unresolved whether God or the world should have your hearts? Were it not a disgrace to that man's understanding that were unresolved whether gold or dung were better? Or whether a bed of thorns or a feather bed were the easier? Or whether the sun or a clod of earth were the more light and glorious? It is a far greater shame for a man to be unresolved whether it be God or the world that must make him happy, and that should have his heart, and whether a life of sin or holiness be the better.

( R. Baxter.)

Ahab, Elijah, Isaac, Jacob, Jezebel, Jezreel, Obadiah
Jezreel, Kishon River, Mount Carmel, Samaria, Zarephath
Baal, Ba'al, Balancing, Branches, Different, Drew, Elijah, Eli'jah, Follow, Halt, Hesitate, Leaping, Limping, Nigh, Nothing, Opinions, Sides, Till, Waver, Worship
1. In the extremity of famine Elijah, sent to Ahab, meets good Obadiah
9. Obadiah brings Ahab to Elijah
17. Elijah, reproving Ahab, by fire from heaven convinces Baal's prophets
41. Elijah, by prayer obtaining rain, follows Ahab to Jezreel

Dictionary of Bible Themes
1 Kings 18:21

     5811   compromise
     5877   hesitation
     5884   indecision
     5923   public opinion
     6622   choice
     8410   decision-making, examples
     8702   agnosticism
     8720   double-mindedness
     8722   doubt, nature of
     8723   doubt, results of
     8799   polytheism
     8831   syncretism

1 Kings 18:16-40

     4254   mountains
     5541   society, negative

1 Kings 18:17-40

     8747   false gods

1 Kings 18:18-21

     7734   leaders, spiritual

1 Kings 18:19-40

     7774   prophets, false

1 Kings 18:20-29

     5092   Elijah

1 Kings 18:20-39

     7712   convincing

1 Kings 18:21-24

     8401   challenges

To the Young '... I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.--1 KINGS xviii.12. This Obadiah is one of the obscurer figures in the Old Testament. We never hear of him again, for there is no reason to accept the Jewish tradition which alleges that he was Obadiah the prophet. And yet how distinctly he stands out from the canvas, though he is only sketched with a few bold outlines! He is the 'governor over Ahab's house,' a kind of mayor of the palace, and probably the second man in the kingdom. But
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Trial by Fire
'And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose yon one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. 26. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Elijah's Appeal to the Undecided
Now, we have these three classes here this morning. We have, I hope, a very large number who are on Jehovah's side, who fear God and serve him; we have a number who are on the side of the evil one, who make no profession of religion, and do not observe even the outward symptoms of it; because they are both inwardly and outwardly the servants of the evil one. But the great mass of my hearers belong to the third class--the waverers. Like empty clouds they are driven hither and thither by the wind;
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

Obadiah; Or, Early Piety Eminent Piety
The Lord does not love that his servants, however great they are, should think lightly of their lesser comrades, and it occurs to me that he so arranged matters that Obadiah became important to Elijah when he had to face the wrathful king of Israel. The prophet is bidden to go and show himself to Ahab, and he does so; but he judges it better to begin by showing himself to the governor of his palace, that he may break the news to his master, and prepare him for the interview. Ahab was exasperated
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 30: 1884

The Prophet Hosea.
GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS. That the kingdom of Israel was the object of the prophet's ministry is so evident, that upon this point all are, and cannot but be, agreed. But there is a difference of opinion as to whether the prophet was a fellow-countryman of those to whom he preached, or was called by God out of the kingdom of Judah. The latter has been asserted with great confidence by Maurer, among others, in his Observ. in Hos., in the Commentat. Theol. ii. i. p. 293. But the arguments
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

But Some one Will Say, Does He not Know Without a Monitor Both what Our...
But some one will say, Does he not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are, and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit him by our prayers, as if he were winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice? [1] Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It was not so much for his sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honour be paid him by acknowledging that all which
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith

Selfishness and Prayer. A Contrast.
"So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees."--1 KINGS xviii. 42. WHAT A CONTRAST! And yet, both men were perfectly consistent. It is in each case what you would expect, and yet how differently it might have been. What a different story it would have been if only Ahab had listened to the teaching of God! How often we see men having chances of turning round and beginning a new
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread

The West Coast of Galilee-Carmel.
The people of Issachar had "Carmel and the river for their bounds in length": the people of Zabulon, "Carmel and the sea." Carmel was not so much one mountain as a mountainous country, containing almost the whole breadth of the land of Issachar, and a great part of that of Zabulon. It was, as it seems, a certain famous peak among many other mountain tops, known by the same name, lifted up and advanced above the rest. The promontory Carmel, in Pliny, and in the mountain a town of the same name, heretofore
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Ninth Sunday after Trinity. How Long Halt Ye Between Two Opinions? if the Lord be God, Follow Him; but if Baal, Then Follow Him.
How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. Was kinket ihr betrognen Seelen [106]Lehr. 1733. trans. by Catherine Winkworth, 1855 Why halt thus, O deluded heart, Why waver longer in thy choice? Is it so hard to choose the part Offered by Heaven's entreating voice? Oh look with clearer eyes again, Nor strive to enter in, in vain. Press on! Remember, 'tis not Caesar's throne, Nor earthly honour, wealth or might Whereby God's favour shall be
Catherine Winkworth—Lyra Germanica: The Christian Year

Fall of the Western Empire (Ad 451-476)
The empire of the West was now fast sinking. One weak prince was at the head of it after another, and the spirit of the old Romans, who had conquered the world, had quite died out. Immense hosts of barbarous nations poured in from the North. The Goths, under Alaric, who took Rome by siege, in the reign of Honorius, have been already mentioned (p 93). Forty years later, Attila, king of the Huns, who was called "The scourge of God," kept both the East and the West in terror. In the year 451, he advanced
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation

Will the Knowledge that Some of Our Own are Lost, Mar Our Happiness in Heaven?
This is a difficult question to answer satisfactorily, on account of our instinctive feelings of natural affection, which arise, and, like a mist, obscure our judgment. Nevertheless, the difficulty is much lessened, and even entirely removed from some minds, at hast, by the following considerations. 1. Our happiness, even in this world, does not depend on the happiness of those who are bound to us by the ties of kindred or of friendship. This is especially the case when their unhappiness proceeds
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven

Of Prayer --A Perpetual Exercise of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived from It.
1. A general summary of what is contained in the previous part of the work. A transition to the doctrine of prayer. Its connection with the subject of faith. 2. Prayer defined. Its necessity and use. 3. Objection, that prayer seems useless, because God already knows our wants. Answer, from the institution and end of prayer. Confirmation by example. Its necessity and propriety. Perpetually reminds us of our duty, and leads to meditation on divine providence. Conclusion. Prayer a most useful exercise.
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

This was Antony's First Struggle against the Devil...
7. This was Antony's first struggle against the devil, or rather this victory was the Saviour's work in Antony [1005] , Who condemned sin in the flesh that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.' But neither did Antony, although the evil one had fallen, henceforth relax his care and despise him; nor did the enemy as though conquered cease to lay snares for him. For again he went round as a lion seeking some occasion against him. But Antony
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

Upon Our Lord's SermonOn the Mount
Discourse 7 "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: And thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:16-18. 1. It has been the endeavour of Satan, from the beginning of the world,
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Subterraneous Places. Mines. Caves.
Thus having taken some notice of the superficies of the land, let us a little search into its bowels. You may divide the subterraneous country into three parts: the metal mines, the caves, and the places of burial. This land was eminently noted for metal mines, so that "its stones," in very many places, "were iron, and out of its hills was digged brass," Deuteronomy 8:9. From these gain accrued to the Jews: but to the Christians, not seldom slavery and misery; being frequently condemned hither by
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Why is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods? Because the commandment concerns every one, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him,
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

But I give myself unto prayer.' Psa 109: 4. I shall not here expatiate upon prayer, as it will be considered more fully in the Lord's prayer. It is one thing to pray, and another thing to be given to prayer: he who prays frequently, is said to be given to prayer; as he who often distributes alms, is said to be given to charity. Prayer is a glorious ordinance, it is the soul's trading with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by prayer. What is prayer? It is an offering
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
TO THE AUTHORS QUOTED IN THE INSTITUTES PREFATORY ADDRESS TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY, THE MOST MIGHTY AND ILLUSTRIOUS MONARCH, FRANCIS, KING OF THE FRENCH, HIS SOVEREIGN; [1] JOHN CALVIN PRAYS PEACE AND SALVATION IN CHRIST. [2] Sire,--When I first engaged in this work, nothing was farther from my thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to your Majesty. My intention was only to furnish a kind of rudiments, by which those who feel some interest in religion might be trained to
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

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