So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.  And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word (I Kings 18:20-21).
At the turn of the tenth century before Christ, Ahab was king of Israel. He, and his wife, Jezebel, were two of the most corrupt and sinful people this world has ever seen, and they were sitting on the throne ruling God’s people (I Kings 16:33). Jezebel had cut off the prophets of God out of the land, except, perhaps, those hundred whom Obadiah, a faithful servant of God from his youth, had protected by hiding them in a cave from Jezebel and feeding them (I Kings 18:4,13). Because of the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel, God sent the prophet Elijah to send a drought over the land until word came again unto Elijah (I Kings 17:1).
After three and a half years the prophet Elijah came again to see Ahab and to end the drought (I Kings 18:1; James 5:17,18). After confronting Ahab, he sent for all the people of Israel to be gathered at Mount Carmel for a showdown and he gave them this challenge: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (I Kings 18:21). Several things impress me with Elijah’s statement.
First, the confidence of Elijah impresses me. Elijah was certain about the truth of who God actually was. He challenged the people to find out. Elijah could not have asked the people to decide if the truth could not be known about the matter. Most of the people probably already had an opinion but were probably afraid of what Ahab and Jezebel would do to them if they actually professed a conviction on whether or not Jehovah was God over Baal. Today, so many people are agnostic in their beliefs. They won’t affirm something to be true and they won’t take a stand. They may be afraid to stand for something, fearing what others will say or think about them. But God expects us to confidently take sides (Ex. 32:26). As the old saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
Second, I am impressed by the certitude of Elijah. This idea is closely related to the idea of confidence. Elijah implored the people not to halt between two opinions. The word for “halt” means to hop or leap. Ironically, this is the same word used to describe the worshipers of Baal when they were “leaping” upon his altar (I Kings 18:26). It is the word used to describe Mephibosheth’s lame foot (II Sam. 2:14). It is also the word translated “passover” in the Old Testament (Ex. 12:13,23,27).
God does not want us to vacillate in our beliefs, glomming on to one view and then another. We should not skip or hop around to different opinions, going whatever way the winds of change may blow us. James told us that “he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8). We can know the truth. Jesus said we shall know the truth and it shall make us free (John 8:32).
It also impresses me that Elijah thought time was of the essence. “How long,” he asked, “halt ye between two opinions”. It might be forgiven one that he might not immediately make up his mind until all the facts are in. That is understandable. But at some point, enough facts will have been gathered and enough time will have passed for a decision to be made. Some people, however, study an issue all their lives and are never able to come to a knowledge of the truth (II Tim. 3:7).
When Jesus had healed the man born blind from birth, the Pharisees tried to deny it (John 9). They said “We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is” (John 9:29). The blind man answered and said unto them, “Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes” (John 9:30). Even the blind man could see that there was enough evidence to render the verdict as to who Jesus really was. The Pharisees were the ones who were really blind (Matt. 23:16,19,24, 26).
The question which Elijah asked is a good one for many today: How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him.
Eric L. Padgett