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  • Writer's pictureRick LoPresti

Halt between two opinions

     The history of the nation of Israel begins with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). His grandson Jacob had 12 sons, who became the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel (Gen 29-30, Gen 49). After the Israelites took possession of the promised land, each tribe was given a specific portion of the land (Josh 12-19). About 300 years later, Saul was appointed the first king of Israel (1Sam 8). David came after him (1Sam 16), and his son Solomon came next (1Ki 1). In his later years, Solomon fell away from the Lord and worshipped idols (1Ki 11), and the Israelites followed him into idolatry. God judged their sin by causing the 12 tribes to divide into two separate nations (1Ki 12). The 10 northern tribes became the kingdom of Israel, and 2 southern tribes became the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Judah was ruled by a succession of David’s descendants. Some followed the Lord, and some did not. The government of the kingdom of Israel was mostly decided by a continual “game” of king of the hill. None of them followed the Lord. They were stained with idolatry and sin. This went on until God judged them by sending the Assyrians against them to destroy their nation in about 700 BC (2Ki 17). About 100 years later, the southern kingdom was likewise destroyed by the Babylonians (2Ki 25).

     One of the kings of Israel was Ahab (1Ki 16:28-34). He was more wicked than all those who came before him. God sent the prophet Elijah to turn the people back to Himself (1Ki 17-18). There was a drought and famine for 3 and a half years. Elijah challenged the prophets of the false god Baal to a contest to see which was the true God, the Lord or Baal. They met on Mt. 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 (1Ki 18:21).” He told them to get two bullocks. They were to go first and build an altar and offer their bullock to Baal, and then Elijah would build one too and offer his bullock to God. Neither would put fire to their altar, and the God who answered by fire would be the true God. Of course, Baal did not answer because there is no such being. Not only did Elijah not put fire to his altar, he had them pour 12 barrels of water on it. Then he prayed to God and asked Him to show the people that He is the true God. God sent fire that not only consumed the bullock, it burnt up the stones and the water as well. Everyone worshipped the true God.

     Let us take a look at Elijah’s opening question to the Israelites, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” The Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon says this means, “how long are ye limping on the two divided opinions (as on unequal legs)”. Gesenius’s Hebrew Lexicon says, “opposite sides, divided opinions, how long will ye halt between the two sides? i.e. do ye hesitate between the worship of Jehovah and of Baal?” Strong’s Concordance says, “divided (in mind), i.e. (abstractly) a sentiment:—opinion”. In what is called the sermon on the mount (Mt 5-7), Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Mt 6:24)”

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians and said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (2Cor 6:14-18).”

     Richard Dawkins is a well known denier of God and wrote the book “The God Delusion”. He has spent decades trying to convince people that there is no God. However, in a recent interview he made some interesting comments about Christianity. He said, “‘I love hymns and Christmas carols and I sort of feel at home in the Christian ethos, and I feel that we are a Christian country in that sense”, and said that he identifies as a “cultural Christian” and prefers Christianity to Islam, although he clarified that he does not believe “a word” of the Christian faith, he was “slightly horrified” to learn that Oxford Street in London was promoting Ramadan, the Muslim month for fasting, instead of Easter. Dawkins went on to explain: “I do think we are culturally a Christian country. I call myself a cultural Christian.” After expressing his satisfaction at what he perceives as a decline in the number of Christians, the famous atheist noted that he “would not be happy if, for example, we lost all our cathedrals and our beautiful parish churches.” “So I call myself a cultural Christian, and I think it would be truly dreadful if we substituted any alternative religion.” Asked whether he sees the decline in church attendance and the construction of some 6,000 mosques, with many more planned, as a problem, Dawkins responded: “Yes, I do, really. I have to choose my words carefully: If I had to choose between Christianity and Islam, I’d choose Christianity every single time.” “It seems to me to be a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that I think Islam is not,” he commented. When questioned about that statement, Dawkins said: “The way women are treated in Christianity is not great about that, it has had its problems with female vicars and female bishops, but there is an active hostility to women which is promoted I think by the holy books of Islam.” After clarifying that he was not referring to individual Muslims but to the doctrine contained in books such as “the Hadith and the Quran, which is fundamentally hostile to women and hostile to gays,” the famous atheist stressed that he likes “living in a culturally Christian country although I do not believe a word of the Christian faith.”

In 2018, he notably said that we should not celebrate that Europe is less Christian, as we should hold onto it, “for fear of finding something worse.” “Before we rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion, let’s not forget Hilaire Belloc’s menacing rhyme: ‘Always keep a-hold of nurse / For fear of finding something worse,’” he noted at the time. These are citings from an article by Walter Sánchez Silva/ACI Prensa/CAN World posted on the website The National Catholic Register on April 3, 2024. Video of the interview can be found on YouTube.

     What Dawkins is saying is that he likes the kind of culture Christianity produces, but he refuses to be personally accountable to the God of the Bible. One problem is that everyone is accountable to God whether they want to be or not. God is the Creator and Lord over all, and we will all give account to Him (Acts 17:30-31, Rom 14:12, Rev 20:11-15). God doesn’t need anyone’s vote, opinion, or permission. He is sovereign. Another problem with Dawkins’ statements is that they are self-refuting and contradictory. That is like saying, “I believe that the laws of our country produce a good society, but I don’t have to keep them myself.” What if everyone takes that approach? The result is that we don’t have that kind of society. This is trying to have your cake and eat it too, as the old saying goes. This is the same approach so many people take toward life, sex, finances, society. They want the benefits without the responsibility.

     Dawkins also expresses concern about what comes to replace Christianity if it ceases to be the force behind culture. He realizes there is no vacuum. He fears what he sees happening in his own country of England, across Europe, and many other places. If Christianity diminishes, something else comes to take its place. He fears that the replacement that is happening is Islam, and he prefers to live in a society based on Christianity than one based on Islam. Jesus warned of this very thing. He told the story of man whose house was vacated and cleaned up, but nobody moved in (Mt 12:43-45). This is about aa man who was demon possessed but was delivered. Yet he did replace that spirit (with God’s Spirit). The original demon that was cast out comes back to find the man not filled with the Holy Ghost and brings seven other spirits worse than himself, and the last state of the man is worse than before. There is no vacuum. People that are so rabidly trying to force Christianity out of society are not considering the long-term repercussions of what they are trying to turn society into. Subjectivity, relativism, postmodernism or whatever else you want to call it leads to the total collapse of society. The underlying idea behind all of this is what the serpent told Eve, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:4-5)”. In essence, he got Eve to believe that there were no disastrous consequences to rejecting God, and that they could make up their own rules. They could determine right and wrong on their own without God. Not to promote secular music, but the lyrics to the song “We Won’t Be Fooled Again” by The Who does have a message relevant to this:

 

[Verse 1]

We'll be fighting in the streets

With our children at our feet

And the morals that they worship will be gone

And the men who spurred us on

Sit in judgment of all wrong

They decide and the shotgun sings the song

[Chorus]

I'll tip my hat to the new Constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution

Smile and grin at the change all around

Pick up my guitar and play

Just like yesterday

Then I'll get on my knees and pray

We don't get fooled again

[Verse 2]

Change, it had to come

We knew it all along

We were liberated from the fold, that's all

And the world looks just the same

And history ain't changed

'Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

[Chorus]

[Bridge]

I'll move myself and my family aside

If we happen to be left half-alive

I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky

For I know that the hypnotized never lie

Do you?

[Verse 3]

Yeah

There's nothing in the street

Looks any different to me

And the slogans are effaced, by-the-bye

And the parting on the left

Is now the parting on the right

And the beards have all grown longer overnight

[Chorus]

 

The problem is that mankind has been fooled by the same lie Eve fell for ever since. They wanted to live in the garden on their terms instead of God’s. It didn’t work then, it is not working now, and it never will. The delusion is not believing in God. Only faith in God and the Bible makes sense of everything and is logical. The delusion is believing that the heart of man has the answers without God (Jer 17:9-10). Even after the Lord Jesus returns, puts down the antichrist and his rebellion against God, sets up His kingdom on the earth, and the devil is bound for 1,000 years, man will still fall for this again (Rev 19-20). This will lead to the final judgment of man, and the restoration to the believers of everything lost in the garden of Eden (Rev 21-22). Even then, men will be eternally reminded that you can’t have the blessing without the responsibility (Rev 21:7-8 & 27, Rev 22:11-21). You can have the cake and eat it too when it’s His cake and not yours without Him.

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