What’s the State of the Union?
I’m not one to talk much politics. But this past week our country once again heard the president give the State of the Union address to congress & to the nation.
It reminded me that the Sate of the Union address is something that happens on a regular basis in our country.
While we could all agree & disagree over what presidents say when they give their State of the Union address, I really think it’s a helpful practice.
In our businesses or organizations, it’s helpful to step back from time to time & ask the question, What’s the state of the union here? What do we need to change, do better, or prepare for as we look ahead?
In our personal lives it’s helpful to step back from time & ask, what’s the state of the union here? What do I need to change? Do I need to eat better, exercise more, foster better friendships, work harder, or maybe take more time to rest?
In our marriages it’s helpful to push pause from time to time & ask each other, what’s the state of the union here? How can we love each other better, serve each other better, grow closer together, communicate better, grow closer to God together?
I think we could all agree that it’s good practice to stop from time to time & ask the honest question, What is the state of the union? How are things going? What needs to change?
The State of the Union in Israel
If you know anything about the story of Israel, then you know that more than once they had to confront the reality that their “State of the Union” was not the way it was supposed to be.
So often, their story got derailed as they chased after foreign gods, as they suffered under poor leadership & as they lost focus on who they were & WHO they served.
Israel was God’s chosen people. God chose them so that He could reveal Himself to the nations that He was the one true God, that there was no one like Him & that His desire was for all nations to know Him, worship Him & serve Him.
But time & again Israel lost their focus on God & on their mission as the people of God. And when that happens, well, you know what happens… life begins to fall apart.
Israel had lost that focus. And now, God was going to move. Here’s what happens in 1 Kings 17.1:
Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
God has seen the state of the union in Israel, & it’s not good.
Ahab is king of Israel, but he is an evil & wicked king. He’s married to the notorious queen Jezebel. And together they have elevated the worship of idols to an all time high in Israel.
If you back up a few verses to 1 Kings 16.29-33, you’ll find that Ahab was one of the all time worst kings of Israel.
So God sends Elijah in His name to this evil king to tell him that the rain & the DEW is about to come to a stop in the land of Israel.
Now it’s one thing to be in a drought. It’s one thing for it not to rain. But for there to be no DEW? And for it to be weirdly contained to just the area where Israel lives? God is demonstrating His power for all to see!
Now this is significant & I want to make sure you see this before we continue.
Baal, the false god that Ahab worships & that Israel has turned to, is known for being the god of fresh water. So what does God do? What does Yahweh do? In order to get Ahab’s attention & to get Israel’s attention He turns off the water. The one true God who is sovereign over all the earth shuts off the water supply causing a famine across the land.
Now this is important because it demonstrated that God alone was the one true God of water & in fact, of all of nature. But it was also important because God had said this through Moses about 600 years before that if they didn’t worship God alone then God would stop the rain.
So God is about to keep his promise. He’s about to do exactly what he said he would do because His people who He had rescued & delivered from Egypt through the Exodus have now forgotten God. They have forgotten Yahweh. They have forgotten that it’s God alone who gives them everything they need.
In order to call them back to Himself, in order to get their attention, God sends Elijah to Ahab to tell him… the water is about to stop because of your rebellion, because you are living in disobedience to the one true God.
The Real Problem
In Israel, people wanted a little of everything in their polytheistic culture… a little goddess worship, a little Baal worship, a little Yahweh worship…
The exclusive worship of Yahweh was absent.
It makes me wonder about us… do we worship more than one god?
We don’t worship a goddess or Baal or any handmade idol… but we do worship other things besides God.
Can we really say we exclusively worship Yahweh & nothing or no one else? It’s a big question.
Just ask yourself this question: “What does your world revolve around?”
That’s what you worship.
As long as you choose to serve lesser gods, chase idols, serve self & seek self preservation you’ll discover a life of famine. A life that is empty. A life that is wanting. You’ll discover that your chasing the illusion of what you think you want.
The God who reigns over all the earth causes the rain & the dew to stop for Israel. Maybe by bringing a famine he can turn their attention back to the only God who reigns over all the earth.
Maybe just maybe God’s trying to get your attention too.
So what’s the state of the union in your life today?
Who is your God?
Here’s what I believe God was trying to teach Israel & communicate to king Ahab. God desires your exclusive worship. Giving your life to God means giving all of your life to God.
It’s interesting, Elijah’s name literally means… “My God is Yahweh.”
His name answers the question, “Who is my God?”
Jesus once asked his disciples, Who do people say that I am?
They responded by saying that some say Elijah, others say John the Baptist. Peter, who often seemed to stick his foot in his mouth, was the one who got it right when Jesus reframed the question & asked his closest followers…
Who do YOU say that I am?
Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
Peter could not have been more bold or more correct in his answer.
We all have to choose who’s in charge of our lives. We all have to decide which God to serve.
Some will choose to spend their lives in service to lesser gods. Some will choose to spend their lives in service to self.
But a few will discover there is a God who, when you give your life Him, you find true life. Real life.
Those who know Him best know that this is true… That our God has no rival. He has no equal. And that forever & ever He reigns as King of kings. And when we give our lives to Him we find that’s when we begin to really live.