I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal.
1 Kings 19:18
Appearance Versus Reality
The classic adventure-fantasy film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, concludes with this climactic scene: The Nazis have seized what they believe is the actual Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament. They open the Ark, expecting to find fascinating wonders inside. All they find, however, is sand. They—and we, the audience—droop in disappointment. They are about to shrug their shoulders and move on. Before they do, however, angels fly out of the Ark. At first, the Nazis are thrilled, but they quickly realize their doom is at hand. In dramatic fashion, the angels dispatch all the Nazis, and good prevails.
This scene is a good example of appearance vs. reality: It appears the Nazis have the upper hand. It appears the Ark is simply a harmless box full of sand. But then comes reality and reality is very different. Appearance vs. reality is a theme in countless works of literature, plays, and, more recently, movies. Such ancient themes in our stories resonate for a reason. They resonate because what appears to be true often isn’t reality.
This brings us to the true account of the prophet Elijah. From his perspective, it appeared that belief in the Lord had virtually disappeared and that he was the only believer left. All he could see around him was a rampant belief in the false god Baal, a fertility god who promised material success and reckless pleasure without consequences. Baal had hundreds of prophets. The Lord had one.
Ever feel like Elijah? Ever feel as though God’s Word is in full retreat and the lies of the devil are in full command? From one end of our culture to the other, it can appear as though all is crumbling, all is darkness, and all is lost.
But appearance is one thing. Reality is something else. The Lord assured Elijah that he was far from alone. The same holds true for us. The Church remains. The gospel message of full forgiveness through faith in Christ continues to bring souls into the light. And it is this reality—the reality of Jesus our Savior—that has the final word.
Lord, move me to look beyond mere appearances. You alone have the final word. Amen.