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, 1st Kings 18:21.
I was recently reading behind a preacher of old who when he came to the above passage, took time to explain that the Hebrew word translated as "halt" was in actuality a word that meant to be crippled or to have unequal legs. He wanted his hearers to know that Elijah was in actuality beseeching the people not to act like people who could not walk right as they staggered between two opinions.
A. W. Tozer has been dead for 56 years and he ministered in a time when the defense of the King James Bible was in its infancy. Few of the many books that we have today to uphold its text were available in his day. Little did he realize that statements like that were unnecessary, and that they would eventually erode the basic public trust in the word of God. In reading a book of his previously unpublished sermons, I have come to realize that like the rest of us he could not see the future. What made him a prophet in his time was his uncanny ability to understand the time in which he lived. That is rare and therein he found great power with God.
As it was in his day, few men today truly see. Liberals keep their heads in a utopian future and superimpose their vision upon the present. Conservatives have their heads in a past that curiously grows into their mold with its every retelling. Like their liberal counterparts, they superimpose their view upon the present while writhing in the pain it causes them. If today's fundamentalists could ever see their churches through God's eyes it would sicken them. Liberals will never see their churches through God's eyes because they lack the word of God and like many conservatives they lack his Spirit.
How then should we read 1st Kings 18:21? What does it mean to be halt? A cursory look at the word of God would tell us. Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire, Matthew 18:8. Again we see the word; bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind, Luke 14:21. John 5:3 further cements its meaning into our heads when it says; In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.
Brother Tozer did well when he painted a picture of the prophet accusing the people of staggering between the truth and and a lie like wounded and crippled men. I had not seen that hitherto fore. I should have. I knew what halt meant. I just never stopped to think about it. What he did not see was that the bible he held in his hand said the same thing. If our preachers would take time to teach their people English as it is written in their heritage, they would open great truths that are there for the taking.
May I recommend a book of his sermons? Voice of a Prophet: Who speaks for God? is a compilation of A. W. Tozer messages that have helped me. In the audio version Tozer biographer James L. Snyder reads all but one of them. He has the audio of Tozer reading the last one. In many of the messages I leaned forward waiting for Tozer to see the obvious consequences of the errors he saw. Then I realized that they are obvious to me because I have lived to see them. Tozer was indeed a prophet, not because he saw the future, but because he clearly saw the time in which he lived and he cried out with the word of God against it.