Monday, February 11, 2008

1 Kings 19

What is this passage all about?
Elijah fled from Queen Jezebel's threats, but an angel gave him sustenance for his journey and the LORD spoke to him at Mt Horeb (aka Mt Sinai), giving Elijah a new mandate.

What can I learn from it?
I know so much of these stories of Elijah in a garbled form from my childhood Sunday School lessons. Jezebel threatened Elijah. Despite having just put the 450 priests of Baal to death - and perhaps in the adrenalin let down following this - Elijah decided fighting Ahab and Jezebel was too difficult. Perhaps he thought that if they wouldn't submit to God after three years plus of drought and a mighty display of God's power, there was no point in trying any longer. As a prophet, up to this point he had failed despite God's miracles, to turn Ahab and Jezebel from their pagan practices to God. He was in despair (v4), " 'I have had enough LORD', he said. 'Take my life...' "
Yet twice God sent an angel to feed Elijah and fortify him for his jhourney to Horeb. Strengthened and enervated, he travelled the religiously significant 40 days and 40 nights into the desert to the mountain of God.
~40 days and nights of rain began the flood (Genesis 7)
~Joseph's body was embalmed over 40 days and nights (Genesis 50:3)

~Moses on Mt Sinai for 40 days and nights receiving the law incl 10 commandments (Exodus 24:18 then again 34:28) [Mt Sinai also referred to as Horeb in Deuteronomy 9:8-9]
~12 men explored the Promised Land for 40 days and nights before reporting back to Moses (Numbers 13:25)
~Goliath the Philistine challenged Saul and Israel for 40 days before David took up the challenge and killed him (1 Samuel 17:16)

and then this pattern continued in Jesus' ministry:

~Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness after his baptism (eg Matthew 4:2)

~Jesus was seen over a period of 40 days after his resurrection, before his ascension (Acts 1:3)
When Elijah was at Horeb, the word of the LORD came to him and the LORD spoke to him and called him to stand in His presence as He passed by and a voice spoke again " 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' " (v13, cf v9). God told him to " 'go back the way you came..' " (v15) to annoint 3 men: a new king of Aram, a new king of Israel and a new prophet to succeed Elijah. It can't have been too comforting being told to annoint his own replacement, considering his thoughts of death 40 days before. But Elijah would have been comforted, I think, by the idea that God would use these men to enact His judgement and also that a faithful rmenant would remain in Israel.

Elisha responded very positively to Elijah's call on him, which Elijah made known through putting his cloak on him. Elisha went back to say goodbye to his parents, but at the same time he slaughtered and cooked his oxen, which were presumably essential to his livelihood up to that point. "Then he set out to follow Elijah..." (v21) what an enthusiastic disciple!

How can this help me to worship God?

I praise God because He knows that seeing Him and being in His presence is infinitely more satisfying than even the most impressive achievement. I worship Him because He has given me that opportunity - to knw Him face to face through His Son Jesus Christ.

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