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Risky Connections

June 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Poor Obadiah is terrified to tell the king that he’s actually found the prophet Elijah.

Without him, Elijah would never have had the opportunity to defeat the prophets of Baal.

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Categories: 1 kings, Ahab, elijah, Obadiah

Outline of 1 Kings 18

June 16, 2015 Leave a comment
  1. Obadiah reluctantly connects Elijah with King Ahab
  2. Trash talk ensues
  3. Prophets of Baal fail
  4. Elijah succeeds
  5. Elijah commands King Ahab to eat and drink
  6. Elijah’s servant finally sees a rain cloud
  7. Elijah commands King Ahab to hurry home
Categories: 1 kings, Ahab, elijah, outline

1 Kings 18

June 15, 2015 Leave a comment

After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year of the drought, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab; I will send rain on the earth.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was severe in Samaria. Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Now Obadiah revered the Lord greatly; when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets, hid them fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water.) Then Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the wadis; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” So they divided the land between them to pass through it; Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.

As Obadiah was on the way, Elijah met him; Obadiah recognized him, fell on his face, and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” He answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.” And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to Ahab, to kill me? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom to which my lord has not sent to seek you; and when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would require an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. But now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ As soon as I have gone from you, the spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where; so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered the Lord from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets fifty to a cave, and provided them with bread and water? Yet now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord that Elijah is here’; he will surely kill me.” Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” He answered, “I have not troubled Israel; but you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.” Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.

Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of rushing rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” He went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” Then he said, “Go again seven times.” At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.” Then he said, “Go say to Ahab, ‘Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was a heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. But the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Categories: 1 kings, Ahab, elijah, Jezebel, Obadiah

Transfiguration

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone (Matthew 17:1-8, NRSV).

Faithfulness

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment

In 1 Kings 18, we read the story of Elijah versus the prophets of Baal.

Elijah waits patiently and goes second, only after his opponents demonstrate no ability whatsoever to call on their god.

Categories: 1 kings, elijah, patience, time

Elijah Is Taken From Elisha

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal when the Eternal One planned to snatch Elijah up into the heavens by the power of a fierce dancing wind.

Elijah (to Elisha): I ask you to remain here. The Eternal has commanded me to go all the way to Bethel.

Elisha: As certain as your own life and the life of the Eternal, I refuse to abandon you.

So the two men traveled down to Bethel together, where Elisha was approached by the prophets’ disciples who lived there.

Prophets’ Disciples: Are you aware that the Eternal One is going to snatch Elijah, your mentor, away from you today?

Elisha: Yes, I am aware of this. I want you to keep quiet about it.

Elijah (to Elisha): I beg you to remain here. The Eternal has commanded me to travel to Jericho.

Elisha: As certain as your own life and the life of the Eternal, I refuse to abandon you.

The two men then traveled to Jericho together, where the prophets’ disciples living in Jericho approached Elisha.

Prophets’ Disciples: Are you aware that the Eternal One is going to snatch your mentor away from you today?

Elisha: Yes, I am aware of this. I want you to keep quiet about it.

Elijah (to Elisha): I beg you to remain here. The Eternal One has commanded me to travel to the Jordan River.

Elisha: As certain as your own life and the life of the Eternal, I refuse to abandon you.

So the two men then traveled to the Jordan River together.

While Elijah and Elisha were standing near the Jordan River, 50 of the prophets’ disciples from that area stood at a distance from them on the other side. Elijah removed his cloak and rolled it up; then he struck the water with it, and the water divided. Elijah and Elisha then walked across on dry land. After the two had made it to the other side of the Jordan, Elijah spoke to Elisha.

Elijah: Tell me what it is you would like me to do for you before I am taken away from you.

Elisha: Please, I wish to receive a double portion of your spirit. As your successor, I want to have twice the portion of your power.

Elijah: What you have requested of me is challenging, but it will be done if you witness my departure. But if you do not watch, then you will not have your double portion.

Now as the two continued walking along and talking as they normally did, something incredible happened. A blazing chariot pulled by blazing horses stormed down from the heavens and came between Elijah and Elisha. Then Elijah was swept up into heaven by the fiery storm. Elisha witnessed this amazing spectacle.

Elisha: My father, O my father! The chariots and riders of Israel!

Elijah and Enoch (Genesis 5:24) are the only two men in the Bible to leave earth while they are still alive. Although they are separated by centuries of time, both men are inseparable from God, and both leave quite a legacy: Elijah’s successor, Elisha, continues his mentor’s work, even calling out Elijah’s name for help. Enoch’s son, Methuselah, lives longer than anyone else ever has, which is proof that he, too, lives properly.

Elisha never saw Elijah again. Elisha grabbed the clothes he was wearing, and he ripped them in half. He picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had dropped to the ground when he was taken up into heaven, and then he went back to the Jordan riverbank and stood. He struck the water with the cloak.

Elisha: Where is the Eternal One? Where is Elijah’s True God?

After Elisha struck the water, the Jordan River divided, just as when Elijah had struck the waters. Elisha then walked across on dry land.

The prophets’ disciples at Jericho standing on the opposite shore were watching this.

Prophets’ Disciples: Elijah’s powerful spirit now rests upon Elisha. Elijah’s cloak now clothes Elisha.

Then the prophets’ disciples at Jericho approached Elisha and humbled themselves before him.

Prophets’ Disciples: There are 50 strong men along with us, your servants, who could go looking for your mentor. Perhaps the Spirit of the Eternal inside the whirlwind swept Elijah up into heaven and left him on some mountaintop or in some valley of the lowlands.

Elisha: That won’t be necessary.

But they kept asking his permission for a search, and he felt ashamed, so he finally agreed. They sent out a search party of 50 men who spent three days looking for Elijah, but they found no trace of him. The search party came back to Elisha while he was still in Jericho.

Elisha: I told you not to go. He’s gone from the earth (2 Kings 2:1-18, The Voice).

Categories: 1 kings, elijah, elisha

Elisha Joins Elijah as Apprentice

February 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Elijah journeyed to find Elisha (Shaphat’s son). He found Elisha in the field where 12 pairs of oxen were being worked. Elisha was with the last pair. Elijah wrapped his cloak, his token of spiritual power, around Elisha, and Elisha abandoned his oxen and chased after Elijah.

Elisha: Before I leave, allow me to tell my parents goodbye, and then I will journey with you.

Elijah: Go then. Tell them goodbye. What have I done to you?

Elisha realizes that Elijah is questioning his devotion—will he stay with his parents or become a prophet? Elisha demonstrates his devotion to God by destroying his livelihood.

Elisha returned, but not to his parents. He killed his oxen, then he used the equipment (harness, yoke, and reigns) to prepare a fire and cook all the ox meat. He offered the food to everyone, and they feasted. Elisha then joined Elijah and became his apprentice (1 Kings 19:19-21, The Voice).

Categories: 1 kings, elijah, elisha
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