Friday, November 11, 2011

confrontation contrasts

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."
1 Kings 17:1

One of the fascinating facts of the history of the Jewish people is that it is not just about political actions, wars, kings, or accomplishments in culture. The unique history of Israel is full of theological majesty through the revelation of the Word of God. And at this point in the biblical text there is an explosion of prophetic activity among the Jews. The reasons are simple. God will not be pushed aside, and a unique covenant with Israel meant that they would hear clearly and powerfully from Him, whether they wanted to or not!

And there is an interplay in the last few chapters of 1 Kings that is fascinating for the reader to pick up on. I have to admit that it is one of my favorite sections of the Old Testament. It pits God against idol, king against prophet, the power of the Word of God against the power of error, and the veracity of God's prophets against the agents of idolatry and evil.

Elijah is just a fun character to study. He is bold and assertive, yet totally dependent upon God for the simplest of life's necessities. He is aggressive to Ahab, yet later he is fearful of Jezebel. He mocks the vain worship of the priests of Baal, yet mopes at his own seeming ineffectiveness. He is used by God to poke at a king's foolish agenda of idolatry while being just a frontier nobody himself. God uses a willing prophet from "nowheresville" to confront and control the outcomes of the most powerful and selfish people in the land.

Elijah is effective as God's prophet because he is obedient to God. Ahab is an impotent king because he is disobedient to the Law of God. Elijah's worship of God leads to power and protection for him. Ahab's worship of Baal (a fertility god supposed to bring the yearly rains) is incompetent, ineffective and powerless. God is making a contrast. And the absurd boldness of it makes me chuckle.

No comments: