Sunday 19th June
Psalm 42 | 1 Kings 19 : 1 – 4, 8 – 15 | Galatians 3 : 23 – 29 | Luke 8 : 26 – 39
This reflection is provided by Local Preacher, Chris Sledge (Potters Wood).
1 KINGS 19 verses 1 – 4, 8 – 15
We all enjoy a good story and especially one that has its fair share of drama. Such is the story of the people of Israel – a story that is punctuated by the acts of famous men such as Abraham and Moses and a story that centres upon the people of Israel’s relationship with God through all the highs and lows of their journey.
One of those “famous men” is Elijah about whom our reading speaks.
Elijah was a ninth century BC prophet, a Tishbite of Tishbe in Gilead on the east bank of the River Jordan (1 Kings 17). His ministry centred upon the northern Kingdom (Israel) and scripture records six main episodes in the prophet’s life :
Elijah appears without introduction and announces a drought to King Ahab and Elijah is miraculously sustained at Cherith, being fed by ravens and then he went to Zarephath,
where he healed a widow’s son (17 v 8-17).
Elijah was involved in a “contest” between the people of Israel and those who worshipped the god Baal, it took place on Mt Carmel, where the sovereignty of God was challenged.
Elijah came under the wrath of Queen Jezebel and had to flee for his life arriving at Mt Horeb (Sinai). This was a sacred place where Moses had met God. This disheartened prophet had now returned to the source of faith for which he had fought and where he found God in the “still small voice.” (19 v 12)
The story surrounding Naboth’s vineyard (ch 21) illustrates the fact that land owned by an Israelite family was God’s gift and failure to recognise this would bring judgement.
A further clash between followers of Baal and the people of Israel (2 Kings 1)
Elijah’s translation by whirlwind brings a dramatic end to Elijah’s prophetic career and his mantle falls on Elisha (2 Kings 2 v 11-12).
Elijah stands as the “doyen” of the Old Testament prophets and was the forerunner of the great eighth century prophets e.g. Amos and Hosea. He was a man of action, always calling people back to God and worshipping Him alone. He proclaimed Moses’ standards of right living in community about which Amos and Hosea spoke so strongly.
When we read the story of Elijah we see a picture of a tremendous person, on fire for God; jealous for the Lord, living only for God. He was not afraid or ashamed to speak out on all that was against the faith in matters of worship and righteousness in community. But this was not without consequences, as he put his own life in danger; he felt isolated at times (19 v 9-10) and had to be reminded that he wasn’t alone.
We ourselves may at times have similar feelings to Elijah and like him needed to be reminded that we are not alone’ our fellow Christians are with us and above all God is with us to empower and strengthen us.
A further great lesson Elijah teaches us is that you can’t divorce religion (faith) from life and politics.
Politics is to do with people and if our faith means anything at all, it will affect them and their lives.
Let us stand firm in the faith we possess and profess, trusting in the God of our forefathers who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read, as a prayer, hymn 634 in Singing the Faith – Fight the good fight with all your might.