RESOURCES – SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Session Text: 1 Kings 19:1-17
Session title: Trusting God’s Voice
Elijah at Mount Horeb
This story has ever been a source of conflicting judgments concerning Elijah. Sirach (48:4) claims: “How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast that you have?” Yet, Paul, the apostle, senses the pride and unbelief in Elijah’s story when he says: “Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have demolished their altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’” But what is God’s reply to him? “‘I have kept for myself 7,000 men who have not bowed the knee to Baal’” (Rom 11:3-4). This story continues to teach and maintain its appeal because of its ironic structure; Elijah is the alazon or pretender who is unmasked by the eiron or assassin of pretension. Elijah had eclipsed the will of Yahweh with his own will. For most of the story the two wills had paralleled each other neatly, but when Elijah thought the final victory had been won at Carmel and Kishon, Jezebel met him with a threat; he was discovered and he sank into deep despair. Another ironic account of a willful prophet, the Book of Jonah, mirrors many of the dynamics of this account.
Excerpt from Russell I. Gregory, “Elijah,” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Watson E. Mills et al. (Macon GA: Mercer University Press, 1990) 243.
(Used by permission) Mercer Dictionary of the Bible is available for $35 plus $4.00 shipping and handling from Mercer University Press, 6316 Peake Road, Macon, GA 31210. You may also order by phone (478-301-2880) or fax (478-301-2264).
Class Handout Preview
1 Kings 19:1-17
1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. 9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.