Nothing but the text. Unfiltered thoughts. Pre-study conclusions. Things that make me go “hhmm.”
“God’s Messangers”? This sounds a bit like a Christiane Amanpour CNN special report. In a world where lots of people claim to be messengers of God and then proceed to steal money, dreams and hopes from people, just titling the chapter like this raises something in me that I don’t like. I fully admit that I’ve been scarred by the things of our culture in this regard, but I am not going to let this stump me.
With the kingdom split in two, today the focus was mostly on the northern kingdom. This is the kingdom with 10 tribes, thus I assumed more trouble because more differences. They are experiencing a famine and God raises up a prophet named Elijah to help with mid-course corrections. It’s a bit odd to me how God works through Elijah. The people have turned to the prophets of Baal and Asherah, so Elijah goes to King Ahab (wicked king) and challenges all of the prophets to a duel – a duel that would involve cattle being cut into pieces, placed on altars, calling for fire, etc. I have to admit that as I read this morning, I wondered what James Cameron could do with a scene like this. In the end, God shows himself stronger than Baal and the people turn to God…for a while.
As Elijah is nearing the end of his life, having gone through several kings, he is ready to anoint his successor as prophet. God has chosen a man named Elisha. One day, he is walking along with Elijah, when a chariot of fire, with horses of fire comes from nowhere and separates the two men. Suddenly a whirlwind takes up Elijah and Elisha sees him no more. Wow! Jerry Bruckheimer might like this one. Again, I’m taken aback and my cynical side wrestles with the miracle in this. Was this just embellishment by the writers? Did this really happen? Today it will rain cats and dogs, but I’m not expecting to see cats and dogs falling from the sky? What if it really did happen this way though? Hhmmm.
God then uses Elisha to deliver news of a child to a barren woman (heard this one before). The boy is born, but then appears to die, but Elisha sends out his assistant ahead of him to lay his staff on his face. Okay? Then Elisha comes to the boy and the boy is still asleep. He lays on him – face on face, body on body. He did this twice, then the boy sneezed seven times and woke up. Again, cynical alert in my brain. No matter how weird I think this is, it’s evident that God is doing something special with these guys.
Amos and Hosea are the two prophets that finish out the chapter, and they tend to appear more like my traditional view of a prophet. Translating the words of God to the people of that day…calling spades spades and pronouncing judgment on the people who are wandering away from their God.
This is going to be an interesting week, as I begin to unpack some of the oddities of the story. I hope you are up for the journey with me. What are some of the questions you have after reading Chapter 15? If you haven’t read it yet, come back after you read and let me know.