3 Elijah (3)
As a prophet to the present age
‡T Kings 18:1-46Jacob 5:15-18
‡T After training of faith
I touched it a little about queen Jezebel of north Israel kingdom last week. There is not yet her appearance, but it is replaced, and prophets of Baal appear. I want to understand some situation, she was a daughter of Rabbi Etebaal king of Sidon in Tyre, but in a certain book I have read before, it is written that she was coercive by nature, her energy burn, and her character was admiration, stubbornness, and she never stopped until her complaint was accepted. In fact, it seems that she was really such a woman. Because she seems to have had eagerness fanaticism for God Mel cult of Phoenicia, she wished Mel cult would be Israeli God. When even if it did not push Israeli God Yahweh (the Lord) aside, be equal with it, she pressed Ahab and built an altar of Baal. Baal is the general term of gods of Cannan, in this case, it points at Mel cult. She brought 450 prophets of Mel cult and 400 prophets of Asherah as a follower for that purpose. Originally Israel cannot have had that kind of idol who carved with form of God at all, but after division, north kingdom watched that the box of the contract which was put in two leaves of boards of the stone of Moses' Ten Commandments was in the south kingdom as a holy thing, and they made a calf image of gold and came to worship it as Yahweh. It was north kingdom's first King Jeroboam to have thought, but it seemed to have been a good method of the efficiency to collect north kingdom all together. Therefore, even if God of paganism of Baal was entered and it came to be done on a large scale, was not there so much sense of incongruity? The Baal worship spread through whole north kingdom by a lead of Jezebel in an instant.
The reason why Elijah appeared on a history stage of Israel was that he expelled such Baal from country Israel of Yahweh, and what he announced previously to Ahab, "surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.", was a letter of challenge from Yahweh. For that challenge, he had to receive training of faith from God at first. He was fed by a poor widow of Zarephath and, through death and revival of her young son, he watched her sorrow and surprising faith that sprouted there, and it became the model of his own faith. Afterwards, he went out to confront Ahab and Jezebel.
‡U Our Lord is our God
"Now it came about after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, 'Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.'"(18:1) The period when it did not rain seems to have continued more than three years. Meanwhile, Ahab and Jezebel looked for Elijah and outrun in a whole country as a ringleader of famine, but they could not find him. Because Jezebel's hatred is considerably, she demanded the life of prophets of Yahweh who belong to Elijah. A lot of prophets were killed (4). And at the time their evil rose before God, the words of God (Yahweh) were there "I bring rain on this ground.".
Before the rain, Elijah had a thing that must do it. It was a confrontation with Baal which separated Israel from Yahweh. He interviewed Ahab and found a confrontation with their prophets. Because Ahab aimed at life of Elijah, prophet Obadiah (a reporter of Obadiah) who seemed the disciple of Elijah appeared as an intermediary of the interview. "Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." (19) Ahab agreed to this, and a confrontation began. Elijah stood on the cape of the mountain which stuck out of the Mediterranean Sea, and suggested it to prophets of Baal. "Choose one ox and cut it up, and place it on the wood, and ascertain whether Baal itself sets fire to that." They cried "O, Baal, answer us.", and they danced around the altar, but there was no one answered. And this time, Elijah put one ox on the altar of the Lord, he splashed lot of water to both the altar and that circumference, and he prayed. "O, Lord, answer me, that this people may know that Thou art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again."(37), "Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench."(38), and there were. Israeli people watched this and prostrated and confessed with "The Lord, He is God.", but there were the words that Elijah said to people of Israel just before this confrontation. "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."(21) This confrontation pressed Israel for decision, and, as for God, it was declared that oneself was true God. The same decision is pressed us for, too.
‡V As a prophet to the present age
Elijah shouted "Hits prophets of Baal." to the Israeli people who confessed and prostrated themselves before Yahweh. It would be seen cruelly, but it was a reform method of those days. A confrontation on Mt. Carmel, it was a mountain of meters above the sea level approximately 500m of the north kingdom west end in the cape which pushed out in border neighborhood with Phoenicia, the Mediterranean Sea. It seemed to have been considered to be the sacred ground of idol worship from old days, and it seemed to be this mountain that is said in a place name list of Egyptian ‡URamesses and ‡VTuthmosis as a "sacred cape". But if so, it would be loaded with an extremely symbolic meaning, it might be said that it was a case which put a world history meaning as well as Israel history. When God named Yahweh was God not only of Israel but of every people and every race, I don't know you recognize it or not, it will apply to the present age. There are many non-Christians around us, whether they are enemies who should be destroyed or the people who are invited to the salvation of Jesus, and we must learn that we are grasping the key.
After prophets were all destroyed Elijah said to Ahab. "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower."(41) I cannot but suppose it, why it is eating and drinking, but will it be to express thanks to God bringing rain? Though prophets of Baal who he supported were all killed, Ahab watched it without what to do. Elijah might have wanted to say "Wake up!" to such Ahab. Ahab climbed a mountain as it was said, and Elijah climbed top of Mt., too. And there, he bended to the ground putting his face between knees and prayed. And he said to the youth who was in the side. "Go up now, look toward the sea.", "There is nothing.", "Repeat seven times.", and the youth found that a cloud of a dot approaches it from the sea at last. And it is there "So it came about in a little while, that the sky grew a heavy shower.".
This rain would be a blessing of God to Israel where both the earth and a heart had finished drying. However, rain seems to show God's judgment, as a flood of Noah was so. They surely confessed faith to Yahweh, but it is hard to say that they have completely returned to the faith. Therefore it was a heavy rain accompanied with intense wind. They felt existence of God there and should have stood as people of selection. However, north Israel kingdom mixture with a foreigner advanced from the times of Ahab, and it became the ground of a foreigner of Samaria. And it was ruined by invasion of Assyria empire in BC722 after all, but when Elijah buried a face between knees and prayed before the heavy rain, would it be because such expectation and uneasiness mingled in him? I feel that we live in the same times now. Our prayer for people assuming there is no God, will it be the same thing as prayer of Elijah which is saying "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."?(James 5:15-18) Before the people who brag that they don't know Jesus, we want to learn that we are made to stand as a prophet of God to pray, put power and tell the words of God.