Archive for the ‘1 Kings’ Category

Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus

June 30, 2010

Elisha looks on as Elijah is carried into heaven.

Question:

It seems like there are a lot of parallels between Elijah and Jesus.  The miracles, the feeding of many from a small amount of food, the raising back to life of a child, etc.  Miracles were done the same way it seems but with seemingly little impact on the culture. These actions were done by Jesus, with him the whole world got changed.  You don’t hear many people talking about Elisha the Prophet but he seemed to have done many things that Jesus did.

Answer:

There are definitely many similarities between Jesus and the prophets.  In fact Jesus was a prophet himself, or more accurately, Jesus was The Prophet.  In Luke 4:16-30, Jesus launches his ministry by making an outright declaration of his messianic and prophetic role.  “The Spirit is on ME, because he has ANOINTED me to proclaim the good news…” (Luke 4:18).  Even the people observed this about Jesus saying, “They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:16).  And Jesus was treated just as poorly as the past prophets of Israel.  In the Gospel of Luke he rebukes the leaders of Israel pointing to the irony of how they always reject the prophets when they are with them, but then glorify them long after they are dead (Luke 11:47-51).  He said this because the leaders of Israel were all trying to reject Jesus, a prophet in their midst.

Elijah and Elisha were special prophets.  God performed some spectacular miracles through Elijah and he is one of the few people in scripture who does not die.  Rather he was whisked away in a chariot to heaven.  Elijah also appears with Jesus and Moses in the account of the transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–13 and Luke 9:28–36.  The prophet Malachi also prophesied that Elijah would return, and Jesus himself confirms that John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come (see Matthew 11:14; 17:10–13).  Elisha was also a prophet of the miraculous, a trait that he received from his predecessor Elijah, who blessed him with a “double portion” of his spirit.

The parallels are certainly present between these great prophets and Jesus.  Jesus of course bears the unique privilege of being the Son of God, not a “Man of God” as Elijah was so often called.  Jesus was divine, and that fact alone is enough to set him apart from these other heavyweight prophets.  Furthermore, God did something with Jesus that had never happened before and still has not happened (not yet at least), God raised Jesus from the dead.  Granted, there are other resurrections in the bible, but Jesus died and rose again and is still risen.  All the others died eventually, and we will die as well, though resurrection awaits all who place their faith in Jesus.

This is no small thing.  The prophets brought powerful messages but saw little if any change among the people.  Jesus death and resurrection was the catalyst that would start a movement that would change the world.  Just look at what happens after his resurrection in the book of Acts.

Elijah and Elisha were great men of God, but Jesus is a savior, a messiah, and indeed God himself.

What’s with the strange events of 1 Kings 13?

June 30, 2010

God sent a lion to kill the unknown prophet from Judah

Reference: 1 Kings 13

Question:
What is this story of the two prophets in 1 King 13 all about?  Why does the one betray the other?

Answer:
You’ll want to make sure your read this one first.  It’s definitely not your typical Bible story.

I think that the main thing we need to take away from this story is the certainty of God’s word, and our need to obey it.  The chapter starts off with an unknown prophet bringing a message from God against King Jeroboam.  Jeroboam had desecrated the Temple and the Alter of God by turning it into a place of idol worship.  But when God clearly speaks a word against Jeroboam, Jeroboam doesn’t change.

God also spoke a word that was for the unknown prophet himself.  God told him, ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came’ (vs.9).  Initially the unknown prophet from Judah adheres to this word.  But when approached by another prophet, the ‘old prophet’, the old prophet lied to the unknown prophet from Judah and told him that an angel of God had said it was okay for him to eat with the old prophet.  Upon hearing this the unknown prophet from Judah disobeyed God and ate with the old prophet.  To our horror and surprise God holds the unknown prophet accountable for going against his word, and a few verses later the unknown prophet was killed by a lion.

It’s hard to know why the old prophet lied to the unknown prophet.  He may have been jealous of the unknown prophet, or he may have just been curious about who he was, but that’s not the point of the story.  Again, the point of this story is the certainty of God’s word and our need to obey it.  The unknown prophet delivered God’s word to King Jeroboam, but he also told Jeroboam what God had said to him, that he “must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came”.  The prophet disobeyed this command and he experienced God’s wrath because of it.  Word of this bizarre occurrence must have spread to the King.  Jeroboam should have seen that the prophets words were true and that God’s words were certain.  Yet amazingly enough, this did not sway the evil idolatrous behavior of Jeroboam.  A lot of times this is the same for us.  We can see God actively proving himself again and again, yet we continue doing our will instead of his will.

We may ask, “why was God so harsh with the man since the old prophet lied to him?”  To ask such a question assumes a couple of things that can be slippery slopes.  First of all, that question assumes that the old prophet was a good man and deserved to live, even though he disobeyed God.  Instead we must remind ourselves that “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Just because the guy is a prophet doesn’t mean that he is outside of God’s wrath and judgment.   No one is.  But Christ took on everyone’s sin and received the wrath of God for us all.  So we need to avoid the thoughts that lead us to a place where we think that there are some people who are good or good enough to avoid the ‘nasty’ side of God.  No one is righteous.  That’s why we need the Righteous One, Jesus, to take up residence in our lives.

Secondly, if we ask the question, “why was God so harsh with the unknown prophet since the old prophet lied to him?” then we ultimately we are making excuses for the man’s disobedience.  We do this too often for ourselves as well.  We allow lies to come into our life that lead us to disobey God.  But the lie didn’t make us sin, we choose to sin.  We can always come up with an excuse to sin, but God’s word is clear to us, just as it was to the unknown prophet.  We can’t make excuses for his sin or our own.  The unknown prophet’s disobedience was clear enough, even if he was deceived.  We allow ourselves to be deceived into disobedience all the time.  But the deception does not nullify the disobedience.  God’s word is certain.