We’ve been following the Old Testament highlights and today we’ve come to Elijah, the Lionel messi of the prophets.
We looked at Elijah 17 1:24 and Tim asked us to consider the questions, Do you have enough? What have you consumed bought stored or thrown away in the last week?
This story is a see saw between nothing and everything. Elijah is introduced as a Tishbite, not a prophet. He is a servant of God and his character builds through the story. We’ve enjoyed hot weather recently but we didn’t run out of water, we weren’t in a life and death situation. There are places in the world where this is a daily or annual fear. Are there times of drought in our lives, where we struggle to find what we need to survive?
This story here of Elijah is made up of 3 episodes.
Episode 1 finds Elijah camping by the dry cut off ravine, and being looked after well by God. How many of his contemporaries would have had bread and meat morning and night delivered by “RavenEats”, problematic unclean birds. When he runs out of water Elijah doesn’t go to the nearby river Jordan which never dries up.
Elijah is obedient and stays by the Stream that Dries Up which lives up to it’s name and does just that.
Sometimes things dry up they go flat. What did Elijah do? He didn’t go back, he moved on to a new place, God taught him something new. Even Elijah, this big spiritual superstar found himself in a dry place.
Fed by unclean ravens and fed well.
Episode 2, despite what God told Elijah the widow doesn’t seem to be aware of the commend of God to feed Elijah. She had absolutely nothing other that the last meal for her and her son that they are going to eat they lie down to die.
Easy for someone else to sayas Elijah does “don’t be afraid”. Elijah isn’t the one running out of food watching their son waste away. What business has the man of God asking her for bread. The language she uses is the language of scarcity. Death is waiting at the door for this family, actively knocking to get in.
Yet Elijah brings good news of Promise, of Abundance.
Jesus does the same feeding the five thousand. This is the Old Testament pre echo . Elijah moves here from being a passive recipient to an active collaborator of God. There are times in our lives when we receive all abundance from God.
But god wants us to be coworkers and collaborators in his work. acting out the words of God, on a Friday at Filling Station or any day of the week.
Episode 3, despite the inexhaustible supplies, the widow’s son dies. Despite the abundance, death visits this scene. The widow blames Elijah, Elijah blames God and then confronts God and asks for the son to be restored. Here Elijah becomes a Man of God for the widow. God listened to Elijah! To listen in Hebrew is usually equivalent to obeying. It’s the opposite way round here. Elijah asked of God.
Joshua chapter 10 was a similar day.
Elijah stands in the gap between those in need and God , God calls us to be people who stand in that gap. Elijah reminds us to move on from meeting our own needs to be those who collaborate and stand beside God to help the wider world.
Elijah steps in in behalf of God and prays and the prayer is answered.
How do we earn the title People of God. We live in material abundance, with more than we need. Will we be the unlikely prophet of God’s Abundance.
When Elijah says “Do not be afraid” he’s not talking to the people of Israel, he’s talking to an outsider, a stranger. Are the ravens the means by which God gets his message here to Elijah.
Will we hide in the ghetto or will we be the ones to hear and take heart. No need to fear the neighbour, close the border, build the wall. Are you sitting by a dry brook?
Pray, stand in the gap,
Elijah listens to God and acts. Let that be our response as well.