Leaving a Legacy: Have Courage
I don’t remember experiencing this, but my mom has recounted the story to me. One day while I was at an amusement park, a child (not me) got pinned under a carousel car. My dad immediately rushed up to the car and lifted it off of the child. I don’t think he even processed whether he would be injured or not, he just jumped in and helped. Bravery seems to be a quality that is just present and comes out in times of need.
Such is the story with Elijah in our reading this week. It’s crazy to think this story even needs to happen. This is the people of God. Just a couple generations removed from the pinnacle of their story with David and Solomon. As a nation they have now turned their backs on God. So, God sends Elijah to interrupt their rebellion.
I don’t know what you thought when you first read the story, but if I put myself in Elijah’s shoes, I would start off very shaky. Look at the words King Ahab says to Elijah as they meet; “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” Instead of pulling back Elijah goes forward in the confidence that God has called him. “I have not troubled Israel, but you have and your fathers house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat the Jezebel’s table.” (I Kings 18:17-19)
I visited this very same area a couple of years ago. Mt. Carmel sits astride the International Highway (sometimes called the Via Maris), and among significant routes of travel in the ancient world. Mt. Carmel was most significant in ancient times as a barrier to traffic along the coastal plain. The 1,500-foot high limestone mountain impeded armies and merchants traveling to the Jezreel Valley.
Mt. Carmel is also in sight of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. You can also see the valley of Meggido where major battles where fought and where Armageddon is prophesied to be.
When I looked toward Mt. Carmel, only one thought came to my mind; this is where a faithful man of God had courage against an evil king and his false prophets. That’s what Mt. Carmel stands for today. In fact, there is a statue of Elijah at the Carmelite monastery, which reflects the Lord's victory over the prophets of Baal. What a legacy Elijah left in courage for us to follow.
What is God calling you to take a brave stand for today?
Tips for Reading- (Observation tip # 3)
Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.
Understand the imagery:
Let’s continue our examination of personal Bible study methods. Last week, your assignment was to look for repeated words. Did you find some? Were you able to make some connections? Again, just to remind you, ask yourself “what do I see?” (Observation), “what does it mean?” (Interpretation) and “what does it mean to me?” (Application)
Here’s another observation tip. As you go through daily readings, make sure you can visualize what you are reading. If you are reading about Elijah, remind yourself what you already know about the Prophets of Baal he is fighting against (the ones who are cutting themselves and sacrificing children).
Also, ask yourself questions like what was it like to live in this time? How did the prophets of Baal affect the community’s connection with God? The point is, these were real images to the original listeners and to make sense to us, we need to hear it like they heard it. Understanding the author’s original intent of the words is so important.
If you are wondering how you are going to figure out the imagery – here are a few suggestions:
1. You can Google these images and get a better picture of what the situations looked like as the authors described them.
2. Use a study Bible as a reference. Zondervan has recently published an amazing resource called the Archeological Study Bible.
3. Find the Bible Atlas or maps at the back of your Bible. They will tell you things like how far it was from Nazareth to Mt Carmel.
I know this sounds like some work. Remember that knowing God is a day-to-day effort. Take it at a good pace. Look up one thing a day and see if you don’t become hungry for more!
Notes from David’s Journal
One of the most fascinating Biblical figures is Elijah. He is considered one of the great (if not the greatest) prophet of God. John the Baptist comes in the spirit of Elijah. On the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark 9, it was Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus, Peter, James and John. I think this was very purposeful from God’s perspective. He wanted Jesus’ inner circle to experience the two great divisions of the Old Covenant: the Law (from Moses) and the prophets (of whom Elijah is the greatest). God then says to the inner three, “Listen to Jesus,” not Moses or Elijah, but Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament/Covenant.
Therefore, as you read about Elijah, note how closely he walks with God, how much God loved him and used him, how special he is! God uses Elijah to raise a widow’s son in I Kings 17. He defeats the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18. He goes through a serious time of discouragement in chapter 19 (yes, even God’s best do!), but overcomes it through rest, nutrition, water and a return to ministry.
James 5 says that Elijah was a man just like you and me but he believed in persistent prayer. Because of his righteousness before God (something we all have because of our faith in Jesus), his persistent, fervent prayers brought rain amidst drought. The Scripture says we too have that kind of power in our prayers!
May Elijah be an example for all of us as we strive to love and serve our Lord.
For further LifeGroup study content and discussion questions, visit the RTB Study Blog.