OT: I Kings 18:1-46
Coincidentaly, my preacher played a recording of this entire chapter before his sermon on Sunday, in preparation for our Elijah-themed VBS. Again, I am just so surprised that these iconic stories are truly our first introduction to this prophet. And like most of the famous stories, I find that I don't have much to say about this one. I guess that after hearing it so much, the applications are obvious, and I feel like there is nothing to say that hasn't been said a thousand times before. So instead, I'll focus on some peripheral details.
I'm kind of curious as to how one becomes a prophet. I generally think of there only being a couple of prophets in the land, but as it turns out, there are tons of them. Even in the midst of Jezebel's purge of God's prophets, there are still one hundred whom Obadiah hides in caves. That's a lot! Why does God have so many? Why are some more famous than others? Does He tell a bunch of them the same things? Are they simply more spiritually aware people, or did God choose them outright? What is their role? Are they like modern day preachers who go around calling people to repentance? I am quite interested in this prophet subculture.
I also thought that Obadiah was a little weird in his distrust of Elijah. For a prophet, he sure seems uncertain of God. He is afraid that he will go tell Ahab about Elijah and then capricious God will just carry him off somewhere. And I can't really blame him for being wary of a God he doesn't understand. But still...he's a prophet. Um...at least, I assumed he was a prophet. But now, I'm reading more closely, and I see that he is actually the official in charge of Ahab's palace (3). Wow. How crazy that Ahab would unknowingly have a "devout believer" in charge of his whole palace!
As for the Mt. Carmel showdown, I am always drawn to the dialogue. I love all of Elijah's words, from his opening ultimatum, to his humorous taunting of the prophets of Baal.
I also think that the part at the end about the rain is interesting. It's cool that Elijah said, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of heavy rain," completely on faith (41). At the time, there was no such sound of rain. In fact, Elijah then had to pray quite hard and send a messenger to check for rain seven times before it actually came. One thing my preacher pointed out was that Elijah's "head between the knees" position was actually an Israelite birthing position. I don't know exactly what to make of that (my preacher suggested that he was symbolically "birthing" the rain through his faith), but at the very least, it shows some hard-core praying!
NT: Acts 11:1-30
I'm not a huge fan of opposition, so I was a little annoyed that the church wasn't immediately on board with God's plan for the Gentiles. Thankfully, Peter did a good job explaining the situation to them, and then they were good to go. I also like that apparently, some of the scattered church had begun to teach Gentiles (Greeks) on their own (20). At least, that is the impression that I got from verses 19-20. I'm having a bit of a hard time with the timeline. Let's see: Cornelius is converted. The brothers throughout Judea hear about it (1). Peter goes back to Jerusalem and has to explain himself (2-18). Some of the scattered church preaches only to Jews, but some in Antioch preach to Gentiles, and the Gentiles respond well. News reaches back to Jerusalem, and they send Barnabas (who seems like such a great guy). So either, the scattered church has not yet heard, and those teaching Gentiles are just very insightful and progressive, or they have heard, and those not teaching Gentiles are stubbornly behind-the-times. Have I confused everyone yet with my ramblings? It is this kind of silly detail that interests me. I just really want to monitor closely how the early church develops.
One result of the work in Antioch is that it gave us our name: "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (26).
Lastly, I was reminded of the beauty of cell phones when Barnabas had to go to Tarsus, look for Saul, and bring him back to Antioch (25-6). You really had to track people down to get in touch with them, didn't you? I'm kind of shocked that the scattered church was able to keep any semblance of communication.
More exhortations for priests, coupled by a review of the wonderful things God has done.
Proverbs 17: 12-13
I love the imagery in verse 12: "Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly." That is a vivid picture!