Summary: In this installment, we look at Elijah's sin, not resting in God's provided sabbath
Concordia Lutheran Church
4th Week after Pentecost June 26, 2010
Living Never Alone…in Christ
1 Kings 19:9b-21
† In Jesus Name †
Paul started the epistle to the church in Galatia with this greeting, which is for you, the people of Concordia as well!
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:2-5 (ESV)
The Escape That Isn’t an Escape
Elijah’s reaction is not unlike our own, as the world seems to collapse around us. We each have our “caves”, those places where we can hide from the pressures and problems of the world. It might be diving into a good book, or a favorite drama or movie. For some it is entering a different reality in a computer game It might be that one location we know of, where cell phones disconnect and no one can find us, alongside that lake, or river where the breeze cools and refreshes us. For others, it might be in music or crafts, something that engages the brain just enough that we forget there is a world outside. And for others, its simply going home, to our fortresses of refuge, the place the world can’t find us.
Sometimes though, those escapes fail to be escapes. Instead of allowing us to rest and heal, those places simply hide the problems, or minimize the pain just enough to where we can continue to function. As the pressures build and the rest is not experienced, we become nearly hermits, running away from the world, as our escapes no longer are escapes.
As we look at Elijah, we might even see ourselves, hiding, hurt, damaged by the world, and sometimes, by the burdens that we have here, as we live in the very place God has called us to, doing the work God has given to us, in this time and in this place.
As we see God minister to Elijah, we need to see the lesson learned, and the ministry received… and know the lesson is for us as well, and our Lord, our God, our Savior ministers to us today, in the very same way.
For truly blessed are those who keep, who treasure their Sabbath rest.
Elijah answers… and Misses the Answer
His reasons, are what he’s doing there…they are why…God delivered him to the cave
Not Adonai – YHWH
The Vocation of God - cHesed
Elijah has become run down. Literally, run down. For forty days and nights he has travelled from northern Israel and Mt. Carmel south and west, until he comes to Mt Horeb, to the place where Moses once encountered a bush that was on fire, but wouldn’t burn. He finds a cave, and finds a place he considers safe, a place to rest up, to recover not just from the trip, but a place to recover from the challenges he had gone through.
I like Elijah a lot, indeed, I wish I had the fortitude he had, and the confidence that he had, as he spoke for God. During the event on Mt Carmel, he was unafraid to challenge the immorality that he saw, not just in the world, but in those God sent him to serve as a minister of God’s. Incredible faith that would challenge the false gods of the King and Queen, and the prophets of Ba’al and Asherah. Yet that victory drained him as much as any challenge we have endured as individuals, If I were him, I would have expected change, and repentance from the people of God.
It didn’t happen…yet.
Faced with more challenges including serious threats– he heads for the hills. He finds the cave and settles in for some R & R. God will ask him an odd question, or at least based in Elijah’s answer, it seems that at least Elijah found the question a bit… well..odd? here it again,
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
I mean – didn’t the Lord know “why” Elijah was there? Didn’t God grasp the desperation of the situation, how overwhelmed Elijah was, and how hard Elijah worked to see this all through? Didn’t God get it?
Elijah missed the question a bit. It wasn’t why are you here, God knew that! After all, if you look at the verses preceding this reading, you will see God’s angels ministering to Elijah during the trip. God knew why Elijah was there. What Elijah was doing becomes the question, one that gets to the nature of Elijah’s sin. It is the reason that this escape, wasn’t yet the deliverance from the evil of the world that Elijah needed.