What Are We Doing Here?

We are welcoming fall this year at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries with change.  We started a new chapter in our faith journey a few days ago, on September 1st, with our new Interim Pastor, Kathy Neary.  At the beginning of this turn in the path, Pastor Kathy asks us “What are we doing here?”

SCRIPTURE-  1 Kings 19:1-18

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”

8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

9 At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17 Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

BACKGROUND NOTES

  • 1 Kings is part of the historical books, edited heavily in the 500’s BCE. Editors wanted to show that God was better than the other gods, and fidelity to God’s law and worship of God alone were keys to prosperity.
  • Bad things happened when people worshipped other gods, in the wrong places.
  • Elijah served as prophet in Israel, the northern kingdom from about 869—849, under Ahaz and Ahaziah. This was before the northern kingdom was defeated by Assyria.
  • In Israel worship of Baal was common. The king even put up special temples to Baal.
  • Ahaz was influenced by his wife Jezebel, who was forced into the marriage by her father. She was from the land of Tyre and Sidon, not Israel. She was devoted to her own religion and worship of Baal. She had 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah “at her table.”
  • Elijah challenged her prophets to a religious duel and God won. Elijah had all the prophets of Baal and Asherah killed. Jezebel was furious and promised to kill him.

EXEGESIS (CLOSE READING OF TEXT)

  • Jezebel threatens Elijah will be dead in 1 day. E. runs away.
  • He runs to Beersheba, on the southern tip of Judah. Asks to die, but angels feed him. On that food he goes a long time to Mt Horeb/Mt. Sinai.
  • Gets asked, What are you doing here, Elijah? Key question.
  • Answer: 1. Israelites have left you. 2. I alone am left. 3. Contract on my head.
  • God doesn’t address his concerns. Instead says “I will pass you by.”
  • Not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, like other gods.
  • God in the sound of silence. Elijah wraps face and stands outside the cave.
  • God asks again, What are you doing here, Elijah?
  • Elijah gives exact same answer: to emphasize no change?
  • God says, Go. 1. Anoint Hazael king over Aram/Syria. 2. Anoint Jehu king over Israel. 2. Anoint Elisha as successor.   All these kings will murder the infidels.
  • 7000 will be left who are faithful. In contrast to Elijah saying “I alone am left.”

QUESTIONS THE TEXT ASKS US

  • Elijah’s perspective is skewed. He sees only his situation and not the big picture. How are we looking at our situation? What is our vantage point?
  • Elijah is totally unchanged by the presence of God. When we experience God’s presence, are we changed? Have we been listening for God? Do we want to be changed by God?
  • What are we doing here?
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