Christopher B. Harbin
1st Kings 17:13-24
We tend to place people in special categories of honor. In religious circles, we often look to missionaries, pastors, deacons, or elders as somehow living on a different plane of existence. We talk about it as though it were a question of respect or honor. Indeed there is an element of respect and honor, yet there is also a concern to keep ourselves at a distance from the responsibilities that come with those special categories of distinction. If only a special breed of individual is worthy of a certain class of action and responsibility, doesn't that remove us from being responsible to follow in their footsteps?
Of all the prophets in Israel, Elijah was a special case. There were none quite like him, even if his disciple Elisha performed many of the same special signs. Elijah was not simply in the same category of Moses, for Moses was deemed to have died, while Elijah was reported to have been taken into heaven in a whirlwind. For the Jews up to the present, Elijah is the consummate prophet, expected still to be the one to return to announce the coming of Messiah. If any of the Old Testament prophets are worthy of being placed in a separate category, this is the one. He is in a class unto himself.
Having faced Ahab with a very direct word of challenge against Ba'al, Elijah was cared for by ravens at the Kerith until the brook dried up. Yahweh then sent him to Ba'al's home territory to be fed by a poor widow. How's that for a story of contradiction, conflict, and shattering of human paradigms?
Here is the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets, yet Yahweh chose to feed him by ravens, and then sent him to a foreign land into the care of a widow whose resources have just dried up! God should have sent him to the home of a wealthy merchant with a mansion by the lake, a banker with a vacation cabin in the mountains, or some other well-to-do individual who would not be greatly affected b ...
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