GodSpeak for the Week of January 27…

“Lather, Rinse, Repeat”

 

We shift gears this week, beginning a three-week session in our ongoing “Missed Links” sermon series.  Our focus for this week is on an Old Testament story which never appears in the three-year Lectionary cycle; a story commonly titled “Elijah and the Prophets of Baal” from 1 Kings.

 

Day 1…Read 1 Kings 18:16

  • Consider this – right out of the gate in this week’s reading, we find Israel’s King Ahab encountering and confronting Elijah – God’s prophet.
    • The Hebrew word, which gets translated as “troubler” – carries the connotation of someone bringing evil upon something else.
    • As such, King Ahab is essentially saying to Elijah: “Is that you, you bringer of evil on Israel?”
  • Answer this – who is the REAL “troubler” in Israel, though? (hint – arguably, there are two people)
    • What “trouble”/what literal evil has been brought to Israel because of them?

 

Day 2…Read 1 Kings 18:19-21

  • Consider this – in response to King Ahab’s accusation and menace, Elijah decides to issue a challenge.
    • Elijah invites 450 of the Prophets of (the very false god) Baal PLUS 400 of the Prophets of (the equally very false god) Asherah to assemble on the holy Mount Carmel for a CONTEST.
  • Consider this – with a whole crowd of onlookers watching the contest, Elijah addresses them directly, saying: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (v. 21)
  • Answer this – how do the people respond to Elijah’s pointed question?
    • What does this say about the people at this time?

 

Day 3…Read 1 Kings 18:22-29 (especially v. 28)

  • Consider this – the dancing and prancing of Baal’s followers did not elicit a response from this false god. How could it?  Baal isn’t REAL/can’t RESPOND.
    • The tragic detail, here though, is the EXTREME to which Baal’s prophets try to generate a response – they “…slashed themselves with swords and spears…”
      • Their sacrifice was never going to cause a response; their grotesque acts of false faith were completely in vain.
    • Answer this – compare and contrast this event with the event that would take place on Golgatha some 880 years later.
      • Who was “slashed” and pierced with a spear at that time?
      • What result/what response has His sacrifice caused?
      • Has His sacrifice ever been in vain?

 

Day 4…Read 1 Kings 18:22-29 (again)

  • Consider this – we’re told that Elijah responded to the Prophets of Baal’s/Asherah’s efforts with mocking tones, saying things like: “Shout louder!” and “Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling.”
  • Answer this – why would Elijah resort to mockery in this case?
    • What could be Godly about his purpose in doing so?

 

Day 5…Read 1 Kings 18:30-35

  • Consider this – for Sunday’s worship, we used the concept of “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” which is an instruction often found on shampoo bottles.
    • That instruction has never made much sense. Why instruct to REPEAT lather and rinse, when one’s hair is arguably clean after the first lather/rinse?
  • Consider this – similar to the shampoo bottle instruction, THREE TIMES Elijah instructs the people to go down off the mountain…into the valley…and collect water to dump over the altar and offering he’s set up (c.f., “Lather, Rinse, Repeat”)
  • Answer this – why would he instruct such a seemingly nonsensical thing?
    • What was he trying to convey to all of the people?

 

Day 6…Read 1 Kings 18:36-39

  • Consider this – with water flooding the area where Elijah has set up the altar and offering, Elijah prays to God to act.
  • Answer this – what is Elijah’s hope from God, which is also the purpose for why he’s done what he has?
  • Answer this – for the people who have stood there silently (cf. v. 21), what is their response in the wake of God’s reaction?

Posted by Ministry Coordinator

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