Archive for the ‘Biblical Characters’ Category

Elijah the Tishbite Destroys Prophets of Baal

April 28, 2009

Prophet’s Name: Elijah the Tishbite
Miracles performed: Stopping the rain, raising a boy from the dead, Prophecy
Most Noted for: Defeating the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.
Era Served: Reign of Ahab and Ahazia (Ahab’s son) in the northern kingdom of Israel.

Elijah was easily the most prolific prophet since Moses, in term of national prominence and miracles performed. He appeared out of nowhere and directly challenged the wickedness of King Ahab and his Baal worshipping wife, Jezebel (yes, this is where the pejorative use of the name comes from).

How wicked were Ahab and Jezebel?

1 Kings 16:30-33 – Ahab worshipped Baal (a fertility god to which sexual and human sacrificial rites were performed) and did more evil in the sight of God than all the kings before him.

Kings 21:5-16 – Jezebel killed Naboth so that she could give his vineyard to Ahab and imprisoned or killed as many prophets of the Lord as she could. (1 Kings 18:4)

As the story goes, God sent Elijah to Ahab to tell him that because of his wckedness, it would not rain until Elijah gave the word. He didn’t give the word for three years and it culminated in one of the most dramatic displays of God’s sovereignty.

Elijah requests that Ahab gather all the people and the prophets of Baal on Mt.Carmel for a contest (1 Kings 18:19). The terms were simple: whichever god consumed a sacrifice laid upon an altar would win and be worshipped as God. It was God and Elijah vs. Baal and 450 prophets for the souls of Israel. Elijah let the 45 pray first. The bible says that they cried out for Baal to consume the meat laid upon the altar but there was no answer. They danced and cut themselves. All the while Elijah mocked their foolishness from morning until the evening when he finally put a stop to their vain attempts and declared it was his turn.

Elijah repaired the altar of God which had broken from neglect. He poured 12 barrels of water on it. He also filled a trench that surrounded the altar with water and then he prayed.

1 Kings 18:37-39 “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou are the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

Afterwards Elijah had the prophets of Baal killed.

This was a great victory, but Elijah soon found himself running for his life as Jezebel sought to kill him. He felt alone and isolated. It was at this low point that God told him of the seven thousand that he had reserved for Himself who had not bowed a knee to Baal.

Often after great victories we find ourselves in low, dark places, but take heart. God is sovereign and He is still in control.

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Nathan – The Kinder, Gentler Prophet

March 25, 2009

Prophet’s Name: Nathan
Miracles Performed: None Recorded
Most Noted For: Coining the phrase, “You’re the man.”
Era Served: Reign of David and early years of Solomon 

 Most prophets in the Old Testament were fiery preachers warning of God’s coming wrath if the people did not repent. Prophets demonstrated Israel’s depravity and called the nation or an individual back to God using tactics ranging from lying in cow dung to slaying hundreds of cultists, usually accompanied by a miracle or two. Nathan, however, liked to let people down easy, at least that’s what he did with King David.

David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband (2 Samuel 11) was evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Samuel 12:9), and so the Lord sent Nathan to give him the message. Now Nathan was a long time confidant of David and it is always hard to be the bearer of bad news to those you love, so before Nathan told David of the Lord’s judgement (the death of the child carried by Bathsheba, the rebellion of his own children and constant war throughout his reign as king, 2 Samuel 12:10-12) he told the story of a rich man who stole a poor man’s only lamb (see 2 Samuel 12:1-4). David was so enraged by the rich man’s actions that he demanded he pay fourfold and said that he deserved to die. To which Nathan simply replied to David, “You are the man.”

In the end, David repented and lived out the consequences of his actions.

A lesson learned from Nathan’s encounter with David:

It is sometimes necessary to rebuke those with whom we are close, and when done with a loving attitude they may see the error of their ways and repent.

Although David still had to live with the consequences of his actions, because of Nathan’s allegorical story of his sin, he repented. The bible records that because of his repentance, David was not put to death and today we know David as a man after God’s own heart. That’s high praise for an adulterer and a murderer, but it shows the love of God towards all sinners and his willingness to “put away [our] sin” when we repent.

Where did Cain find a wife?

March 18, 2009

Cain is the first born of the first humans, Adam and Eve. His story is familiar to most. He offers an unworthy sacrifice to God and is chastised, while his brother Abel offers an acceptable one and is praised. In a jealous rage Cain murdered his brother. As a consequence he was punished by God, sent away and “knew” (had sex with) his wife.

There have been all sorts of crazy theories about where Cain’s wife came from, and most of them come from an improper reading of the scripture. Genesis 4:16 states that after Cain was punished by God, he left and dwelt in the land of Nod and there the Bible states in Genesis 4:17 that Cain “knew” his wife and she bore a son named Enoch. The assumption that most people make is that there were only 3 people on the earth at that time, Adam, Eve, and Cain, but this may not be the case at all.

According to Genesis 5:4 Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters and it does not specify when these children were born. Obviously the most logical answer from scripture is that Cain’s wife was one of his sisters or one of his sisters or a niece. As weird as that sounds to us now, keep in mind that God did not pronounce that as sin until the time of Moses. Genetic flaws began to bring about severe birth defects when the parents are too closely related. There are other reasons as well, but I won’t get into those here. The fact of the matter is that for humans to have continued as a species inter-marriage with close relatives was necessary.

In closing, to add to a previous point, the Bible does not say that Cain found a wife, only that he had sex with the wife he already had, who must have been a descendant of Adam and Eve.