Hammering on Elijah

Today is Tuesday, right? For some reason my days seem to be running together. Everything seems to be running together, and it’s kind of like driving in the fog. I drove home tonight in the fog, and I could barely see twenty feet in front of my truck. You have to drive slowly, and follow the yellow and white lines through the mist. Occasionally I would lose sight of them and drift into the other lane or towards the ditch. It’s not a very safe feeling.

Tonight I tried to hammer out a paper and I just couldn’t figure out where to go with it. That’s why professors invented extensions. But part of my paper is something I’m finding really intriguing. I’m writing a paper about reading the Bible as literature, and for my paper I have to interpret a story from the Bible as literature. What I’m beginning to see is that God doesn’t like to be put in a box. We have all these Sunday School, God-in-a-box stories that tell us all about Christianity. They tell us to be humble, loving, pure, kind, honest–all the good things you can think of. But when you really read some of these stories, they don’t fit that mold. Look at Elijah, he confronted the prophets of Baal. From a distance it looks like God proving that he is the one true God. But I think there’s more to the story than just that. Elijah not only taunts the Baal prophets like a stuck up junior higher, he showboats when his turn comes around. What’s up with that? It doesn’t seem like the humble attitude you’d expect from a man of God. Unless of course we don’t really understand what it means to be a man of God.

If you keep following Elijah, it comes up a few more times. After Elijah proves that the God of Israel is the one true God, he slaughters the prophets of Baal and prays for God to bring rain to end a three year drought. Turn the page and Elijah finds out that Jezebel wants to kill him. So what does Elijah do? The same Elijah who just called down fire from heaven and killed 400 prophets of Baal? He runs away. He runs as far as he can and asks God to take his life. Not exactly the attitude of your mega-leader. What’s really interesting is that in the following verses God shows himself to Elijah. There’s a wind, an earthquake, and fire–but God wasn’t in any of those. Then comes a gentle whisper, and that was God. (you can read the whole story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17-19)

The stories without easy answers can be found all through the Bible. Abraham lies about Sarah being his wife and is blessed for it. Jacob tricks Esau out of his birthright and his father’s blessing. The parables of Jesus are full of things we don’t really want to see. The Bible as often stood before me as a book of mystery. Before I thought I hadn’t read enough and didn’t know enough. Now I’m beginning to see how that mystery alludes to the very nature of God.

God isn’t what we expect him to be, or even what we want him to be. He is God, and we are made in his image, he is not made in our image.

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