Reflections on the Old Testament
by Ruth Verrinder
In 1 Kings chapter 19, fire falls from heaven to consume the altar which Elijah erected in the sight of all Israel, while the prophets of Baal strove all day to bring fire down. But should Elijah really have executed all the prophets, wicked or not? What Jezebel says to him sounds just enough: “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them…” (1 Kings 19:2, NKJV).
This is the outlook the world might take, but for Christians it is blasphemous. The prophets of Baal doomed themselves to death when first they sinned; they were no worse off, spiritually at least, when Elijah executed them than they had ever been in life—if their sinful existence can even be called life! For Elijah’s part, he is God’s obedient servant; subject to His righteous will and judgement, and his life, sanctified by God, should never be compared with those of Baal’s prophets, as Jezebel so errantly did. Elijah’s life, just like ours, can never be taken (see 1 Kings 19:10).
“So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.”
--1 Kings 19:8, NKJV
When we eat and drink the Bread of Life and living water, we can go in the strength of that food until we reach the mountain of God. God is always offering it, we have only to “arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you” (1 Kings 19:7).
In 1 Kings 21, it is interesting that Jezebel, in her scheme to kill Naboth, accused him of blaspheming God. So, to all her innumerable wrong-doings, Jezebel must add murder and hypocrisy—for the sake of a vineyard! It was blasphemy itself for Jezebel to accuse someone else of blasphemy!
And yet, all too often, we will accuse others of sins of which we ourselves are guilty—many times because we see some selfish gain in so doing. Why should Christians ever seek gain in sin? It is as hypocritical and blasphemous as Jezebel, and it displays an abominable doubt of God’s ability to provide.
“…And pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD.”
--2 Kings 2:24, NKJV
For the sake of His children, the Lord will often curse the wicked—what may appear as a blessing to us, may be a curse to them. Many perverted persons view the Cross of Christ, and indeed Christ Himself, as a curse. Although we, as Christians and children of the New Covenant, are commanded to bless our enemies, we should understand that the Lord has every right to curse whom He will. We should not pray for that outcome, or even idly wish for it (quite the contrary), but we must not be angry with God for dealing judgement on wickedness.
Two miracles are performed in 2 Kings 4 that are very similar to miracles performed by Jesus in the New Testament (several hundred years later). The account of the Shunammite woman’s son reminds me of the death and resurrection of Lazarus—a trial meant to challenge and strengthen the faith of God’s servants and glorify God Himself.
And, in verses 42-44, when food for one man is distributed to one hundred men with “some food leftover,” it is so very like “Feeding the Five Thousand” in the New Testament as to be quite stunning.
The lesson learned? “[God] is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He uses little things to confound the mighty, all throughout history. His character never changes, and He uses the same methods today as He did thousands of years ago. That’s why the Bible continues to be valid, despite its age—because it tells us of the God who never changes. No matter how much the world may seem to shift and shake, our God remains solid and steady. He is the Rock of Ages; the Constant in our world of variables.
“Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?”
--2 Kings 5:11-12, NKJV
We cannot pick and choose our salvation—we must be washed in the Jordan or not at all. Christ says: “Wash, and be clean,” knowing full well that His blood is the only river that can cleanse us. The rivers of Damascus cannot cleanse us, nor anything else of this world—“nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
“My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”
--2 Kings 5:13
Wouldn’t we go to the ends of the earth for God? We get our little human hearts pumping wildly and say: “I will die for You, Lord!”
But we have it all mixed up. Christ died for us, and moreover, His burden is light—would we not do great things for Him? “How much more then, when He says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” Yes, we should be willing to do great things for God, but, more importantly, we should obey Him in the small things. It is the little duties fulfilled that make all the difference.
“So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
-2 Kings 6:16-17, NKJV
We don’t always see what God is doing in our lives—we fuss and fume over the armies of darkness that apparently surround us, but we do not see or acknowledge the shield which God has placed between us and them.
We have only to ask God to open our eyes, and we will see His protection surrounding us. “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”