Elijah was probably the most famous of God's prophets in the Bible. His example of trusting in God's word is the best one we can find in the Old Testament prophets. Elijah's story can be found in the book of First King's, chapters 17 through 22, and the first two chapters of Second Kings.
In the days when Ahab was King over the northern kingdom of Israel, the king's wife Jezebel started the King and the people worshiping false gods. God told Elijah that he should go tell King Ahab that he had done evil and that God was going to stop it raining for three years. The King got so mad that Elijah had to run for his life. I bet Elijah didn't even want to go to the King in the first place, but he was close to God and wouldn't go against Him even if it meant danger.
God told Elijah that he should go to the brook Cherith and hide himself. This was the second action that Elijah did on God's promise. See, he didn't pack a lunch, he just went in a hurry. It was a twenty-five mile trip over mountains and across the river Jordan. Elijah faithed on God's promise to send ravens to feed him. Sure enough, the birds brought Elijah bread and meat every morning and night, and he drank out of the stream; until it dryed up.
Then Elijah had to faithe some more because God told him to travel some 50 miles north to the town of Zerephath where there was a widow with whom he was to stay. Zerephath was a long way from Elijah's home, and I bet he'd never been there before and probably didn't know anyone living there. But he followed God's word and started out.
When he came to the town, he saw a very poor women out by the town gathering a couple sticks for a fire. Elijah asked the woman to get him a drink, and as she started to go, he called for her to bring him a small cake. The woman told him that would be impossible for she had only a tiny bit a flour and a little oil, and that she was about to cook that for her and her son. When that was gone they had no more to eat and expected to die. You see, when it doesn't rain, crops don't
grow and food gets short.
You'd think that would have discouraged Elijah, but remember he was acting on God's word. Not only Elijah had to faithe, but the widow, too. She had to faithe on Elijah's word that the Lord would take care of them both. Elijah told the widow that until the rain came back that the flour and the oil would not run out. And it came true. Elijah stayed there with the widow and her son for three whole years. And the oil and flour never gave out.
But people forget sometimes. Even though the flour barrel never got empty and the widow and her son had enough to eat, the widow blamed Elijah when her son got sick and died. She said that God must've sent him hitherto to curse her for her sins. Elijah showed her she was wrong by bringing the son back to life. Then the widow said she believed. It seems to take a lot for some people, huh?
Meanwhile, King Ahab had been looking all over for Elijah. It had been three years, remember. God told Elijah to go talk to the King and tell him that the drought was over. When he met the King, Elijah said that Ahab and Jezebel and all the false prophets of the false god Baal were to blame for Israel's troubles, and that he, Elijah, would prove it.
He ordered the King to get the priests of Baal together on Mt Carmel for a sacrifice. There were 850 priests all totaled. Elijah told them to kill a bullock and set it on the altar, but do not light the fire. They were to pray for Baal to send fire from heaven to burn the offering.
I like Elijah's sense of humor. About noon, after the priests had prayed all morning, Elijah made fun of them by telling them to talk louder. He said that Baal was maybe talking to someone else, or taking a walk1, or sleeping and needed to be waked up. Well, the priests really got into their prayers now, and even danced around and cut themselves with swords and spears until evening.
What happened next is a show of real faithing by Elijah. He had the big crowd of people that were there to watch, gather many buckets of water. He rebuilt an old altar of God's, killed his bullock, put it by the wood and told the people to drench the whole thing. They put so much water on the sacrifice that it filled up a big trench that Elijah had dug around the altar. Then the fireworks began.
Elijah prayed to God to bring fire down from heaven and burn up the sacrifice so that everyone would know that there was really only one God. Boy did God send fire!!! Not only was the bullock and the wood burned, the fire was so hot that all the water in the trench and the very stones of the altar were vaporized.
What an act of faith. But Elijah had the courage to act on God's word to show those idol-worshipers that they weren't doing the right thing in praying to the false God Baal. Lots of times in our lives we need to stand up for what's right. That's when we need to be brave and remember that God has said that He would help us, too. We need only to believe in Him, ask for His help, and then start acting on our own for Him to be there with us. And God never loses.
What follows is a short email exchange that I had. After reading the story of Elijah, T. wrote and said:
"At the moment, I'm teaching a series called "Extreme Faith". Just finished writing a lesson on Elijah, and I found something really amusing in my studies. I was reading from a Living Bible because that's what the youth group has to use (I'm a good ol' NIV guy myself). In 1 Kings 18:27, where Elijah is mocking the priests of Baal, the Living Bible reads, "Perhaps he is out talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet..."
This was really good, T. The thing I like best about it, is the secondary meaning, or underlying/foundational aspect. It's very amusing just to hear Elijah say those words. But when my thought went deeper into what Elijah was really trying to communicate to the priests, I smiled and shook my head at the deeper level of mockery in Elijah's words. He really put Baal in the lowest place; equal to humans. The main humor for me wasn't the possible image of Baal sitting on a toilet, but that Baal would, as an all-powerful god, still have to be a slave to bodily functions, like some puny human.
Thanks for tipping me off to this, T.
I have a reference volume called, "The Word, The Bible from 26 Translations." Each verse starts with the KJV, then lists any renderings from other translations that differ significantly from the KJV. The Word confirms what you said, T. "Tay" is one of the 26 translations used. I checked the Translation index, and sure enough, there was Kenneth Taylor's name on the Living Bible translation. The other four translations talk about "he is gone aside", "engaged", "lodging abroad ", "an occasion to retire". Taylor uses the terms you found in the Living Bible, "is out sitting on the toilet."
I have to add that my search in Strong's Concordance was disappointing. The word used in the Septuagent is chrematizei. The closest word to chrematizei in Strong's Greek dictionary is chrematizo, G5537. The two words, chrematizei and chrematizo obviously have the same root meaning. But chrematizo is defined as, "to utter an oracle" and translated by the words: be called, be admonished (warned) of God, reveal, speak. I'm sure that Kenneth Taylor had better reference resources than I, so I don't doubt his translation. After all, none of the other translators connected to "uttering an oracle" either.
Be sure to check out the other Heroes of faithing listed in Hebrews, chapter eleven.
See if you can tell what each did that showed he trusted things that God had said.
I also invite you see how the whole book of
Hebrews talks about faithing.
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