The kingdom that David founded is now split in two. After Solomon’s death, the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom split. In book of Kings (1st and 2nd Kings) shares the history of both kingdoms. Both Kingdoms will ebb and flow in the world of politics. They will occasionally fight against each other, unite against common enemies, and sometimes sit on the sidelines while the other kingdom is at war. Located in between the large empires that develop in what is now Iraq and Egypt, the kingdoms are always at war. And it’s in the middle of this reality that Elijah appears.
Elijah appears suddenly. We don’t know he’s coming until he shows up. We know nothing about his childhood and we’re still not sure exactly what town he came from. Instead, he heads to the Northern Kingdom and visits King Ahab. He stands before the king and says, because of the Northern Kingdom’s idolatry, no rain will fall. He’s pronouncement made, Elijah runs for safety while a drought and famine strike the land. He then receives a word from God to leave his hiding spot and cross into enemy territory. He heads to Sidon (in modern day Lebanon) and meets a widow at the entrance to the town. Her food supply is short but Elijah demands that she share. She does and her oil and grain refuse to run out. God not only provides for Elijah. God also provides for this foreigner and her child.
Elijah and his student Elisha are the center of the story of the book of Kings (1 and 2 Kings) Elijah is a larger than life figure who becomes the herald to the Messiah (see John the Baptist). His prophetic voice and story will focus on who the God of Israel is. This God, for Elijah, is a God who provides. In the prophetic battles between Elijah and the prophets of other gods, the God of Israel always provides while the others do not. Elijah’s mission, in some ways, is to turn people away from themselves and towards the one who provides life. His mission is still our mission as we struggle to turn ourselves towards the source of our life. May Elijah’s voice continue to speak to us, turning us to Jesus, our center and our life.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 5th Sunday of Easter on 4/24/2016.