Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sarcasm In The Bible – Example #2 – Elijah and Fire Fire Fire!

Hey! We’re going all OT up in here! Ya-wooooooo!

We’re in 1st Kings, Chapter 18. Elijah is a prophet and his backstory up until this time (which is basically Chapter 17) is that he’s predicted a famine in Israel, then went and hid in a ravine because God told him to, and was fed by ravens while everyone else starved. (Yeah, I know.) Then God tells him to leave the ravens in the ravine and go hang with a widow in Zarephath, who I personally love for this response when Elijah asks her for a bit of food, “I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it – and die.” So! Dinner, then death. LOVE IT!

Needless to say, God provides for the widow, her son and Elijah, and even brings her son back to life when the son dies, and then tell Elijah to go present himself to Ahab (not the guy after the whale), the tenth king of Israel, whose wife Jezebel (not the Bette Davis movie) is out running around killing God’s prophets.

It’s right around this time that the old song, “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” pops into my head. Did you guys ever used to sing that one? We would speed it up and sing it as fast as possible to get through all twelve verses. This is the fastest I could find on Youtube (and even they don’t go through all twelve verses.)

Elijah must’ve been thinking at some point, “God, I’m kinda tired. Can we knock off the whole send me here, there, and everywhere.” Though it’s quite possible that Elijah was so stoked that he was getting direct communiqués from God that he was like, “Sure, no problem.”

Anyhow, God’s told Elijah to challenge Ahab’s prophets to a bake-off, where Elijah will face 850 of Ahab and Jezebel’s prophets on Mount Carmel. They’ll built competing altars, sacrifice competing bulls, and call on the name of their respective gods to light the altar and consume the sacrifice. “…the god who answers by fire – he is God.” (v24.)

So the 850 prophets go to it, build the altar, sacrifice the bull, and call on the name of their God, Baal to light the fire. They call, they dance, no dice.

So Ellijah makes like a good man of God and taunts them “’Shout louder!’ he said, ‘Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (v27)

Awesome awesome use of sarcasm.

So the Baal Bad Guys keep at it, and like a tortured high schooler, cut themselves while they’re calling and dancing but still no dice.

When it’s Elijah’s turn, he preens a bit by dumping three jugs of water on the altar just to make sure everyone knows it’s gonna take a miracle to light this now soggy wood, calls on God, who promptly sends down fire to consume the sacrifice, the altar, and the water around it.

So everyone then knows whose God kicks ass.

Elijah then makes like a good man of God and orders the slaughter of those 850 prophets in the Kishon Valley. Yeah. I know. That’s how they do things in the OT.

So ultimately, the moral of this Sarcastic Lesson is #1 If you happen to be so lucky as to have God talking to you, go where He tells you because #2 It could involve slaughtering of bulls or idolatrous prophets and #3 You get to be right about it.

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