Learning From Elijah

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Learning From Elijah

Postby Bob » Mon Mar 28, 2022 12:53 pm

A Sermon from me from 2001:

At the time of Jesus, there was hope that a man in the spirit of Elijah would return and clean up Israel. The occupiers and the appointed governors were to be driven out according to the will of the Israelites. Israel was to return to the old days. Some have seen in John the Baptist an appearance of Elijah. It is said that some had believed that Jesus pleaded with Elijah when he was hanging on the cross.

Elijah as a figure of hope, a custodian of religious life, a liberator and charismatic leader. He seems to have been all of these for people through the millennia in stories and songs. It is as if believers must have such heroes at all times.

But, the story of Elijah, like so many Old Testament stories, is very awkward. Today, we cannot simply agree with such heroic figures. We Christians need Christ's perspective to draw out what is valuable. We need to find "what drives Christum", as Luther once said. If Elijah was right about everything, the message of Christ would be in doubt.

Elijah is the most committed defender of faith in the one God and his claim on Israel. He fights the opponents of the faith and even executes them with his own hands. Here, at least, we experience the contradiction to the spirit of Christ, who symbolically overturned the tables in the temple, but never called for violence. On the contrary, he calls us to love our enemies.

It is reported that Elijah runs before his adversary with enthusiasm to humiliate him. His God, for whom he is very zealous, he perceives as approving of his actions. But in our passage, for all his past zeal, he is at loose ends. Even (or especially) after the elation of his victory, he is at his wits end. He sees no escape. His opponents, Ahab and Jezebel, are overpowering in his eyes - he is afraid. He feels abandoned; he resigns.

1st Book of Kings
19:1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets of Baal with the sword.
19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, Let the gods do this to me, and that to me, if I do not do to thee this time tomorrow as thou hast done to these.
19:3 Then he was afraid, and arose, and ran for his life, and came to Beer-Sheba in Judah, and left his servant there.
19:4 And he went into the wilderness a day's journey, and came and sat down under a juniper, and desired to die, and said, It is enough; now therefore, O LORD, take my soul; I am no better than my fathers.


For us in the West in modern times, the idea of vengeance has receded somewhat. But we hear often enough that this thought is still present. The more open we are with the world, the fewer boundaries we draw, the more we encounter thoughts like this. And vigilante justice is not unknown in our own culture either. Thoughts of revenge give us the same fears Elijah had. We may not have to run for our lives, but we try to keep everything safe.

Back to the story. The seriousness of Elijah's situation in honour, but is it possibly the fate of the overzealous that he reaches a point where he only wishes to die? A point at which everything is allowed to end? His physical and the psychological strength is at an end. He’s at low tide; his zeal has burned out. Enough is enough. Perhaps it is the overzealous who know such moments all too well.

It is possible that such people then suddenly realize what had kept the zeal ardently hot: the idea of being better than the fathers. This idea, the hope to change the circumstances ‘at last’, so that ‘finally’ something sensible is done, can come over us like a secret power and let us be driven by pride instead of by the love of God.

Elijah ends up with the disillusionment: “I am no better than my fathers”. God brings the arrogant and eager to the place where they say: “I can't do it!” What dreams we have dreamed and believed that the world was waiting for us. But it is not so. And even if we seem to have a noble task - even if we want to spread the love of God and embrace the whole world. There has to be disillusionment at some point.

Neither the world nor God can be pressed into our schemes. God even becomes elusive to us and we lose him if we try. What remains is possibly the arrogance and the ambition to want to do everything better. And they drive us forward as if they were the Spirit of God - but they drive us along other paths. Paths that are paved with corpses and casualties - perhaps much more than we imagined. And our victories, the triumphs along the way? They fade in the realization: I am no better than the fathers and all before me.

Why is the great fighter so resigned? Why is he afraid? If God for him, who can be against him? But it is precisely this certainty that he has lost. Possibly because his zeal became so great and his God so small.

But we ask, is he not a man of God? A prophet, a spokesman for God?! Elijah silently asks himself the same question: Am I still? And whether for him or for us, it is healing to ask this way. It is salutary to have so much doubt about ourselves and our ideas that God can come between us. Because otherwise he has to wait until we are down - completely worn out and nervous. Maybe even depressed. For some of us, it's only then that God gets a word in!

But we have to stop here for a moment and ask ourselves: Aren't the circumstances sometimes so bad that reforms are necessary? Don't we need harsh criticism in order to change intolerable conditions? Haven't there been enough examples of historical mismanagement that need to be corrected? What would have become of Europe 70 years ago without a course correction? What about recent history? Don't we sometimes need to step in and stir things up?

The church of Jesus stands in the middle of such historical developments. It needs reform itself. Reform must be the result of awareness. They must not be driven only by ambition. As Christians, we are involved in a constant process of development. We, too, cannot orient ourselves only according to days gone by. We must face the present and the future and seek answers to current questions. There are the ‘eternally outdated’ among Christians. There is also blindness among Christians that obscures what any blind person would recognize. Yes, children often see better that the emperor is naked.

Sometimes the search for answers makes us tired. Sometimes it is because our previous answers are no longer enough. It troubles us to admit that the previous answers that sustained our lives no longer carry us in the present. Perhaps the crisis comes to us at the worst possible moment, as it did to Elijah. Perhaps Elijah cried out to God, "Not now Lord! I can't have depression! Does it have to happen right now? Right now, I need all my strength to cope with the new situation. The new danger must be averted. The enemy is gathering. The new phase of life wants to be tackled. A recovery must take place among the people. There are so many reasons not to have a crisis now!"

The story continues:
19:5 And Elijah lay down and slept under the juniper. And, behold, an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise, and eat.
19:6 And he looked round about, and, behold, there was at his head a toasted loaf, and a pitcher of water. And when he had eaten and drunk, he lay down again to sleep.
19:7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise, and eat. For thou hast a long way to go.
19:8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and walked by the strength of the meat forty days and forty nights unto the mountain of God, Horeb.
19:9 And there he entered into a cave, and lodged there overnight. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, What doest thou here, Elijah?


At last Elijah comes to rest! Why don't you sleep a little - get some rest! Well said! Only, sometimes it is not possible to put this into practice. We need a place away from it all - perhaps a day's journey away from everyday life. A change of scenery. Different air. A quiet chamber. A hiding place. A place of refuge.

Sleep is a gift we often neglect. But we need sleep. The limbs, the muscles, the brain need a rest. We need to regenerate. We need the strength-giving rest that also sorts our thoughts. We need to come to our senses and get away from everything that has occupied us so far, that has taken possession of us. There must be a cut - a caesura. Sleep can bring this about.

And we need someone to wake us up now and then and say: Get up and eat! A messenger, an angel must come. Who knows what form they take? Wives and husbands, children, friends, colleagues. Someone to follow us and say: Get up and eat! Strengthening is called for. A hug, a gift, a few words, a look that tells us: I am here for you!

I don't know if that is what they always need - maybe not a toasted loaf of bread and a jug of water - but food and drink are important. Doing something good for yourself can be a return to the essentials in life. Even to the essentials in bread and water. It is important for us when we strengthen the body. And when we go back to sleep, too.

Do we allow ourselves rest? Or have we suppressed the silence? It doesn't have to be absolute silence. It doesn't have to be dead silence. But it may be silence. However you may feel about it. We must ask ourselves whether we are resting or whether we are repressing. Because he who represses often cannot sleep. Rest may not pass over into sleep - unless we have toiled so hard that we can no longer stand on our feet. But then we need a lot of sleep until it is resting and strengthening sleep.

And then hopefully our angel comes and strengthens us again. But even more. We also need guidance - with the hint: You are not yet at the destination. Do not give up now! I personally need these angels - I am the product of the influences of my fellow humans. Everyone can only give what has been given to him. Do we listen to the angels that God sends us? Or do we let ourselves become messengers?

How often fatigue and disorientation pair up and give birth to resignation! May God send us messengers again and again, who can strengthen us in such a way, so that we pick ourselves up and go to the goal. But the goal is not, as we think, the fulfilment of all our plans - the goal is the encounter with God.

That is where the refuge is that we need. It is not proper to hide in the holes of this world when we are called to become sons and daughters of God. Do not let this calling be taken away from you. Christ gives us the authority to become children of God and His brothers and sisters.

We are to seek refuge with him, so that we do not go missing. So that we do not “end up in the pit”, as it is often said in the Psalms. And there are so many pits into which we can fall. But God wants to strengthen and show the way through such stories as we have before us today. And Elijah also allows himself to be strengthened and shown the way - to Horeb, the mountain of God. He goes there purposefully and straight as a die, because he needs the encounter. He needs a word, certainty, confidence.

Where do we look for this encounter? A word, certainty, confidence? Where is our mount Horeb? Where does God meet us? To Elijah, God comes in his sleep - Elijah seems to have made no preparations for it at all. Neither did he ask himself if he had prayed the right words or adopted the right posture, nor had he opened a scroll. He had only come to the encounter, and it happened.

Jesus gave to understand that we can encounter God and find his kingdom in all situations of life, in nature, in the cosmos - that God can’t be left out. He has his finger in the pie everywhere. Paul quotes, "whether we cannot hold out our hands and touch him?" And yet Mount Horeb is the symbol of the encounter between the Creator and His creature. It is the place of an encounter - which today can be a quiet closet, a park bench, a patch of woods, a church or chapel.

It is good for us to get out and recharge our batteries. Finding our own centre, discovering the centre of our strength. God wants to be this centre, says Christ. You are guided by so many foreign opinions and influences. Let me take you to where you can find rest for your souls. Where you will be refreshed and awakened to life. With him we become the child of God who knows where he belongs. This gives us the confidence we need. Sunday was traditionally the day of refuelling and getting out to find the centre. On the 7th day, God wants to meet us in a special way, namely in rest.

19:10 Elijah said: I have been jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for Israel hath forsaken thy covenant, and broken down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I am left alone, and they seek to take away my life.
19:11 And the LORD said, Come forth, and stand upon the mountain before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD shall pass by. And a great and strong wind, which rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks, came before the LORD: but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind there came an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
19:12 And after the earthquake came a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still, gentle whirring.
19:13 And when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and went out, and entered into the mouth of the cave. And, behold, a voice came to him, saying, What hast thou to do here, Elijah?


Poor Elijah! He has been labouring for the Lord of hosts, but now he is alone in a cave without hosts. Alone and in danger. The altars are broken, and the prophets have perished. And God asks, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" What a question! Doesn't he know? It's as if God has been holed up in the cave for a long time before Elijah! Does Elijah need to enlighten him?
Don't we sometimes forget ourselves just as Elijah did. God allows many things, but can we enlighten God at all? Isn't it sometimes our custom to babble like the pagans: "I have been working hard! Where all others left the covenant, I remained faithful, the only survivor. And now I sit here alone!"

Elijah doesn't have it all figured out yet! He sees himself alone in the battle against the ungodly and abandoned by the God for whom he had been zealous until now. There is accusation in the voice. I don't recognize you anymore! Until now you were always on my side! Where has my certainty gone?

Maybe Elijah really does not recognize his God anymore. That is why this encounter on Horeb should definitely take place. “Know your God” is the motto! Do we know our God? How often have there been stories of messengers and heirs of God, who were not only misjudged by the people of God, but also fought against Him. Jesus also told such a story to his opponents and the zealots of that time immediately realized that they were presented as the opponents of God. Only they made fact out of the story.

In all these stories, God remains the Creator who chases after His creatures; He who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He who seeks reconciliation, who holds out arms all the while, who runs to meet the returning Son. It is necessary to recognize this good news and to return. This good news has also gone to Elijah, who only wanted to die because he realized what had motivated him all this time in reality. He who did not want to go a step further and yet was brought through to this encounter.

“Know your God!” Go out and step on the mountain before the Lord! Would we have the courage to take this step? What dangers might be lurking on the mountain when the Lord passes us by? Dangers to the edifice of thought we have so carefully erected. Dangers for the ideas with which we have explained our world to ourselves. Dangers to all that we have held up to others full of promise and zeal.

The big, strong wind symbolizes a strong spirit that even tears mountains apart and breaks rocks. The hardest lump he gets small. We could think such a God would bring the long desired movement into the dead Christianity - also an Elijah wishes such a strong God. He should sweep over the land and carry away all adversaries. But the Lord was not in the wind.

The earthquake symbolizes the mighty creative forces but also judicial forces, which were also active in the story of the Flood. These are purifying forces which, according to the story of Noah, had torn the ground from under the feet of God's adversaries and hurled them into the depths. But now it is said: the Lord was not in the earthquake.

A fire - Last cleanser, final disinfection and sterilization. Purifies the earth from cadaver, pestilence, and all deadly influences. But here it is said: the Lord was not in the fire.

“Know your God!” Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord! And behold, the Lord will pass by. An important moment. A decisive moment. When will he come? Don't we often feel the same way? Can it be that we also speak, I do not see, and I do not hear God! There is nothing but a silent gentle whisper!

-------------------

I don't know when it dawned on Elijah. I don't know how quickly he realized that the quiet and the gentle was the Lord - I probably wouldn't have realized it that quickly - that's what we have this story for. But when does it dawn on us? When do we become more discerning in our dealings with our God? When do we recognize the quiet, gentle message of our God? And when may it define us? Who is the herald of this message?

Isn't this the message from the Old Testament for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost all together, as it says in Zechariah (4:6b), "It shall not be by host or by might, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

The word Zebaoth means hosts. The LORD of hosts does not want to reach the goal by army or power - you have to imagine that - the LORD of hosts does not want to reach the goal by army or power. But by the spirit of Christ. He is the Spirit of mercy, "Who forgives all your sin and heals all your infirmities. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, and crowneth thee with love and mercy. Who satisfies thy desire with good, that thou mayest grow young again like an eagle" (Ps.103).

We Christians must learn that the way of Christ is very different from our way. But it is he who precedes us so that we follow him. He is the good leaven that should be mixed with our life so that its effect goes through our whole life. But he is also the new wine that does not fit into old wineskins. The Spirit of Christ is too dynamic - but in a way that is foreign to us, quiet, gentle.

What are you doing here Elijah? What are you doing here Christian? What powers do you hope to summon up in the cave where you have hidden to satisfy your ambition? We must not mix our ambition and the will of God - we must distinguish them. For the good is not in us, but it comes to meet us in Christ. Goodness is not to remain a mystery - though it seems like a mystery when our eyes are opened.

And the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. And then came a still, gentle whisper. This is a consolation for all who recognize the tragedy of humanity. A consolation for all who suffer from the misery of the world, who do not use violence, the merciful, the peacemakers, the poor.

These are beatified - they may all rejoice because God takes away their burden, gives them the earth to possess, satisfies their longings, is merciful to them and they may see God because they are God's children.

Finally, Elijah is told that everything will be alright. And that he is not alone, as he thinks. He is allowed to rest and call out a successor. It does not all depend on him. And it never depends on us alone. God sits in the regiment and comes to his goals with and without us - and sometimes even in spite of our efforts.

I wish us all the experience that the crisis calls us to reflection. That sleep, rest strengthens us. That a break gives us new strength. That distance can give us a new perspective. And I wish us all to keep the quiet, gentle message of Christ ever before our eyes - that we may learn humility and meekness.

AMEN.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Dan~ » Mon Mar 28, 2022 1:28 pm

I read your big post.

I'll say this :
God is often at first, unexpected.
God is alien to our world.
Like a fish out of water.

The veil, the mortal bodies,
the instincts, the cultures,
the religions, etc.
All of this can obstruct vision of spirit forces.

God is much easier when you approach without preconception.
Some people have made up their minds
that God can only be A, and never C, sometimes B, etc.
Therefor only seek A.
This is a bankrupt ideology.
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Ichthus77 » Mon Mar 28, 2022 3:15 pm

Dan~ , I got your PM.

Here is the Jesus Keynote:
https://ilovephilosophy.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=197616

It adds some Holy Spirit fire to the discussion… some turning of the tables.

There is a season…
Fall semester ends 12/16/22. Apologies if I do not reply immediately.

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“ Gloria Dei est vivens homo. “
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Bob » Mon Mar 28, 2022 3:18 pm

Ichthus77 wrote:Dan~ , I got your PM.

Here is the Jesus Keynote:
https://ilovephilosophy.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=197616

It adds some Holy Spirit fire to the discussion… some turning of the tables.

There is a season…

What does this have to do with my post?
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Ichthus77 » Mon Mar 28, 2022 3:28 pm

Well. There is a time for peace and quiet.

Then there is what happens after a time, times, and half a time.
Fall semester ends 12/16/22. Apologies if I do not reply immediately.

“In choosing myself, I choose the other.”
- A marriage of Sartre & Levinas

“ Gloria Dei est vivens homo. “
Trans.: The glory of God is man fully alive.
- Irenaeus
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Bob » Tue Mar 29, 2022 7:15 am

Dan~ wrote:I read your big post.

I'll say this :
God is often at first, unexpected.
God is alien to our world.
Like a fish out of water.

The veil, the mortal bodies,
the instincts, the cultures,
the religions, etc.
All of this can obstruct vision of spirit forces.

God is much easier when you approach without preconception.
Some people have made up their minds
that God can only be A, and never C, sometimes B, etc.
Therefor only seek A.
This is a bankrupt ideology.

You have understood something very important!
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Ierrellus » Tue Mar 29, 2022 11:56 am

An excellent sermon with messages anyone can relate to, especially those of us who have come to our cave of despair. God comes to us in silences where only the heart can hear and restores us.
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Bob » Tue Mar 29, 2022 12:49 pm

Ierrellus wrote:An excellent sermon with messages anyone can relate to, especially those of us who have come to our cave of despair. God comes to us in silences where only the heart can hear and restores us.

Thank you, I hope to improve it because I translated it from German, which wasn't always good.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
When you are out of touch with reality you will easily embrace a delusion, and equally put in doubt the most basic elements of existence. If this reminds you of the mindset of the present day materialist science and philosophy establishments, as well as of the loudest voices in the socio-political debate, we should not be particularly surprised, since they show all the signs of attending with the left hemisphere alone. I live in the hope that that may soon change: for without a change we are lost.
McGilchrist, Iain . The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (S.562). Perspectiva Press. Kindle-Version.
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Re: Learning From Elijah

Postby Fixed Cross » Sat Apr 09, 2022 4:55 pm





Have a lovely day.
The strong do what they can, the weak accept what they must.
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