Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Top Ten Questions God Asks- Number Five

Back to the series of sermons and thoughts about the Top Ten Questions God Asks Us. I said earlier that this series is based on a book by Trevor Hudson called Questions God Asks Us. The notion behind this series is a challenge to look at the Bible in a new way. We are accustomed to looking at the Bible as an answer book. You have questions and you go to the Bible looking for answers. That’s certainly legitimate.

But, what if we came to the Bible to listen for the “right” questions? Questions are a way of calling us to the right agenda, a way of shaping our lives. So, over these weeks we’ve been letting the Bible gives us the questions. Sitting at prayer, Bible in hand, what is it that God is asking us?

We’re at the fifth question here: What are you doing Here? It comes from the story of Elijah, the great prophet, who stands up to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. You remember that Ahab married Jezebel in a kind of political arrangement to keep Jezebel’s father’s armies at bay.

The price of bringing Jezebel into Israel was high. She brought her gods with her and her Baal prophets. “Baal” means “lord” and there were hundreds of lords and gods to be worshipped. This crass paganism corrupted the “one God” religion of Israel. So, Elijah railed against it.

It all comes to a head on Mt. Carmel when Elijah challenges the Baal priests to a duel. A sacrifice is laid out and the challenge is given: “Let’s see who the real god is. Let’s see who lights the sacrifice.” The priests cry out to their gods but nothing happens. Elijah makes fun: “Maybe they’re on vacation.” Then Yahweh in power and might lights the sacrifice. Elijah is so empowered that he sets out with sword to kill priest after priest.

This so angers Jezebel that she threatens Elijah, and he runs out to the desert. He runs to Mt. Horeb, which is, of course, Mt. Sinai, the last place that God spoke to his people. In a cave, Elijah calls out to God: “I’m the only one left who cares anything about you, O God. Let me die.” – a familiar refrain from prophets. And then the text says that Elijah heard: “a still small voice.”

Scholars are not quite sure how to translate this Hebrew word. It actually means “utter silence.” Elijah hears silence. So do we.

Then God asks: “Elijah, what are you doing here?” Elijah continues to cry out for help.

So, you’re out there in the desert as you often are. And, you are overwhelmed with disappointment, discouragement, pain. You are out there looking for a word from God. And, the word: “What are you doing here?”

Let this question be a chance to answer truthfully. What are you doing in your spiritual life? What is your discouragement? What is your pain about? What are you doing here?

Then, God tells Elijah to get up and eat. God says: “Go back to your people; there is more for you to do. And, eat this food to keep you on your journey.”

When I preached this, it was communion Sunday at Bethel. So, I said something like: “Come as you are out of your cave, out of your disappointment, depression, whatever. Come and eat and get on with it.”

Dave Nichols

No comments:

Post a Comment


Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

Blog Archive

About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee