Thought for the week - 14 February

This week the thought for the week takes the same form as the documents to be used for our discussion groups during Lent. For more information about these groups please see below


2 Kings 2.1-12. Elijah Taken to Heaven


2 Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”


4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”


6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.


9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.

Prophets.


The English word prophet is a compound Greek word, from pro (in advance) and the verb phesein (to tell); thus, a προφήτης (prophétés) is someone who foretells future events, and also conveys messages from the divine to humans; in a different interpretation, it means advocate or speaker.

In Hebrew, the word נָבִיא (nāvî), "spokesperson", traditionally translates as "prophet". The second subdivision of the Tanakh, (Nevi'im), is devoted to the Hebrew prophets. The meaning of navi is perhaps described in Deuteronomy 18:18, where God said, "...and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." Thus, the navi was thought to be the "mouth" of God. The root nun-bet-alef ("navi") is based on the two-letter root nun-bet which denotes hollowness or openness; to receive transcendental wisdom, one must make oneself "open".

Elijah & Elisha


The Bible story of Elijah and Elisha is found in both books of Kings from the Old Testament. They are two of the most notable prophets from scripture helping to restore Israel in a time of wicked rulers. Elijah is initially presented in 1 Kings 17 as the seer who foretold a three-year drought in the land of Israel. At that time, Israel was ruled by corrupted Kings whose evil ways caused the drought from God upon the land. Residing in the desert, Elijah is saved by God when ravens bring him food amidst the drought that he predicted. Elijah then travels to the home of a widow and her son where God had promised to provide food until the drought has ceased.


The tale proceeds as Elijah confronts the evil king, Ahab, about being the cause of problems for the people of Israel. Elijah dares Ahab to a challenge of his deity, Baal, versus the God of Elijah at Mount Carmel. The challenge is to offer sacrifices to their own deities and see which starts a fire to show their divinity. Ahab's prophets pray for hours to Baal but nothing happens. When it is Elijah's turn he boldly soaks the sacrifice with water to display his supreme trust in God to start a fire despite being wet.


After Elijah’s victory over the prophets of Baal when he called down fire from heaven, the drought ended. Rain fell, and Elijah retreated from the evil Queen Jezebel, who had sworn to kill him (1 Kings 19). Reaching Mount Horeb, Elijah heard the voice of God tell him to anoint two kings as well as Elisha as a prophet. He did this, and Elisha promptly joined him (1 Kings 19:19-21).


In 2 Kings 1, Elijah again called down fire from heaven to slay two groups of 50 men sent from King Ahaziah. The third group of men was led by a commander who pleaded for mercy and was spared retribution. Elijah went to Ahaziah and declared the king would die from his sickness, a prophecy that was soon filled.

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah and Elisha traversed the Jordan River on dry land, and Elisha, understanding that Elijah would soon pass away, asked to be blessed with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah was then carried straight into heaven by a chariot of fire. Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle and used it to cross the Jordan again on dry land. He received the double portion he had asked for and performed many miracles in Israel. Some of Elisha’s miracles were the turning of bad water into clean water (2 Kings 2:19-22), making a widow’s oil to fill many jars (2 Kings 4:1-7), and even raising a boy from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-37).


Elijah and Elisha were both very highly regarded by those in the “school of prophets” (2 Kings 4:38-41) as well as by the rulers of their country. Their influence led to an awakening among some of the Israelites during a dismal stage of Israel's history. Through the corrupt reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah, God trusted in Elijah and Elisha to lead the charge for righteousness.


Elijah and Elisha’s joined legacy proceeded to help Israel even after their lives. Even the New Testament talks of the anticipated return of Elijah, a role answered by John the Baptist, the precursor or the one to proclaim the arrival of the Messiah. (Biblestudytools.com)

Questions for thought / discussion.


Elijah and Elisha were two of the most prominent prophets of Israel.

1. What is a prophet?

2. Does a prophet primarily predict future events? Or what?

3. Are there prophets in our own time?

4. If so, what are they saying?

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St Stephen on the Cliffs, Holmfield Road, Blackpool, FY2 9RB

An Anglican church in the Diocese of Blackburn

 

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