Elijah and Elisha
1 Kings 12-15, 2 Chron 10-16
The Great Divide
Solomon was the last great king of Israel. After his death, his son Rehoboam’s arrogance causes the kingdom to split into civil war. The ten northern tribes make Jeroboam king, while Rehoboam is left only with Judah and Simeon, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Ahijah.
The border between Judah in the south and Israel in the north remains fluid, moving and blending as battles rage. The battles are not just military ones, but are also fought over the people’s gods. Will the people choose YHWH or will they worship the golden calves their kings set up for them? When is God going to lose his patience with these people?
1 Kings 16-19
The Prophet Elijah -- Fearless Fireworks and Deep Depression
The northern kingdom is in a state of turmoil. We’ve got a civil war within a civil war. Total chaos. Finally, Omri seizes the throne and when he dies his son Ahab becomes king.
Ahab is the worst king yet. Case in point? His wife is none other than the infamous Jezebel who starts a program of extermination of God’s prophets.
Elijah proves to be elusive. He’s a survivor. On the outside he’s fearless, but behind the scenes we see his anguish and fear and discouragement.
In this class we follow Elijah through an incredible mountaintop showdown against Jezebel’s prophets of Baal. Then Elijah faces torrential rain, wind, earthquake and fire. Which terrifying event do you think God was in? (It's a trick question)
1 Kings 19-22, 2 Chr 17-18
Elijah finds a Successor
while Israel and Aram go to war
Ben-Hadad of Aram picks a fight with King Ahab of Israel. Ahab has virtually no military resources to respond. With his back to the wall, who does he turn to? His idols? Nope. YHWH.
But of course, Ahab is only in this for Ahab. He doesn’t do what God tells him to do. When God calls him on it, what does Ahab do? He pouts! Jezebel has to step in and prop him up.
2 Kings 1, 3-5 and 2 Chr 19-20
God Brings Out the Big Guns
Not only are dates getting more solid, but we're beginning to run into historical records that corroborate biblical accounts. This commemorative monument ("stele") was set up by one of Israel's enemies--a king of Moab that we run across in this week's lesson.
The northern kingdom of Israel is slipping deeper and deeper into idol worship, and they are enticing Judah to forsake dependence on YHWH.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. God shows up in miraculous ways for even the wickedest of kings--all to try to woo his people back.
And Elisha is right in the thick of it: calling down fire, purifying poisoned waters, rescuing widows, healing generals. We’ve got some crazy powerful stuff going on here. I wonder if the people will pay attention?
2 Kings 2, 6-7, 2 Chr 21
Elijah Makes a Dramatic Exit
Elijah goes out with a quite literal bang, and Elisha gets a double portion of his spirit (Elijah told him to be careful what he wished for!). Elisha gives the King of Aram fits in a hilarious story that results in the Arameans slinking away with their tails between their legs.
Meanwhile in Judah, sixty years of being governed by relatively good kings comes to an abrupt end. The bloodlines of the royal families of Israel and Judah are joined, and we witness the beginning of the end of the nations.
We don't do separate breakout groups this time. Instead we stay together and use our backpack tools to figure out why a crazy story about bald heads and bears is in the Bible.
2 Kings 8-10 and 2 Chr 22
Jezebel Gets What's Coming to Her
As do her son, the King of Judah, and her grandson, the King of Israel. It's a complete rout and lots of old prophecies get fulfilled--as the story says, "Not a word the Lord speaks falls to the ground."
The thing is, though, those prophecies were like 12-14 years old. God told Elijah to do them, but he dies and apparently passes the work to Elisha, who then dawdles around before suddenly doing it all. Why is that? What does that say to us about how WE are to understand when and how to do what the Lord tells us to do?
Here's the link to the TED talk about Liquid Lead that I reference during class.
Note: Elisha's death is covered in Class 51