Question about Elijah's flight from Jezebel

 
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darin-houston



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:14 am    Post subject: Question about Elijah's flight from Jezebel Reply with quote

Our lesson today from the pulpit was the familiar 1 Kings passage where Elijah flees from Jezebel and goes to Mt. Horeb and has a confrontation with God.

The ordinary interpretation seems to suggest that Elijah was having a bout of Monday morning blues and was burned out, fleeing out of fear and desperation.

Though it makes for a good sermon since it speaks to the all-too-often burnout associated with today's form of "christian living," I don't see any reason to castigate Elijah in that way. He's no Jonah in my opinion.

Unless there are references I'm unaware of, the only suggestion I can see to that interpretation is that he is said to be "afraid" when he flees to Beersheba. I see nothing wrong with a healthy dose of fear as he clearly recognizes that he was the last prophet, but the modern notion of "fear" may not be what is in mind here.

Was he afraid of his own death as threatened by Jezebel? I don't think so -- he even asked God to go ahead and take his life from him, so I don't see him as afraid to die. As I read it today, he strikes me as a man who recognized himself as a man with a mission and was afraid that, as last prophet, that he would be deprived of the opportunity to fulfill his mission. If anything, it seems that he was just as dedicated to his mission, but was in a situation where for the first time he didn't have direction for the next phase of the challenge. He can hardly be said to be fleeing from God since he went to the very place that he knew he would be most likely to confront the living God -- Mt. Sinai. Some interpretations even suggest that it was "the cave" instead of "a cave" where he sought God, suggesting further that this was the same crevice that Moses confronted God, which Elijah would no doubt have been well aware of.

So, I thought, ok -- lacking the internal evidence of a man shirking his mission, then there must be something elsewhere in Scripture lending to this interpretation -- Romans 11 seems to be the only reference to the episode, and it supports the view that he had not, in fact, lost faith and hope. Romans 11 says:

Romans 11:2 wrote:
Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?


Here he was seen not as pleading with God for himself, but against Israel -- this supports the view that he was still on fire to deal with Israel and not just to save himself -- he just didn't know what to do next or how to prevent his demise to further that plan.

I hate to novate for its own sake, but I also hate to denigrate a great prophet for no good cause and would love some assistance with this passage. Am I missing some further references to this episode? Are there traditions in this regard that support one or the other view?

Thanks
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darin-houston



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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TK



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From I kings 19:


Quote:
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”


vs. 4 certainly suggests he was a tad depressed; however he was a human being and under similar circumstances, might we not all be?

TK
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Suzana



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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...but I also hate to denigrate a great prophet for no good cause...


Whatever the correct interpretation of this passage, God certainly thought enough of Elijah to honour him with an unusual departure from this earth, and also to feature with Moses and Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.
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Paidion



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Whatever the correct interpretation of this passage, God certainly thought enough of Elijah to honour him with an unusual departure from this earth ...


Amen to that!

Quote:
...and also to feature with Moses and Jesus on the mount of transfiguration.


That was a vision which Peter, James, and John experienced.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead." Matthew 17:9
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TK



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion-

did Jesus experience the "vision"?

I know you have made this point elsewhere, but I am not sure if "vision" in this instance, means they werent really there. could not Jesus simply have meant- "for now, dont tell anyone what you have seen?"

TK
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TK



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion-

i wanted to bump this topic because I am curious what your take is on the episode at the Mt of Transfiguration.

In particular, if it was merely a vision, I take this to mean it didnt really happen; i.e. moses and elijah were not really there talking to Jesus about things to come. If this is true, was Jesus watching the vision as well, or was he part of it? (i.e. Jesus was really there, but talking to nobody). Was Jesus talking to "figments" of moses and elijah? Or were the disciples seeing figments of all three?

Paul described his damascus experience as a vision, but I dont think that means he really didnt see the Lord.

Thanks,

TK
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Paidion



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's first check the eleven other places in which the Greek word "horama" is used in the New Testament. How many of these 11 truly refer to what we usually call "a vision", that is, a supernatural manifestation through which God speaks to people or reveals a truth of some kind. How many of these "visions" are simply unusual sights, but genuine events?

Acts 7:31 "When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord:
Acts 9:10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
Acts 9:12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."
Acts 10:3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!"
Acts 10:17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate;
Acts 10:19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you.
Acts 11:5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me,
Acts 12:9 And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
Acts 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
Acts 16:10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 18:9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;


Notice in Acts 12:9, Peter thought he was seeing a vision, but an angel actually appeared to him and rescued him from prison. This is a good example of how the NT writers did not understand visions as physical reality.

Of the 11 Scriptures, it seems that only one might be thought to have been an actual physical event. The NASB translators as well most other translators obviously thought that this was the case with Moses and the burning bush. I am not so sure. It certainly is possible that this was a vision which God gave Moses to get his attention so that He could speak to him. It seems that Darby as well as the JB2000 translators thought the same. In both translations, the word in Acts 7:31 is given as "vision".

TK you wrote:
In particular, if it was merely a vision, I take this to mean it didnt really happen; i.e. moses and elijah were not really there talking to Jesus about things to come.


Yes, that is how I take it also.

Quote:
If this is true, was Jesus watching the vision as well, or was he part of it? (i.e. Jesus was really there, but talking to nobody).


I don't think Jesus was seeing the vision. Yes, He was part of it. For He was "transformed" before them. In the vision they experienced, Moses and Elijah were talking to this transformed Jesus. I don't think Jesus Himself was talking to anyone. It is interesting that Luke tells us that Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep prior to seeing the vision. That can be a suitable frame of mind for a vision. However, Luke also says they were fully awake when they saw Moses and Elijah, and the transformation of Jesus.

Quote:
Was Jesus talking to "figments" of moses and elijah? Or were the disciples seeing figments of all three?


I don't think the actual Jesus was talking to anyone. But the tranformed Jesus whom they saw in the vision, was talking in the vision with Moses and Elijah.

Quote:
Paul described his damascus experience as a vision, but I dont think that means he really didnt see the Lord.


Yes, though a different Greek word "optasia" is used here. But it probably means much the same. I think that Paul had a vision of Jesus. And that may have been the way Jesus appeared to him. Just because it was a vision makes His appearance no less real.

Here are two other places where "optasia" occurs:

Luke 1:22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.

Luke 24:23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.


Did the angel Gabriel "really" appear to Zacharias? Did the angels "really" appear to the women at the tomb? I would answer "yes" in both cases, since that is perhaps the way in which angels normally appear to people since they are immaterial beings.

However, in the case in question, I suppose if one believes that Moses and Elijah are disembodied spirits, it would make similar sense to say that they "really" appeared to Peter and his companions. But Moses actually died, and we are not told what the status of Elijah is. So I believe that Moses, being dead, could not have appeared to anyone. Nevertheless, there is the extra-biblical book "The Assumption of Moses" which I understand teaches (in its original form), contrary to the Biblical record, that Moses was taken up to the Lord also.

In the case of Enoch and Elijah, My opinion is that physical bodies of Enoch and Elijah have been miraculously preserved, and that they are to return to earth in the days of the Great Tribulation when they will be the two witnessess described in Revelation. At that time, they will be killed at the hands of Christ's enemies, and thus will experience death for the first time. Then they will have their resurrection after 3 days.
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TK



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for your explanation, Paidion.

I may have asked you this before- but if enoch and elijah's physical bodies are being miraculously preserved for a return to earth in the future, where are there bodies now?

TK
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Sean



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion, what about Acts 26:19?

After Paul tells about his meeting Jesus on the journey to Damascus (Acts 26:12-19) he says:

Act 26:19 "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

So did Paul meet the resurrected Christ or was it a vision?

Paul mentions in 1 Cor 15:8 that he saw the resurrected Christ as did the other apostles, James and the twelve.

As for Enoch being "preserved", can you better explain what you mean? Hebrews said he didn't experience death. So that would seem to mean he's still alive. Since Enoch walked with God and God took him it would certainly suggest that Enoch is with God still. Or is he like in suspended animation?
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Paidion



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TK wrote:
I may have asked you this before- but if enoch and elijah's physical bodies are being miraculously preserved for a return to earth in the future, where are there bodies now?


I don't know. Nothing is said concerning where they are.

sean wrote:
As for Enoch being "preserved", can you better explain what you mean? Hebrews said he didn't experience death. So that would seem to mean he's still alive. Since Enoch walked with God and God took him it would certainly suggest that Enoch is with God still. Or is he like in suspended animation?


No, I don't think their bodies are preserved as in the sense of those in suspended animation, though it may be for all I know. I simply meant unlike our bodies, their bodies were preserved from natural decay and death. However, my thoughts are that they are conscious and truly are "with God still" as you suggested. But I have no idea where the physical location may be. Certainly not heaven. For Elijah ascended into the sky. But, as Christ said, "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man." John 3:13

As for "the heavenly vision" of Acts 26:19, in both the account in Acts, and Paul's recounting of the experience, there is no indication that Paul saw Jesus. Rather, both he and those with him saw a bright light, and Paul heard the words of Jesus. If the resurrected Christ had appeared to Paul in the same sense He had appeared to Cephas et al, then why didn't Paul as well as those travelling with him see Him? When Jesus appeared to others in His physical body, all who were present saw Him.

Nor did Paul's companions hear Jesus speak. Paul's "vision" (optasia) appears to have been his hearing the voice of Jesus. That seems to be an unusual use of the word "optasia".
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Sean



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paidion wrote:

As for "the heavenly vision" of Acts 26:19, in both the account in Acts, and Paul's recounting of the experience, there is no indication that Paul saw Jesus. Rather, both he and those with him saw a bright light, and Paul heard the words of Jesus. If the resurrected Christ had appeared to Paul in the same sense He had appeared to Cephas et al, then why didn't Paul as well as those travelling with him see Him? When Jesus appeared to others in His physical body, all who were present saw Him.


Then when did Paul see Jesus if not on the road to Damascus?

1Cor 9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
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