828 King's Highway, Suffolk VA 23432

757 255-4168 stjohns1755@verizon.net Worship Service: Sundays at 10:30am
Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Christian Formation for June 2 - 1 Kings 18:20-40; Elijah's Triumph over the Priests of Baal

1 Kings 18:20-40
Elijah’s Triumph over the Priests of Baal
Background: The book of 1 Kings is part of larger text in the Hebrew Bible that comprises 1 and 2 Kings. These books provide a continuous literary account of Israel’s history from the death of David (ca. 970 BCE) to King Jehoiachin’s release from prison in Babylon (561/560 BCE). 1 Kings 13-22 provides an account of King Ahab and his son Ahaziah.
Theme: In this selection the priests of Baal are prominent, partly because of Ahab’s apostasy with Jezebel. The reader is presented with the details of the challenge between יהוה’s prophet and Baal’s prophets – with יהוה’s prophet winning in the contest with Baal.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read 1 Kings 18:20-40. Briefly identify the setting for today’s text – what has been taking place in Israel, the state of the nation (divided or united or something else), etc.
* Identify the following locations, people, and items: Mount Carmel and the Kishon Valley (Wadi Kishon); Elijah and Ahab; the time of the evening sacrifice.
* What or who is Baal? Why do you think Baal has developed a prominence in Israel? Where does Baal worship arise from?
* The phrase “…you waver between two options…” can alternately be translated as “…you go limping on two crutches…” What do you think the author is saying or implying in that statement? Which seems to make more sense in the text? Even with the confusing phrase, what do you think the author is relating about Elijah’s mood and/or intent?
* What might the significance be in Elijah’s claim that, “The god who answers by fire – he is God.” be focused on? Why might the author use fire as the test between יהוה and Baal?
* Elijah seems to make ridiculous statements about Baal – being deep in thought, relieving himself, or sleeping; all with the intent of inciting or ridiculing his opponents. For what reason do you think Elijah is portrayed as taunting the followers of Baal?
* Why might the priests of Baal slash themselves with swords and spears?
* What seems incredible about Elijah’s prowess and the prowess of Baal’s prophets?
* What might the significance be with Elijah having the people pour four jars of water on the sacrifice three different times? How would the occurrence of 3 times 4 (12 times) be important in the spiritual life of Israel?
* In verse 36, the author identifies יהוה as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel” which seems different than previous descriptions (substituting Jacob for Israel). What might the implication of the distinction as “Israel” as opposed to “Jacob” be?
* Why might Elijah command the people to capture and destroy the prophets of Baal?
* What do you think the implication of this story was in Elijah’s day?
* What is the challenge for us in 21st century Suffolk?

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