Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Old Testament passage for this week is a popular one to misinterpret. Maybe you have heard this before. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah was struggling with hopelessness. He thought his ministry was a failure. God met him with mighty shows of power, but Elijah couldn’t find God there. It was only in the still, small voice of God that He could be found. So we listen for the whisper of God in our hearts which shows us that He still loves us, even after we have given up. Have you heard that one? I have, many times.
So what’s the passage really about? We get the point when we read all the way to the end. God is not finished with His servant, Elijah. He has not abandoned His people. But he is not going to show Himself in the remarkable displays of power. Instead, He is going to use Hazael, a wicked pagan king to bring judgment upon the evildoers in Israel. He will use Jehu, a wicked Israelite king to bring judgment on those who are missed by Hazael. He will finally use Elisha, a godly prophet to be promoted by Elijah to bring further judgment. Further, God has preserved a large number of his people, who have been living quietly for Him.
Is there a good application of the passage? We don’t find it in a still small voice whispering to us. But we probably can find it as we realize that God quietly preserves a people for His name. though His work is sometimes very quiet and humble, in Word and Sacrament, virtually unnoticed by our world, He is the one who judges sin and works righteousness. He is also the one who is able to use even evil people and bad circumstances for the good and protection of His world. This is a mighty God. We can know that He is at work even when it isn’t obvious.
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