Recently, during my Bible study, I concluded that Elijah was by far one of the coolest prophets of God to walk this planet. Can you imagine standing against an entire kingdom, against the pagan worship leaders, against superior authority that wants you dead, boldy pronouncing their punishment instead? How about openly mocking their pagan worship and failed attempts to prove a false god?
In front of a massive crowd, Elijah’s bodacious faith is exemplified by commanding fire down from Heaven and death to paganists! As the prophet’s story unravels, it moves toward a familiar plot of jealousy.
A wicked king named Ahab has carried out an evil plan to kill an innocent man in order to gratify his own selfish greed. Naboth’s desire above all else, to live rightly before God, puts him in the line of fire. Ahab’s jealously over Naboth’s small plot of land leads Ahab’s wife, Jazebel to have Naboth murdered. The land is now ripe for the taking! But what Ahab or Jezabel didn’t consider, is though Ahab was King, God was THE KING and He wasn’t pleased.
The story will stir emotions with shock, anger and a desire to seek revenge for the innocent. It’s as though you are sitting on the edge of your seat, watching in horror as wickedness is being carried out and you just can’t wait for the super hero to fly in, square-jaw line flinched, cape waving in the wind, muscles and power on display as evil is put in its place!
But there’s a twist to this story. As Ahab surveys his newly acquired property, God’s prophet Elijah shows up on the scene. I imagine Elijah trekking across this pristine plot of land, his fiery hair flaming in the wind, piercing eyes narrowing at his destination. He carries with him the horrific judgement of death- the message deliverer to the wicked Ahab. But in a sudden turn of events, we see an evil king we’ve all come to abhore, bend, break and then humble himself, seeking forgiveness. A king we so desperately desire to see judged, reveals a heart of repentance. He rips his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, and begs God for forgiveness. And though an innocent man was plotted against and maliciously murdered for mere dirt, God miraculously shows mercy on the guilty one who seeks forgiveness.
We feel as if someone has let the air out of a three year old’s balloon. We breath out a deep sigh of disappointment. But in the following seconds, we begin to ponder God’s reaction to Ahab’s repentance. We envision ourselves in his shoes–selfish, self-serving, self loving, self prioritizing … self … self … self. Suddenly, that act of mercy becomes a beacon of hope to a wickedly dark soul in a sin-infested world. Suddenly, we are awe struck by a creator’s compassion because we realize WE ARE AHAB. We deserve judgement. But graciously and mercifully, God doesn’t leave us in that vast field of self destruction. He takes quick, long strides across it, seeking us out for the purpose of salvation from ourselves.
As He reveals our depravity, He redeems us. Fully. Completely. I find that to be a very satisfying ending after all. Yes, Elijah reflected that of a super prophet in his day, but the real hero is God, for His unfathomable mercy and grace on mankind. For that, I am undeserving but truly thankful.