What are today’s passages trying to conspire to tell us?
What is God doing with His creation here?
Elijah’s struggles or something deeper?
And struggles, why? after all, he’s just reached the very top in Chapter 18 with the Baal Boys and the sacrifice contest!
But there’s Jezebel – the slapper who’s baying for his blood and causing him to hide in fear of his life and ‘give up’ (see, we all do it at some time, don’t we – things get to us and we chuck it in!). Elijah’s legged it to the South to hide in the desert - and he lays down to sleep (a hint in OT literature that he’s ‘going to die’) – but in the low spot – God comes (an Angel – a Messenger from God).
Bottom line is that he’s fed and, still negative and down, watered. But God doesn’t walk away (a clue here as to how we treat depression and those broken people we meet?). God is patient and help Elijah to a place where he can engage and hear.
Not with the wind (WHOOSH) nor with an earthquake (YOU WILL LISTEN), not with the FIRE but in a small, still voice, does He speak into Elijah’s reality.
God sees past the immediate and works at the inner, unseen, deeper and real needs (if you can’t see it – it doesn’t exist – broken leg better than a broken mind) and even if you’re in your cave – He still makes it work.
Not always the loud and proud – like Mount Carmel but in the secret places (our caves) where the still small voice can penetrate and bring healing and a future hope.
And this is what the Luke Passage tells us too: For Jesus steps out of a boat and is confronted by another broken person, this time he’s naked and demon-possessed and running at him from the graveyard; and the demons start on Him.
Well first we need to understand ‘possession’ for it is actually not possession but oppression we are dealing with. We need to see past the ‘problem’ and ‘problem solved’ mindset that many apply with this story – for it’s about more than that. So what’s it telling us?
He’s ‘greeted’ by a naked bloke (Jews didn’t do naked, that’s when they disliked the Greeks habit of going the gym’ and wrestled naked) form the graveyard! (met one of those in Nyharuru) it’s a confrontation! The demons know who He is (what a pity humanity doesn’t recognise Him so easily) and they’re scared – they know who and what and what He can do to them – they have their match in Him just like the Baal followers on Mount Carmel.
Jesus is going to solve the problem and give the spiritual powers at work in the man their marching orders and they (the demons) beg Him not to send them to the pit (the abyss of rev 20) and so Jesus asks the demon’s name. The response is that there’s ‘loads of us’ (we are legion – means many) and so Jesus allows them to move home into the pigs and the pigs, decide to drown themselves rather than have house guests.
All interesting; unclean spirits, unclean meat – a link? Possibly, not for me today – saving the bacon for later!
The story is, thus far, about recognising Jesus’ authority rather than Him having to state it – it is just there (like the small voice in the cave) – all we need it for us to recognise that too! It’s not just about solving the problem but the how it is solved and the why and who, too.
Both the men in our stories were suffering from mental illness (demons and depression are exactly that in the OT and NT settings) and were in bad places and they were met with a small voice of authoritative compassion. The work and enabling of the Holy Spirit in us means that where we are, so too is the ‘Kingdom of God’ (basilea)
The Galatians passage tells us that we are ‘children of God’ and if this is true then the small voices and the recognition of God in us are ours also.
Here we have God showing patience and love and compassion and gentleness and the reason? Simple – we want those whom we touch to return home and tell their family and friends: how much God has done for them.
Can there be a better form of evangelism?