Sunday, May 05, 2013

Elijah the Kind Hearted

Today was "Youth Sunday" at our church, and in lieu of the assigned readings, we were treated to a new version of Elijah and the prophets of Baal found in 1Kings 18:20-40, although today's version claimed to go up to verse 40a which protected the kiddos and the congregation from the harsh ending.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here it is,

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.

And here is the full verse 40,
And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
The cleaned up version the kids presented today had the prophets of Baal cheering the local college football teams (a nice touch) and had Elijah's God lighting His fire on cue (with some nice special effects), but left out the parts where the prophets of Baal cut themselves (probably a good idea), and more importantly, changed the ending so that the prophets of Baal wound up converted and praying to the God of Elijah instead of being slaughtered down by the Kishon.

I admit, that it might require some added instruction for our impressionable youth to understand the slaughter of the prophets of Baal, and one can only hope that at some future date they revisit this part of 1 Kings. Until then, they and most of the congregation are left with the impression that Elijah was a kind hearted prophet and not one who scared the you know what out of people.

Do I consider this to be an example of Biblical revisionism?


Is it harmless?

More about the Kishon brook/river can be found at including some nice pictures of the Kishon site where it is said that the slaughter of the prophets took place (2/3's of the way down the page).

No comments:

Post a Comment