17 June 2010

Jun 17

Reference links:
Old Testament

It's huge! It's amazing! It's Elijah's prophet v. prophets extravaganza! On one side, we have the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. On the other side we have Elijah, the last prophet of the Lord, the only survivor of Jezebel's killing of God's prophets.

Today, our two sides are going to participate in a bull burning challenge! Which side will be able to get their god to burn a bull? Let's watch and find out.

Elijah lets the prophets of Baal go first. They are preparing the bull and putting it on the altar. Now they start to dance around the altar and call on Baal. Let's see what happens.

.
.
.

It's noontime now, and the prophets of Baal seem to have gotten no response. It looks like Elijah is throwing out some taunts, and some pretty low hitting ones at that.
“You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”
Harsh. Baal's prophets are getting desperate. They have resorted to cutting themselves with knives and swords. That's gotta hurt.

.
.
.

It's evening now, and the prophets of Baal are still going at it. But it looks like Elijah is making his move! He is preparing the bull. It looks like he's building something to put it on... an altar of some sort? Yes, it's an altar build from twelve stones. Look at that use of symbolism!

Now what is he doing? He's digging a trench? Is that for the blood? Wait, no! He's having his assistants pour water on the bull and the wood and the altar. And now he's having them add more. And yet more! The trench is filled. Everything is soaked. It will take a miracle to make this pile burn.

Now Elijah is praying in front of the altar. We cannot quite hear what he's saying, but he's certainly less active than the prophets of Baal.

And now, what's this? Fire is flashing down from the sky! The bull is burning, the wood is burning, even the water is evaporating! Elijah's done it! He invoked his god and burned the bull. He's the winner! And the crowd goes wild.

Oooh, maybe a bit too wild. Elijah's told them to capture all of the other prophets so that he can kill them. Due to federal regulations, we must end our program now and avoid showing you that bloody scene.

----------

Seriously though, isn't kind of suspicious how these days the God of the Israelites would be about as successful as Baal in a situation like this?

New Testament

The believers in Jerusalem do not approve of Peter's associating with Gentiles. Then he explains it to them and they do approve. Goody!

Continuing the current theme of expansion of the church to include Gentiles, we read about how members of the church in Antioch also started to preach to Gentiles. Eventually Barnabas and Saul start teaching there and win many followers.

We also read about how during this time one of the believers predicted a famine, a prediction which was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius. This would be more impressive if the reign of Claudius (AD 41-54) had not ended had not ended 6 years before what scholars consider the earliest date for the composition of Acts.

Psalms and Proverbs

After our short run of short psalms, we get a rather long one. Today's psalm is a combination psalm of praise and history.

Today's second proverb is an interesting one:
If you repay good with evil,
evil will never leave your house.
So repaying good with evil is bad. What about the other three combinations. Obviously, repaying good with good is good. And the "turn the other cheek" school of thought would have us believe that replaying evil with good is good. Does it, therefore, symmetrically follow that following evil with evil is bad? Or is it more ambiguous than that?