About the Author

Rev Aaron Eime is the deacon of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, the first Protestant Church in the Middle East. Aaron studied at the Hebrew University in the Masters Program with the focus towards Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Bible. Aaron also studied Psychology and Sociology at Queensland University in Australia in the Social Work Program. He is a dedicated Bible teacher exploring the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. He has taught Internationally in many countries including Europe, North America, Hong Kong and China. Aaron is the Director of Research and Education at Christ Church. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 3 children.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kings and Prophets

For the last 6 months I have been studying the books of the Kings and looking at the tension between the Kings and the Prophets. To every king there is a prophet. Sometimes there are multiple prophets to the same king. More often than not they are in opposition to each other. As too often occurs, the kings do not walk in the ways of the Lord and then the prophets appear on the scene to chastise them and return the people to the worship of the Lord. The one exception is Solomon, who does not have a prophet at all. Why not? Maybe he was too wise for a prophet? That might say something about the nature of wisdom. Perhaps if Solomon did have a prophet in his court to challenge him when the need arose, perhaps then his reign would not have ended in a divided kingdom. The Book of Kings shows us that in amongst the consistent idolatry of the northern Kingdom of Israel, the battles with foreign armies, and the clash of religions, God continues to warn and woo his people to return to Him. He never gives up on the North. 

The split of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah occurs following the death of Solomon. Several  attempts were made to repair the relationship, and in one occasion the kingdoms did reunite briefly. Ahab, the King of Israel, marries his daughter Athaliah to Jehoram, king of Judah. Athaliah is also the daughter of Jezebel and leads Judah into idolatry. The kingdoms were united ever so briefly, but it was pagan. We also note that for 6 years a non-Davidic king ruled in Jerusalem. After Ahaziah (who is a descendent of David) is killed by Jehu in 2 Kings 9 (because Ahaziah has an alliance with evil King Ahab whom Jehu has also killed) then Athaliah ascends to the throne in 2 Kings 11, slays the rest of her children and brings Baal worship to Jerusalem. She is, after all, the daughter of Jezebel. I guess it is what we would expect her to do. Athaliah, who is not a descendant of David, rules the Kingdom of Judah in Jerusalem for 6 years. Her end comes at the hands of the high priest Jehoiada and the return of Davidic kings with the enthronement of the 7 year old, Joash. 

2 Kings 3 depicts the transition of the prophetic role from Elijah to Elisha. Elijah is about to depart the world in a whirlwind and flaming chariot. In verse one Elijah is attempting to distance himself from Elisha who refuses to leave his masters side. So they travel together to Bethel. In verse two a company of prophets who were living in Bethel come out to meet them. We have to recall that Bethel is one of the major centres of Israelite idolatry. Golden calves had been established in the false temples of Dan and Bethel since the days of Jeroboam. Yet what we find in Bethel is not a mention of the false idolatry but rather of a school of prophets. This leads to many questions. Out of all the places to establish a school of prophecy in Israel, it’s in Bethel? What were they doing there? Why there? Did they challenge the false temple that was so obviously in front of them? The text doesn't give any details. We are left to ponder the role of this school of prophets. 

In verse four Elijah and Elisha travel to Jericho. Elijah, the great opponent to the prophets of Baal, now travels to a city that God had cursed through Joshua during the initial conquest of the Land. Why would he do such a thing, what was wrong with other cities in Judah? Joshua 6vs26 reveals a curse laid against the rebuilding of Jericho. A curse that ends up happening in 1 Kings 16vs34 when the city is rebuilt despite the prohibition to do so. In this cursed city, that God instructs not to be rebuilt, we find a school of prophets. Again, no information on their function and role in the community is given. 

Lastly, in verse 7, Elijah and Elisha journey across the Jordan. This sends them to the territory of their enemies, Moab and Edom. It is in this land that the chariot and whirlwind will come. It is here that the mantle of prophet moves to Elisha. All this does not occur in the Kingdom of Judah, or anywhere near the Temple of God in Jerusalem. Why not? What’s wrong with holding a religious prophetic transition ceremony amongst the Jewish people and in Jewish lands? Why travel to pagan enemy territory to do the hand over from Elijah to Elisha? 

Light shines brightest when the darkness is at its most dark. We see from these verses that God places His prophets where the darkness is at its greatest. Right next to the pagan false temples and the houses of rival worship are the prophets of God. In a cursed city that was forbidden He sends his heroes and establishes a prophetic school. Into the mortal enemy lands God will place his heroes. Elisha’s first miracle will occur in the lands of Moab. This describes something wonderful of the character of God. He never gives up on His people or the world that He created. And God is not afraid of the darkness, He will send His light to shine there all the more brighter. 

We have been taught by the Messiah to be Lights to the Nations and Salt of the Earth. Leviticus tells us to be Holy like God is Holy. So we should see what God does and then we should endeavour to try to imitate His character and behaviour. Wherever it is the darkest, God is shining His light. That’s where He sends His heroes and His prophets. It’s possible that is where He might send us. And if He does send us into the Darkness, we don’t need be afraid. God is already there shining His light through us all the brighter.