A bright Elijah thread weaves throughout the Scriptures. Elijah’s story begins during a time when Israel’s story had become a sad history of rebellion and civil war. The united kingdom of David and Solomon had fractured into two separate nations: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. In First Kings 16, the storyteller says:
Now Ahab son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. And Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.16:29–30
Ahab was breaking bad and his queen Jezebel may have been even worse; Elijah was the prophet God had sent to stand against them and challenge their wickedness. It was a thankless, dangerous job, and King Ahab disdained Elijah as the “troubler of Israel.” . . .
The bright Elijah thread even weaves into the story of Moses. Tradition has it that Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are the same mysterious mountain—a numinous space, a thin place of intersection between heaven and earth. As the story goes, when Moses was on the mountain, he heard the voice of God in fire and cloud, in rumblings, thunderings, and quakings. In contrast, when Elijah met God on the mountain, this time God was present in the silence . . .
Centuries after the ancient stories about Elijah were penned, NT theologians read and reread their Holy Scriptures and interpreted the meaning and tradition of Elijah based on their encounter with the Risen Christ . . .
All three synoptic gospels tell the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, a pivotal NT event involving Moses and Elijah on yet another mystical mountaintop. The Mount of Transfiguration is not so much geographical as it is theological—or maybe traditional, since the transfiguration proclaims Jesus the Christ stands squarely in the same tradition as Moses and Elijah. However, this vision of transfiguration insists that the Christ surpasses both these great prophets of Israel.
Since we are talking about Elijah this week, we should note that at every Seder (Passover) meal to this day, our Jewish siblings set a place at the table for Elijah and leave the door open so that, at the appointed time, Elijah may once again
calm the wrath of God and . . . turn the hearts of parents to their children and restore the tribes of Jacob.Sirach 48:10
Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle. Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace. Resource Publications.