What we've been reading this weekNick Spencer on the electionContacting election candidatesHow to Show Up Snap Election - How to respond?Thoughts from a Broom CupboardDifficulties getting to the Polling Station?Can’t be bothered to vote? Some reasons why you should….Politics is in need of incarnation, not just demonstration10 Reasons Christians Should Vote in the ElectionsThe election as an opportunityPolitics is dead...When praying for your leaders feels tough...'THOSE WHO SHOW UP' - Every church leader should read this book! If you care about your neighbour, you care about politicsDoes politics really matter?Why the Catholic Church calls us to be "active citizens"Serving God On the Inside and On the OutsideWho would Jesus vote for?5 reasons Christians don't get involved in politicsShifting views on politics from an Ethiopian immigrantOne student's u-turn on politicsTime to get engaged!A call for students to have a go!

Serving God On the Inside and On the Outside


Are Christians in politics inevitably involved in compromise? The question is not a new one. It goes back at least as far as the time of Ahab, king of Israel. Here a newly discovered correspondence from the Dead Sea Scrolls sheds light on the question.


Dear Obadiah:

I knew from the moment you got appointed to Ahab's court that there'd be trouble. How can you expect to serve God and Ahab? It just can't be done.

Now I read in "Jewish Week" that he's married this pagan woman Jezebel who wants to root out all traces of the old faith. And is it true that she's planning to murder all known prophets of Yahweh?

Seems to me, Obadiah, that your being there hasn't made the slightest bit of difference. If anything, the royal court is getting worse daily, and you're getting dragged down with it.

Yahweh's true people have always been outsiders. Remember how Moses left the corrupt court of Pharaoh? Think about it, Obadiah. Get out of there while you've got the chance. Come and join us in the hills. The fellowship is wonderful. "No compromise": that's our motto. How about it?

Your brother,
Elijah

* * *

Dear Elijah:

Thank you for your invitation. For the time being, I think the Lord is calling me to stay here. You may be right that the time will come when I should leave. But I don't think it's yet.

You are right that Jezebel is planning to legalize the slaughter of the prophets. However, I was able to persuade her to limit it to prophets within the city of Jerusalem itself. That's something. Some of them will be able to escape while she's getting organized. But she is a very determined woman, Elijah, and Ahab is fickle as water.

By the way, I seem to remember that Moses stayed in the court of Pharaoh as long as he could. And you might recall that Joseph even became Pharaoh's Prime Minister, and served Yahweh's people well from the inside.

Your old friend, 
Obadiah

* * *

Dear Obadiah:

Your letter arrived this morning, and I wanted to write back straight away because its tone worried me. Do I detect a hidden ambition, Obadiah? Could it be that what you are really seeking is not Yahweh's glory but simply to become Ahab's prime minister?

You should know how subtly temptations creep up on us: "I'm sure I can serve the Lord better if I accept this high office. Too bad about the salary and the prestige, but I guess I can put up with it." Don't kid yourself, friend. Riches and status make God's people spiritually blind.

What is worse, I hope you realise that the blood of those prophets will be upon your head. You might as well have signed the death warrant yourself for those within the city. You have betrayed Yahweh and his people by this sickening compromise.

Get out, Obadiah, before judgment descends on Ahab, and you catch it too. You may already have left it too late.

Elijah

* * *

Dear Elijah:

It's all very well for you to descend from your ivory tower every six months and march with placards outside the palace walls. Denouncing Ahab and Jezebel doesn't change a thing. That's just too easy. Frankly, your prophetic style is cheap.

I don't want to boast, Elijah, but it's people like me who face these pagans with the reality of Yahwism day to day. And it's not easy, let me tell you, living among them every day. But that's where the rubber of faith hits the road of real life. You should try it some time. Then you might not be so quick with your criticisms.

As for compromise, frankly, it saves lives. Every prophet outside the city is safe—thanks to me, I am tempted to say. Your dogmatism, on the other hand, only serves to make the opposition more determined.

Obadiah

* * *

Obadiah:

You've clearly lost your sense of direction. We are meant to be an Israelite nation, and our job is to call the people back to their roots. Seems to me you're just getting swept up into everything that's going on: this woman with her feminist power-trips and her goddesses. Makes me sick. But you seem able to stomach it all right.

Being in these godforsaken places day in and day out is cutting down the spiritual sensitivity you used to have. Frankly, I fear for the state of your soul.

I am planning to come and confront the court with some black and white issues—soon.

Praying for you,
Elijah

* * *

Elijah:

It's really no use at all going on about our Israelite origins. Face it, we live in a post-Yahwist society. Nobody takes Yahweh seriously any more, nobody listens to the Torah. Baalism is all the rage.

But what you don't seem to realise is that their majesties actually take me seriously. Just the other day, the king told me how much he appreciated my advice, and asked if I would pray for him. The trouble with your approach is that it's simply too easy for everyone to laugh at you and dismiss you as an eccentric.

What's more, I utterly fail to see what you can possibly achieve by this confronting of Ahab and the prophets of Baal. You could totally undermine the slow, steady witness of people like me—and there are a number of us. I hope you know what you're doing.

Frustratedly,
Obadiah

* * *

My dear Obadiah:

I sensed that you were praying yesterday. Thank you. I have done my part and I feel utterly drained. Now it is over to you. Ahab will not speak to me. Clearly Yahweh has you there for an hour such as this.

I hear too that you were able to save a hundred of Yahweh's prophets from that woman last month. Only you could have done that. Why did you not tell me? But I think I know why.

Forgive me my harsh criticisms of earlier letters. You know how impetuous and dogmatic I can get.

Your covenant brother,
Elijah

* * *

Brother Elijah:

Thank you for that awesome demonstration on the hill yesterday. Generations to come will call that your finest hour. Your courage humbles me. Yahweh has not forsaken us after all.

Ahab has been asking me questions about the faith ever since. Pray that he will return to the Lord with all his heart.

Your brother,
Obadiah


(With apologies to 1 Kings 17 and 18.)


Written by John P. Bowen for Cardus. See original article here.