Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 4 Study Notes
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 11 October 8, 2006 Lincolnton, NC
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 But of a truth I say unto you, There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land;
26 and unto none of them was Elijah sent, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.
I. The "Conflict" in Nazareth Was Rooted in Apostasy.
A. Jesus began his comments about this "apostasy" with "ep' aletheias", which is a phrase that is used whenever a person is intent upon emphasizing the "truthfulness" of a claim.
1. Jesus actually blends "upon Truth" with "I say to you" [using "lego" because it emphasizes the doctrinal content of a statement] in order to make sure He is clear.
2. The accusation of apostasy in the very midst of "synagogue" is serious business indeed. It is tantamount to going into First Baptist and entering the pulpit and declaring that the people in attendance are apostate. There couldbe no greater shock.
B. Jesus' reference to the ministries of Elijah and Elisha was intended to "apply" to those in Nazareth at a very fundamental level.
1. The days were fundamentally characterized by apostasy.
2. In those days, the apostasy was blatant as the "gods" of the pagans were worshiped in Israel openly. According to 1 Kings 16:30, Ahab "did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him." According to 1 Kings 19:18 there were only 7,000 reserved by God from apostasy (by way of comparison, remember that there were over 600,000 soldiers in Israel's army at the Exodus). According to 1 Kings 18:19, there were 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of the Asherah in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and only one prophet of Yahweh.
a. The penalties for the apostasy were many, but the "highlighted" one was the severe famine in which it did not rain in Israel for three and a half years -- not even "dew" (1 Kings 17:1). This was a direct consequence of the violation of the covenant as given in Deuteronomy 11:16-17. This is also the background of Ruth at a time during the period of the judges that there as a famine in the land that caused Elimelech to abandon the land in favor of Moab. Yahweh's dealings involved bringing Ruth to Boaz in the lineage of Abraham to David.
b. Yahweh sent Elijah to Zarephath (1 Kings 17:9) to a widow, and he required of her that she feed him before herself and her son.
1) What of the widows of Israel? What of their "sons"? Frankly, they starved.
2) When people turn against their Creator, they can not complain about how they are treated by anyone.
c. The record in 2 Kings 5 is of Elisha's deliberate humiliation of Naaman and his subsequent cleansing from leprosy.
1) The issue in this record is, according to 2 Kings 5:8, that there was a prophet in Israel.
2) The focus of this record is upon the anger of pride at being "snubbed" and the consequence when that anger is set aside in humility.
3. After the captivities of Israel and Judah, the "apostasy" took on a more subtle nature: the "god" was called "Yahweh", but the reality was otherwise. [Note Stephen's accusation in Acts 7 regarding the worship of Moloch.]
a. At the "theological confrontation" at Carmel in 1 Kings 18, the people said "Yahweh is Elohim", but it didn't make any difference in their hearts.
b. The phenomenal, outward, works of power do not have the ability to reach into the inward recesses of the heart and mind.
C. The theological/personal "drift" in terms of personal loyalty to Yahweh was very great because the entire issue of "loyalty" is a "servant" issue and cannot be otherwise.
1. "Loyalty" is a matter of the heart and is integrally wrapped up in the issues of values and faith.
2. Having loyalty to others has a very fundamental requirement: death to oneself.