I once heard it said: “a hero is anybody who runs toward what everyone else runs away from.” My favorite movie scene of all time is the scene from Tombstone where Wyatt, Doc, Virgil, and Morgan are walking down the street to meet the Clanton brother led group of cowboys at the OK corral. They saunter down the street, bearing their badges, to disarm the outlaws and keep the peace. There is no question at that point of the movie who the hero is: Wyatt Earp. No matter the situation or the person facing him, Wyatt always had an answer and a plan. When the situation called, Earp always ran towards what others ran from.
Modern day hero’s are hard to find sometimes. There are bullfighters who run into the middle of danger, as others are running away. There are the Police, Firemen, and EMTs who ran into the Twin Towers on 9/11 and every situation since. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines station around the world who run into the fray. The men who, swallowing their pride, run towards their families and their marriages, when its much easier to run away.
These are some heros.
If a hero is defined in that way, Elijah easily fits the definition.
At the end of 1 Kings 16, the Northern Kingdom of Israel has crowned a new King and he would be like no other. The ones before him were bad, but this new King was worse. The first king of Israel, Jeroboam got rid of the Priests of Yahweh, made idols, and set up cultic worship centers. But Ahab considered these sins trivial [hb.- qalal]. The same word is used in Jonah 1, when the sailors threw cargo off the ship to make it lighter [qalal]. It’s used in 1 Kings 12 when the people wanted the king to lighten their burden. Ahab considered the sins of Jeroboam to be small potatoes so he one-up-ed him by marrying a foreign woman. Jezebel was the daughter of the King of Sidon, one of the cities of Phoenicia. She made the worship of Ba’al (a Canaanite God) the state religion of the Northern Kingdom. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord than any before him (1 Kings 16.33) and he took the nation with him.
At the beginning of chapter 17, we are introduced to a man who runs toward the evil happening in his country. Elijah the prophet takes on the role of hero. At a time when truth and devotion are at an all time low in the nation of Israel, Elijah runs to intervene. At a time when God’s people had wandered the farthest away from his direction, Elijah sprints into the fight. He goes to Ahab and says: “There won’t be any rain or dew in this nation until I say so.” (17.2) Because of the God he serves, because of his faith in Him, the acts of heroism is in Elijah’s build. God sends him to a ravine, most likely on the east side of the Jordan, across from Jericho, where God keeps him alive with raven waiters and the water form a brook. This wont be the last time that Elijah is called upon. It wouldn’t be the last stand for Elijah. A hero has arrived on the scene.
Heroism in this country is at a all time low. We need hero’s today more than ever. We need Fathers, who rush toward their kids and wives to heal relationships. We need husbands who are willing to humble themselves and reconnect with their spouses. We need men who hurry to stand for truth. The church needs men more than ever to stand for God and his plans. The work place needs hero’s. Men who do their job with excellence, work as though working for the Lord, and letting their ethics win the respect of those around them. We need men like Elijah, who despite the presence of danger, abuse, and confrontation, take God’s messages to the opposition. Let Elijah be our example as a hero, and let us be bold in standing for Truth in the face of those opposed.
In a day when evil runs rampant through this world, when the cowboy gang is running the town, where will a hero come from? The answer is Elijah…or Wyatt Earp.