Members of the London International church of Christ are invited to send their reflections on what they are learning or finding inspiring about our current focus on the books of 1 & 2 Kings. Please send any thoughts to Malcolm. We reserve the right to edit contributions.
Our second contributor is Joe Cronje from the 4 Rivers Region.
According to Deuteronomy 14:11-14, “You may eat any clean bird. But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven.”
Here the understanding could be formed that a raven is unclean. It’s interesting that later on in the bible we see that Elijah was nourished or fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:4). What does this mean?
This made me wonder in awe as to how God can use something that seems to be, or for me is understood to be, unclean to feed the righteous. Although I am far from a righteous man, it made me contemplate as to what God might have used as unclean to make my life more enriched spiritually. Could it be that when I say NO to temptation I am then being spiritually fed? I am seeing temptation is here as a parallel to “ravens” flying into my life. Seeing it that way I am able to recognise the temptation/”raven” and apply the right action to it. God saw everything He created as being good. This includes the birds, the ravens and you and me.
After ruminating on these thoughts/ideas or understandings, I realised there was something missing. Like when walking in the woods at night and you hear an owl, but you cannot see it. My understanding then leaned towards whether it is the ravens that are declared as unclean or is it our interaction with the ravens?
The following scripture then made things clear for me: Luke 12:22-24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.”
Jesus told us to look at the ravens, to think about them and to think about how they live their lives. My personal interpretation is that a raven on its own is not unclean, but it is how I interact with that raven that makes it unclean. Then something else occurred to me and I suddenly became saddened. I realised that our interaction with people and situations can make a good situation ‘unclean’. In this context I am interpreting “unclean” to mean causing someone to be hurt or misunderstood. In other words “unclean” could be interpreted plainly as not being loving. This can happen to us within the church as well as with people we are reaching out to. After all we are only human.
Just the start of a few thoughts triggered by 1 Kings 17.