Prophet Elijah. ( Qualities of Elijah that led to his achievements )

Prophet Elijah. ( Qualities of Elijah that led to his achievements )

• Elijah was fearless and courageous. His courage helped him to face king Ahab and queen Jezebel and

condemn them for their wickedness such as corruption and idolatry

• He was faithful to God. Yahweh guided him in his dealings with Baal prophets and king Ahab.

• He lived a simple life. For example, he wore simple clothing made of carmel’s skin.

• He stood for the covenant at a time when the religion of Yahweh was in danger

• He had the power of God in him and was able to control rain.

• He confirmed that Yahweh had authority over land and over the people.

b) Schism is sharp religious, social, political differences within a group or organization

Syncretism is the process of mixing religious beliefs and practices

c) Some characteristics of Elijah that a modern Christian should strive to emulate

1) Courage

2) Faithfulness

3) Zealousness for God

4) Concern for the needy / poor

5) Provision of social justice

6) Patience

Qn d. What were the effects of idolatry in Israel?

Syncretism developed where the Israelites worshipped Yahweh alongside the gods of Canaan.

The Israelites started calling Yahweh by the names used for Canaanites gods e.g. El.

The Israelites started naming their children after Canaanite gods like Baal.

They changed their religion calendar and celebration to correspond with their Canaanite celebrations and feasts.

They converted the high places used for worshipping Baal to Yahweh’s shrines without removing the graven images of idols.

The unity that existed between the two tribes of Israel was destroyed. They no longer treated one another as brothers.

The Kings of Israel behaved like the Canaanites leaders by oppressing the weak and grabbing other people’s property.

The people neglected Yahweh’s holy places.

God’s prophets were mistreated, persecuted and even killed.

God withdrew his blessings from the Israelites because they angered Him by worshipping other gods.

They broke God’s commandments, which forbade worship of other god a part from Yahweh.

The Israelites practiced temple prostitution and other Canaanites rituals and sacrifices.

Qn e. Describe Elijah’s fight against false religion in Israel

Elijah rose to challenge false religion at a time when Baalism had become the official religion.

He prophesied a three and a half years drought because the people had turned away from Yahweh.

After the drought God appeared to Elijah and told him to go to King Ahab and tell him that the drought was as a result of idolatry in Israel.

Elijah requested the King to order all the people to meet at Mt Carmel to hold a contest.

Elijah asked the King to invite the 400 prophets of Asherah and Baal’s 450, saw that they could prove who the true God is.

Elijah would sacrifice a bull and the false prophets would too sacrifice their own to call on their Gods to send fire. The one who could send is the true God.

The prophets of Baal were the 1st to pray to their god but he never sent fire.

The prophets cut themselves with knives to please their god but he never sent it.

Elijah then prepared the altar with 12 pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

He dug a trench around the altar, placed wood and put the cut bull on top of the wood.

He ordered for water to be poured around the trenches until it flooded.

Then in the evening Elijah prayed and called upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to send fire.

Fire came and consumed the whole sacrifice, including the water in the trenches.

As a result, the Israelites bowed down and declared that Yahweh was the true God.

Then Elijah ordered the killing of all the prophets of Baal and the prophetesses of Asherah.

Elijah went to the top of the Mt Carmel and prayed for rain. Yahweh sent His servant to watch for the sign of rain from the sea.

The servant looked towards the sea seven times after, which he saw a small cloud forming.

Then heavy rain fell, signaling end of drought.

Describe Elijah’s fight against corruption – 1 Kings 21

Corruption: Can be defined as dishonesty or misuse of power for personal gain.

In a corrupt society, the rich and powerful people tend to take advantage of the weak/poor by exploiting them and denying them their rights.

King Ahab of Israel desired a fruitful vineyard owned by a man named Naboth.

King Ahab approached Naboth to sell him the vineyard or exchange with another one.

Naboth declined the offer because in Israel, selling ancestral land was against the covenant law. The

land belonged to God.

Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, soon learned, Naboth’s refusal and she arranged Naboth’s murder through false accusations.

After Naboth was killed, Ahab possessed the vineyard.

God commanded Elijah to go and declare His judgement on Ahab for committing such an evil act in Israel.

Elijah declared the following judgement on Ahab:

i. Dogs would lick Ahab’s blood at the same place where they had licked Naboth’s.

ii. Ahab’s dynasty would fall kike those of the Kings before him who had disobeyed God.

iii. All family members of Ahab would face violent deaths.

On hearing this, Ahab humbled himself before God and repented. God postponed Ahab’s punishment to the days of his son.

Qn g. What can Christian learn from the teachings of Elijah?

From the Mt Carmel incident, they learn that Yahweh controls the forces of nature – can bring rain or

stop it.

Yahweh is the only true and living God – Mt Carmel.

Yahweh is forgiving – pardoned those who repented on Mt Carmel.

Yahweh is a jealous God. He will not share honor with any God – killed the 450 prophets worshipping Baal.

A prosecutor – protected Elijah.

A provider – provided Elijah with food.

Yahweh answers prayers. He is faithful.

They also learn that church leaders should condemn evil like Elijah did in the case of Ahab and Naboth.

Christians should work to protect the poor from exploitation.

They should be prayerful so that God can help them overcome difficulties like Elijah.

They should strive to lead lives free from corruption.

They should remain faithful even if it means costing their lives to Naboth.

Leaders should realize authority comes from God and are accountable to Him.

They should avoid idolatry, which Elijah condemned.

Perform tasks given by God however had they may be as Elijah did – facing Ahab, killing the 450 false prophets etc.

Finally, they should invite sinners to repeat and bring them back to God.

Selected Aspects of African Religious Heritage

Question a: Explain African beliefs about God (or qualities)

African beliefs about their God are found in their proverbs, myths, songs, prayers, narratives and religious ceremonies.

God was believed to be a supreme being who was beyond human understanding.

The African communities believed that God was all-powerful – omnipotent.

They believed that God’s power is expressed in natural occurrences such as thunder, earthquake floods and volcanic eruptions.

God is believed to be all-knowing omniscient.

He is limitless and knows hears and sees everything.

He is also omnipresent – meaning he is everywhere at all times.

Transcendent – beyond human understanding. Because of the transcendent nature, Africans found it

impossible to represent him using physical representations. They viewed him as being far yet too near them.

He was seen as the provider and sustainer of creation.

They believed that God is everlasting. He has no beginning or end.

God is merciful.

They believed he is incorruptible.

African communities associated God with justice.

Physical features were often seen as a representation of awesome power of God. This is why large

mountains, thick forest, unique rock formation were used as shrines.

African viewed God to be mysterious.

Qb. Describe the African understanding of the Hierarchy of Beings

Hierarchy of Beings

Divinities

Ancestors

Human Beings

Animals and Plants

Non-living Things

God as the creator occupies the highest rank in the hierarchy of being – creator.

The Divinities: Came next and control natural forces in the universe, created by God.

The Common Spirits: Comprise spirits of people who died long time ago.

Ancestors: (living dead): Spirits of those who died recently and are still remembered by the living.

Human Beings: Consist of the living and the unborn.

Animals and Plants: Come next – for man’s use as food and sacrifice to God.

Last (7th) are Non-living things: Such as mountains, rocks, rivers, caves, dwelling places of God and Spirits.

Qc. Describe the Role of the ancestors to the living

The ancestors acted as intermediaries between God and human beings.

They communicated the problems and wishes of human beings to God.

God and the spirits used the ancestors to express their wishes concerning human beings.

The ancestors welcomed those who died to the spirit world.

They helped to preserve the culture and standards of a community.

The ancestors blessed the living and corrected them through punishment.

Qd. What was the responsibility of the living towards God?

To show gratitude to God and give thanks to him as an acknowledgement that He is the giver of life.

To honor, worship and adore God by praying to Him for their needs.

To pray to Him during or before a war, before planting, etc.

To obey and trust Him.

To take care of God’s creation

To teach children about God.

Appease him through sacrifice.

Qe. Describe the Traditional African ways of worshipping God

Sacrifice: They were used to ask God’s favour, thanksgiving, to avert evil and ask for forgiveness,

before planting and after harvest, epidemics, birth, naming, invitation, weddings, funerals etc for different reasons.

Offerings: Foodstuffs e.g. grain, honey, beer, milk was offered in recognition of God as owner of property and provider.

Prayers and invocations: Commonest act of worship. A continuation activity done anytime as the need arises.

Song and dance: People were involved both physically and spiritually. This brought the city together.

Blessings and Salutations: Expressed in greetings and farewells e.g. “Go with God”, God be with you”.

Qf. What were the African ways of venerating and communicating with the spirits and ancestors?

Venerating means showing respect to somebody.

Spirits and ancestors were venerated because they were believed to be senior to human beings and closer to God.

Sacrifices were offered to them as the ways of venerating them.

Pouring libation was done.

The living invited them during ceremonies such as birth, invitation, marriage and burial.

They consulted diviners, mediums and medicine men to keep in contact.

The living named after them – thus they became immortal and members in the physical world again.

Their names were mentioned during prayer.

By maintaining their graves.

Giving them proper burial ceremonies.

AFRICAN MORAL AND CULTURAL VALUES.

Kinship means being related either by blood or marriages.

The kinship system was important in the traditional African society because of the following factors.

The kinship system regulated people’s behavior towards each other. This promoted peaceful and harmonious relationships.

It promoted co-operation among community members especially in times of difficulty.

It helped to ensure that the disadvantaged members of the community were taken care of.

The living dead and the ancestors were part of the African kinship system. This showed concern or the families or relatives they left behind.

The kinship system led to the preservation of cultural identity.

It provided a peaceful way of settling disputes with the elders acting as arbitrators.

It ensured fairness and transparency in sharing out inheritance.

The kinship system united the members of a family and clan by giving them a sense of belonging.

It helped people to establish new relationship, especially through marriage.

Kinship ties regulated marital customs rules and regulations. People who were related in any way could not be allowed to marry.

Qb. Outline and explain factors contributing to harmony and mutual responsibility in the Traditional African Society

Good morals: Every member of the community was expected to do the right thing according to the norms of the community.

Participation in communal activities: Means of the community were expected to participate in communal activities e.g. wrestling, dances and communal work.

Sharing: People shared ideas and even property, which created harmony among the people.

Division of labour: Tasks were distributed according to one’s age; gender to avoid conflicts in roles.

Rules: In Traditional African Communities, elders, men youth, and women had their respective roles

to play that enhanced harmony in the community.

Virtues: Virtues like generosity, obedience, kindness and honesty were encouraged since they contributed towards harmonious living.

Religious beliefs and practices: A common belief in God, the spirits and ancestors created a sense of togetherness.

Qc. What was the purpose of bride wealth in the Traditional African Society?

It was a way of thanking the bride’s family for taking good care of her.

It was a form of compensation to the bride’s parents because the woman would now belong to another family.

It was a sign of contract that the man would marry the girl and they would live together until death.

It represented evidence of the groom’s ability to take care of a wife and a family.

It was a sign of generosity on the side of the man.

It initiated a long-lasting friendship between the families of the groom and the bride.

It cemented a marriage.

It was a symbol of the marriage covenant between the bride and the groom.

Bride wealth served as an outward seal of the marriage contract.

Qd. Explain the role of medicine-men in the African Communities and their relevant today

1) Medicine men

They are also referred to as healers, herbalists or traditional doctors.

They identified illness and their causes.

They identified appropriate treatment and prevention measures for the illness.

They averted the effects of a curse.

They offered sacrifices and prayers to God and the ancestors.

They prepared charms for protection against witchcraft and evil spirits.

They gave medicine to increase fertility in both people and animals.

They acted as counselors, guiding people on all issues of life.

2) Relevance of Modern Society

Modern medicine has not fully displaced herbalists.

Medical doctors and scientific researchers today work side by side with traditional healers since herbs are used to make modern medicine.

Some people still believe that there are some illnesses that cannot be treated in hospitals hence; they turn to herbalists.

Some people also believe that medicine people who practice magic have the power to change theirfate.