Monthly Archives: May 2013
Well, we made it through 1 Kings, and today we are in chapter 22. Ahab took Israel to war against Syria, and after three years of fighting, he decided that he was going to get together with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, to fight the Syrians at Ramothgilead.
Jehoshaphat wanted to hear if God would be with them, so here is what Ahab did.
1Ki 22:5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
1Ki 22:6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
Jehoshaphat was not really satisfied with this solution because he wanted a true prophet of God. This is the part I want to focus on for today.
1Ki 22:7 And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?
1Ki 22:8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
Ahab did not want to hear God speak through His prophet because he said things that he did not want to hear. I think that is an unfortunate trend in the world today.
Admittedly, in general, Christianity makes some pretty bold statements. For one thing, Jesus said that “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” People want to think that all religions lead to one God, but that is unfortunately not consistent with Christianity. There is one Way. Christianity does not have room for that type of theology.
People don’t like to hear things like this though, so kind of like Ahab, they try to keep Christianity away. However, hiding truth doesn’t make it any less true. It is our job to continue following God and doing what we can to show people that they need to come into a relationship with God.
I think that we can all agree that Ahab was a pretty bad man, but I also think that he had a conscience at the end of 1 Kings 21.
For a limited background, he wanted a vineyard that was owned by a man named Naboth. He offered to trade another piece of land for it or pay the equivalent in cash. However, Naboth would not sell it.
Naturally, Ahab started moping around, but his wife Jezebel had a plan.
1Ki 21:7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
1Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
1Ki 21:9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
1Ki 21:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
Everyone went through with the plan, and Naboth ended up dead.
That is where God brought Elijah back into the picture. He essentially proclaimed a death sentence on Ahab.
1Ki 21:20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.
1Ki 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
1Ki 21:22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
1Ki 21:23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
1Ki 21:24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
This is where we get to the interesting part. He was an evil man, and it was never a good sign when Elijah came in and told you were going to be eaten by the dogs when you died. However, I want you to see his reaction.
1Ki 21:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
1Ki 21:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
1Ki 21:29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
God was willing to forgive, or at least somewhat reduce the penalty for, Ahab after all of the evil that he did. He got his heart right with God and humbled himself. Isn’t that great news for all of us?
We all have the same opportunity to repent and get our hearts right. The offer is still open today, and if you need more information on that process, pop over to my “Start Here” page.
Ahab was a pretty bad king, but in 1 Kings 20, he seems to have gotten his act together. At the very least, he is listening to the prophets of God, and even in the midst of insurmountable odds, he is willing to go to battle against the Syrians rather than just surrender.
At the beginning of the chapter, the Syrians came to battle and were defeated.
1Ki 20:19 So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them.
1Ki 20:20 And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Benhadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.
1Ki 20:21 And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
Naturally, the Syrians wanted to have some reason why they lost, so this was their justification.
1Ki 20:23 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
Of course, all as we all know, God is the God of everywhere, but apparently the Syrians did not get the memo. Therefore, the next year, when they came back again, guess what happened.
1Ki 20:26 And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Benhadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
1Ki 20:27 And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.
1Ki 20:28 And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
1Ki 20:29 And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.
I can see why people might argue that God is pretty egotistical. After all, He is going through all of this struggle only to prove to people that He truly is God.
However, the problem with that previous statement is that when you are something, you deserve to have people acknowledge you for what you are. For example, if you are the president of the United States, it is absolutely reasonable for you to expect that people refer to as the president. It is not it all wrong to be acknowledged for what you are.
In this case, God is the LORD in the KJV. That was a pretty powerful title, and part of that name involves being the God of everything. Because the Syrians doubted that God was the God of everywhere, the fact that He demonstrated that that fact is true does not seem wrong whatsoever.
When we think that we have it tough, I think that we can learn a lot from Elijah in 1 Kings 19.
He had to run for his life on account of Queen Jezebel.
1Ki 19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
He ran away, and while he was in the wilderness, it seems like he had a serious bout with depression. He actually wanted to die.
1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
You have to admit that this was a terrible time for him, and I think that we can learn a lot about handling problems by listening to his response.
While he was in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights, God asked him what he was doing there.
1Ki 19:10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
He was willing to talk to God. I think that there is a tendency for people to absolutely shut down when something goes wrong. They think that God has abandoned them, and they stop trying to communicate with Him.
Elijah never did that. When he was upset, he called out to God. When God spoke to him, he was willing to respond.
He never stopped communicating with God. Even though he was the only one in Israel who was doing it, he kept his prayer life active. As a result of that prayer life, God led him to his apprentice Elisha. All of that happened because he never stopped listening to God. I hope that we do the same thing when tough times come.
I think that there is a part of all of us that wants to be like Elijah in 1 Kings 18. He’s just coming back from a miraculous experience where he saw God raise a young boy from the dead. Then, he has the courage to face off with King Ahab and essentially tell him that the entire reason there was no rain in Israel for three years was because of his disobedience.
1Ki 18:18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Finally, and I think this is the most audacious part, he issues a challenge. He challenges all 450 prophets of Baal to try make fire rain down from the sky. All of those prophets were allowed to work together, and Elijah was going to stand alone as the only one requesting that the true God send down fire. All of the people in Israel were supposed to there to see who ultimately won.
First, he was outnumbered. You would think that 450-to-1 would tilt the table in favor of Baal. Apparently, the people of Israel were kind of undecided as to which one was really real or perhaps they thought that both of them were equally real, so I have to imagine that the crowd was assuming that the group that was able to yell louder would ultimately prove to be true.
Second, he was unpopular. Like I already pointed out, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were not excited about Elijah. After all, he blamed all the problems in Israel on the leadership. Right before the encounter, we discover that Elijah was virtually alone in this fight.
1Ki 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
1Ki 18:22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
I think that this is the kind of boldness that we’re lacking in the world today. As Christians, sometimes we allow ourselves to be shouted into submission. Because our opponents sometimes have loud and influential voices, we figure that it isn’t worth trying to argue for what we believe in.
However, that is not the approach we should take. We need to be more like Elijah. We need to be willing to stand alone if necessary and rely on God to give us strength. There is no indication that there was anything special about Elijah except that he was a prophet. That should be encouraging. We might not feel that we have the talent for defending Christianity, but even living a life that is different than what the world preaches makes a statement.
The world might not be the easiest place to be a Christian, but that doesn’t mean we back down. We need to continue living the way that God wants us to live.
1 Kings 17 proves one very important thing. Faith works.
The obvious highlight of the chapter comes at the end when Elijah prays, and God revives the widow’s son.
1Ki 17:20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
1Ki 17:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
1Ki 17:22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
However, there have been many grieving mothers and fathers who have prayed for their children over the years after a tragic death. These people might have had just as much faith as Elijah. Why is it that it worked in this particular instance?
I would like to submit that the reason that God answered his prayer was because it fit into the master plan. However, I would also like to reemphasize that without faith in the first place, I do not believe that God would have used Elijah in the way that He did.
The obvious question you need me to answer now is what purpose God had for this situation. Why would He have a boy die if He was only going to raise him again in a short time?
I think that most of that comes back to Elijah being at the right place at the right time. Israel was in a terrible situation under King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Elijah got his start by telling Ahab that there would be no rain in Israel. This reminds me of Moses telling the Pharaoh about all of the plagues in Exodus.
This was a country in need of a revival, and God was going to use Elijah to help make that process happen. However as we all know from watching TV or reading books, many people come along who claim to be a prophet or some other special designation.
Elijah was obviously different. He didn’t just talk about being a prophet; he had a body of evidence to back up his claim. He even had a witness.
1Ki 17:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
God gives us exactly what we need at the right time. He knew that He was preparing Elijah to do great things. Without this type of demonstration, perhaps people would not have thought that Elijah was legitimate. God chose him as a prophet, and then He supplied him with everything needed to be successful in that role. Earlier in the chapter, we read about God’s physical provision for Elijah, and through this miraculous healing, we can see God positioning Elijah to have the influence he needed to make a difference in Israel.
When you were a little kid and your parents told you not to do something, it made it that much more tempting. It wasn’t necessarily that you wanted to be defiant, but sometimes you wanted to see what was so bad that it had been forbidden.
Then, when you finally went through with it, you were punished because you broke the rule. You had the freedom to break the rules, but you also had to accept the consequences.
In 1 Kings 16, we meet two of the more infamous characters in the Bible. Ahab and Jezebel were apparently the most evil dictators yet in the history of Israel, and they did a lot of things that openly challenged God.
1Ki 16:30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.
1Ki 16:31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
1Ki 16:32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
1Ki 16:33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
1Ki 16:34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
First of all, he worshiped Baal which is obviously something that God could not stand. It directly violates the 10 Commandments, and as we have seen throughout history, God does not like it when people try to replace Him.
However, there’s one other really interesting thing in this passage that openly challenges God. Way back in Joshua, Jericho was demolished, and it was never supposed to be rebuilt.
Jos 6:26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
Remember, we all can be like the little kids I’ve outlined above. God tells us not to do things, and we either ignore those laws or obey them. We rebel because we have that sin nature. There are consequences then to our actions.
Before I leave you today though, let’s end on a much happier note. We are rebellious, and we certainly do sin. However, because of the work that Jesus Christ did by dying on the cross, we can be forgiven. That is ultimately the good news of the Gospel.
2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Doing the right thing is never easy. In fact, it sometimes causes things much worse than hurt feelings. However, if it truly is the right thing to do, it needs to be done.
In 1 Kings 15, we get to read about Asa. From what I can gather, he was a grandson of Rehoboam, and it seems like he was a pretty solid king of Judah.
1Ki 15:9 And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.
1Ki 15:10 And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.
1Ki 15:11 And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.
This is our first introduction to him. We know that he was in general a pretty good guy. However, the chapter goes on to mention some things that he did to earn such high praise.
1Ki 15:12 And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
1Ki 15:13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
I want to focus on the second verse here. He removed his own mother from her royal position on account of her idolatrous behavior. That couldn’t have been easy. Even if his mother was entirely misguided in her religious beliefs, I am sure that he still loved her a great deal. However, he did what he needed to do to follow the will of God.
Jesus never promised that doing the right thing would be easy for us today either. In fact, He promised that actively following Him would cause people to hate us.
Mat 10:21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
We are supposed to love other people, and we are supposed to speak the truth. Sometimes, these beliefs are not popular, and people get angry. I have to imagine that Maachah was pretty angry at Asa for throwing her off the throne.
He wasn’t so much worried about that though as he was about doing what God wanted, and because he had that commitment, we hear that he was a man who did what was right in the eyes of God. That is what we need to aim for; delivering the truth of God needs to be our priority.
Jeroboam had a sick child, and in 1 Kings 14, his wife went to the prophet Ahijah to find out what would happen to the child.
Unfortunately, when she got there, that is not what the prophet really wanted to talk to her about.
1Ki 14:7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel,
1Ki 14:8 And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes;
1Ki 14:9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:
1Ki 14:10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
God does not hold anything back. This reminds me of a court sentencing. First, the evidence is presented. God made Jeroboam king, but he would not follow God. In fact, he did evil and created idols which flew in the face of God’s commandments.
Then, the sentence is delivered, and God essentially condemns the entire house of Jeroboam. They will not be in power anymore because of the choices that Jeroboam had made.
Many people talk about the Bible being a giant mystery, and I think that they are right on many levels. However, there are times where God is extraordinarily clear. In this case, He laid out the evidence, made the judgment and explained the consequences.
In our own lives, when we are reading the Bible and something is pointed out this explicitly, we need to listen. This book was provided to help us, and we need to respect its authority.
It is interesting how people are able to resist sin for a while, but eventually some end up giving in. This is what happened to the unnamed prophet in 1 Kings 13.
He had come to tell Jeroboam that Josiah would rise out of the house of David. After all of this interchange, Jeroboam invited the prophet into his house for some food.
1Ki 13:8 And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:
1Ki 13:9 For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest.
We don’t know the exact parameters of why God told him not to eat bread, but the point remains that he was told not to, and he did not.
He left Jeroboam and ran into an old prophet and his sons. Again, this man invited him to stop by for some food.
1Ki 13:15 Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread.
1Ki 13:16 And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place:
1Ki 13:17 For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.
1Ki 13:18 He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.
1Ki 13:19 So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water.
The man of God was deceived by this lying prophet, and he violated the plan that God had ordered him to follow. When he eventually left the house, he ended up being killed by a lion on the ride home. Because of his disobedience, he had to pay the penalty.
You might wonder why this good man had to pay the price. After all, he had a pretty good resume. He went in front of the king and told him that his adversary will rise again. He must have been trusting God pretty heavily at that point. However, after he made what seemed like a small mistake, he died. In fact, it wasn’t as if he just decided to violate God’s will. He was convinced by a man who he thought was a man of God. He thought that the old prophet would not lie to him. He wasn’t necessarily malicious, but he was deceived. Why was the penalty so severe?
I think that most of this comes back to the idea that as Christians we need to be aware. I don’t really know anyone that was struck down what this man was, but I do know many Christians who have lost their testimony because of mistakes they have made. Even if someone comes to us and says that something came directly from God, we need to make sure that it checks out with what we absolutely know about God. This priest knew that God told him not to eat food. He received contradictory information, but he abandoned what God had told him.
God takes disobedience seriously especially from those of us who claim to follow Him, and we need to make sure that we are living in a way that God would approve of.