428.) 1 Kings 22

December 22, 2010

We finish 1 Kings, which has been a litany of tragedy.  Beginning with the twilight of great King David’s reign and the wisdom and magnificence of Solomon’s, it quickly deteriorates into national division, civil war, idol worship, and moral decay.

1 Kings 22

(New International Version, ©2010)

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab

1 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel.

According to Assyrian sources, Ahab joined a coalition of thirteen kings against Shalmaneser III of Assyria, who planned to conquer territories west of the Euphrates.  Shalmaneser’s Monolith Inscription, which covers his early western campaigns, notes that Ahab’s contribution of 2,000 chariots and 10,000 infantrymen comprised the largest single contingent.  At the battle of Qarqar, near the Orontes River, in 853 BCE, the coalition successfully halted Assyria’s advance into western Asia.  The author of Kings makes no mention of Ahab’s crucial role or of his success at Qarqar.  Since the Arameans faced a continual threat from Assyria to their northeast, Ahab may have thought that the circumstances afforded him a unique opportunity to reassert his authority easily in territories to which he had claim.

—The Jewish Study Bible

2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”

4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”

So Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom Israel, asks Jehoshaphat, king of the Southern Kingdom Judah, to go to war with him to regain a city.  Ramoth Gilead was less than 50 miles from Jerusalem.  It had history:  it was a central city in one of Solomon’s prefectures (1 Kings 4:13), a Levitical city (Joshua 21:38), and a city of refuge (Deuteronomy 4:43).

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”

6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

These were not faithful prophets of the God of Israel!  Rather, these men held the job of “prophet” and told the king what the king wanted to hear.

7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”

8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Micaiah is a prophet not because it is his job, but because the Lord has called him to deliver His word.

“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.

9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”

10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the LORD says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”

13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me.”

15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”

16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?”

Evidently Micaiah’s tone of voice was so sarcastic and mocking that the king recognized his complete disrespect for the message of the other prophets.

17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

Now he tells the truth.  Israel will be defeated and the king will die.

18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

Memo to Ahab:

To quote Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!”

19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 “‘By what means?’ the LORD asked.

“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.

25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.”

26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son 27 and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”

28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”

Again we see that to be a prophet for the True God is a demanding position!

Ahab Killed at Ramoth Gilead

29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

31 Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.” 32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.”

Why did Jehoshaphat go into battle when he had heard the prophecy from the Lord that defeat was certain?  And why did he go dressed in royal robes, with all but a target painted on him?  This makes no sense to me.

So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, 33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.

As this story is told in 2 Chronicles, it is clear that Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord:

2 Chronicles 18:31-32 (English Standard Version)

As soon as the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; God drew them away from him. For as soon as the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.

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34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” 35 All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. 36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town. Every man to his land!”

The battle is lost and the king is dead.  The prophet Micaiah is vindicated!

37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the LORD had declared.

39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 40 Ahab rested with his ancestors. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.

Jehoshaphat King of Judah

41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 43 In everything he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. 44 Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel.

45 As for the other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 46 He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa. 47 There was then no king in Edom; a provincial governor ruled.

48 Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail—they were wrecked at Ezion Geber. 49 At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men sail with yours,” but Jehoshaphat refused.

50 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king.

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The writer of 1 Kings summarized some of the remarkable accomplishments of Jehoshaphat, who was one of the better kings of Judah. From 2 Chronicles we learn many of Jehoshaphat’s other accomplishments.

  • He sent teachers of God’s Word out to all his kingdom (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).
  • He established a permanent military garrison along the northern frontier (2 Chronicles 17:1-2, 12).
  • He trained and equipping a sizable army (2 Chronicles 17:14-19) that was able to quell a Transjordan invasion (2 Chronicles 20:1-30).
  • He placed Edom under Judean control, controlling an important caravan route to the south (2 Kings 3:8-27; 2 Chronicles 20:36).
  • God blessed his reign so much that the fear of the Lord came upon neighboring nations so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:10).
  • Jehoshaphat was also an able administrator, implementing judicial reforms (2 Chronicles 19:5-11) and religious reforms (2 Chronicles 17:3-9).
  • Jehoshaphat was also the king connected to the famous incident when the army of Judah saw a great victory won as the Levites led the battle with praise (2 Chronicles 20:15-23).

—David Guzik

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Ahaziah King of Israel

51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 52 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he followed the ways of his father and mother and of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 He served and worshiped Baal and aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.

The End of 1 Kings

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Music:

As we close this book of 1 Kings, with all its problems, and as we live in our own lives, with our own problems — what more can I offer to you than the “Deep Peace” of Christ — sung here by one of our favorite choirs, Libera.  The lyrics (below) were taken from an old Irish prayer.

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace of Christ
Of Christ
The light of the world to you

Deep peace of Christ to you

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
1 Kings.    http://metroimages.s3.amazonaws.com/albumart/1kings-web720.png
map showing Ramoth-Gilead.    http://www.visualbiblealive.com/image-bin/Public/014/01/014_01_0026_TH-Atlas_prev.jpg
“You can’t handle the truth.”     http://publicfrenemy.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/you-cant-handle-the-truth1.jpg
target man.    http://www.prwatch.org/files/images/target_man.jpg
“I called to the Lord”     http://www.motivationalquotes.com/postcards/cards/Jonah2_2.jpg
Jehoshaphat.    http://www.christcenteredmall.com/teachings/kings/jehoshaphat.gif

427.) 1 Kings 21

December 21, 2010

Naboth had a vineyard . . .

1 Kings 21

(New International Version, ©2010)

Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

Remember at the end of the last chapter, we left Ahab feeling “sullen and angry.”  In his bad mood, he has developed an obsession for something that he thinks will make him feel better.

3 But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”

Naboth’s response was an emphatic “no.” His rejection of the otherwise reasonable offer was rooted in the ancient Israelite idea of the land. They believed that the land was an inheritance from God, parceled out to individual tribes and families according to His will. Therefore land was never really sold, only leased – and that only under the most dire circumstances. Real Estate offices in ancient Israel didn’t do very good business.

—David Guzik

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

Sullen, sulking, peevish . . . nice qualities for your king!  He didn’t get his way, so he is acting out, like a big baby.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

Well, this little conversation makes it clear who wears the pants here!

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

“Ninety percent of politics is deciding whom to blame.”

—Meg Greenfield

11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them.

Alexander Maclaren noted three types of dangerous characters in this chapter: 1.)  Ahab, who was wicked and weak; 2.)  Jezebel, who was wicked and strong; 3.) and the elders of Jezreel, who were wicked and subservient.

12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death.

Ahab is willing to overlook anything illegal or immoral to get what he wants.

14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”

Prophets must be men/women of great courage!  To go to the king and say — You are guilty of murder and theft, and dogs will lick up your blood — to deliver such a message is not for the faint of heart!

Am I bold to confront what is wrong in my own life, or in the lives of those with whom I have connection?

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

Elijah tells Ahab the truth;  Elijah is Ahab’s best friend!

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. 21 He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)

Paul uses similar language:

Romans 7:14 (Amplified Bible)

We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin.

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

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Music:

My husband David suggested this song for this chapter:  “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,” with violin and Michael W. Smith.

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28 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

So the dogs will lick up instead his son’s blood in Naboth’s vineyard, as we will read in 2 Kings 9.

“In view of Ahab’s sincere contrition, God tells Elijah—who does not tell Ahab—that the destruction of his dynasty, announced to Ahab in verses 21-22, will not occur in his lifetime.  This qualification highlights the power of repentance while emphasizing that misdeeds must at some point be punished.”

—The Jewish Study Bible

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
vineyard.    http://www.annerobertson.com/uploaded_images/vineyard-742253.jpg
No!    http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000195406/polls_No_20Art_20050425e_4505_696132_answer_2_xlarge.jpeg
Ahab looking over his new vineyard.    http://www.randalldsmith.com/.a/6a00e553b601d6883401053698280e970b-800wi
He who sins . . .      http://watchmangospelsigns.businessdatatech.net/images/JPEG%20files%20-%20ready%20for%20website/He%20who%20sins%20is%20the%20slave%20of%20sin.jpg

426.) 1 Kings 20

December 20, 2010

King Ahab, as pictured in Mural Mosaic, a collection of 100 rulers that have changed the world, by Lewis Lavoie.

1 Kings 20

(New International Version, ©2010)

Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria

1 Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3 ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”

4 The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

Ben-Hadad demands payments from Ahab alone, and Ahab accedes.

5 The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. 6 But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”

7 The king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, “See how this man is looking for trouble! When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”

8 The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”

Seeing Ahab’s docile response, Ben-Hadad changes the terms and demands the right to loot property from Ahab’s courtiers.  The elders and the people see that this would be the beginning of the end for their nation.

9 So he replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.’” They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.

10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.”

11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’”

Like, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

12 Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents, and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.

Ahab Defeats Ben-Hadad

13 Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

How generous and kind of the Lord to come with an offer of help to a king who had promoted idolatry and turned the people away from God!

14 “But who will do this?” asked Ahab.

The prophet replied, “This is what the LORD says: ‘The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.’”

Ahab might have expected someone new and exciting to come and command the army.  Instead, they were to do it themselves.  “For nothing is impossible with God!”

“And who will start the battle?” he asked.

The prophet answered, “You will.”

15 So Ahab summoned the 232 junior officers under the provincial commanders. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all. 16 They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk. 17 The junior officers under the provincial commanders went out first.

Now Ben-Hadad had dispatched scouts, who reported, “Men are advancing from Samaria.”

18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

Sounds like the king has already had enough to drink!

19 The junior officers under the provincial commanders marched out of the city with the army behind them 20 and each one struck down his opponent. At that, the Arameans fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of his horsemen. 21 The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans.

God is true to His word and the Israelites are victorious!

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Music:

“The Lord liveth, and blessed be the Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted!”

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22 Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.”

23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, “Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.

“Many today think that God is a God of hills but not of the plains. They think God is a God of the past but not of the present. They think God is a God of a few special favorites but not of all His people. They think that God is God of one kind of trial, but not of another kind. Do you really think, my brethren, that God cannot preserve his Church in the particular trial through which she is now passing? Is he the God of the hills of persecution, but not the God of the valleys of prosperity?  Will God aid a Whitfield and not help a poor local preacher holding forth upon the green? Will he assist the earnest minister who addresses thousands, and desert the simple girl who teaches a dozen little children the old, old story of the cross? Is this after the fashion of God, to patronise the eminent and neglect the lowly? Does Jesus despise the day of small things?”

—C. H. Spurgeon

24 Do this: Remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers. 25 You must also raise an army like the one you lost—horse for horse and chariot for chariot—so we can fight Israel on the plains. Then surely we will be stronger than they.” He agreed with them and acted accordingly.

26 The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside.

Ben-Hadad is not about to suffer the same humiliation as before!  He comes in force!

28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.’”

29 For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them.

Ben-Hadad gets a painful one-two punch.

And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room.

31 His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’”

The king answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

33 The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. “Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!” they said.

“Go and get him,” the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot.

34 “I will return the cities my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad offered. “You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.”

Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty I will set you free.” So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.

Ahab is trusting an untrustworthy man who had blasphemed the Lord.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

35 By the word of the LORD one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.

36 So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the LORD, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.” And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.

37 The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes.

A familiar manner in which to give a king hard news — tell him a story, give him an object lesson.

39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”

“That is your sentence,” the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.”

Ahab figures that the man is irresponsible in letting the prisoner escape, and so deserves his punishment.  Little does he know he is pronouncing judgment on himself.

41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’” 43 Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.

“Sullen and angry” . . . but not repentant for his sins.  He keeps thinking it is all about HIM, when as the king of Israel, he should know that it is all about GOD.

Yes, I can see some King Ahab in me!

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
King Ahab.    http://www.muralmosaic.com/King/panels/047ahab.html
hatched chick.   http://activerain.com/image_store/uploads/1/4/6/4/9/ar119679683394641.jpg
hills and plains in China.  http://big5.showchina.org:81/gate/big5/en.showchina.org/Gallery/Scenery/200907/W020090722377150022042.jpg
you will die, cat.    http://trollcats.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/you_will_die_friendless_and_alone_trollcat.jpg

425.) 1 Kings 19

December 17, 2010

“Elijah and the Angel” by George Richmond, 1825 (Tate Collection, London)

1 Kings 19

(New International Version, ©2010)

Elijah Flees to Horeb

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Well, she certainly missed the whole point!

3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Actually, Elijah will never die!

5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

“The Prophet Elijah in the Desert” by Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464 (from the altar panel of St. Peter’s Church, Leuven, Belgium)

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

THE INITIATIVE AGAINST DEPRESSION

The angel did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable; he told Elijah to do the most ordinary thing, viz., to get up and eat. If we were never depressed we should not be alive; it is the nature of a crystal never to be depressed. A human being is capable of depression, otherwise there would be no capacity for exaltation. There are things that are calculated to depress, things that are of the nature of death; and in taking an estimate of yourself, always take into account the capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes He does not give us visions, He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable. Depression is apt to turn us away from the ordinary commonplace things of God’s creation, but whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural simple thing — the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there. The inspiration which comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression; we have to do the next thing and do it in the inspiration of God. If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone. Immediately we arise and obey, we enter on a higher plane of life.

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6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

“The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.”

—C. H. Spurgeon

7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God (also known as Mount Sinai). 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The LORD Appears to Elijah

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

DISCOURAGEMENT

Kingdom work can be challenging!  You can give everything you have to God’s service and come away exhausted.  this is what happened to Elijah.  God had just used Elijah to call down fire from heaven in a spectacular display of divine power.  But Elijah’s exhilaration was soon replaced by strenuous work followed by death threats, causing him to flee for his life.  Now he was alone, exhausted, and discouraged.

Again, God came to Elijah.  This time, He came not in fire or in a loud, spectacular way, but in a still, small voice.  God’s servant was tired, and God brought him comfort.  Elijah’s focus had shifted from God to God’s enemies.  He had allowed his circumstances to overwhelm him, leaving him disoriented to God and feeling alone.  So God encouraged him.  God provided Elisha for him as a helper, friend, and companion.

God removed Elijah from the activity for a while, so that he could rest and spend time with God.  When the nation next saw Elijah, he was rejuvenated and refocused on God and His assignment.

If you are overwhelmed by kingdom work so that your focus is no longer on God but on all that there is to do, let Him comfort you.  Listen to His gentle voice.  He will encourage you and provide exactly what you need to prepare you for what comes next.  If He needs to remove you from your work for a time, He will.  He may place a friend or colaborer beside you to help carry the load.  God knows exactly how to encourage you.  Let Him do so.

_________________________

Music:

“Be Still, My Soul”  sung by the BYU Vocal Point.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

_________________________

15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

God blesses Elijah by giving him more work to do (if only to stop the pity party).

The Call of Elisha

“The Call of Elisha” by Eric de Saussure, 1968

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Elisha throws himself a grand good-bye party and cheerfully sets out with Elijah.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Richmond.    http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=12551&searchid=4802&tabview=image
Bouts.    http://www.wga.hu/art/b/bouts/dirk_e/lastsupp/0altar.jpg
God is faithful.    http://www.timeoutdevotions.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/god-is-faithful.jpg
de Saussure.    http://www.artbible.net/1T/1ki1901_Elijah_Sinai_Elisha/images/20%20DE%20SAUSSURE%20VOCATION%20D%20ELISEE.jpg

424.) 1 Kings 18

December 16, 2010

Statue of Elijah at the Carmelite monastery on Mount Carmel.  He is shown victorious over the prophets of Baal.

1 Kings 18

(New International Version, ©2010)

Elijah and Obadiah

1 After a long time, in the third year (and remember, it is the third year of the famine), the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Oh, to be as sensitive to the voice of God as Elijah was!  When God said, “Hide,” he went to the river and hid.  Now God says, “Present yourself,” and Elijah goes off to see someone who hates him.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.”

One might have thought that Ahab would be more concerned about his people and food for them, after three years of famine.

6 So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

8 “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

9 “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the LORD since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD? I hid a hundred of the LORD’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

15 Elijah said, “As the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

Elijah on Mount Carmel

At 1600 feet above sea level, the Carmel Mountains tower above the Mediterranean coastline and their limestone rocks create a cliff-like landscape. Because of the region’s large amount of rain, the slopes and peak are covered with lush natural vegetation.  The name “Carmel” means, in Hebrew, “Vineyard of God.”

_________________________

16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

Later in this chapter we will read that this is God’s idea.  God will show Himself mighty in front of many witnesses!

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

It cannot be “both . . . and.”
It must be “either . . . or.”

David Guzik says:   “They lacked the courage to either defend their position or to change it. They were willing to live unexamined lives of low conviction.”

Alistair Begg refers to such people as “unconverted believers.”

God says, in Revelation 3:14-16:    “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’ “

_________________________

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

Elijah has given the prophets of Baal every advantage.  They could choose which bull they wanted.  They had hours to call for his aid.  Now he gives futher difficulty, so to speak, to God, by saturating the altar and the surrounding area with water.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”


So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

_________________________

Music:

“These Are the Days of Elijah” sung by the Irish evangelist Robin Mark.  He wrote this song in 1994 and says this about it:

The song came from watching a television “Review of the Year” in 1994. This was the year of the Rwandan civil war tragedy which claimed 1 million people’s lives, and also when the first ceasefires in N.I. were declared. On this TV review were a lot of daft stories, happy stories, serious stories, and then absolutely devastating stories like the Rwandan situation. As I watched the review unfold, I found myself despairing about the state of the world and, in prayer, began asking God if He was really in control and what sort of days were we living in.  I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal. “These are ‘Elijah’ days”.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
statue of Elijah.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Elijah_statue_at_Muhraqa_tb_n011400.jpg
forests on Mount Carmel.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm
you must choose.     http://www.makeupandbeautyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/makeup-and-beauty-blog-you-must-choose-100308.jpg
Elijah calls down fire from God.    http://qwickstep.com/search/elijah-prophets-of-baal.html?p=2
small cloud.    http://marcusmecum.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/small-cloud.jpg

423.) 1 Kings 17

December 15, 2010

“Elijah Receiving Bread from the Widow of Zarephath” by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1621 (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

1 Kings 17

(New International Version, ©2010)

Elijah Announces a Great Drought

1 Now Elijah

The name “Elijah” means Yahweh is my God.

the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Elijah claims that the God of Israel is in control of the weather — not Baal, the god of the sky.  God honored what Elijah said for His own name’s sake.

James 5:17-18 (New Living Translation)

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

_________________________

Elijah Fed by Ravens

“Elijah and the Ravens” by He Qi

2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

Ravens were unclean animals, yet God used them to bring his prophet his daily meal.

5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath

7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

“Ah, it is hard to sit beside a drying brook – much harder than to face the prophets of Baal on Carmel.” (Meyer) He also mentions different kinds of drying brooks we might experience:

  • The drying brook of popularity, ebbing away as from John the Baptist.
  • The drying brook of health, sinking under a creeping paralysis, or a slow consumption.
  • The drying brook of money, slowly dwindling before the demands of sickness, bad debts, or other people’s extravagance.
  • The drying brook of friendship, which for long has been diminishing, and threatens soon to cease.

“Why does God let them dry? He wants to teach us not to trust in His gifts but in Himself. He wants to drain us of self, as He drained the apostles by ten days of waiting before Pentecost. He wants to loosen our roots ere He removes us to some other sphere of service and education. He wants to put in stronger contrast the river of throne-water that never dries.” (Meyer)

—David Guzik

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8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there.

God keeps moving Elijah and Elijah keeps trusting God!  From home, to Jezreel, to Cherith, and finally to Zarephath, a Gentile city.

I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”

Widows in the Bible are nearly always poor.  Could God be sending him to a wealthy widow?

10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks.

He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

No — this widow is poor.  So poor she is preparing the last meal for herself and her son.  But God has a miracle in mind for her!

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

GOD’S INFINITE MERCIES

“The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.”

See the faithfulness of divine love. You observe that this woman had daily necessities. She had herself and her son to feed in a time of famine; and now, in addition, the prophet Elijah was to be fed too. But though the need was threefold, yet the supply of meal wasted not, for she had a constant supply. Each day she made calls upon the barrel, but yet each day it remained the same.

You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of meal will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will fail you. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, this shall not be the case. Each day, though it bring its trouble, shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore, yet shall God’s grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack.

For three long years, in this widow’s days, the heavens never saw a cloud, and the stars never wept a holy tear of dew upon the wicked earth: famine, and desolation, and death, made the land a howling wilderness, but this woman never was hungry, but always joyful in abundance. So shall it be with you. You shall see the sinner’s hope perish, for he trusts his native strength; you shall see the proud Pharisee’s confidence totter, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you shall see even your own schemes blasted and withered, but you yourself shall find that your place of defense shall be the munition of rocks: “Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure.” Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust.

–C. H. Spurgeon

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17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”

19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the LORD, “LORD my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the LORD, “LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”

22 The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”

“Elijah and the Widow’s Son,”  by Eric de Saussure, 1968

24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.”

_________________________

Music:

Here is a good match of chapter and music!  I like this song a lot.  The tune is easy to sing and the words speak truth.  It was written by Reuben Morgan in 1998 and is sung here by Hillsong.  As you listen, think of Elijah, and the widow — and yourself — “What the Lord has done in me.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Lanfranco.    http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=727&handle=li
dew on grass.     http://luminousinspiration.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/morning-dew-bejeweled-grass-poetry-nothing-else.jpg?w=509&h=382
He Qi.     http://www.heqigallery.com/gallery/gallery1/images/ElijahAndTheRavens.jpg
raven.    http://www.ravensravensravens.bravehost.com/raven.jpg
jar of olive oil.    http://www.marialiberati.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/oliveoil.jpg
de Saussure.    http://www.artbible.net/1T/1Ki1708_Elijah_and_the_widow/pages/20%20DE%20SAUSSURE%20ELIE%20ET%20LE%20FILS%20DE%20LA%20VEUVE.htm

422.) 1 Kings 16

December 14, 2010

In this chapter we will look at five successive kings of Israel:  Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab.

1 Kings 16

(New International Version, ©2010)

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu son of Hanani concerning Baasha: 2 “I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. 3 So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 4 Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

5 As for the other events of Baasha’s reign, what he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 6 Baasha rested with his ancestors and was buried in Tirzah. And Elah his son succeeded him as king.

7 Moreover, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani to Baasha and his house, because of all the evil he had done in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger by the things he did, becoming like the house of Jeroboam—and also because he destroyed it.

Psalm 103:8 (English Standard Version)

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

–which is to say, it would take quite a bit of wickedness to arouse to anger Someone who is slow to anger!

Elah King of Israel

8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel, and he reigned in Tirzah two years.

9 Zimri, one of his officials, who had command of half his chariots, plotted against him. Elah was in Tirzah at the time, getting drunk in the home of Arza, the palace administrator at Tirzah. 10 Zimri came in, struck him down and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah. Then he succeeded him as king.

Proverbs 23:29-35 (Contemporary English Version)

Who is always in trouble?

Who argues and fights?

Who has cuts and bruises?

Whose eyes are red?

Everyone who stays up late,

having just one more drink.

Don’t even look

at that colorful stuff

bubbling up in the glass!

It goes down so easily,

but later it bites

like a poisonous snake.

You will see weird things,

and your mind

will play tricks on you.

You will feel tossed about

like someone trying to sleep

on a ship in a storm.

You will be bruised all over,

without even remembering

how it all happened.

And you will lie awake asking,

“When will morning come,

so I can drink some more?”

_________________________

11 As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha’s whole family. He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend. 12 So Zimri destroyed the whole family of Baasha, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken against Baasha through the prophet Jehu— 13 because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.

14 As for the other events of Elah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Zimri King of Israel

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days.

Remember that strange TV show in the 50’s called “Queen for a Day”?  Well, Zimri gets to be King for a Week!  And it turns out to be a pretty bad week at that . . .

_________________________

The army was encamped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. 16 When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp. 17 Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah. 18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, 19 because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD and following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

20 As for the other events of Zimri’s reign, and the rebellion he carried out, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Omri King of Israel

21 Then the people of Israel were split into two factions; half supported Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supported Omri. 22 But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.

23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill.

I remember reading about the building of Brazil’s new planned capital city, Brasilia, in our “Weekly Reader” pamphlets in elementary school.

Omri’s new capital, Samaria, offered some political advantages.  The city was his personal property, so he had total control over it.  Samaria also commanded a hilltop position, which made it easy to defend.  Omri died before completing the city.  So his son, Ahab, completed it, building not only the beautiful ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:13-15), but also a temple to the god Baal.  Samaria served as the capital city for the rest of Israel’s dynasties until it fell to the Assyrians in 722 BCE (2 Kings 17:5).

–a footnote from the Life Application Bible

_________________________

25 But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him. 26 He followed completely the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.

27 As for the other events of Omri’s reign, what he did and the things he achieved, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 28 Omri rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king.

The Mesha Stele was discovered in Jordan in 1868.  It bears an inscription that mentions “Omri, king of Israel” as well as a reference to the sacred Hebrew name of God — YHWH.  The black basalt stone is now in the Louvre Museum.

Omri was a powerful king, who conquered and colonized northern Moab, and who established a dynasty which lasted through three descendants.  Here is a report of some of the extra-biblical records which mention Omri (from  http://www.biblearchaeology.org):

732 BC, Annalistic Record of Tiglath-Pileser III

In 732 BC, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III campaigned in Israel, taking many captives. In their record of that event, the Assyrian scribes referred to Israel as “Omri-Land,” over 100 years after the end of the Omride dynasty: “Omri-Land… and its inhabitants and their possessions I led to Assyria” (Oppenheim 1969:284).

721 BC, Annalistic Record of Sargon II

Finally, because of their failure to follow God’s ways, Samaria was captured and its citizens taken into captivity by the Assyrian king Sargon II. As with Tiglath-Pileser before him, his record of the event refers to the land of Israel as “Omri-Land”:

I conquered and sacked the towns of Shinuhtu and Samaria, and all Omri-Land (Oppenheim 1969:285).

Although Omri was a great military leader, administrator, and builder, and accumulated vast wealth, the Bible gives him low marks. Why? Because he failed in his spiritual responsibilities. He “walked in all the ways of Jeroboam” (1 Kgs 16:26). In other words, he continued to foster the pagan worship Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom, instituted at Dan and Bethel (1 Kgs 12:28-33). Omri, in fact, outdid Jeroboam, because he “sinned more than all those before him” (1 Kgs 6:25).

In the final analysis, our lives are not judged by our wealth, or earthly accomplishments. We are judged, rather, by our walk with the Lord and our adherence to His ways. Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26).

_________________

Ahab Becomes King of Israel

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

Ahab is trouble, and it starts with him marrying Jezebel, a woman who had a rich evil streak in her.  In order to please her, Ahab built a temple to her god, Baal, in the new capital city.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

Joshua 6:26 (English Standard Version)

Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
shall he set up its gates.”

This should have been a warning to Ahab to pay attention to the Lord!

_________________________

Music:

All these kings of Israel mentioned here.  But only one I want to follow!  “Jesus, King of My Heart”  sung here by Rebecca St. James.

Jesus, King of my heart
Father, my peace and my light
Spirit, the joy of my soul You are

Jesus, to you none compare
Father, I rest in Your care
Spirit, the hope of my heart You are

The heavens declare You are God
And the mountains rejoice
The oceans cry Alleluia
As we worship You Lord
For this is our Song of Love

Jesus, You save my soul
I’ll thank You forevermore
Jesus, the love of my life You are

Jesus, I am in awe
Of the love that You have shown
Jesus, how precious You are to me

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
five crowns.    http://static-p3.fotolia.com/jpg/00/14/34/90/400_F_14349093_P9JMXiNWZWRUjm1ExT90fJjIAG4Is4U7.jpg
wine in glass.    http://www.hatherleymanor.com/cmsimages/wine_in_glass.jpg
Queen for a Day.    http://www.fiftiesweb.com/tv/queen-for-a-day.jpg
Brasilia.    http://www.caminandosinrumbo.com/brasil/brasilia/imagenes/Brasilia2.jpg
the Mesha Stele.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mesha_Stele_%28511142469%29.jpg
Jericho walls falling.   http://www.reformation.org/en-walls-of-jericho.jpg

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