June 23, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Kings 14-18.
Background: I Kings 10-13.
Concepts and Connections.
1. The fall of Jeroboam: Some time after the man of God was sent to Jeroboam to cry agains the altar in the previous chapter, Jeroboam’s son became ill and he wanted to inquire of the Lord to know what would happen to the child. It seems that Jeroboam was away of his present condition in relation to the Lord, however, as he tells his wife to go to Ahija the prophet in a disguise so that he wouldn’t know who she was. Unfortunately for Jeroboam, you can’t hide things from the Lord. His wife did go see the prophet, but the Lord told the prophet before she even got there that she was coming and gave him a message for her. When Jeroboam had been given the prophecy that he was to become king over Israel after God tore the kingdom under Rehoboam, he was told that if he were to keep the laws and walk in the statues of the Lord just as David had done, his house would be established just like the house of David (see I Kings 11:26-40). Jeroboam did not obey the voice of the Lord, however, but did evil in the sight of the Lord. Because of this, the Lord was going to send destruction on the house of Jeroboam, so that every one of his offspring would be cut off because of the evil that he had done (this is fulfilled in I Kings 15:27-30). The son that Jeroboam’s wife had went to inquire about would die as soon as she came back into the city. Something very interesting is said about this, however. The child would die and Israel would mourn, but he would die because there was something pleasing to the Lord found in him. Because of this, the child would die before the destruction of his family would come about, sparing him from the pain and death by the sword himself, for Jeroboam had brought calamity upon his house. And thus it happened.
2. The end of Rehoboam: The reign of Rehoboam didn’t do much better than the reign of Jeroboam, as Rehoboam lead the people of Judah in to sin just as Jeroboam had done, making altars and places to worship to foreign gods, just as the people of the land had done before Israel come into the promised land. Though Judah typically had a better track record than Israel when it came to kings that served the Lord as opposed to kings who didn’t, they still had a large number of kings, like Rehoboam, who did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. There was war between Israel and Judah all the days of Rehoboam. Rehoboam reigned for 17 years before he died and his son Abijam reigned in his place.
1. Abijam: As we mover further into the kings of Israel and Judah, the narrative for each is shorter (and thus referred to as the minor kings) than that for the first three kings (often referred to as the major kings) of the united kingdom (perhaps save for a few of the minor kings that do have more written about them). Abijam was the son of Rehoboam and reigned in Judah for three years, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father did. He died and was buried in the city of David, leaving Asa his son to reign in his place.
2. Asa: Asa was the son of Abijam and reigned in Judah for 41 years. Unlike his father, Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord, leading a reformation by tearing down the altars that his father had made and removing his mother from being queen mother because of the abominations she had made to idols. Though the high places that were built to worship foreign gods were not removed, Asa followed the Lord with his whole heart just as David had done. There was war between Asa and Baasha, who was reigning in Israel, all of their days. Apparently Baasha had made a convenient with Syria for protection against Judah, but Asa gave the king of Syria money to break the covenant, and then went in and took some cities and all of the land of Naphtali from Baasha. With this distraction, Baasha stopped building the city of Ramah (which he was doing to cut off supply to or from Asa) and Asa and all of Judah went and carried away all the stones and timber from Ramah and built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah. Asa lived to be an old man before he contacted a disease in his feet and died, leaving his son Jehoshaphat to reign in his place.
3. Nadab: Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, began to reign in Israel during the second year of Asa’s reign in Judah. Nadab did what was evil in the sight of the Lord following in all the ways of his father Jeroboam. The Lord raised up Baasha, son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, against Nadab and Baasha utterly cut off all of the house of Jeroboam just as the Lord had said would happen because of his sin (see chapter 14). Nadab reigned for two years in Israel before Baasha took over the throne.
1. Baasha: Though Baasha had been the person through whom the Lord had carried out His destruction of the house of Jeroboam, Baasha too did what was evil in the sight of the Lord when he assumed the throne, walking in all the ways of Jeroboam. Because of his great evil, Baasha gets the same prophecy against him as Jeroboam did, stating that he would be utterly cut off, his house destroyed. Baasha reigned for 24 years before he died and left his son Elah to reign in his place.
2. Elah: Elah the son of Baasha reigned for two years over Israel before the prophecy of the Lord that was spoken against Baasha was fulfilled through his servant Zimri. Zimiri came in and struck down all the house of Baasha, not leaving one alive, just as the house of Jeroboam was destroyed. He then assumed the throne of Israel.
3. Zimri: Zimiri only sat on the throne of Israel for seven days. Israel saw that he had conspired to kill the king, and they set up Omri, who was the commander of the army, as their king instead of Zimiri.
4. Omri: After Zimiri was removed from the throne, Israel was torn between following Omri and Tibni. The people of Omri, however, overtook the people of Tibni killing Tibni, and Omri reigned over all of Israel for 12 years. Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, more so than those who were before him, walking in all the ways of Jeroboam. Omri died and his son Ahab reigned in his place.
5. Ahab: Ahab took over the throne of Israel from his father Omri and reigned for 22 years, doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, even more so than his father Omri. Ahab took Jezebel, perhaps one of the most evil women in scripture, as his wife, who was an avid worshiper of false gods such as Baal and the Asherah. During his reign, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt the city of Jericho at the cost of his firstborn child during the laying of its foundation and the cost of his youngest son when setting up the gates of the city. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy that had been made through Joshua in Joshua 6:26.
Introduction to Elijah: In this chapter we are introduced to Elijah, who was arguably one of the most powerful (in the sense that he called on the power of God to do great signs most often) prophets in Israel during the period of the united and then the divided kingdom. At the start, Elijah shows his true colors, predicting a great drought that would be on the land of Israel which would last for 3 ½ years (see James 5:16-18). James says it was Elijah’s prayer that halted the rain for so long. After Elijah speaks with Ahab, the Lord tells him to go and hide by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan river. After the brook dries up, the Lord tells Elijah to go to a widow’s house who He has appointed to take care of him until the days of the drought had ended. It is interesting that the Lord tells Elijah that He has commanded the widow to feed him, but when Elijah gets to the woman’s house, she thinks she and her son are going to die of starvation. It would seem that the Lord, though He had already purposed it to happen, had not reveled His full will to the woman at this time. Elijah tells her what he has been told by the Lord, and neither her jar of flour nor her jug of oil ran dry all the days that Elijah was with the family. This is a great story of the provision from the Lord. Even greater, however, is when Elijah raises the widow’s son when he dies after a severe illness. With this sign, the widow truly knew that Elijah was a man of God and that his word was true. Elijah’s later protege, Elisha, would preform a couple of very similar miracles as to the ones here, providing oil when there should be none and raising a woman’s son from the dead (see II Kings 4).
1. Elijah confronts Ahab about the drought: After a long while had passed, the Lord tells Elijah to go show himself to Ahab, for He was about to send rain on the earth. Elijah meets Obadiah, a man who feared the Lord greatly and hid the prophets of the Lord when Jezebel set out to kill them all, as he was looking for water because of the drought and tells him to go tell Ahab that he has found Elijah. Obadiah is scared to tell Ahab that he has found Elijah because he thinks as soon as he tells the king, who has been searching for Elijah for a long time, hears that he has found him, Elijah would be called away to some unknown place and Ahab would kill Obadiah because he didn’t bring Elijah to him. After Elijah assures Obadiah that he would show himself to Ahab that day, however, Obadiah goes to Ahab to tell him him that he has found Elijah. The first thing that Ahab says when he sees Elijah is “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” Ahab has passes all the blame onto Elijah for the drought when it was because of Ahab’s wickedness that this thing had happened. At the end of this chapter, however, after Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal and of Asherah, the Lord would indeed bring rain once again on Israel.
2. Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal: After confronting Ahab, Elijah tells him to gather the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel, where he put a challenge before all the people. Elijah’s reasoning was simple: stop trying to please all the “gods,” including the Lord God of Isreal. If the Lord was God, then the people should serve him. If Baal was god, then the people should serve him. To show the real God, Elijah challenged all the false prophets to call down fire from heaven to consume an offering. The God who answered with fire was the true God. The prophets agreed and Elijah told them to go first. After making the altar, the prophets called out to Baal from morning to noon, with no answer. Elijah starts to mock them, saying that maybe Baal is out on a journey, or using the restroom, or even asleep and they should cry louder. The prophets of Baal began to cut themselves and cry louder, all to no avail. When it was Elijah’s turn to call down fire from heaven, he did not put on the show that the other prophets did. He told them to utterly drench the altar in water, soaking the meat and wood and even filling the ditch around the altar that he told them to do. Elijah wanted them to have no way of denying that the fire came from God. After the altar was drenched, Elijah prayed to the Lord to show that He is God, and fire came from heaven and consumed everything- the bull, stones and even the water in the ditch. Immediately the people knew that the Lord was God and they fell on their faces testifying to this. Elijah gathered the false prophets and had them slaughtered at the brook Kishon (which would make Jezebel very anger in the next chapter). After defeating the false prophets, Elijah sends word to Ahab to prepare for the rain that was coming, and the hand of the Lord was upon him so that he outran Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel. It was clear that to this point at least, Elijah did not fear man, even the king, for he trusted fully in the Lord and His provision. This will be important in light of the next chapter.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 72-74.
Be strong and courageous.