1 Kings 20-22; I am always amazed at the grace and mercy of God towards people. In these three chapters, we find the climax of King Ahab of Israel [Northern Tribes]. As notorious and idolatrous that he and his abominable wife Jezebel were, God still extended mercy to King Ahab for the mere display of humility [1 Kings 21:27-29] In God’s extending mercy to Ahab, I hear the so often repeated “I can’t believe God would forgive someone like him/her! Our God is so merciful and longsuffering towards ANYONE who is willing to show authentic repentance and humility. Good thing for if not we all would be doomed!
But let’s think about this – King Ahab, the same guy who battled with Elijah, who brought Jezebel and the Baal worship, was worse than any that had gone before him; this wimp of a man who whimpers to his wife because Naboth wouldn’t sell him his vineyard, the one who is arrogant, conceited, vile, abominable, a reprobate, despicable person and because he shows some remorse over his sentence from God and humbles himself; God, Jehovah, Elohim, the creator of the universe and all that exist, the God who delivered Moses and the people from Egypt, parted the Red sea, condemned and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed the entire world with a Flood, save 8 people. This God who names the stars and tells the waves to refrain – this omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God recognized a worthless man display some humility – and pardons all the fury and wrath He intended to do to him? Yes, sure, uh huh, absolutely. You know what He did the very same thing for you and me! Praise be the name of our Father in Heaven for His unsearchable riches in mercy!
The wrath of God is only exceeded by His Mercy and Grace. You and I wouldn’t do anything like that; what goes around comes around – old Ahab gonna get just what he dished out – I’m not forgiving or forgetting the sorry so and so! Or so we would act in our own smug righteousness. Praise God we have a Savior and God in heaven that isn’t like us!
Looking at this passage we also see some of the dastardly actions of Ahab – he hates God’s prophets – Elijah and Micaiah because all they do is tell the Word of the Lord – which understandably is against King Ahab. I wonder how many people we surround ourselves with just so they can tell us what we want to hear?
The sad part about these chapters is when God recognized Ahab’s humility [because of a crisis of his own making] and spares the wrath intended; Ahab goes right back to doing the same junk all over again activating the Anger of the Lord back upon himself. I think we all are a bit like Ahab; if there is a crisis coming upon us because of our own foolishness; we turn and cry out the name of God; but as soon as the crisis or pain subsides, we are right back at what we were doing before against God. I like Micaiah, he wasn’t afraid to say the truth while everyone else gave the lie. Yet when it came down to it – Ahab wanted Micaiah to speak the truth.
Ahab ended his life sadly, when it could have been so different – please since you are reading this far, I wonder would you give God in Heaven a display of repentance and humility that is authentic so He may bestow His benevolent love and mercy on you? Jesus is prepared to forgive all your sins; and restore you to a right standing before God; the added gift of eternal life [His life in you] is yours for the asking. Don’t turn the mercy and longsuffering of God away!
Romans 5:8-10; Much More
Romans 5:8-10 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” [NASB]
This is an amazing passage from the Apostle Paul. The message in these few verses enunciates the message of the Gospel in a nutshell. The wonderful news that the Lord Jesus loves us [me] is the good news to a hurting sinner. God is the initiator of this love for us. There is nothing we can do to deserve or earn the love of God. [Eph. 2:8-10]. We know the Gospel, that Jesus saves the sinner from the reality of suffering in separation from Him in a real place called Gehenna Hell. Everyone I talk to seems to know that Jesus died because of sin, our sins. That is a Friday night message. I am sure that the Jerusalem Times ran the front page with “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE GALILEAN PROPHET WAS CRUCIFIED ON GOLGOTHA’S HILL TODAY. The death of Jesus, barbaric as it was, is the plan of God to restore mankind and deliver us from the penalty, power and presence of sin. The initiator, God, loves you and I “while we are still in our sins.” While we were helpless – Romans 5:6; Jesus’ mission was to come and in obedience give His life a ransom for many. I am still overwhelmed by the love of God for me.
Millions have trusted in the vicarious death of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and deliverance from an eternity in Hell. I have heard so many preachers say that people are only interested in “fire insurance” as the reason for professing Jesus and being baptized. This cheapens salvation; Salvation is not about a destination change, but a destiny change.
On Friday we have the message of the cruel cross, the mock trials and the betrayal of the disciples. Friday means death. It is gruesome to read about and any visuals we could conger up in our minds would fall short of the agony Jesus endured. But while verse 8 extenuates the death of Jesus verse 9 says – MUCH MORE, having been justified by His blood we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. Again, this is the message, that Heaven not Hell is our destiny.
I walked the Friday night message in my walk with Jesus. I did so for some 15 years. But something was wrong, I wanted more than just a hope someday, I needed hope for the day! I learned that much of my Christian teaching was teaching me to trust Christ for salvation but work like a dog to prove that I was saved and do the proving/work in Church. I was churched not discipled! No, I needed more than just an escape from my sin penalty. I wanted life, the joy and power that John 10:10b says I can have. This is where verse 10 comes, we are cleansed and justified by the blood of Jesus – that’s Friday. But we are “saved” by His resurrected life! Oh, how grand that message. Yes, Jesus died, but the rest of the story is that Jesus lives. Not just resurrected, but somebody [Jesus] living in somebody [me]. That is Sunday morning news, that is Resurrection News. Sunday changed everything. The empty tomb confirms the promise of John 11:25-26, that anyone who believes in Jesus will never die.
The message of Easter is that Jesus did die, was buried, AND resurrected. I have found so many believers living out a self-defeated Christian life, absent of the power of the resurrection. If we are just content with not going to Hell, that’s only a Friday message. But if you want more, Much More – experience the Sunday Good News – Jesus the Christ is Alive – and He is alive in you. Galatians 2:20 – “I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in ME; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself up for me.” Quit living a Friday salvation, start enjoying the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ. His death gave us life; our death to self gives us His life in us! The Exchanged Life!!
1 Kings 15-19; this is such a packed passage of reading, it seems almost unfair to only blog once on the passage. In the midst of the revolving door of kings both for Judah and Israel; God brings a mighty prophet to the forefront to deal with a most derogatory person in Ahab and his wife Jezebel. The spiraling down spiritually for Israel has hit an all time low; Jezebel is the real ruler, all one has to do is read about the wimp of a man he is with respect to the belligerent Jezebel. The Northern Tribes have been entrenched in Baal worship, even Jezebel is credited with killing God’s prophets. Enter Elijah – from Tishbite, but no other advanced information is known about him. We do know that he was a powerful prayer warrior [James 5:17], to be able to pray and it not rain for 3 years. The phrase “and the word of the Lord came to him” is repeated in these chapters. At a time when it seems that everything has gone completely paganistic, there is an Elijah.
Elijah confronts Ahab, then disappears into the wilderness. Elijah is feed by ravens – they bring him daily bread and meat and he drinks from a brook. To be sure, ravens are carnage feeding birds – the eat road kill. I’m not sure how many of us actually catch the fact that for a time Elijah had a diet from the LORD of road kill! Soon he is aligned with the widow of Zarephath, and her son. I find the story a bit appalling in that on her way to fix a last meal, Elijah says feed me first. Her obedience as a non-Jew is particularly significant. As a result, the three of them live off a miracle of multiplication from the Lord [see the feeding of five thousand, another place where God multiplies little to feed His people]. Of course there is more to the story, the son dies and Elijah prays over him and lies on him and the “life” is returned. I found it humorous that the widow only after the son is revived that she knows that Elijah is a man of God. How soon she forgot the daily provision from an empty jar! The story of Elijah is a short one, his dealing with the Widow, the thorn in the side of Ahab and Jezebel and the Battle on Mt. Carmel. Just as quickly he comes on the scene, he departs leaving one called Elisha in his place. Before that, the rains come and Elijah hides from Jezebel in a cave, not just any cave, but a cave on Mt. Horeb i.e. Sinai. The story of Obadiah is a significant reminder to all pastors and ministers – we are not alone, we are not all that God has at His disposal. Elijah winds up running from Jezebel after a monumental victory on the Mountain. How often is that true in ministry? When there has been a great victory and blessing from God, we become fearful and faithless in the face of conflict. The conversation between Elijah and Obadiah is sort of funny, but I guess that would only be true if you were Elijah. “Go tell Ahab I am here” – Obadiah “yeah right” just as soon as I say that, you’ll disappear and Ahab will kill me! The Spirit had a habit of whisking Elijah off to various places avoiding being caught – I thought of Phillip in Acts being whisked off to Gaza to meet the Eunuch.
We have the amazing display of God’s fire/power on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18. The confidence Elijah displays is in measure of his fear later with Jezebel. Elijah runs away, hides for 40 days on Mt. Horeb, the same place Moses had audience with God and received the Tablets of stone. In Chapter 19, Elijah is subjected to various natural phenomenon, yet God is not in any of the boisterous displays – it is in the “still small voice, rustling of wind that God is heard. I don’t have any idea how many times this scene has been encountered in reminding mankind that God is in the still small voice, that we must almost strain to hear. Elijah, is as James says a man like unto us. We become fearful in the face of opposition, often forgetting what God has already brought us through. Elijah brings a valid excuse or reason from why he was there, but God doesn’t listen to the excuse and asks Elijah again “What are you doing here?” The same excuse is stated. I mentioned how slow the Widow of Zarephath was – Elijah has a memory problem too. God tells him, “get back to work” – so he returns and sets Hazael as king, Jehu as king and anoints Elisha as his successor. So are the days of Elijah. Huh, that’s it? Yep – Elijah is known for three or so years and then is ushered off the pages of history and scripture. This should remind us that our worth to God is not always in a long tenure, but being in the right place at the right time for the Glory of God! We live in a day where we need to have some Elijah’s to stand against the Ahab’s and Jezebel’s.
1 Kings 10-14; David the King of Judah is gone, the man who was after God’s own heart, gone. Solomon now reigns in his place, but not without conflict. Solomon as we read last week was an extravagant king. All the luxury he enjoyed came with a price. Solomon had too many women/wives. To keep them content and happy he constructed idols of their gods. The wisest man ever, in his last days forsook God. While there was peace on all the borders, there was an up rise brewing in the people. Now we read that Solomon did not use the people of Israel to do the work of construction, but the taxing seems to be the issue Israel objected to. When Solomon fades on the scene, Rehoboam his son asks for advise from two groups of people. I talked with the elders, and the elders told him to give relief from the taxation. Rehoboam then talked with his peers [younger generation] and they advised him to not to relief the burden, but increase it. I’m not much on looking at polls and surveys, but this is one time Rehoboam should have listened to the Elders. Enter Jeroboam – who rebels against the king. The people were ready [i.e. Israel] to leave. Rehoboam had other adversaries raised up by God. God was going to do a work – Jeroboam would rule over ten tribes and Rehoboam over two [Benjamin and Judah] only because of God’s word given to David. We have issues today with listening to various generations. Pastors and leaders are encouraged to give full audience to the Millennials and Gen X and Z people. I can’t think of a more volatile time in history. So many polls/surveys are being conducted to find out what people want and what they will support. Our own political system appears to be bankrupt, with socialism gaining more and more support. It is a sad few chapters we have to read this week. From a glorious reign of a king, to a divided kingdom. Jeroboam is so arrogant that he rejects God who gave him the ten tribes. He raises up Baal and Asherah idols for fear that the people will return to Jerusalem to worship and wind up staying. Our passage says that Jeroboam did more evil than all the fathers before him. There is a ray of hope – we hear the prophecy of Josiah being born. Albeit, the revival will only be temporary and superficial. This divided kingdoms of North and South, Judah and Israel will continue on until, the fall of Israel and Samaria around 722 BC. We will have kings like Hezekiah, Ammon, Ahab and the like. The idolatry and immorality will become so entrenched into the life of both kingdoms, God will scatter Israel, and send Judah into Babylonian captivity. 19 kings and one dynasty [Davidic] for Judah, but 19 kings and 19 dynasties for Israel in the North. How could such a blessed people forget so soon the blessings they received from Jehovah? I guess America could ask the same question. This point in history is filled with politics, immorality, deception and fear. Except the fear is not of the LORD, but of man. When I think of all the Father did to establish Israel as His people, and we as His Bride the Church, I am saddened because people knew better and still chose to satisfy their own fleshly appetites, rejecting God who literally “birthed” them into a people. Warning after warning is given for people to repent, yet the warning goes unheeded. We pray today for revival – revival of the Church, of the people of God. Yet there seems to be a demonic hold on mankind to continually reject the Savior Jesus. I wonder how log-suffering and merciful with God continue to be with us; Personally and collectively before He acts in judgment?