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!
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.