Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Year One, November 22

Will Not God Give Justice to His Elect?1
1 Kings 21:1-16
1Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” (Naboth did not refuse to sell his vineyard just because he had a natural attachment to it. It was the inheritance of his fathers and the law of God prohibited this kind of sale. The land could only be sold to someone from his tribe, not to someone who belonged to another tribe. Naboth knew this law and bravely decided to obey it.)
4And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. (Ahab acted like a spoiled, self-willed child. He was angry and upset because he could not have his way. Those who have not learned to control their desires are miserable people.)
5But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” 6And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” (A domineering woman is a tool ready for the Evil One to use. Ahab was bad enough, but he was a mere beginner in evil compared with his fierce pagan queen. Bad women are often very bad; even as good women are the best of the human race.)
8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. 9And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 11And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 13And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. (The leaders and the two men who pretended to be witnesses were entirely dishonest. They were willing and able disciples of the vicious court of Jezebel.) 14Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”
A cold-blooded message indeed. Murder was no big deal in their eyes. Yet these very men had just celebrated a religious fast. Superstition has no conscience.
15As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. (Naboth had been accused of treason. They said he had “cursed God and the king.” So Ahab claimed that Naboth’s property now belonged to the king. How could he think his actions would be blessed? Never let us dare to take anything that does not belong to us. It will be a curse to us.)
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1 Luke 17:7

Monday, November 20, 2017

Year One, November 21

There Is a Remnant, Chosen by Grace1
Elijah fled from Jezebel to Horeb where he looked for fellowship with the Lord. He felt greatly annoyed and injured in his soul, because Israel remained idolatrous even after the decisive victory on Mount Carmel over the prophets of Baal. The people were still tremendously influenced by Jezebel and continued to worship Baal and the calves. Therefore Elijah went to Horeb where he could release his pent up emotions in private.
  
1 Kings 19:9-18
9There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (You, the brave Elijah. Why have you fled to this place? You, leader in Israel, why have you deserted your post? There is no one to teach or rebuke in this lonely, rocky place. What are you doing here?) 10He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (He was overcome with sorrow. He could have put up with hunger and thirst and even pain; but to see the Lord blasphemed was more than his great spirit could endure. He seems exasperated that the Lord had not stopped Jezebel from killing the prophets who served the Lord. He secretly hopes to see the Lord do terrible things that will strike fear in his ungodly nation and return them to worshipping the true God.)
11And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” (Come out of the cave, breathe the fresh air, and see what the Lord will teach you.) And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. (This to teach Elijah that the hearts of men are not won to God by terrors and judgments, but by the gentler force of loving persuasion. Elijah was like earthquakes and fire. His ministry was powerful, but it was not successful. What was needed was a more gentle person; one whose expressive sorrow might win the rebellious people to their God.)
13And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.”
The best cure for depressed spirits is more work to do for God. Elijah soon recovered his cheerfulness when he had work to do for the Lord he loved so well. After this encounter with God, Elijah never again allowed the fear of Jezebel to discourage him from his labor for the Lord. He never stopped fighting the battles of the Lord until his time of service was over and the Lord took him home. In addition, he found great joy in learning there was still a faithful few, in this backsliding nation, who continued to worship the only true God. The Lord said to him, 18“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
The Lord knows his own. They may be forced to hide themselves because of cruel persecution, but they are not hidden from him. In these evil days, when so many have set up false gods and turned the heart of our nation away from the gospel, let us remain faithful to the Lord. Let us in no way help or assist in promoting the miserable idols that are so popular today. Let us be among the thousands “that have not bowed to Baal.”
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1 Romans 11:5

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Year One, November 20

And He Said, “Go Again,” Seven Times1
1 Kings 18:41-46
41And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” (Only the prophet’s ears heard that sound. Faith is quick to hear. There was not a cloud in the burning sky and no wind from the direction where the rains usually came from, but Elijah had no doubts and did not hesitate to declare to Ahab that rain was coming where drought had been. Faith never goes beyond God’s promise, but is confident to declare that the Lord will fulfill his word.) 42So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. (Different men go to different appointments. Ahab to eat and drink; Elijah to wrestle and prevail with his God.2)
And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” (Faith expects results. She bows to the earth in humility, but she assumes God will work and looks toward the sea.) And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. (True faith can wait. Her persistence gains strength from her Lord’s delays. She stays on the watchtower anticipating his arrival. It is a brave thing to be able to say, “Go again,” seven times.) 44And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’”
Prayer was heard, the little cloud was enough of a sign,. Faith was now fully assured and made her boast even more courageously.
45And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. 46And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (To show his loyalty, he acted as a running footman. Elijah was unyielding in his obedience to Jehovah, but he was still willing to serve the king if the king would serve the Lord.)
  
1 Kings 19:1-8
1Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. (Ahab was easily influenced. His conceited wife was always compelling him towards evil. Woe to the man who marries a Jezebel.) 2Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
4But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (His intense excitement was followed by listlessness. The thrill of a great victory was followed by depression. Man is only dust.3 He prayed to die, and yet the Lord did not intend that he would ever die. Truly we often do not know what we ask.) 5And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. (The Lord had pity on his weary and disappointed servant. Before he had fed him by ravens, then by a poor widow, and now he honors him by supplying his need by angels. We often receive our best encouragements in our worst times. And then how sweet they are!)
7And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” (The holy refreshment came twice. When our sorrows are multiplied, the Lord doubles our comforts.)  8And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
A glorious journey, a heavenly fast, a divine assistance. The struggles on Mount Carmel and the disappointments in Samaria were about to be rewarded by holy fellowship at Horeb. “Blessed are all those who wait for [the Lord.]”4 He will make them a people “who are near to him.”5
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1 1 Kings 18:43
2 A reference to Genesis 32:24-33 where Jacob wrestled and saw “God face to face.”
3 Psalm 103:14, God “knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
4 Isaiah 30:18
5 Psalm 148:14

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Year One, November 19

The LORD, He Is God1
1 Kings 18:30-40
30Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. (It was now Elijah’s turn. It was the time for Jehovah to work.) 31Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. (Elijah had commanded Ahab to “gather all Israel.”2 The challenge was made to all Israel and therefore twelve stones were used to build the altar. The whole nation was about to see if Jehovah would answer by fire. The prophet would have nothing to do with Baal’s altar. Christ has no harmony with Belial.3) And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs4 of seed.
33And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. (The twelve jars of water filled the trench and all the materials used for the sacrifice were soaking wet. Any thought that Elijah might start the fire by some trick was eliminated. All this water proved this was a fair and honest test.) 35And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.
36And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
Bishop Hall5 correctly observes, “The prayers of the priests of Baal were as long and boring as Elijah’s was short and to the point. Elijah’s prayer reminded God of his duty to keep his promises, to uphold truth and to receive glory and honor.” The priests of Baal were full of outward strength and sensational action. Elijah’s strength was inward. His method was straightforward, but reverent. His faith was the power of his prayer. His God helped him to pray with complete confidence. There was no question about the outcome. Superstition overflows with rituals and ceremonies. Faith has no use for them.
38Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
The author of “The Days of Jezebel”6 has described this with admirable language:
“Scarce had he spoken when a broad white glare,
Scattering earth’s light, like darkness in its path,
Keener than lightning, calmer than the dawn,
The sword of God, that proves him by fire,
That proves him by fire in every age,
Stooped from above, and touched the sacrifice.
In the white blaze the sun grew dim, and hung
Like a pale moon upon the glimmering sky.
The fierce flame licked the water up, the wood
Crackled aloft, the very altar stones
Glowed fiery red!
Clear broke the shout from that great multitude,
‘Yahweh is the God! Jehovah, he is God.’”
39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
Elijah had the law of God to authorize this execution. The men were false prophets and were justly doomed to die. Elijah bared his arm for that terrible task and made the dry bed of Kishon run with blood! We do not strike at men in this way, but oh that every one of sin’s errors and superstitions were put to death. Not one of them should be allowed to escape. Lord, do this killing work among evil systems in our day!
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1 1 Kings 18:39
2 1 Kings 18:19
3 A reference to 2 Corinthians 6:15. Belial is another name for Satan or the devil.
4 a seah was a little less than two gallons. The meaning appears to be that the trench was large enough to plant over three gallons of seed.
5 Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656).
6 The Days of Jezebel: An Historical Drama by Peter Bayne, 1872.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Year One, November 18

How Long Will You Go Limping Between Two Different Opinions?1
1 Kings 18:20-29
20So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. (The whole band of 850 priests, in all their showy outfits, gathered on the mountaintop to confront the one lone prophet of the living God.) 21And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. (In silent awe, the crowd listened to the one courageous man of God, as he offered them the great choice of God or Baal, and proposed one grand test to prove which was truly God.) 22Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baals’s prophets are 450 men.
Some say there is safety in numbers, but numbers do not prove something is right. A brave person is someone who holds to the truth, when thousands love a lie.
23Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”
    “As when a wave,
  That rears itself, a wall of polished glass,
  For leagues along the shore, and hangs in air,
  Falls with one deafening crash, so rose the shout
  Of answering acclamation from the crowd
  White-faced, with restless lips and anxious eyes,
  Baal’s prophets heard, their hundreds cowed and mute
  Before one man. They dared not, in mere shame,
  Decline the challenge.”2
25Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”
He knew their tricks and that they would use sleight of hand to cheat if they could. So he said, “But put no fire to it.”
26And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. (They multiplied their prayers and showy gestures until they had performed every ritual in their religion. But the sun-god would not even lend them one spark from his fiery sphere.) 27And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (Idolatry deserves contempt. Elijah’s sarcasm was holy, though it was a bitter truth for the prophets of Baal to hear. What would Elijah say today about the Roman Catholic religion that claims their communion bread actually turns into the body of Christ or of other groups who say they are Christian but claim their religious ceremonies are somehow magical? He would laugh them to scorn. As followers of Jesus, we mix pity with our outrage.)
28And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. (Many false religions involve a lot of self-torture. Our God takes no pleasure in the miseries of his children. Many false religions demand lives of pain, affliction and fasting until the bones stick out. These may be part of worshiping a demon god, but the true God has no love for such behavior.) 29And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
“They writhed and tore
In ecstasies of grief and rage. At last
They hung their heads in mute despair, and looked
Upon the ground.”3
Baal could do nothing. Our next reading will show us what Jehovah did.
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1 1 Kings 18:21
2 From The Days of Jezebel: An Historical Drama by Peter Bayne, 1872.
3 Ibid (above)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Year One, November 17

I Will Speak of Your Testimonies Before Kings1
1 Kings 18:1-15; 17-20
1After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
To unbelievers this would seem like a command to dive into the raging waves of the ocean or to walk into a lion’s den. But soldiers of the Heavenly King do not hesitate. They obey.
2So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, 4and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) (Here was a dove living in the eagle’s nest. Obadiah was not a half-and-half man, but feared the Lord fully. As a result, he won the respect of even the ungodly Ahab. The king trusted Obadiah more than any of the idol worshippers in his court. Obadiah lived in a wicked society, but he was still committed to God. He showed his zeal by feeding the prophets when food was scarce and being kind to them might have cost him his life. If Obadiah was so faithful when his circumstances were so difficult, what kind of persons should we be who live in so much better situations?)
5And Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” (Judgment alone cannot soften the heart. God was punishing Ahab and all he thought about was saving his animals. He cared more for his horses than he did for the starving people he ruled over.) 6So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.
7And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” 8And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” 9And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 11And now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant feared the LORD from my youth. 13Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? 14And now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”’; and he will kill me.”
The good man was afraid. He had not been living the life of separation from the world and therefore his faith was far inferior to that of lonely Elijah. But the prophet put up with his weakness, because he knew his heart was right. We who are strong must forgive the defects of the weak and not expect everyone to be equally bold.
15And Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.”
17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “It is you, you troubler of Israel?” 18And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 19Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. (See the holy boldness of Elijah and how it awed the king. Elijah was far more royal than Ahab. His faith made him a king before the Lord. We should act with the same heroic spirit. Never fear the face of man. Face the enemies of the Lord with unflinching bravery. Our highest aim should be to win the Lord’s, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”2)
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1 Psalm 119:46
2 Matthew 25:23

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Year One, November 16

Feed on His Faithfulness1
1 Kings 17:7-24
7And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
8Then the word of the LORD came to [Elijah], 9“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” (When one door shuts, another opens. God is not limited to only one way of providing for his servants. It was wonderful that Elijah was fed by ravens. We now see a new wonder when he is fed by a widow who is both poor and a foreigner.) 10So he arose and went to Zarephath. (He did not question the command, but obeyed it. This is the walk of faith.) And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. (As unlikely as it seemed that this poor woman could provide for the prophet, Elijah spoke to her with confidence.) And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
12And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” (The good woman recognized Jehovah’s servant and was ready to serve him, but his request for bread touched her in a tender place. She had barely enough for one small meal and then she expected to die with her child.)
13And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the LORD the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” (She was to exercise obedient faith first. Then her needs would be supplied. Many try to reverse this order.) 15And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. (Our little will always be enough. We may often scrape the bottom of the barrel, but there will always be a handful left. It may be that we shall never have much in hand, but this is not a sin. Our needs will come to us fresh from our heavenly Father and never grow stale.)
17After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” (All too often we mistake the reasons for our troubles and place the blame on the wrong causes. The prophet had kept the child from starving. How could the woman blame him for his death? Sorrow clouds our judgment and we may say or do things for which we are later sorry. Elijah knew this and was very tender towards her.)
19And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20And he cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22And the LORD listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. (Prayers are often answered by what the world calls the laws of nature. In this case, the prophet prayed and was clearly answered by a miracle. Whether good things come to us by so-called laws of nature or by miracles, we know that if we pray like Elijah, we will have like Elijah.)
23And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”
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1 Psalm 37:3 NKJV

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Year One, November 15

His Bread Will Be Given Him1
We now turn from the more peaceful history of Judah to the troubled history of their more sinful neighbor Israel. The house of Jeroboam was killed by Baasha. Baasha reigned over Israel for twenty-four years. “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.”2 Baasha’s son, Elah, became king, but after two years he and all his descendants were murdered by his captain, Zimri, while he was “drinking himself drunk” in his palace at Tirzah.3 Zimri reigned only seven days before he was overthrown by Omri, a rival commander. Omri attacked Tirzah and when Zimri knew all was lost, he set fire to the palace and died in the blaze. Omri had a troubled and wicked reign of twelve years and was then succeeded by the notorious Ahab, of whom we will now read.
  
1 Kings 16:29-34
29In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. 31And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. (The strong-willed Jezebel completely mastered the indecisive Ahab. She became the real ruler of Israel. She killed the prophets of Jehovah and forced the people to worship her demon gods.)
32He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun. (It was a time of monstrous evil. God was not feared. The people ignored the Lord and even gloried in defying the Most High. Unbelief and superstition usually go hand in hand. Where some are worshipping a thousand false gods, others are always found who make fun of the one and only Lord. But even when this happens, the Lord’s word is being fulfilled. After defeating Jericho, Joshua prophesied, “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.”4 In his arrogance, Hiel of Bethel did exactly what the Lord had proclaimed.)
  
1 Kings 17:1-6
1Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (Elijah leaps onto the scene like a lion from the hills. Who he was, or what he had been, we are not told. He comes in thunder, and speaks lightning. The times were ready for an Elijah, and Elijah was ready for them.) 2And the word of the LORD came to him, 3“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” (God is a good master and never allows his servants to starve. He will provide for his own, even if all the land is unfruitful because of drought.)
5So he went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
He had plain food, but enough food. But what unlikely providers! Ravens are robbers of food, not providers. Yet they forgot their own hunger and the cries of their young to feed the prophet. Perhaps they brought the bread and meat from Ahab’s kitchen. There was not much to be found anywhere else! An old writer observes, “Oh God! You that provide meat for the birds of the air, will make the birds of the air provide meat for man before you will allow man’s dependence on you to be disappointed. Oh do not let our faith in you be inadequate, because your care can never be inadequate to us.”5
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1 Isaiah 33:16
2 1 Kings 15:34
3 1 Kings 16:9
4 Joshua 6:26
5 Author unknown.