Friday, November 24, 2017

Year One, November 25

Should You Help the Wicked?1
2 Chronicles 19:1-11
1Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned in safety to his house in Jerusalem. (His rescue from being killed in the battle was very special. Let us hope he was deeply grateful for it. He had foolishly placed himself in danger. It was great mercy that saved him from almost certain death. However, we see that his behavior did not go unrebuked.) 2But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the LORD. 3Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asherahs out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.”
Jehu’s father had rebuked King Asa and was put in prison,2 but this did not stop the son from doing his duty. He spoke personally and clearly to King Jehoshaphat. He did not hesitate to deliver the Lord’s threatening message. The result was good. The king recognized his sin. He began to do all the good he could. This showed that his repentance was real.
4Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem. And he went out again among the people, from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephriam, and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers.
After we have turned to God, the best thing we can do is to use our influence to convert others.
5He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6and said to the judges, “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. 7Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.”
In all our interactions we are obligated to be absolutely fair. We should never allow the threats or smiles of anyone to keep us from doing the right thing. Our heavenly Father is righteous and all his children should be too. Judges are not the only ones who can be bribed. Employees may be bribed to allow suppliers to rob their employers; employers may be tempted to treat their employees unfairly; and children may be persuaded by gifts or threats to tell lies. These things must not happen or we will grieve the Holy Spirit of God.3
8Moreover, in Jerusalem Jehoshaphat appointed certain Levites and priests and heads of families of Israel, to give judgment for the LORD and to decide disputed cases. They had their seat at Jerusalem.
This was to be a central court where difficult cases would be decided. What a blessing it is that in the New Jerusalem we have one who is called Wonderful Counselor,4 and no case is too hard for him.
9And he charged them: “Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness, and with your whole heart: 10whenever a case comes to you from your brothers who live in their cities, concerning bloodshed, law or commandment, statutes or rules, then you shall warn them that they may not incur guilt before the LORD and wrath may not come upon you and your brothers. Thus you shall do, and you will not incur guilt. (And today it is still necessary to urge one another to do the right thing. What others think about us is not what is important. Disciples of Jesus should always be honest. If honor is expelled from all the rest of the world, it should still live in the heart of believers.)
11“And behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the governor of the house of Judah, in all the king’s matters, and the Levites will serve you as officers. Deal courageously, and may the LORD be with the upright!” (Let this be our motto in everything we do. The person who acts uprightly never has a reason for fear, because God is with him. Children, learn this line by heart, “Deal courageously, and may the Lord be with the upright!”)
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1 2 Chronicles 19:2
2 2 Chronicles 16:10
3 Ephesians 4:29-30a: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”
4 Isaiah 9:6 or Wonderful Lawyer

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Year One, November 24

What Accord Has Christ With Belial?1
1 Kings 22:1-9; 13-14; 23; 28; 30-35; 37-38
1For three years Syria and Israel continued without war.
This was evidently a remarkably long time of peace. What an unhappy condition for these poor but sinful people to be in a continual state of war. There was hardly a family that had not experienced the violence of war or the loss of a father or sons.
2But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel. 3And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” 4And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” (A good man should not join with an idolater so easily.)
5And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.” 6Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” (There are always plenty of false prophets, because there is money to be made.) 7But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” 8And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” (This rebuke was far too mild. Fellowship with evil people tends to lower the standards of even the best of men.) 9Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.”
13And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” (This was an evil attempt to keep the prophet from doing the right thing. But Micaiah was a true disciple of Elijah and could not be tempted to join the crowd.) 14But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.”
23(And Micaiah said to the king), “Now therefore behold, The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.”
28“If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”
He spoke like a man of God and called on everyone who was there to be a witness of his prophecy.
30And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. (King Ahab was very cruel. It did not bother him to protect himself and leave his friend exposed to danger. If we keep company with bad people, we will discover they will not hesitate to see us ruined if they think doing so will be to their advantage.) 31Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.” 32And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out. 33And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. (This was a special deliverance. We read in 2 Chronicles 18:31 that, “Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; God drew them away from him.” The great danger he found himself him in must have made him feel how wrong he was to associate with Ahab.)
34But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 35And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot.
37So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria. 38And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD that he had spoken.2
That arrow shot “at random” was guided by divine vengeance. Every syllable of Elijah’s threatening prophecy proved true. “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. ... Your righteous acts have been revealed.”3
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1 2 Corinthians 6:15
2 New King James: “and the dogs licked up the blood while the harlots bathed, according to the word of the LORD which he had spoken.”
3 Revelation 15:4

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Year One, November 23

Evildoers Shall Be Cut Off1
1 Kings 21:17-29
17Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18“Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. (The wicked will not enjoy their victories for long. Before Ahab can enjoy the land he obtained, he is served with an order from the court of God that was terrible to hear.) 19And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’” (Let us applaud the fearless courage of Elijah. He does not hesitate to challenge the arrogant king in the very moment of his joy. Who would like to take the prey from between the lion’s jaws? Yet this heroic man approaches his task with bravery.)
20Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” (Ungodly men often consider faithful ministers to be their enemies, when they are actually their truest friends. We should consider the person who has the courage to tell us unpleasant truth to be our real friend.) He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD. (If Ahab had not committed a crime, Elijah would not have bothered him. Elijah offended the king, because the king offended the Lord. If men’s consciences are troubled, they should not blame the preacher, but their own sins. Elijah went on to declare the complete elimination of the race of Ahab.)
21“Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 22And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. (The same sins were to be followed by the same judgments. Disaster was brought on Naboth and now disaster will be brought on Ahab. Pay attention! It is written, “But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”2) 23And of Jezebel the LORD also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’ (Here was a special word for the proud queen, from the prophet who once feared her and fled from her. God makes his servants brave when they are on his errands. Human nature may fail them, but grace will not.) 24Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.”
25(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. {Unconverted men will each have their price. Give them what they want and they will sin as Satan tells them to.} 26He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)
27And when Ahab  heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29“Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.” (Ahab’s doom was most terrible. Evidently, the threat of it had a great impact on the double-minded king. He had no grace. His sorrow was not the repentance3 of salvation. Yet even his natural fear had something about it that the Lord approved and therefore the doom was delayed for a little while. What power there is in humility and repentance! May God give us the grace to come to him through Jesus Christ in an even more acceptable way. If we add faith to our trembling, we may be quite certain that he who delayed Ahab’s judgment will save us from his judgment completely!)
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1 Psalm 37:9
2 Luke 13:5
3 repent, repentance - The act or feeling of remorse, regret, sorrow or shame that results in a change of heart or purpose.

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)