Monthly Archives: April 2014

1 KINGS 20 – GOD LEADS ISRAEL TO TWO VICTORIES OVER SYRIA

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1 KINGS 20 – GOD LEADS ISRAEL TO TWO VICTORIES OVER SYRIA

A. Ben-Hadad comes against Samaria.

1. (1 Kings 20:1-6) The demands of Ben-Hadad, king of Syria.

Now Ben-Hadad the king of Syria gathered all his forces together; thirty-two kings were with him, with horses and chariots. And he went up and besieged Samaria, and made war against it. Then he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, and said to him, “Thus says Ben-Hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your loveliest wives and children are mine.’” And the king of Israel answered and said, “My lord, O king, just as you say, I and all that I have are yours.” Then the messengers came back and said, “Thus speaks Ben-Hadad, saying, ‘Indeed I have sent to you, saying, “You shall deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children”; but I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants. And it shall be, that whatever is pleasant in your eyes, they will put it in their hands and take it.’”

a. Ben-Hadad the King of Syria gathered all his forces together; thirty-two kings were with him: This was a formidable military attack against Israel. Though they were outwardly strong politically and militarily during the reign of Ahab, they were not strong enough to discourage such an attack.

i. “Ben-Hadad may be the same king Asa enlisted against Baasha in 15:18; or he may be that king’s son or grandson by the same name.” (Dilday)

ii. “The thirty-two kings would include minor tribal chiefs.” (Wiseman)

b. My lord, O king, just as you say, I and all that I have are yours: Ahab’s response to Ben-Hadad fit his general personality. He was a man concerned with the luxuries and comforts of living, and so he did not have the character to stand in the face of such a threat. Ahab surrendered unconditionally to Ben-Hadad.

i. Ahab believed he was in no position to resist Ben-Hadad. o doubt, the national and military might of Israel was greatly weakened by the three and a half year drought and famine that had just ended.

c. They shall search your house and the houses of your servants: This was a greater demand than what Ben-Hadad made at first. “When Ahab agreed to his terms readily, Ben-Hadad demanded the additional right to unlimited search of the palace and the houses of Ahab’s officials so as to carry away anything of value.” (Patterson and Austel)

2. (1 Kings 20:7-9) Ahab is counseled by his elders to resist.

So the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, “Notice, please, and see how this man seeks trouble, for he sent to me for my wives, my children, my silver, and my gold; and I did not deny him.” And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.” Therefore he said to the messengers of Ben-Hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you sent for to your servant the first time I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’ “ And the messengers departed and brought back word to him.

a. The king of Israel called all the elders of the land: It was wiser for Ahab to seek the counsel of the elders of the land before he surrendered to the Syrians. Now, in the brief time between the message of surrender and the actual abduction of his women and the plundering of his goods he sought counsel.

b. Do not listen or consent: The elders of Israel rightly saw that such surrender to Ben-Hadad and the Syrians was the first step to a total loss of sovereignty for Israel. If they wanted to remain a kingdom at all, they had to resist this threat.

c. But this thing I cannot do: Ahab told Ben-Hadad that he would do most of what he requested, but not all. But to deny a tyrant on one point is to deny him on every point. Ahab could expect a harsh reaction.

3. (1 Kings 20:10-12) Ben-Hadad threatens and readies his army.

Then Ben-Hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me, and more also, if enough dust is left of Samaria for a handful for each of the people who follow me.” So the king of Israel answered and said, “Tell him, ‘Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off.’” And it happened when Ben-Hadad heard this message, as he and the kings were drinking at the command post, that he said to his servants, “Get ready.” And they got ready to attack the city.

a. The gods do so to me, and more also: Jezebel swore a similar oath of vengeance against Elijah (1 Kings 19:2).

b. Let not the one who puts on his armor boast like the one who takes it off: Though it was uncharacteristically bold speech from Ahab, it was also a wonderful piece of wisdom. The idea is that you should do your boasting after the battle, not before.

c. They got ready to attack the city: Syria and its allies readied, and the city of Samaria braced for a furious attack.

B. Victory for Israel.

1. (1 Kings 20:13-15) The prophet promises victory.

Suddenly a prophet approached Ahab king of Israel, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” So Ahab said, “By whom?” And he said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘By the young leaders of the provinces.’ “ Then he said, “Who will set the battle in order?” And he answered, “You.” Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel; seven thousand.

a. A prophet approached Ahab king of Israel: This nameless prophet does not seem to be either Elijah or Elisha. He was one of the 7,000 in Israel that were quietly faithful to Yahweh.

i. Adam Clarke had an interesting (though unlikely) idea: “It is strange that on such an occasion we hear nothing of Elijah or Elisha. Is it not possible that this was one of them disguised?”

b. Behold, I will deliver it into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the LORD: This was a generous promise of God towards Ahab and Israel. Their hardened idolatry and rejection of God deserved divine abandonment. God had every right to just leave them alone and let them perish without His help. Yet God is rich in mercy, and He showed that mercy to Ahab and Israel.

i. There is a small irony in the statement, “and you shall know that I am the LORD.” Ahab saw the victory of Yahweh over the pagan god Baal on Mount Carmel – yet he was not completely convinced. Graciously, God would give him even more evidence.

c. So Ahab said, “By whom?” Ahab looked around at his army and military leaders and naturally wondered how God could bring a victory against a mighty enemy with them. Ahab wondered who would lead the battle and God told him, “You.” God wanted to win this victory by working through the unlikely people Ahab already had.

i. Whenever a work for God is to be done, we often ask Ahab’s question: “By whom?” When many Christian leaders ask God that question, they expect God will answer by bringing someone new to them, a leader or champion that can do the work or at least help with it. However, God’s normal way of working is to use the people already with the Christian leader, even if they seem to be a very unlikely army.

ii. God would do this work against Syria and Ben-Hadad with an army of only seven thousand. Undoubtedly, these were not the same seven thousand that stayed faithful to God in Israel, but there was a correspondence between their numbers to show that God could and would work through each group.

2. (1 Kings 20:16-21) Victory for Israel.

So they went out at noon. Meanwhile Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two kings helping him were getting drunk at the command post. The young leaders of the provinces went out first. And Ben-Hadad sent out a patrol, and they told him, saying, “Men are coming out of Samaria!” So he said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; and if they have come out for war, take them alive.” Then these young leaders of the provinces went out of the city with the army which followed them. And each one killed his man; so the Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them; and Ben-Hadad the king of Syria escaped on a horse with the cavalry. Then the king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.

a. Ben-Hadad and the thirty-two kings helping him were getting drunk at the command post: The same sinful heart that made Ben-Hadad attack Israel also made him a drunk. In part, he was defeated by his own weak character.

b. If they have come out for peace, take them alive; and if they have come out for war, take them alive: It may be that Ben-Hadad intended to say that if the men from Israel had come for war, they should be attacked and killed. Perhaps he spoke in a drunken confusion, giving foolish orders to his soldiers.

c. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them: God blessed the army of Israel and the leaders that Ahab had, even blessing Ahab’s own leadership of the army. Despite great odds, they won the battle.

i. “The battle strategy appears to have been to send out the small but well trained advance party who could perhaps draws near to the Syrians without arousing too much alarm and then, at a given signal, initiate a charge that, joined by Ahab’s main striking force, would both catch the drunken Arameans off guard and throw them into confusion. The plan was more successful than Ahab dared to imagine.” (Patterson and Austel)

3. (1 Kings 20:22) The prophet advises preparation.

And the prophet came to the king of Israel and said to him, “Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do, for in the spring of the year the king of Syria will come up against you.”

a. The prophet came to the king of Israel: This nameless prophet again advised Ahab. The victory over Ben-Hadad did not end the conflict between Israel and Syria.

b. Go, strengthen yourself; take note, and see what you should do: The prophet directed Ahab to prepare for a Syrian attack in the coming spring. The prophet knew that God works through the careful preparation of His people.

C. A second victory over Syria.

1. (1 Kings 20:23-25) The Syrians try again.

Then the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills. Therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they. So do this thing: Dismiss the kings, each from his position, and put captains in their places; and you shall muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain; surely we will be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

a. Their gods are gods of the hills: The idea of the localized deity was prominent in the ancient world. They felt that particular gods had authority over particular areas. Because the recent victory was won on hilly terrain, the servants of the king of Syria believed that the God of Israel was a localized deity with power over the hills, not the plains.

i. Here they imagined that God could be molded into into an image that they wanted or could related to. “The art of god-making is very common among men. Instead of going to revelation to see what God is, and humbly believing in him as he reveals himself, men sit down and consider what sort of God he ought to be, and in so doing they are no wiser than the man who makes a god of mud or wood or stone.” (Spurgeon)

ii. Many today think that God is a God of hills but not of the plains. They think God is a God of the past but not of the present. They think God is a God of a few special favorites but not of all His people. They think that God is God of one kind of trial, but not of another kind. “Depend upon it, since Satan could not kill the church by roaring at her like a lion, he is now trying to crush her by hugging her like a bear. There is truth in this, but it is not all the truth. Do you really think, my brethren, that God cannot preserve his Church in the particular trial through which she is now passing? Is he the God of the hills of persecution, but not the God of the valleys of prosperity?” (Spurgeon)

iii. “Will God aid a Whitfield and not help a poor local preacher holding forth upon the green? Will he assist the earnest minister who addresses thousands, and desert the simple girl who teaches a dozen little children the old, old story of the cross? Is this after the fashion of God, to patronise the eminent and neglect the lowly? Does Jesus despise the day of small things?” (Spurgeon)

b. Then we will fight against them in the plain; surely we will be stronger than they: The action they recommended was logical, given their theology. Their theological belief directed their advice and action.

2. (1 Kings 20:26-28) The armies muster and God promises victory.

So it was, in the spring of the year, that Ben-Hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. And the children of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went against them. Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside. Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’”

a. Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside: When Ben-Hadad came to avenge their previous loss, they came with overwhelming force. Ben-Hadad didn’t want to risk another humiliation.

b. Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand: God took the bad theology of the Syrians as a personal insult. Our bad and wrong ideas about God always take away from His glory and majesty, never adding to them.

i. “God resents their blasphemy, and is determined to punish it. They shall now be discomfited in such a way as to show that God’s power is every where, and that the multitude of a host is nothing against him.” (Clarke)

3. (1 Kings 20:29-30) A second victory for Israel against Syria.

And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; then a wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of the men who were left. And Ben-Hadad fled and went into the city, into an inner chamber.

a. The children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day: This was clearly a miracle, yet it was a miracle working through the existing Israeli army, not by another outside agency. God wanted to show that as unlikely as it seemed, God could work through this outwardly weak and ineffective instrument.

b. Then a wall fell on twenty-seven thousand of the men who were left: After the great victory on the battlefield, God moved in other extraordinary ways to defeat the Syrians, who had defamed His character through their bad understanding of Him.

i. “The 27,000 killed in Aphek would include everyone in the city when the walls fell.” (Wiseman)

4. (1 Kings 20:31-34) Ahab’s willingness to make peace with an enemy of God.

Then his servants said to him, “Look now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Please, let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads, and go out to the king of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.” So they wore sackcloth around their waists and put ropes around their heads, and came to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says, ‘Please let me live.’ “ And he said, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.” Now the men were watching closely to see whether any sign of mercy would come from him; and they quickly grasped at this word and said, “Your brother Ben-Hadad.” So he said, “Go, bring him.” Then Ben-Hadad came out to him; and he had him come up into the chariot. So Ben-Hadad said to him, “The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may set up marketplaces for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” Then Ahab said, “I will send you away with this treaty.” So he made a treaty with him and sent him away.

a. Please, let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: Not long before this Ben-Hadad spoke severe threats against Ahab and the Kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 20:1-6). Now he humbled himself as much as he could to win mercy and favor from the unexpectedly triumphant King of Israel.

i. “The rope around the head was a sign of supplication, the figure being that of the porter at the wheel of the victor’s chariot.” (Patterson and Austel)

ii. Sinners should come to God the King with the same manner as Ben-Hadad. They should come with sincerity, with humility, with surrender, with earnestness, and with close watching to see whether any sign of mercy would come to them.

b. Is he still alive? He is my brother: Ahab felt a kinship towards this pagan king with exceedingly pagan ideas of God. Perhaps Ahab wanted Ben-Hadad and Syria’s friendship as protection against the powerful and threatening Assyrian Empire. If so, he looked for friends in the wrong places.

i. “This was not courtesy, but foolery. Brother Ben-Hadad will ere long fight against Ahab with that life which he had given him (chapter 22:31).” (Trapp)

c. I will send you away with this treaty: Ahab had no business making this treaty. The victory was the LORD’s and did not belong to Ahab; he had no right to negotiate away the victory.

5. (1 Kings 20:35-38) A prophet prepares to confront the king.

Now a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his neighbor by the word of the LORD, “Strike me, please.” And the man refused to strike him. Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, surely, as soon as you depart from me, a lion shall kill you.” And as soon as he left him, a lion found him and killed him. And he found another man, and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him, inflicting a wound. Then the prophet departed and waited for the king by the road, and disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes.

a. A certain man of the sons of the prophets: This seems to be a different prophet from the man mentioned earlier in the chapter. This is another reminder that the 7,000 faithful followers of Yahweh were active in Israel.

i. “Although he is not named, Josephus believed the anonymous ‘man of God’ introduced in 1 Kings 20:35 was Micaiah who figures so prominently in the next story. He suggested it was in retaliation for Micaiah’s prophetic condemnation that the king put him in prison.” (Dilday)

ii. “This is the first reference to these special bands of prophets (2 Kings 2:3-7; 2Ki_2:15; 2Ki_4:1; 2Ki_4:38; 2Ki_5:22; 2Ki_6:1; 2Ki_9:1) who appear during the critical period of the Omride dynasty but are otherwise not well attested.” (Wiseman)

b. Strike me, please: Directed by God, the prophet needed an injury to display to King Ahab. When his neighbor refused, the prophet announced coming judgment on the neighbor – through the unusual method of a lion attack (a lion found him and killed him).

i. The neighbor was not just another man in the kingdom of Israel. The implication was that he was a fellow member of the sons of the prophets. He himself was a man given to following God and sensitive to God’s work in the prophets. He should have known better. Though this is not as clear in the New King James translation, it is more clear in other translations: his companion (NIV), a certain member of a company of prophets said to another (NRSV) another (NASB) to another man (NLB).

ii. “This seems a hard measure, but there was ample reason for it. This person was also one of the sons of the prophets, and he knew that God frequently delivered his counsels in this way, and should have immediately obeyed; for the smiting could have had no evil in it when God commanded it, and it could be no outrage or injury to his fellow when he himself required him to do it.” (Clarke)

c. Disguised himself with a bandage over his eyes: Ready with his injury, the prophet waited for the arrival of King Ahab so he could deliver his message from God to the king.

6. (1 Kings 20:39-40) The prophet gives an object lesson.

Now as the king passed by, he cried out to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and there, a man came over and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’ While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” Then the king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.”

a. Your servant went out into the midst of the battle: After the pattern of other prophets, this anonymous prophet brought a message to King Ahab through a made-up story.

b. While your servant was busy here and there, he was gone: The prophet’s story told of a man who was responsible to guard the life of another, and proved himself unfaithful. In the story, the guilty man’s excuse was that he was busy here and there – which was no excuse at all. He should have paid attention to the job he had to do.

i. “This was likely enough to happen on a battlefield. It would not be possible to hold your prisoner, and to busy yourself about other things at the same time.” (Meyer)

ii. The prophet’s made-up story with the fictional excuse becomes real in the life of many, especially many ministers of the Gospel. “If a man is called to preach the Word, and becomes busy over a hundred things other than that of his central work, and so loses the opportunity to preach, his failure is complete. That which is our God-appointed work, we must do. If we fail in that, the fact that we have been ‘busy here and there,’ doing all sorts of other things, is of no avail.” (Morgan)

iii. He was gone: Even as the fictional prisoner escaped, so many opportunities escape us in the Christian life. “I want you all to remember this morning that if any portion of life has not been spent in God’s service it is gone. Time past is gone. You can never have it back again, not even the last moment which just now glided by.” (Spurgeon)

b. So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it: In the prophet’s story, he was unfaithful in guarding something that was entrusted to him. Ahab rightly judged that he should be held responsible for his failure to guard what was entrusted to him.

7. (1 Kings 20:41-43) The rebuke from God.

And he hastened to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. Then he said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’” So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and displeased, and came to Samaria.

a. The king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets: This showed why the prophet found it wise to disguise himself as a soldier recently returned from battle, and why the wound was necessary. Ahab consciously shielded himself from the prophets.

b. Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people: God intended that Ben-Hadad should be utterly destroyed, but He also intended that this happen by the hand of the army of Israel. God was interested in more than the mere death of Ben-Hadad, but also in the way that death came about.

c. So the king of Israel went to his house sullen and displeased: Ahab was sullen and displeased, but he was not repentant. He had the sorrow of being a sinner and knowing the consequences of sin, without having the sorrow for the sin itself.

 

 

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1 KINGS 19 – GOD ENCOURAGES DISCOURAGED ELIJAH

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1 KINGS 19 – GOD ENCOURAGES DISCOURAGED ELIJAH

A. Elijah flees to the wilderness.

1. (1 Kings 19:1-3) Jezebel’s threat.

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

a. Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done: The report came as a great shock to this champion of Baal and Astarte worship in Israel. She thought so much of these priests that she supported them from the royal treasury – and now they were dead at the hand of Elijah.

b. So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time: Jezebel heard about all that Elijah had done, encompassing the great confrontation at Mount Carmel. Yet her response was not to say, “The silence of Baal and the fire from Yahweh proves that I am wrong and Yahweh is God.” Instead, she responded with a vow to kill within 24 hours the man who exposed the lie of Baal worship and displayed the glory of Yahweh.

i. “He probably thought that the miracle at Carmel would have been the means of effecting the conversion of the whole court and of the country, but, finding himself mistaken, he is greatly discouraged.” (Clarke)

c. When he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba: We cannot say for certain if this was led of God or not. It is clear that God wanted to protect Elijah, but we cannot say if God wanted to protect him at Jezreel or protect him by getting him out of Jezreel. Nevertheless, Elijah went about 80 miles south to Beersheba.

i. “Probably Elijah had played into Jezebel’s hand. Had she really wanted Elijah dead, she surely would have seized him without warning and slain him. What she desired was that Elijah and his God be discredited before the new converts what had aided Elijah by executing the prophets of Baal.” (Patterson and Austel)

ii. “Elijah failed in the very point at which he was strongest, and that is where most men fail. In Scripture, it is the wisest man who proves himself to be the greatest fool; just as the meekest man, Moses, spoke hasty and bitter words. Abraham failed in his faith, and Job in his patience; so, he who was the most courageous of all men, fled from an angry woman.” (Spurgeon)

2. (1 Kings 19:4) Elijah’s depression.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

a. He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness: Beyond the distant city of Beersheba, Elijah secluded himself even more.

b. And he prayed that he might die: This mighty man of prayer – mighty enough to make the rain and the dew stop for three and a half years, and then mighty enough to make it start again at his prayer – now he prayed that he might die.

i. Thankfully, this was a prayer not answered for Elijah. In fact, Elijah was one of the few men in the Bible to never die! We can imagine that as he was caught up into heaven, he smiled and thought of this prayer – and the blessed no that answered his prayer. To receive a no answer from God can be better than receiving a yes answer.

c. It is enough: We sense that Elijah meant, “I can’t do this anymore, LORD.” The work was stressful, exhausting, and seemed to accomplish nothing. The great work on Mount Carmel did not result in a lasting national revival or return to the LORD.

i. Perhaps Elijah had especially hoped that the events on Mount Carmel would turn around Ahab and Jezebel and the leadership of Israel in general. If so, Elijah forgot that people reject God despite the evidence, not because of the evidence.

ii. “Elijah said, ‘It is enough,’ yet it was not enough even for his own enjoyment, for the Lord had more blessings in store for him . . . It was so with Elijah, for he was to have that wonderful revelation of God on Mount Horeb. He had more to enjoy, and the later life of Elijah appears to have been one of calm communion with his God; he seems never to have had another fainting fit, but to the end his sun shone brightly without a cloud. So it was not enough; how could he know that it was? It is God alone who knows when we have done enough, and enjoyed enough; but we do not know.” (Spurgeon)

d. Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers! When Elijah examined the apparent failure of his work, he instinctively set the blame on his own unworthiness. It was because he was a sinner as the rest of his ancestors that the work seemed to fail.

B. God’s ministry to the despairing Elijah.

1. (1 Kings 19:5-8) God ministers to the physical needs of Elijah.

Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

a. As he lay and slept under a broom tree: This was the mercy of God extended to Elijah. Physically speaking, he needed rest and replenishment. God gave him rest under a broom tree, and provided miraculous food for the replenishment.

i. God first ministered to Elijah’s physical needs. This is not always His order, but physical needs are important. Sometimes the most spiritual thing a person can do is get enough rest and replenishment.

ii. “And how many are there at this day that sit under Elias’s juniper, willing and wishing to lay down that heavy burden imposed upon them by the Almighty!” (Trapp)

b. So he ate and drank, and lay down again: Elijah received this rest and replenishment repeatedly from the LORD. One quick nap and one quick meal wasn’t enough.

i. “Before entering into that communion with him which was for the correction of his false attitude of fear, He commanded him to eat, thus ministering to his physical weakness.” (Morgan)

ii. “The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “It was very gracious for God to deal this with his servant. We might have expected rebuke or remonstrance, chiding or chastisement; but we would hardly have expected such loving, gentle treatment as this.” (Meyer)

c. Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you: God set Elijah on a 200 mile, 40 day trip to Mount Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai. This shows that God did not demand an immediate recovery from Elijah. He allowed the prophet time to recover from his spiritual depression.

i. “Elijah’s forty-day journey is not without significance. Indeed, a straight trip from Beesheba would require little more than a quarter of that time. Therefore the period is designedly symbolic. As the children of Israel had a notable spiritual failure and so were to wander forty years in the wilderness, so a defeated Elijah was to spend forty days in the desert.” (Patterson and Austel)

2. (1 Kings 19:9-10) God allows Elijah to vent his frustrations.

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

a. He went into a cave: Literally, the Hebrew is definite describing the cave. “The cave may well have been the specific ‘clift of the rock’ where God appeared to Moses (AV, Exodus 33:22) rather than the ‘cave-region’ generally.” (Wiseman)

i. “Perhaps no spot on earth is more associated with the manifested presence of God than that sacred mount.” (Meyer)

b. What are you doing here, Elijah? God knew the answer to this question, but it was good for Elijah to speak to the LORD freely and to unburden his heart.

i. “God has ways of teaching all of us in our bones and in our flesh, but he specially knows how to do this with those upon whom he puts any honor in his service. You must not marvel, if God should be pleased to bless you to the conversion of souls, that he should also make you sometimes smart.” (Spurgeon)

c. I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts: Elijah protested to God, “I have faithfully served You and now look at the danger I am in.” To Elijah – and many servants of God since – it seemed unfair that a faithful servant of God should be made to suffer.

d. I alone am left: This was not accurate, but if reflected how Elijah felt. Even back at the confrontation at Mount Carmel Elijah said I alone am left a prophet of the LORD (1 Kings 18:22). Discouraging times make God’s servants feel more isolated and alone than they are.

e. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life: Strangely, the reasons Elijah provided were actually important reasons for him to remain alive. If he really was the last prophet or believer alive, should not he seek to live as long as possible? If the enemies of God like Jezebel wanted him dead, should he not seek to defeat her wicked will? Elijah here powerfully showed the unreasonable nature of unbelief and fear.

3. (1 Kings 19:11-12) God reveals Himself to Elijah.

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

a. Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD: God knew what the depressed and discouraged Elijah needed. He needed a personal encounter with God. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with Elijah’s theology, but at the time there was something lacking in his experience.

b. Behold, the LORD passed by: God brought His presence before Elijah, but first to show where He was not. The LORD was not in the wind, He was not in the earthquake, He was not in the fire. Like many others, Elijah probably only looked for God in dramatic manifestations. Certainly, God sometimes appears in such ways but He often appears in less dramatic surroundings.

i. “This same lesson has to be learned over and over by us all: let us repeat it, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.’ It is to be lamented that the most of professors obstinately cling to the fatal error of looking for displays of power of one kind or another. I hear that a certain church is seeking for a very clever man: she thinks that God is in the wind . . . That still small voice will be hushed and silent, while the boastings of your wisdom resound like a howling wind or a thunder unaccompanied by rain.” (Spurgeon)

c. After the fire a still small voice: This final phenomenon was a marked contrast to the previous manifestations. God actually met Elijah in the quiet whisper of a voice instead of the earth-shaking phenomenon that had gone before.

i. Wiseman calls the still small voice a gentle whisper.

ii. “And now the thunder ceased, and the lightning was gone, and the earth was still, and the wind was hushed, and there was a dead calm, and out of the midst of the still air there came what the Hebrew calls ‘a voice of gentle silence,’ as if silence had become audible. There is nothing more terrible than an awful stillness after a dread uproar.” (Spurgeon)

iii. Elijah perhaps thought that the dramatic display of power at Mount Carmel would turn the nation around. Or perhaps he thought that the radical display of God’s judgment against the priests of Baal following the vindication at Mount Carmel would change the hearts of the nation. Neither of these worked. This example is important for Christian ministers, especially preachers, today. It shows that displays of power and preaching God’s anger don’t necessarily change hearts. Instead, the still small voice of God speaking to the human heart is actually more powerful than outward displays of power or displays of God’s judgment.

iii. “Because the success of Carmel melted like the morning mist, he thought that his career had been a failure all along, and that he had brought no one to reverence Jehovah; but he was reading with the eyes of unbelief, and his imagination was leading him rather than the facts of the case. Here are seven thousand people scattered up and down the country to whom God has blessed Elijah’s testimony. If he had not blessed his big things as he had desired, yet his little things had prospered greatly. It was Elijah’s daily conduct rather than his miracles which had impressed these seven thousand and led them to hold fast their integrity.” (Spurgeon)

4. (1 Kings 19:13-15) After this ministry, God gives Elijah work to do.

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.

a. He wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave: Immediately, Elijah sensed that God was present in the still small voice in a way that He was not in the previous, more dramatic phenomenon. Because he sensed the special presence of God, Elijah immediately humbled himself when he wrapped his face in his mantle.

i. “Through horror and dread of God’s presence, being sensible that he was neither worthy nor able to endure the sight of God with open face.” (Poole)

ii. “He first wrapped his mantle about his face – he became subdued and awe-stricken – full of reverence. Oh! it is a great thing when a sinner is willing to wrap his face when he is confounded, and say, ‘I cannot defend my course; I am guilty.’ We know that if at our judgment-seat a man pleads guilty, he is punished; but at the judgment-seat of the gospel whoever pleads guilty is forgiven. Wrap your face.” (Spurgeon)

b. What are you doing here, Elijah? God asked Elijah the same question – and received the same response – as in 1 Kings 19:9-10. There was something helpful for Elijah in this question and answer process.

c. Go, return on your way . . . anoint Hazael as king over Syria: God gave Elijah something to do. He needed a task to focus on so he could avoid excessive introspection. He needed to stop looking at himself and his own (admittedly difficult) circumstances. He needed to get on with what God wanted him to do.

i. “Then the Lord did what perhaps was best of all for Elijah, he gave him some more work to do. He sent him off about his Master’s business again; and I warrant you that, when Elijah went back over that road, it was with a very different step from that which brought him down to Beersheba. He had come along terrified and distressed; but now he goes back with the majesty that belongs to the Tishbite, he is afraid of no Jezebel now.” (Spurgeon)

5. (1 Kings 19:16-18) Further assurance to Elijah.

“Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

a. You shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel: God had more work for Elijah to do. He would also demonstrate God’s choice of Jehu to be the king to succeed the corrupt Ahab and his wife Jezebel.

b. Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place: God gave something else to the discouraged and depressed prophet, beyond work to do. He also gave him a friend and a successor.

i. Elijah needed a friend; the core of his complaint before God was that he was alone. God let him know that there was a man ready to learn from the great prophet and be his disciple and companion.

ii. Elijah also needed hope, and since Elisha would be raised up as a successor to Elijah’s prophetic office, Elijah then knew that his work would continue even after his death.

c. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill: This was another source of encouragement to Elijah. With this promise he knew that ultimately justice would be done, and God would not allow the institutionalized persecution and promotion of idolatry to go unpunished.

d. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal: This was a final encouragement to Elijah. He repeatedly bemoaned that he was alone among the true followers of God (1 Kings 18:22; 1Ki_19:10; 1Ki_19:14). This both assured Elijah that he was not alone and that his work as a prophet had indeed been fruitful.

i. This showed Elijah that his quiet ministry over the years actually bore more fruit than the spectacular ministry at Mount Carmel. “Yet, all the while that vile idolatry was spreading in Israel, the worship of the true God was being retained by seven thousand faithful souls, though Elijah did not know that there was even one beside himself. How were they won to Jehovah? Certainly not by Elijah’s impressive demonstration on the top of Carmel, for they were loyal to the Lord before that . . . The still small voice had been doing for Israel what Elijah could not do.” (Spurgeon)

6. (1 Kings 19:19-21) The call of Elisha.

So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

a. He departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat: Elijah did what the still small voice of God told him to do. He happened to do it in reverse order than God described to him in the previous passage. Perhaps Elijah believed that he first needed a friend and apprentice.

b. Who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him: Elijah found Elisha and commissioned him to ministry when Elisha was at work.

c. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him: The mantle was the symbol of Elijah’s prophetic authority. This was a dramatic symbol that said, “I call upon you to join in my work as a prophet.”

i. “The mantle, or pallium, was the peculiar garb of the prophet, as we may learn from Zechariah 13:4; and this was probably made of skin dressed with the hair on. See also 2 Kings 1:8.” (Clarke)

d. What have I done to you? This question “Could mean, ‘Go back, but remember what I have done to you.’ It might be a rebuke at any delay in following.” (Wiseman)

i. “Elijah’s reply indicates that he himself had not called Elisha; it was God’s call. Whether Elisha would follow that call was his own decision.” (Patterson and Austel)

e. Took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate: This demonstrated Elisha’s complete commitment to following Elijah. He destroyed the tools of his trade in a going away party for his family and friends.

i. “Elisha must have had a considerable estate, when he kept twelve yoke of oxen to till the ground. If, therefore, he obeyed the prophetic call, he did it to considerable secular loss.” (Clarke)

ii. “Hereby he showed how willingly and joyfully he forsook all his friends, that he might serve God in that high and honourable employment.” (Poole)

 

 

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1 KINGS 18 – ELIJAH’S VICTORY AT CARMEL

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1 KINGS 18 – ELIJAH’S VICTORY AT CARMEL

A. Elijah meets Ahab.

1. (1 Kings 18:1-2) The end of the drought.

And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.

a. In the third year: This remarkable drought lasted three and one-half years by the fervent prayer of Elijah.

b. Go, present yourself to Ahab: Earlier God told Elijah to hide himself. Now it was time to present himself. There is a time to hide and be alone with God, and there is also a time to present our self to the world. Some wish to always remain hidden when they should step up and present themselves.

i. Elijah simply obeyed God’s command. Though it happened through the prayers of Elijah, his prayers were sensitive to the leading of God. The drought did not begin or end as a result of Elijah’s will, but at God’s will.

2. (1 Kings 18:3-14) Elijah meets Obadiah.

And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly. For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock. So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, “Is that you, my lord Elijah?” And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’” So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you. And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here”‘! And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here.” ‘ He will kill me!”

a. While Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water: This man Obadiah was a brave man who stood for God and His prophets in a difficult time.

i. This may be the same Obadiah whose prophecy against Edom is recorded among the Minor Prophets. It is a little difficult to be certain, because there were 13 Obadiahs in the Old Testament. The Hebrew name Obadiah means “Worshipper of Yahweh” or “Servant of Yahweh.”

· An Obadiah was sent out by King Jehoshaphat of Judah to teach the law in the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:7)

· An Obadiah was one of the overseers who helped repair the temple in the days of Josiah, King of Judah (2 Chronicles 34:12)

· An Obadiah was a priest in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:5)

ii. One hundred prophets: “Prophets: this name is not only given to such as are endowed with an extraordinary spirit of prophecy, but to such ministers as devoted themselves to the service of God in preaching, praying, praising God, and the like.” (Poole)

iii. “ Account for it how you may, it is a singular circumstance that in the center of rebellion against God there was one whose devotion to God was intense and distinguished. As it is horrible to find a Judas among the apostles, so it is grand to discover an Obadiah among Ahab’s courtiers. What grace must have been at work to maintain such a fire in the midst of the sea, such godliness in the midst of the vilest iniquity!” (Spurgeon)

iv. “That Obadiah would have little difficulty in finding caves fro the sons of the prophets can bee seen in that over two thousand caves have been counted in the Mount Carmel area.” (Patterson and Austel)

b. Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him: The drought was so severe that King Ahab himself and his trusted servant Obadiah were out searching for pastureland. God arranged this unexpected meeting between Obadiah and the Prophet Elijah.

i. “We might have supposed that he would set himself to alleviate the miseries of his people; and, above all, that he would have turned back to God: but no – his one thought was about the horses and mules of his stud; his only care was to save some of them alive . . . What selfishness is here! Mules and asses before his people! Seeing for grass, instead of seeking for God!” (Meyer)

c. How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? Obadiah knew that King Ahab conducted an exhaustive search for Elijah, to punish him for the drought that his prayers imposed on Israel. Obadiah feared that if he announced that he met Elijah and the prophet disappeared again, Ahab would punish Obadiah for letting Elijah get away.

3. (1 Kings 18:15-16) Elijah assures Obadiah that he will meet with Ahab.

Then Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today.” So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

a. I will surely present myself to him today: Kindly and wisely, Elijah responded to Obadiah’s legitimate fears. He would not make Obadiah a martyr for Elijah’s deeds.

4. (1 Kings 18:17-19) Elijah and Ahab trade accusations.

Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

a. Is that you, O troubler of Israel? Ahab was easily the worst, most ungodly king that Israel ever had. Yet he did not hesitate to blame the godly prophet Elijah for the problems of Israel. If Ahab would at least stop the active persecution of the people of God, God would relent in the drought. But the wicked king of Israel found it easier to blame the godly prophet.

i. According to his theology, it made sense for Ahab to blame Elijah. Ahab believed in Baal, so much so that his government promoted and supported Baal worship and persecuted the worshippers of Yahweh. Ahab believed that Elijah had angered the sky-god Baal and therefore Baal withheld raid. Ahab probably thought that Baal would hold back the rain until Elijah was caught and executed.

ii. Instead, Ahab should have turned to the Word of God. Deuteronomy 28:23-24 promised that drought would come to a disobedient Israel.

b. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel: Elijah challenged King Ahab to gather the idol prophets of Baal and Asherah for this meeting at Mount Carmel.

i. “Gather to me all Israel, by their deputies, or heads, or representatives, that they may be witnesses of all our transactions.” (Poole)

ii. 1 Kings 18:36 makes it clear that Elijah did all this at the command of God. This wasn’t his clever idea or strategy. This was a God-inspired plan that Elijah obeyed.

iii. It was important to confront and eliminate these prophets of Baal before God sent rain to the land of Israel. It was crucial that everyone understand that the rain came from Yahweh, not from Baal.

c. Who eat at Jezebel’s table: This refers to fact that these prophets of Baal and Asherah were sponsored and supported by the government of Israel, having a special patron in the wicked Queen Jezebel.

B. Elijah’s victory on Mount Carmel.

1. (1 Kings 18:20-21) Elijah challenges Israel to make a decision.

So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.

a. Ahab sent for all the children of Israel: It is hard to know why Ahab did this, carrying out the instructions of Elijah. Perhaps he hoped that the people would be so angry with Elijah for the last three years of drought that this crowd would turn against the prophet.

b. And gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel: These prophets of Baal hated Elijah. They loved the favor of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and they enthusiastically promoted the persecution of any true follower of Yahweh. But over the last three years they had been severely humbled by Elijah and the drought sustained by his prayers. All their cries to the weather-god Baal were ineffective for three years. They hated this prophet of God who humiliated them and their sham priesthood so thoroughly.

i. “See, with what malignant glances his every movement is watched by the priests. No tiger ever watched its victim more fiercely! If they may have their way, he will never touch yonder plain again.” (Meyer)

ii. “That lone man, of heroic soul, stemmed the fearful torrent of idolatry, and like a rock in mid-current, firmly stood his ground. He, alone and single-handed, was more than a match for all the priests of the palace and the groves, even as one lion scatters a flock of sheep.” (Spurgeon)

c. How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him: This was a logical and useful question. In general, the people of Israel were in a spiritually lukewarm condition. They wanted to give some devotion to both Yahweh and Baal, but the God of Israel was not interested in such divided devotion.

i. Spiritually speaking, Israel was like an unfaithful partner in a marriage who doesn’t want to give up their marriage partner, but also does not want to give up their illicit lover. The marriage partner has a legitimate claim to the exclusive devotion of their spouse.

ii. How long will you falter: The ancient Hebrew word translated falter means “to limp, halt, hop, dance, or leap.” (Dilday) It is the same word used in 1 Kings 18:26 where the prophets of Baal leaped about the altar. It may be that Elijah meant, “How long will you dance between two opinions?”

iii. Adam Clarke had a slightly different understanding: “Literally, ‘How long hop ye about upon two boughs?’ This is a metaphor taken from birds hopping about from bough to bough, not knowing on which to settle.”

iv. The appeal of Elijah made it clear that there was a difference between the service of Baal and the service of Yahweh. Perhaps in the minds of many, there was not a great difference – the only important thing was to have some kind of religion, and to be sincere about that, following your heart to whatever god your heart might lead you to. Yet Elijah knew that it could never be this way. You either served Baal or you served Yahweh; there was a difference.

v. Elijah’s appeal also called his hearers to account for the period of time in which they had made not decision between Yahweh and Baal. “How long,” he asked them. “How many more sermons do you want? How many more Sundays must roll away wasted? How many warnings, how many sicknesses, how many toilings of the bell to warn you that you must die? How many graves must be dug for your family before you will be impressed? How many plagues and pestilences must ravage this city before you will turn to God in truth? How long halt ye between two opinions?” (Spurgeon)

d. But the people answered him not a word: There was no object and no repentance. They lacked the courage to either defend their position or to change it. They were willing to live unexamined lives of low conviction.

i. Elijah could so accurately see their hearts because he could see their actions. It was as if he said, “I know you are not decided in opinion, because you are not decided in practice. If God be God, follow him; if Baal, follow him. You are not decided in practice.” (Spurgeon)

2. (1 Kings 18:22-24) Elijah proposes a test between God and Baal.

Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”

a. I alone am left a prophet of the LORD: This was probably not true and Elijah had reason to know that it was not true. In the recent past Obadiah told him that he sheltered 150 prophets of God against the persecution of Jezebel and Ahab.

b. Let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves: In this proposed test, Elijah was careful to give the prophets of Baal every potential advantage. They picked the two bulls, and picked which one they would sacrifice and which one Elijah would sacrifice.

c. And the God who answers by fire, He is God: The fire would not come from either Elijah or the prophets of Baal. It had to be supernatural in origin, and supplied by either Baal or Yahweh.

i. Again, Elijah gave plenty of advantage to the prophets of Baal. It was thought that Baal was the sky-god, lord of the weather and the sender of lightning (thought to be fire from the sky). If Baal were real, he certainly could send fire from heaven.

ii. To put God and himself on the line before the gathered nation of Israel took a lot of faith. Elijah learned this faith over the many months of daily dependence on God, both at the Brook Cherith and at the widow’s house at Zarapeth.

iii. Of course, Elijah had plenty of reasons for confidence in the LORD God. First, he was following express instructions from the LORD (1 Kings 18:36). Second, he knew from the history of Israel that God could and would send fire from heaven upon a sacrifice (Judges 6:20-21 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-7).

3. (1 Kings 18:25-27) The prophets of Baal pray for fire from their god.

Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

a. Called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” The prophets of Baal had a devoted prayer life. Here they prayed long and with great passion. Yet because they did not pray to the real God, their prayer meant nothing. There was no voice; no one answered.

b. They leaped about the altar which they had made: The prophets of Baal had a energetic prayer life. Their worship was filled with enthusiasm and activity. Yet because it was not directed to the real God, their prayer meant nothing.

c. Elijah mocked them: Elijah could not resist the opportunity to mock the prophets of Baal for their evidently foolish faith.

i. “Elijah’s irony bordered on sarcasm.” (Patterson and Austel) The words meditating and busy can be translated “to be engaged in business” and may be a euphemism for bodily elimination.

ii. “Rabbi S. Jarchi gives this the most degrading meaning; I will give it in Latin, because it is too coarse to be put in English; Fortassis ad locum secretum abiit, ut ventrem ibi exoneret; ‘Perhaps he has gone to the ————-.’ This certainly reduces Baal to the lowest degree of contempt, and with it the ridicule and sarcasm are complete.” (Clarke)

4. (1 Kings 18:28-29) The prophets of Baal work harder at their prayer.

So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.

a. They cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them: The prophets of Baal were utterly sincere and completely devoted to their religion. They were so committed that they expressed it in their own blood. They had zeal, but without knowledge – therefore their zeal profited them nothing.

i. “The practice of self-inflicted wounds to arouse a deity’s pity or response is attested in Ugarit when men ‘bathed in their own blood like an ecstatic prophet.’” (Wiseman)

ii. “This was done according to the rites of that barbarous religion; of the blood of the bullock would not move him they thought their own blood might; and with it they smeared themselves and their sacrifice.” (Clarke)

b. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention: This is the sad result of worshipping an imaginary god or the god of our own making. We may dedicate great sincerity, sacrifice, and devotion to such gods but it means nothing. There is no one there to answer.

5. (1 Kings 18:30-35) Elijah prepares his altar.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” Then 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. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.

a. Come near to me: When it was Elijah’s turn to sacrifice, he first wanted to get the attention of the people. This was for their benefit, not his own or really primarily for the benefit of God. They needed to pay attention so they would see that the LORD was a true God, in contrast to the silent Baal.

b. He repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down: Elijah was very aware that he repaired something that once stood strong. There was once an altar of the LORD at Carmel and in Israel in general. Elijah looked to revive something that once was.

c. Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood: In wanting to make a deep impression upon the people, Elijah required more of Yahweh than he did of Baal. Elijah did not even suggest to the prophets of Baal that they wet down their sacrifice once or twice, much less three times. Yet Elijah did this, confident that it was no harder for God to ignite a wet sacrifice than it was for Him to set a dry one ablaze.

i. “There can be no question of trickery, such as the use of naptha [a flammable liquid often used as a solvent] instead of water, or mirrors for ignition as suggested by some scholars. The opposition was observant and close.” (Wiseman)

6. (1 Kings 18:36-37) Elijah’s prayer.

And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”

a. At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice: Some 50 years before this, Jeroboam the King of Israel officially disassociated the citizens of the northern kingdom from the worship of the God of Israel at the temple in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Elijah still remembered the evening sacrifice that was offered according to God’s commandment every day at the temple in Jerusalem.

b. Let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant: Both were important. It was important for the people of Israel to know who their God was, and who God’s servant was.

c. And that I have done all these things at Your word: This also was essential, and helps us to understand the whole event. Elijah did this according to the word of God. It wasn’t prompted because of his own cleverness, because of presumption or because of vainglory. God led Elijah to this showdown with the prophets of Baal.

i. “It was no whim of his to chastise the nation with a drought. It was no scheme of his, concocted in his own brain, that he should put the Godhead of Jehovah or of Baal to the test by a sacrifice to be consumed by miraculous fire.” (Spurgeon)

ii. Spurgeon recommended that believers use the same principle in prayer, especially those who preach the Word of God: “Go you to the mercy-seat with this as one of your arguments, ‘Lord, I have done according to thy word. Now let it be seen that it is even so. I have preached thy word, and thou hast said, “It shall not return unto me void.” I have prayed for these people, and thou hast said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”; let it be seen that this is according to thy word.’”

7. (1 Kings 18:38-40) The result: Yahweh answers by fire.

Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.

a. Then the fire of the LORD fell: The prophets of Baal had passion, commitment, sincerity, devotion, and great energy. What they did not have was a God in heaven who answered by fire.

i. “The action of this fire was in every case downward, contrary to the nature of all earthly and material fire.” (Clarke)

ii. “Elijah’s petition had lasted less than a minute but produced spectacular results. The difference lay in the One addressed.” (Patterson and Austel)

b. The fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench: When the fire of God fell, its work was beyond expectation. It would have been enough if merely the cut-up pieces of bull on the altar were ignited, but God wanted more than simple vindication – He wanted to glorify Himself among the people.

c. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” At this moment, the people were completely persuaded. Asked to choose between Baal and Yahweh, there was no choice to make – obviously, the LORD was God.

i. Tragically, this was only a momentary persuasion. This was no lasting revival in Israel. The people were decidedly persuaded, but not lastingly changed.

d. Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” Since this was a contest between Yahweh and Baal, the prophets of each deity had to be responsible for their respective results. The great sin of King Ahab was his official sponsorship of the prophets of Baal, and now that the fraud of Baal was exposed, his prophets had to answer for it and were dealt with according to the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 13:5; Deu_13:13-18; Deu_17:2-5; Deu_18:9-22).

i. Elijah simply demanded that the prophets of Baal receive the treatment they promoted for the prophets of Yahweh.

C. Elijah goes to Jezreel.

1. (1 Kings 18:41-44) Elijah prays for rain.

Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’”

a. Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain: Elijah knew that once the official worship of Baal had been defeated, the purpose for the drought was fulfilled. Rain was on the way. Elijah and Ahab would now each do what they wanted to do – Elijah would pray and Ahab would eat.

b. He bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees: This was an unusual posture of prayer for Elijah. He wasn’t kneeling, he wasn’t sitting, he wasn’t standing, and he didn’t lay prostrate before the LORD. This shows that the power in prayer resides in faith in the living God.

i. “We scarcely recognize him, he seems so to have lost his identity. A few hours before, he stood erect as an oak of Bashan; now, he is bowed as a bulrush. Then as God’s ambassador he pleaded with man; now as man’s intercessor he pleads with God. It is not always so – that the men who stand straightest in the presence of sin bow lowest in the presence of God.” (Meyer)

c. It came to pass the seventh time: This was stubbornly persistent prayer. It was as if Elijah would not take “no” for an answer, because he had confidence that God’s will was to send rain. He stubbornly furthered the will of God by his persistent prayer.

i. “Go again seven times; let us not be dejected for some disappointments, but continue to wait upon God, who will answer me, and that speedily.” (Poole)

ii. “God’s promises are given, not to restrain, but to incite to prayer. They show the direction in which we may ask, and the extent to which we may expect an answer They are the mould into which we may pour our fervid spirits without fear.” (Meyer)

d. There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea! Elijah prayed, asking in faith for God to send the rain. Elijah obviously sensed this was the will of God, yet it was his fervent prayer that brought the rain. The evidence of the rain came slowly and in a small way, but out of this small evidence God brought a mighty work.

i. In the November 9 1904 edition of The Life of Faith, a London newspaper dedicated to the deeper life movement, a writer named Jessie Penn-Lewis reported on a remarkable work just beginning in Wales under the ministry of men like Evan Roberts and Seth Joshua. She reported that a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand had arisen in Wales. It was a fitting description of the clear but small beginning of what became a mighty work.

ii. Charles Spurgeon used this text as an illustration of the small signs that precede a mighty work of God. He spoke of four “certain signs and tokens for good which prayerful faith clearly perceives when an awakening, a genuine revival is about to come.” Christians should regard the following things as clouds, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea.

· A growing dissatisfaction with the present state of things, and an increasing anxiety among the members of the church for the salvation of souls.

· When this anxiety leads believers to be exceedingly earnest and importunate in prayer.

· When ministers begin to take counsel one with another, and to say, “What must we do?”

· When we shall see the doctrine of the individual responsibility of each Christian fully felt and carried out into individual action.

e. Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you: This was a word of faith from Elijah to Ahab. Based only on the sighting of a cloud that was as small as a man’s hand, he knew a torrent was on the way.

2. (1 Kings 18:45-46) Elijah’s amazing 14 mile cross-country run.

Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

a. There was a heavy rain: God’s word through Elijah was proved true. The long drought was over, and it was demonstrated that the prayers of Elijah both withheld the rain and then subsequently brought the rain.

b. Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab: This was an obviously supernaturally empowered 14-mile cross-country run. We don’t know exactly when it was important to God for Elijah to reach Jezreel first; perhaps it was so that he would be the first to tell Queen Jezebel.

i. “To demonstrate that he was neither ashamed of, nor afraid for, what he had done, though he knew how Jezebel would resent it, but durst venture himself in the midst of his enemies, as being confident of the Divine power and protection.” (Poole)

ii. “That Elijah could have made such a run is assured in the Arab runners could easily cover one hundred miles in two days.” (Patterson and Austel)

 

 

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1 KINGS 17 – THE EARLY MINISTRY OF ELIJAH

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1 KINGS 17 – THE EARLY MINISTRY OF ELIJAH

A. Elijah prays for drought and experiences God’s provision.

1. (1 Kings 17:1) Elijah tells of the LORD’s judgment.

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

a. Elijah the Tishbite: At this crucial time in the history of Judah and Israel, the Prophet Elijah suddenly appeared. He will become the dominant spiritual force in Israel during these dark days of Ahab’s apostasy.

i. The name Elijah means, Yahweh is my God. In the days when Ahab’s government officially supported the worship of Baal and other gods, even the name of this prophet told the truth.

ii. It was a crucial time in the history of Israel. It looked as if the worship of the true God might be completely eliminated in the northern kingdom. “The land swarmed with the priests of Baal and of the groves – proud of Court favour; glorying in their sudden rise to power; insolent, greedy, licentious, and debased. The fires of persecution were lit, and began to burn with fury.” (Meyer)

iii. “The whole land seemed apostate. Of all the thousands of Israel, only seven thousand remained who had not bowed the knee or kissed the hand to Baal. But they were paralysed with fear; and kept so still, that their very existence was unknown by Elijah in the hour of his great loneliness.” (Meyer)

b. There shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word: This was a dramatic demonstration against the pagan god Baal, who was thought to be the sky god, the god of the weather. Elijah showed that through his prayers to the God of Israel, Yahweh was mightier than Baal.

i. “The old religion against the new; the child of nature against the effeminate child of the courts; camel’s hair against soft clothing; moral strength against moral weakness.” (Meyer)

ii. Elijah was not merely the prophet of this drought – in the sense of prayer, he was the cause of the drought. He prayed and it happened. James 5:17-18 makes this clear: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

c. As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand: This statement of Elijah gives us an understanding of the source of his strength. It was specifically said Elijah was a man with a nature like ours (James 5:17). Yet he showed a strength greater than most of us in our life with God. We must pay attention to these indications to the source of Elijah’s strength.

i. As the LORD God of Israel lives: Everyone else felt that the LORD was dead, but for Elijah the LORD lived. He was the supreme reality of Elijah’s life.

ii. Before whom I stand: He stood in the presence of Ahab, but he was conscious of the presence of someone greater than any earthly king. Gabriel himself could not choose a higher title (Luke 1:19).

2. (1 Kings 17:2-5) Elijah flees to Cherith.

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.

a. Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith: The drought announced by Elijah in the previous verse was a great threat to the northern kingdom of Israel and the reign of Ahab. Therefore his life was in danger, and God sent him to the Brook Cherith for his own safety.

i. God led Elijah one step at a time. He did not tell him to go to Cherith until he first delivered the message to Ahab. He did not tell him to go to Zarephath until the brook dried up at Cherith. God led Elijah by faith, one step at a time, and Elijah followed in faith.

ii. Hide by the Brook Cherith: Through this God taught Elijah the value of the hidden life. He had just become famous as an adversary of Ahab, so mighty that his prayers could stop the rain. At the moment of his new-found fame, God wanted Elijah to hide and be alone with God. “We must not be surprised, then, if sometimes our Father says: ‘There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself by the brook – hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber; or in the Cherith of disappointed hopes; or in the Cherith of bereavement; or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away.’” (Meyer)

iii. “Elijah could not be alone, so long as he had God and himself to converse with. A good man is never less alone, than when alone.” (Trapp)

b. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there: The escape to the Brook Cherith was for more than protection. It was also to train Elijah in dependence upon the LORD. In a season of drought, he had to trust that God could keep this brook flowing. He also had to accept food from the ravens, an unclean animal.

i. The name Cherith comes from the ancient Hebrew root meaning, to cut away, to cut up or off. This shows that God had some cutting to do in the life of Elijah during this period.

ii. I have commanded the ravens to feed you there: There is an emphasis on the word there. God promised that the ravens would feed Elijah has he stayed at Cherith. Of course, theoretically the ravens could feed him anywhere – but God commanded that it be at Cherith. Elijah perhaps wanted to be somewhere else, or be preaching, or doing anything else. Yet God wanted him there and would provide for him there.

3. (1 Kings 17:6) Elijah’s provision.

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

a. The ravens brought him bread and meat: Every bit of food that came to Elijah came from the beak of an unclean animal. Elijah had to put away his traditional ideas of clean and unclean or he would die of starvation. Through this, God taught Elijah to emphasize the spirit of the law before the letter of the law.

i. Charles Spurgeon drew two points of application from this event, likening the food the ravens brought to spiritual food. First, he recognized that God may bring a good word to us through an unclean vessel, a spiritually unclean like a raven. Second, that one can bring spiritual food to others and still be unclean spiritually themselves. “But see, too, how possible it is for us to carry bread and meat to God’s servants, and do, some good things for his church, and yet be ravens still!” (Spurgeon)

b. Bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening: As faithfully has He provided manna for Israel in the wilderness, God provided for Elijah’s needs. He came to trust more than ever in the miraculous provision of God.

i. “A little boy, having read this incident with his widowed mother on wintry night, as they sat in a fireless room, beside a bare table, asked her if he might set the door open for God’s ravens to come in; he was so sure that they must be on their way. The burgomaster of that German town, passing by, was attracted by the sight of the open door, and entered, inquiring the cause. When he learnt the reason, he said, ‘I will be God’s raven’; and relieved their need then and afterwards.” (Meyer)

4. (1 Kings 17:7) Elijah and the dry brook.

And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

a. After a while that the brook dried up: Elijah saw the flow of the brook slow down until it dried up. His source of water was gone.

i. “Ah, it is hard to sit beside a drying brook – much harder than to face the prophets of Baal on Carmel.” (Meyer) He also mentions different kinds of drying brooks we might experience:

· The drying brook of popularity, ebbing away as from John the Baptist.

· The drying brook of health, sinking under a creeping paralysis, or a slow consumption.

· The drying brook of money, slowly dwindling before the demands of sickness, bad debts, or other people’s extravagance.

· The drying brook of friendship, which for long has been diminishing, and threatens soon to cease.

ii. “Why does God let them dry? He wants to teach us not to trust in His gifts but in Himself. He wants to drain us of self, as He drained the apostles by ten days of waiting before Pentecost. He wants to loosen our roots ere He removes us to some other sphere of service and education. He wants to put in stronger contrast the rive of throne-water that never dries.” (Meyer)

b. Because there had been no rain in the land: This was the drought Elijah prayed for. He did not pray for rain to come again, even for his own survival. He kept the purpose of God first, even when it adversely affected him.

B. God provides for Elijah through a widow.

1. (1 Kings 17:8-9) God calls Elijah to go to Zarephath.

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

a. Arise, go to Zarephath: God led Elijah from the dry brook to a Gentile city. This was an unusual and challenging move for Elijah to make.

i. God kept transplanting Elijah: From home, to Jezreel, to Cherith, to Zarephath. This transplanting made him stronger and stronger.

ii. We should also remember that this was the general region that the wicked queen Jezebel was from. “Elijah was visiting enemy territory and showing the power of God in an area where Baal was worshipped, though ineffective through drought.” (Wiseman)

b. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you: Widows were notorious for their poverty in the ancient world. God told Elijah to go to a Gentile widow and receive provision; it probably seemed to make more sense to wait beside a dry brook.

i. When He rejected by His own people, Jesus used this example of Elijah’s coming to the widow of Zarephath as an illustration of God’s right to choose a people to Himself: Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” (Luke 4:24-26)

2. (1 Kings 17:10-11) Elijah addresses a widow.

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

a. Indeed a widow was there gathering sticks: This showed that she was a poor woman, gathering meager scraps for firewood. Elijah perhaps thought that God would lead him to an unusual rich widow, but God led him to a poor Gentile widow.

i. “You learn this from the fact that she had not even firewood. Now, there was no reason why she should not have had that even in time of famine of bread, for there was no famine of wood, unless she had been extremely poor.” (Spurgeon)

ii. God told Elijah (1 Kings 17:9) that He commanded a widow to feed the prophet. Yet this woman seemed unaware of the command. This shows how God’s unseen hand often works. “She does not appear to have been at all aware that she was to feed a prophet. She went out that morning to gather sticks, not to meet a guest. She was thinking about feeding her son and herself upon the last cake; certainly she had no idea of sustaining a man of God out of that all but empty barrel of meal. Yet the Lord, who never lieth, spoke a solemn truth when he said, ‘I have commanded a widow woman there.’ He had so operated upon her mind that he had prepared her to obey the command when it did come by the lip of his servant the prophet.” (Spurgeon)

b. Please bring me a little water in a cup . . . Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand: Elijah boldly put this request in faith. Common sense and circumstances told him that the widow would not give so generously to a Jewish stranger, but faith made him ask.

i. “This was certainly putting the widow’s faith to an extraordinary trial: to take and give to a stranger, of whom she knew nothing, the small pittance requisite to keep her child from perishing, was too much to be expected.” (Clarke)

ii. God indeed chose this woman, but He chose her for more than a miracle. He chose her for service. “The choice of this woman, while it brought such blessedness to her, involved service. She was not elected merely to be saved in the famine, but to feed the prophet. She must be a woman of faith; she must make the little cake first, and afterwards she shall have the multiplication of the meal and of the oil. So the grace of God does not choose men to sleep and wake up in heaven, nor choose them to live in sin and find themselves absolved at the last; nor choose them to be idle and go about their own worldly business, and yet to win a reward at the last for which they never toiled. Ah, no! the sovereign electing grace of God chooses us to repentance, to faith, and afterwards to holiness of living, to Christian service, to zeal, to devotion.” (Spurgeon)

3. (1 Kings 17:12) The response of the widow of Zarephath.

So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, 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.”

a. As the LORD your God lives: This polite address showed that she respected God, yet recognized that the God of Israel was Elijah’s God and not her own.

b. I do not have bread: Elijah quickly found out that she was not only poor, but desperately poor. Elijah found her right before she was going to prepare her last morsel of food for herself and her son – and then resign themselves to death.

4. (1 Kings 17:13-14) Elijah’s words to her.

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’”

a. Do not fear: This was God’s first word to the widow through Elijah. Her present crisis rightly made her afraid, and God wanted her to put away fear and put trust in Him.

b. Go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first: This was an audaciously bold request from the prophet. He asked this destitute widow to first give him something from her last bit of food. This seemed like the worst kind of predatory fund-raising.

c. The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth: This shows why Elijah could make such an audacious request. It was because God told him that He would provide a never-ending supply of food for the widow, her son, and Elijah himself. He asked the widow to put her trust in this great promise of God.

5. (1 Kings 17:15-16) The widow’s obedience and God’s great blessing.

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.

a. So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah: The widow actually did it – she willingly gave at great risk, based on her trust in the promise of God.

b. She and he and her household ate for many days: God fulfilled the promise to the widow, her son, and Elijah. God used her as a channel of supply and her needs were met as a result.

i. “Why did not God give her a granary full of meal at once, and a vat full of oil instantly? I will tell you. It was not merely because of God’s intent to try her, but there was wisdom here. Suppose he had given her a granary full of meal, how much of it would have been left by the next day? I question whether any would have remained, for in days of famine men are sharp of scent, and it would soon have been noised about the city, ‘The old widow woman who lives in such-and-such a street, has a great store of food.’ Why, they would have caused a riot, and robbed the house, and perhaps, have killed the woman and her son. She would have been despoiled of her treasure, and in four and twenty hours the barrel of meal would have been as empty as it was at first, and the cruse of oil would have been spilled upon the ground.” (Spurgeon)

C. Elijah raises the widow’s son.

1. (1 Kings 17:17-18) The widow’s grief at the death of her son.

Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?”

a. After these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick: We can imagine the happy days of provision in the household of the widow. Their needs were supplied by a continuing miracle of God. Yet those happy days were eventually covered by a dark shadow: the sickness and death of the widow’s son.

i. The death of the son was a double blow to the widow. Not only did she suffer as any mother who loses a child, but she also suffered as one who lost her only hope for the future. The expectation was that her son would grow and provide for her in her old age. Now that expectation was shattered.

b. Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son? At the death of her son, the widow indirectly blamed Elijah. She more directly blamed herself and her unnamed sin. Whatever her sin was, the guilty memory of it was always close to her.

2. (1 Kings 17:19-20) Elijah’s prayer.

And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?”

a. He took him out of her arms: This vivid detail shows that the widow clutched the dead child tightly in her arms.

b. The upper room where he was staying: The term upper room “refers to a temporary shelter or room on the roof, accessible from outside the house. Such structures are common in the Near East. This arrangement would allow the widow not only her needed privacy but would safeguard her reputation.” (Patterson and Austel)

c. Then he cried out to the LORD: Elijah prayed with great heart and intimacy with God. He brought this seemingly unexplainable and irredeemable tragedy to God in prayer. Since he knew God led him to this widow, Elijah laid this tragedy on God and asked Him to remedy it.

3. (1 Kings 17:21-24) The son is raised from the dead.

And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.” Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!” Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.”

a. He stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD: This was an unusual prayer technique, but Elijah had no precedent for this. It was not because of his prayer technique, but because of his faith that God answered this prayer.

i. There is an almost irresistible desire to embellish on these wonderful accounts of the power of God. Patterson and Austel speak of one such attempt: “Syriac translation, followed by Jerome, that the lad was the prophet Jonah is totally unsatisfactory and historically impossible (cf. 2 Kings 14:25).”

b. O LORD my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him: “A prayer full of powerful arguments. Thou art the Lord, that canst revive the child; and my God, and therefore wilt not, do not, deny me. She is a widow; add not affliction to the afflicted; deprive her not of the great support and staff of her age. She hath given me kind entertainment; let her not fare the worse for her kindness to a prophet, whereby wicked men will take occasion to reproach both her and religion.” (Poole)

c. Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah: The son was raised and God provided for the widow on every level – not only with the miraculous supply of food, but also with the resuscitation of her son.

i. “This first example in the Bible of revival from death cannot be explained away as contactual magic nor as the prophet’s life-force transmitted by the mouth-to-mouth method of resuscitation.” (Wiseman)

 

 

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1 KINGS 16 – FIVE SUCCESSIVE KINGS OF ISRAEL

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1 KINGS 16 – FIVE SUCCESSIVE KINGS OF ISRAEL

A. Two short dynasties over Israel: Baasha and Zimri.

1. (1 Kings 16:1-4) Baasha’s rebuke and prophecy of judgment.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani, against Baasha, saying: “Inasmuch as I lifted you out of the dust and made you ruler over My people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam, and have made My people Israel sin, to provoke Me to anger with their sins, surely I will take away the posterity of Baasha and the posterity of his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Baasha and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the fields.”

a. I lifted you out of the dust and made you ruler over My people Israel: 1 Kings 15:27 tells us that Baasha was head of a conspiracy to kill Nadab, the son of Jeroboam. It tells us nothing of God’s hand with Baasha, but here we learn that behind-the-scenes God moved even through the conspiracy of Baasha against Nadab.

b. You have walked in the way of Jeroboam . . . I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam: Because Baasha was a wicked king after the pattern of Jeroboam he will face the same judgment as Jeroboam and his house. This had special relevance to Baasha because he was the instrument of judgment God used to bring justice to the house of Jeroboam.

c. You have walked in the way of Jeroboam . . . I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam: Baasha was not a blood descendant of Jeroboam, but he was a spiritual descendent of this great idolater of the northern kingdom. Because he walked in the way of Jeroboam the house of Baasha would face the same judgment as the house of Jeroboam.

d. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Baasha and dies in the city: This same judgment was promised and fulfilled against the house of Jeroboam (1 Kings 14:11). It was considered a special disgrace to have your dead corpse desecrated and kept from proper burial.

2. (1 Kings 16:5-7) The death of Baasha.

Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Baasha rested with his fathers and was buried in Tirzah. Then Elah his son reigned in his place. And also the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD in provoking Him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he killed them.

a. The word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu: Apparently Jehu had a long career as a prophet. 2 Chronicles 19:2 mentions another work of Jehu the son of Hanani. Some 50 years after this word to Baasha, he spoke to Jehoshaphat the King of Judah.

i. Jehu the Prophet also wrote specific books of history regarding kings of Israel (2 Chronicles 20:34). His father Hanani is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 16:7-10, where it describes how he suffered imprisonment because he was a faithful prophet in speaking to King Asa.

b. Because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD in provoking Him to anger: The Bible tells us that by nature, God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (Psalms 103:8). Because He is slow to anger, it took a lot of wickedness on the part of Baasha to succeed in provoking Him to anger.

c. In being like the house of Jeroboam, and because He killed them: In 1 Kings 16:2 God said that He lifted Baasha out of the dust and set him as ruler over Israel. In doing this God used Baasha to bring judgment upon the house of Jeroboam; yet God did not cause Baasha to do this, so He rightly judged Baasha even though God used the wickedness of Baasha in bringing judgment upon Jeroboam.

i. God did not need to coerce a reluctant Baasha to conspire against and assassinate Nadab the son of Jeroboam. That wicked desire was already in the heart of Baasha. In using Baasha to bring judgment on the house of Jeroboam, God only needed to let Baasha do what he wanted to do. Therefore it was proper of God to judge Baasha for something that ultimately furthered God’s eternal plan.

ii. “God is ever represented in Scripture as doing those things which, in the course of his providence, he permits to be done.” (Clarke)

3. (1 Kings 16:8-14) The two year reign of Elah.

In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel, and reigned two years in Tirzah. Now his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him as he was in Tirzah drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, steward of his house in Tirzah. And Zimri went in and struck him and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. Then it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he was seated on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha; he did not leave him one male, neither of his relatives nor of his friends. Thus Zimri destroyed all the household of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, by which they had sinned and by which they had made Israel sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

a. Elah the son of Baasha became king over Israel, and reigned two years in Tirzah: The hope of every king is to pass the throne on to his son and to further a lasting dynasty. Because Baasha was a wicked king, God did not bless his dynasty and his son only reigned two years.

b. And Zimri went in and struck him and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place: Even as Baasha gained the throne through assassination, so the son of Baasha was assassinated by Zimri, an officer in the army of Israel.

c. Then it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he was seated on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha: This was common practice in the ancient world, and was exactly what Baasha did to the house of Jeroboam (1 Kings 15:29). David’s treatment of the house of Saul was a glorious exception to this common practice.

i. This massacre was an exact fulfillment of the word of the LORD through the Prophet Jehi, the son of Hanani (1 Kings 16:2-4).

4. (1 Kings 16:15-20) The seven-day reign of Zimri.

In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri had reigned in Tirzah seven days. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. Now the people who were encamped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired and also has killed the king.” So all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon, and they besieged Tirzah. And it happened, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house down upon himself with fire, and died, because of the sins which he had committed in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he had committed to make Israel sin. Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the treason he committed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?

a. Zimri had reigned in Tirzah seven days: The man who assassinated Elah, the son of Baasha, did not enjoy a blessed reign. His end came soon.

b. So all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day: This shows that the democratic influence in Israel was greater than many think. The people – especially it would seem the army – simply did not want Zimri to reign as king over them. They therefore rejected his authority and appointed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel.

c. When Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house down upon himself with fire, and died, because of the sins which he had committed: Zimri is one of the few suicides in the Bible, along with Samson (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4) and Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23).

i. The Bible never approves of suicide. It is sin; it is the sin of self-murder. Yet, we are wrong if we regard it as the unforgivable sin, and anyone who does commit suicide has given in to the lies and deceptions of Satan, whose purpose is to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

ii. “Suicide is always the ultimate action of cowardice. In the case of Saul, and in many similar cases, it is perfectly natural; but let it never be glorified as heroic. It is the last resort of the man who dare not stand up to life.” (Morgan)

d. In walking in the way of Jeroboam: Zimri only reigned seven days, but in those days he walked in the way of Jeroboam. God allowed many of the wicked kings of Israel to reign much longer than this, but He was under no obligation to do so. God is within His rights to bring judgment sooner rather than later.

B. The fourth dynasty of the northern kingdom of Israel: The House of Omri.

1. (1 Kings 16:21-28) The 12-year reign of Omri, King of Israel.

Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. But the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri reigned. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah. And he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; then he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Samaria, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill. Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols. Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. Then Ahab his son reigned in his place.

a. The people of Israel were divided into two parts . . . So Tibni died and Omri reigned: Omri defeated the forces loyal to Tibni, so Tibni died – presumably, killed by Omri after the defeat of his forces.

i. “The people of Israel fell into a civil war; yet neither this nor any other of God’s dreadful judgments could win them to repentance; which is an evidence of their prodigious impiety and incorrigibleness, and how ripe they were for ruin.” (Poole)

ii. “The division of the kingdom between Tibni and Omri began in the twenty-seventh year of Asa; this division lasted five years, during which Omri, had but a share of the kingdom. Tibni dying, Omri came into the possession of the whole kingdom, which he held seven years; this was in the thirty-first year of Asa.” (Clarke)

b. He built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Samaria: This became the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Omri built a capital that was politically neutral (being a new city with no previous tribal associations) and in a strong defensive position (on top of a hill).

i. “Excavations at Samaria . . . show that Omri was the first builder on the one-hundred-metre-high hill. This site was a good choice, for it was to withstand several sieges.” (Wiseman)

c. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat: This makes Omri the sixth king of Israel since the division of the once-unified kingdom. Jeroboam was the first king, and each of the five kings after him followed in the evil ways of Jeroboam.

i. In the records of secular history, Omri is one of the more successful and famous kings of ancient Israel. “Omri’s fame as a monarch, while downplayed by the author of Kings, was widely recognized in other places. The Moabite stone, discovered in 1868, refers to him as the conqueror of Moab. Assyrian inscriptions make mention of him as a great warrior. For years the Assyrians referred to Israel as ‘the house of Omri.’” (Dilday)

2. (1 Kings 16:29-34) Ahab begins his 22 year reign.

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.

a. In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah: Asa reigned for 41 years in total (1 Kings 15:10). During his 41 years there were seven different kings of Israel.

b. Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him: Each of the previous kings of Israel walked in the wicked pattern of Jeroboam. Ahab distinguished himself in being worse than Jeroboam.

i. His father Omri was a political and economic success for Israel but a spiritual failure. Ahab picked up where his father left off. “Reinforcing the father-son relationship is the name Ahab, which can be translated ‘brother of the father’ or ‘resembling the father.’” (Dilday) It can be said of some sons, “He has his father’s eyes.” It could be said of Ahab, “He has his father’s lies.”

ii. Jeroboam intended to serve the LORD through idolatrous images (such as the golden calf) and in disobedient ways (altars and high places other than Jerusalem). Ahab introduced the worship of completely new, pagan gods. In his disobedience Jeroboam said, “I will worship the LORD, but do it my way.” Ahab said, “I want to forget about the LORD completely and worship Baal.”

iii. In his later years, Solomon tragically worshipped pagan gods. Yet Omri and Ahab were far worse in that they commanded the worship of idols. “He made statutes in favour of idolatry, and obliged the people by law to commit it. See Micah 6:16, where this seems to be intended: For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab.” (Clarke)

c. He took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him: Even as the foreign wives of Solomon led to his spiritual downfall, so Ahab’s foreign wife Jezebel led him and the nation into deep idolatry.

i. Ethbaal means, “with Baal.” “Jezebel’s name may come from a cultic cry used in the worship of Baal meaning ‘Where is Baal?’ Translated into Hebrew the name was also a verbal pun that the Israelites must have relished. Zebel in Hebrew means dung!” (Dilday)

ii. Jezebel was “A woman infamous for her idolatry, and cruelty, and sorcery, and filthiness.” (Poole)

iii. “So well known was the hostility of Jezebel to all good, that his marrying her was esteemed the highest pitch of vice, and an act the most provoking to God, and destructive to the prosperity of the kingdom.” (Clarke)

iv. “Had a secular historian been recording these events, the marriage of Ahab and Jezebel would likely have been applauded as a prudent political move. Both Phoenicia and Israel were being threatened by Syria, and the marriage gave Ahab a powerful military ally at a crucial time.” (Dilday)

d. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho: It seems that Ahab wanted to challenge the prophecy of Joshua after the destruction of the city. Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26) If Ahab did think that he could rebuild Jericho without being affected by this curse, he was wrong: He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.

i. We don’t know how the sons of Hiel died; they may have died as a curse or they may have been sacrificed by Hiel. “Archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of a practice in ancient biblical times called ‘foundation sacrifices’ in which children were buried, maybe alive, in the foundations of buildings.” (Dilday)

ii. This was a merciful warning to Ahab that he ignored. God told him, “You cannot go against my word without paying the price. Hiel of Bethel, the man you directed to rebuild Jericho, has found this to be true. Take this warning seriously.” Yet Ahab did not take this warning seriously.

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1 KINGS 15 – THE REIGNS OF ABIJAM, ASA, NADAB AND BAASHA

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1 KINGS 15 – THE REIGNS OF ABIJAM, ASA, NADAB AND BAASHA

A. Two kings of Judah.

1. (1 Kings 15:1-8) The reign of King Abijam (known as Abijah in 2 Chronicles 13).

In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maachah the granddaughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life. Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam. So Abijam rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the City of David. Then Asa his son reigned in his place.

a. Abijam became king over Judah: This son of Rehoboam only reigned three years, showing that God did not bless his reign.

i. From the comparing this account with 2 Chronicles 13 we can tell that Abijam knew something of the LORD, and knew how to preach – but he did not uproot the idolatry and sexual immorality that was introduced by Rehoboam. The successor of Abijam (Asa) removed the centers of the sexually-charged idolatry that was so common in this land (1 Kings 15:12-13).

b. His heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David: This was the real problem with Abijam’s reign – his lack of a real personal relationship with God. David sinned during his reign, but his heart stayed loyal to the LORD his God.

i. 2 Chronicles 13 fills in more interesting details about the reign of Abijam (called Abijah in Chronicles). It tells us how there was war between Jeroboam of Israel and Abijam of Judah, and how Abijam challenged Jeroboam on the basis of righteousness and faithfulness to God. Jeroboam responded with a surprise attack, and victory seemed certain for Israel over Judah – but Abjiam cried out to the LORD, and God won a victory for Judah that day. 2 Chronicles 13:18 says of that war, Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD God of their fathers.

ii. “For David’s sake and in response to his faith, he was allowed a spectacular victory over the encircling Israelites whom he had challenged, for being even more apostate than he . . . This is an instance of God blessing the unworthy for the sake of the worthy.” (Wiseman)

iii. Yet Chronicles also tells us his standing at the end of his brief reign: But Abijah grew mighty, married fourteen wives, and begot twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters (2 Chronicles 13:21). In the midst of his victory and good leadership for Judah, he never had the relationship with the LORD he should have had.

c. For David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem: God preserved the dynasty of David in Jerusalem for the sake of David, not because of the character or quality of his descendants.

i. “Chronicles spells his name Abijah, which means ‘Yahweh is my father.’ Kings spells the name Abijam, which means ‘my father is Yam.’ Yam was a Canaanite sea-god. Could it be that he started out as Abijah, a follower of Yahweh, and ended up as Abijam, a follower of a false god?” (Dilday)

2. (1 Kings 15:9-11) Summary of the reign of King Asa of Judah.

In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king over Judah. And he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His grandmother’s name was Maachah the granddaughter of Abishalom. Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David.

a. Asa became king over Judah: This great-grandson of Solomon took the throne Judah at the end of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel, after his father’s brief reign.

b. Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David: The kings of Judah were usually measured against David, the founder of their dynasty. In contrast to his father Abijah (1 Kings 15:3), Asa followed in the same heart as David.

i. The phrase his father David shows us that in Hebrew literature the word father could be used of an ancestor in general, instead of strictly referring to one’s father. David was actually the great-great-grandfather of Asa.

3. (1 Kings 15:12-15) The reforms of King Asa of Judah.

And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. And Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed. Nevertheless Asa’s heart was loyal to the LORD all his days. He also brought into the house of the LORD the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils.

a. He banished the perverted persons from the land: These state-sanctioned homosexual idol-temple prostitutes were introduced into Judah during the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:24). Asa’s father Abijam didn’t remove these perversions and idols, but King Asa did.

b. Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah: This demonstrates the thoroughness of Asa’s reforms. He was able to act righteously even when his family was wrong, in particular his own grandmother.

i. “Maacah was apparently the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (2 Chronicles 13:2) and Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27), hence the granddaughter of Absalom, David’s rebellious son.” (Patterson and Austel)

ii. By the Brook Kidron: “The Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem was then the city’s main rubbish dump.” (Wiseman)

iii. An obscene image: “This image is described as ‘obscene’ in our English translation, but the Hebrew word is closer in meaning to ‘frightening,’ ‘horrible,’ or ‘abominable.’ Some commentators believe it was some sort of phallic symbol consistent with the fertility cult of Asherah.” (Dilday)

iv. “From the whole, it is pretty evident that the image was a mere Priapus, or something of the same nature, and that Maachah had an assembly in the grove where the image was set up, and doubtless worshipped it with the most impure rites. What the Roman Priapus was I need not tell the learned reader; and as to the unlearned, it would not profit him to know.” (Clarke)

c. But the high places were not removed: 2 Chronicles 14:3 says that Asa did remove the high places, but it mentions these high places in connection with altars of the foreign gods. Therefore Asa removed the high places that were dedicated to idols, but not the ones that were dedicated to the LORD.

d. Nevertheless Asa’s heart was loyal to the LORD all his days: Asa’s loyal heart was shown in his reforms against idolatry and state-sanctioned perversion, and in his restoration of certain silver and gold utensils to the temple.

4. (1 Kings 15:16-24) Asa buys the favor of Ben-Hadad, King of Syria.

Now there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. And Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the treasuries of the king’s house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-Hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who dwelt in Damascus, saying, “Let there be a treaty between you and me, as there was between my father and your father. See, I have sent you a present of silver and gold. Come and break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel, so that he will withdraw from me.” So Ben-Hadad heeded King Asa, and sent the captains of his armies against the cities of Israel. He attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maachah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali. Now it happened, when Baasha heard it, that he stopped building Ramah, and remained in Tirzah. Then King Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was exempted. And they took away the stones and timber of Ramah, which Baasha had used for building; and with them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah. The rest of all the acts of Asa, all his might, all that he did, and the cities which he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet. So Asa rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father. Then Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place.

a. Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah: This continues the struggle for dominance between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Baasha gained the upper hand in the days of Asa because he effectively blocked a main route into Judah at the city of Ramah. He hoped this military and economic pressure on Judah would force Asa into significant concessions.

b. Asa took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and the treasuries of the king’s house: Asa used this treasure to buy the favor of Ben-Hadad of Syria, so that he would withdraw support from Israel. Apparently, Baasha of Israel could not stand against Judah by himself – he needed the backing of Syria.

i. 2 Chronicles 16:7-10 tells us that God was not please by this, and delivered this work by the prophet Hanani: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9)

ii. Sadly, Asa did not respond to this word properly. Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time (2 Chronicles 16:10). Asa shows us the tragedy of a man who rules well and seeks the LORD for many years, yet fails in a significant challenge of his faith and then refuses to hear God’s correction.

iii. “Wherein he committed three great faults, amongst many others. First, He alienated things consecrated to God without necessity. Secondly, He did this out of carnal fear and distrust of that God whose power and goodness he had lately experienced. Thirdly, He did this for an ill intent, to hire him to the breach of his league and covenant with Baasha, and to take away part of that land which by right, and the special gift of God, belonged to the Israelites.” (Poole)

c. The rest of all the acts of Asa . . . are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 2 Chronicles 14-16 provides many more details regarding the reign of Asa.

· He encouraged national piety: He commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment. (2 Chronicles 14:4)

· He built fortified cities and presided over a long period of peace (2 Chronicles 14:6)

· In response to Asa’s prayer, God defeated a huge Ethiopian army that came against Judah (2 Chronicles 14:9-13)

· He had an encouraging word from the prophet Azariah that encouraged him to continue his reforms (2 Chronicles 15:1-9)

· Asa led a national re-commitment to the covenant (2 Chronicles 15:10-15)

d. But in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet: 2 Chronicles gives us the more complete analysis: his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12). This happened after he refused to hear God’s word of correction through Hanani the seer.

i. Some think that Asa’s foot ailment was gout, “but gout was uncommon in Palestine and ancient Egypt and it is more likely, in very of Asa’s age, the severity of the disease and death within two years, to have been a peripheral obstructive vascular disease with ensuing gangrene.” (Wiseman)

ii. Morgan on Asa: “It is the record of a faulty life, but one in which the deepest thing, that of desire, was right; and so it is the record of a life, the influence of which was a blessing rather than a curse. It is a revealing story.”

iii. All in all, Asa was a good man who did not finish well. The last years of his life were marked by unbelief, hardness against God, oppression against his people, and disease. Age and time do not necessarily make us better; they only do if we continue to follow God in faith.

B. Two kings of Israel.

1. (1 Kings 15:25-32) The short reign of Nadab, king of Israel.

Now Nadab the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin. Then Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him. And Baasha killed him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, while Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. And it was so, when he became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah the Shilonite, because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he had provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger. Now the rest of the acts of Nadab, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

a. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father: Nadab, this son of Jeroboam did as his father did, continuing in his idolatry and harness towards God.

b. Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place. And it was so, when he became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam: This was the end of the dynasty of Jeroboam. Had Jeroboam remained obedient to the LORD, God promised him a lasting dynasty like the house of David (1 Kings 11:38). Because of Jeroboam’s sin, though he enjoyed a long reign, his son only reigned two years before assassination of Nadab and the murder of all Jeroboam’s descendants.

i. “Thus God made use of one wicked man to destroy another.” (Clarke)

ii. “Nadab was king little more than one year, but since it covered parts of two years, Hebrew time measurement reckons his reign as two years.” (Dilday)

c. According to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah: This word is recorded in 1 Kings 14:7-16.

2. (1 Kings 15:33-34) The reign of Baasha, king of Israel.

In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel in Tirzah, and reigned twenty-four years. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.

a. Baasha the son of Ahijah became king over all Israel: As expected with a man who came to the throne through assassination, Baasha was a wicked man and ushered in a dreadful period for Israel, both spiritually and politically.

b. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam: The summary puts it simply. Though Baasha was not a genetic descendent of Jeroboam (having murdered his family), he was certainly a spiritual descendent of Jeroboam.

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1 KINGS 14 – THE END OF JEROBOAM AND REHOBOAM

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1 KINGS 14 – THE END OF JEROBOAM AND REHOBOAM

A. The end of Jeroboam, King of Israel.

1. (1 Kings 14:1-3) Jeroboam sends his wife on a mission.

At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people. Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child.”

a. At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick: Jeroboam was a king, but even kings have trouble common to men. His sick son troubled him and prompted him to seek the help of a prophet.

i. “Prophets were commonly consulted on health matters (2 Kings 1:2; 2Ki_4:22; 2Ki_4:40; 2Ki_5:3).” (Wiseman)

b. Disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam: This was a familiar pattern for Jeroboam. In his time of need, he turned to the true God and men of God. He knew that idols could not help him in any true crisis. Yet he also knew that he had rejected God and His prophets, and so he told his wife to wear a disguise.

i. “How foolish! Jeroboam though that the old prophet could penetrate the vail that hid the future, but not the disguise in which his wife wished to conceal herself.” (Meyer)

c. He will tell you what will become of the child: Jeroboam did not tell his wife to pray for their son, or to ask the prophet to pray. He wanted to use Ahijah the prophet as a fortune teller more than seeking him as a man of God.

i. “It would have been more pious if he had begged the prophet’s prayers, and cast away his idols from him; then the child might have been restored to him, as his hand was. But most people would rather be told their fortune than their faults or their duty.” (Clarke??)

2. (1 Kings 14:4-6) Jeroboam’s wife meets with Ahijah the prophet.

And Jeroboam’s wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age. Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman.” And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news.”

a. Ahijah could not see: As it turned out, there was no reason for the wife of Jeroboam to wear a disguise. Old age made Ahijah unable to see.

b. The LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son”: The woman’s disguise and Ahijah’s blindness didn’t matter, because God told Ahijah the truth of the matter.

c. I have been sent to you with bad news: From this, the wife of Jeroboam learned two things. First, that the news was bad. Second, that though she though she was sent to Ahijah by her husband, in truth Ahijah was sent by God with a message to her and Jeroboam.

3. (1 Kings 14:7-11) Ahijah declares God’s judgment on the house of Jeroboam.

“Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back; therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!”‘

a. You have done more evil than all who were before you: Saul was a bad man and a bad king. Solomon was a good king but a bad man. Though both men were bad, Jeroboam was far worse. He became the measuring line for the bad kings of Israel to come.

i. God compared Jeroboam unfavorably with David with the words, as my servant David “who though he fell into some sins, yet, first, he constantly persevered in the true worship of God, from which thou are revolted; secondly, he heartily repented of and turned from all his sins, whereas thou are obstinate and incorrigible.” (Poole)

b. And have cast Me behind your back: This was a powerful description of intense contempt towards God, as in Ezekiel 23:35 – Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty Of your lewdness and your harlotry.

i. “The last reason implies a neglect, a scorning of God. It is the same figure of speech used to describe God’s forgiveness of our sins. He puts them behind His back, or in other words, He forgets them. That is good news when it describes God’s treatment of our sins [Isaiah 38:17], but it is tragically bad news when it describes a person’s treatment of God.” (Dilday)

c. I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male: Jeroboam could have had a lasting dynasty, but he wasted the promise of God with his unbelief, idolatry, and outright rejection of God.

i. Every male: “Means literally ‘he who urinates against the wall.’” (Patterson and Austel)

4. (1 Kings 14:12-16) The immediate judgment and the distant judgment.

“Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam; this is the day. What? Even now! For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger. And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.”

a. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die: Jeroboam sent his wife to discover the fate of his son. The bad news was that the child would die. Yet his death would be a demonstration of mercy, because at least he would be buried in honor and properly mourned. Such great judgment was coming upon the house of Jeroboam that all would see that by comparison, this son was blessed in his death.

b. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River: This would finally be fulfilled some 300 years later. God knew that the root of Jeroboam’s apostasy will eventually result in the bitter fruit of national exile.

5. (1 Kings 14:17-18) The immediate judgment is fulfilled.

Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed, and came to Tirzah. When she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.

a. According to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet: The prophecy about Israel’s national exile would not be fulfilled for centuries. Yet it was demonstrated as true because the immediate prophecy of the death of Jeroboam’s son was exactly fulfilled.

6. (1 Kings 14:19-20) The death of Jeroboam and the summary of his reign.

Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. The period that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. So he rested with his fathers. Then Nadab his son reigned in his place.

a. He rested with his fathers: 2 Chronicles 13:20 tells us that the LORD struck him, and he died. “He died not the common death of all men, but by some remarkable stroke: beside the loss of five hundred thousand of his men in one battle with Abijah king of Judah (2 Chronicles 13:17).” (Trapp)

B. The end of Rehoboam, king of Judah.

1. (1 Kings 14:21-24) Israel’s sin provokes God to jealousy.

And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.

a. Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins: These sins provoked the LORD to jealousy because they were essentially sins of idolatry. Israel turned their back on the God who loved and redeemed them, and like an unfaithful spouse, they pursued spiritual adultery with idols.

b. There were also perverted persons in the land: This specifically describes prostitutes associated with the worship of idols. It is possible that the term perverted persons refers to both men and women cultic prostitutes. However, the term was used in Deuteronomy 23:17-18 in distinction to feminine cultic prostitutes.

c. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel: Considering the depth of depravity among the Canaanite nations, this is a strong statement.

2. (1 Kings 14:25-26) God chastises Rehoboam through Egypt.

It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made.

a. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam: This was not so far from the time of David and Solomon, years of strength and security in Israel. No foreign enemy ever did as much against God’s people during the time of David and Solomon as happened during this occasion during the reign of Rehoboam.

b. Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: Both 2 Chronicles and archeology confirm this account. The record in 2 Chronicles 12 gives many details that the writer of 1 Kings summarized. From 2 Chronicles 12 we learn:

· Exactly why this attack succeeded: when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel along with him. (2 Chronicles 12:2)

· That Shishak brought an allied army of nations against Judah (2 Chronicles 12:3)

· That Shishak took the fortified cities of Judah on his way to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 12:4)

· That as the enemy army approached Jerusalem, the Prophet Shemaiah led the leaders of Judah in genuine repentance (2 Chronicles 12:6)

· In response to their repentance, God allowed Jerusalem to remain – but as servants of Shishak, king of Egypt (2 Chronicles 12:7-8)

i. “Sheshonq I (Shishak) had founded the Egyptian (Libyan) Dynasty XXII (945-924 B.C.) and his raid into Palestine in this year (925 B.C.) is well attested on the Amon temple reliefs at Thebes (Karnak). From the one hundred and fifty place-names recorded there, his aim seems to have been to reassert Egyptian control over the main trade routes throughout Palestine and the Negeb.” (Wiseman)

c. He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house: Solomon left great wealth to his son Rehoboam, both in the temple and in the palace. After only five years, that wealth was largely gone.

d. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made: 1 Kings 10:16-17 mentions these 500 shields, 200 large and 300 small. These shields made beautiful displays in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, but they were of no use in battle. Gold was too heavy and too soft to be used as a metal for effective shields. This was an example of the emphasis of image over substance that began in the days of Solomon and worsened in the days of Rehoboam.

i. According to Dilday, each large shield was worth about $120,000. The smaller shields were worth $30,000. $33 million was invested in gold ceremonial shields – and now in the hands of the Egyptians.

3. (1 Kings 14:27-28) The decline of the Kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam.

Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom.

a. King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place:. The replacement of gold with bronze is a perfect picture of the decline under the days of Rehoboam. They dynasty of David went from gold to bronze in five years.

b. And committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard: In the days of Solomon, the gold shields hung on display in the House of the House of the Forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 10:16-17). Under Rehoboam, the replacement bronze shields were kept in a protected guardroom until they were specifically needed for state occasions.

4. (1 Kings 14:29-31) Rehoboam’s death and the summary of his reign.

Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Then Abijam his son reigned in his place.

a. Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam: 2 Chronicles summarized Rehoboam like this: And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 12:14) This speaks to the lack of his of personal relationship with the LORD.

i. “He was born of a heathen mother, and begotten of an apostate father. From such an impure fountain could sweet water possibly spring?” (Clarke)

ii. “The account ends with the note that Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammoniteess. Is this not the writer’s way of reminding us that it was Solomon’s marriage to foreign wives that started the precipitous decline in the first place?” (Dilday)

b. There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days: These two were very different. Rehoboam governed as a tyrant, started bad and humbled himself to God towards the end of his life (2 Chronicles 12:6-7). Jeroboam governed as a populist, started with great promise but ended terribly.

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