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Weekly Prompts for Thinking Through Scripture Covering 1 Kings 15:1 – 18:16

Day One

Read 1 Kings 15:1 - 24

· VV. 3-5 – Rehoboam is dead, yet still his influence lingers. But also David’s impact remains. See Exodus 20: 5,6. The summary contrasts Abijam’s and David’s “heart,” which you’ll recall is not their emotional life or sensitivity, but their whole inner life, especially their preoccupations, fears, trusts, decisions, assumptions.

· V. 11 – A king that “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD…” how refreshing. Even in the middle of declines, there are little reforms! Notice that Asa’s uprightness is demonstrated first by what he got rid of, not by what he did. This morning, consider if there are things that should be cut out of your life.

· V. 13 – Sometimes loyalty to God has us at cross purposes with our family. But here’s the secret, the thing that’s not obvious: you cannot rightly love your family until you love God above them. And sometimes loving God more requires distressing your family.

· VV. 16-24 – As usual, the narrator doesn’t weigh in on the rightness or wrongness of actions. So what’s your opinion about Asa’s negotiating with the king of Syria? Particularly, is it problematic that he mines the treasury of the Temple to grease the palm of Ben-hadad?

Day Two

Read 1 Kings 15:25-34

· V. 26 – As we said last week, “the sin which [Jeroboam] made Israel to sin” stains all the subsequent kings of Israel. That sin, you’ll recall, was a distorted worship of Jehovah: motivated by the quest for convenience, trading on vague nostalgia, ultimately man centered. Corrupt worship sends the chill of death into the next generations. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” brothers and sisters!

· V.29 – “that he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite.” {Checks notes/ turns Bible back two pages to 14: 10-14} YEP, DONE. Let’s cue up Johnny Cash again:

You can run on for a long time

Run on for a long time

Run on for a long time

Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Sooner or later God'll cut you down

· Still back in chapter 14, notice in v. 14 that “the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off…” That king raised up by the LORD is Baasha, who “did evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam…” (15:34). God works out His righteous decisions through righteous and unrighteous rulers.

· Returning once more to chapter 14, I didn’t emphasize v.13 enough last week. In Jeroboam’s corrupt house there’s a little boy who “in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel.” Those little sprigs of grace show up in surprising places. Keep your eyes open.

Day Three

Read 1 Kings 16: 1-14

· V. 4 – We could bolster this observation with a hundred more scriptural examples: the judgment against Baasha isn’t simply death – indeed, no one finally escapes that judgment – but also that he dies without burial. Passages like this have formed an instinct among the people of God to take seriously the matters of funerals and the disposing of dead bodies.

· V. 7 – Did you notice that last phrase: “and also because he destroyed it.” God’s anger is against Baasha a) because he never shook off the bad worship habits of Jeroboam, and b) because he destroyed Jeroboam’s house. But I thought God raised him up in order to destroy Jeroboam? I thought B’s demolishing all J’s descendants was “according to the word of the LORD” (v.29)? What do you say, reader?

· V. 8 – How does Proverbs 28:2 fit into this? Since the USA elects a president conducts elections every two years, potentially changing out presidents every four years, do we fall under this proverb’s grim observation? {I say “no,” but why?}

· VV. 11, 12 – That Zimri wipes out Baasha’s house even though he was the instrument of God’s judgment on Baasha, we suspect will land him in trouble (see point from v. 7 above). God uses evil men and evil to carry out His judgments, but through all that maintains justice for all.

Day Four

Read 1 Kings 16: 15-34

· V. 18 – “Live by the sword die by the sword.”

· V. 19 – We’ve seen this formulaic summary before, but it jumps out here because, after all, Zimri was in power for only seven days. I mean, how much “walking in the way of Jeroboam” can one do in a week? PERHAPS, a lesson here is that God expects repentance pronto.

· V. 24 – the construction of Samaria is important since it will become the capital of the northern Kingdom. In fact, sometimes that Kingdom will simply be called “Samaria.”

· V. 25 – As is common in their evaluations, the kings are judged by whether they pleased the LORD or did what was evil in His sight. No matter how long one’s life is, or how many his accomplishments, God’s final verdict is actually pretty simple.

· V. 29-33 – Ahab – BOOOO! What a nasty piece of work this son of Omri is, doing “more [evil in the sight of the LORD] than all who were before him. And that’s saying a lot! If Israel has been on a bad road lately, with Ahab they take a definitive turn toward Hell. Remember, things can go from bad to worse. And to cap it all off, look who he married – Jezebel, who will become an archetype of the idolatry that seduces us from loving God first (Revelation 2: 20).

· V. 34 – An interesting historical footnote. This construction of Jericho is a rebuild of the city that Joshua razed some 500 years earlier. See Joshua 6: 26 and think this over. What you should take away from this Jericho detail is that during Ahab’s reign God’s word was heard trivially and openly defied. My, oh my, do we miss David…

Day Five

Read 1 Kings 17: 1-7

· V. 1 – Abruptly, we’re introduced to Elijah the Tishbite – Yeeaahh! The perfect foil for the wicked Ahab. That Ahab becomes king means that times are tough, and that he will reign for 22 years (16:29) means they’ll become more difficult still. But in tough times God raises up colorful characters like Elijah…which makes us a little grateful for said tough times under corrupt kings. I mean, how impoverished this earth would be if Elijah had never walked on it.

· V. 4 – “Commanded the ravens” – the story of God’s redeeming the world is seriously cool, and if sometimes the reportage can get a little tedious (here’s looking at you, temple measurements), there are many more scenes – like this one – that set the imagination on fire. How many times in the story leading up to the Gospel of our Lord can you recall God uncommonly using the animal kingdom?

· V. 6 – “And he drank from the brook” – You see the same phrase at the end of the enigmatic Psalm 110, and I think our passage sheds some light on what that psalm is saying. The Lord at the right hand of Jehovah (who Christians confess is Jesus Christ) moved His mission forward while being sustained and refreshed by the never-ending supply of God.

Let’s expand that a little: The Body of Christ moves forward in a hard and barren landscape and yet somehow survives and is refreshed by the hidden springs of God’s strength. Have you experienced this nourishment?

· VV. 1-6 – God supplied for Elijah. We don’t know if He did for the other “70,000 who hadn’t bowed the need to Baal,” or if some of these saints slipped away from starvation. What we know is that God is eternally committed to His people and is able to supply for them creatively for as long as He has work for them to do on this earth. We worship this mighty God who makes big decisions.

· V. 7 – The Source of supply never alters, but the channels sometimes do. God moves from unclean ravens bringing meat from who knows where, to a just-as-incredible pagan widow. The God of the Impossible! Don’t be discouraged when your supplies start to run out…the God who is committed to you as a Shepherd might be at work doing things bigger than simply meeting your needs (vv. 8-16).

Day Six

Read 1 Kings 17: 8-24

· Recall our Lord’s mention of the widow of Zarephath: do you remember what His point was?

· V. 9 – “which belongs to Sidon” – Hmm, we’ve just heard about Sidon, in the previous chapter. How does this detail expand our imagination?

· V. 9 – “I have commanded a widow there to feed you” – then why doesn’t the widow greet Elijah with something like, “oh, hey, you’re the gentleman I was waiting to serve.” In fact, she’ll display just a little hesitation after Elijah’s order for water and bread. So then where is the effect of God’s declared command? What do you have to say about this? (So many questions…and then insights… when you slow down your reading.)

· V. 12 – “As the LORD your God lives” – not claiming Him as her God and yet acknowledging His reality. And this, in the land of Jezebel and Baal worship! These little sprigs of grace keep showing up in the darndest places….

· V. 16 – “Daily bread” indeed.

· V. 18 – Under duress, the widow concludes that God’s previous supply was only the setup to make the expected judgment that much more severe. In her worldview, God lulls us with pleasant things so that when He bring down the hammer for our sin it’ll really hurt. No matter how kindly God treats us, it’s hard to shake our constant suspicion of Him. All image bearers have sinned, and fall short of glorifying God.

· VV. 20,21 – “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5: 16. Sidon is a country bereft of true religion. Just below Sidon is the land of the patriarchs, and those people have largely abandoned God. And yet, God is still hearing the prayers of righteous persons and is responding with life. Come on Church!

Day Seven

Read 1 Kings 18:1-16

· V. 2 – Not the same Obadiah who wrote the little prophecy against Edom.

· Obadiah – another of those little sprigs of grace appearing in a dark place. And, standing alongside of Elijah, another species of “faithful servant.” People loyal to God aren’t necessarily abandoning corrupt society and prepping in the wilderness. Nor are they necessarily loudly and bravely standing up to evil. No, some of those loyal to God are hidden away in corrupt power structures, quietly subverting the bad guys (v.4), and likely also enduring some friendly fire from the frontliners and separatists who think they’re compromisers!

· V. 9 – It seems that Ahab didn’t handle negative news that calmly. He was of the “shoot the messenger” variety.

· V. 12 – A very interesting response. Obadiah knows that “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform,” that He constantly surprises, that His words are deep and often misunderstood. All which makes God not exactly predictable… and this unpredictability might cost him his life. Obadiah is serving God, but uneasily.

How opposite is Obadiah from the modern-day YouTube “prophet” who’ll confidently tell you exactly what God is thinking about anything. Obadiah’s fear of Yahweh might not be of the healthiest variety, but I prefer it over a lot of the casualness before God floating around these days. What do you think?

· V. 15 – Obadiah is cautious, scared, forgivably doesn’t want to die…but when it’s time to take a step of faith and believe God’s word…he steps. May his tribe increase!

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