Saturday, November 5
Texts like II Kings 2 can be a problem for us when we are conversing with our friends or family who are convinced that we will go to heaven when we die. They know that we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and, therefore, when the Bible states that “the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind” they think this “truth” should be evident to us. It says plainly that Elijah went up to heaven, does it not? The trouble is that when we explain to them that our understanding of the word “heaven” now in modern times is different from the Hebrew word “heaven” as it is used in this Scripture, they sometimes think we are changing the Bible to go along with what we believe. How unfortunate. That verse could very easily have been written in our English language to say, “the LORD was about to take Elijah up into the sky in a whirlwind.”
There are many things that we just don’t know. Like, for instance, where did Elijah go? Where did Enoch go? But those questions don’t really need to be answered. We may be curious, but it really isn’t that important. What is important to know is what happens to us when we die. Our God would not leave this as a mystery. We can take our friends and/or family to Hebrews 11:37…”Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.” It seems like that verse could very well be speaking of many prophets, including Elijah. The author here says that “they placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection” (11:35) and “none of them received all that God had promised.” (11:39) We can also trust the words of Jesus who said, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) It’s almost as if Jesus were trying to make sure this would be clearly understood.
Friday, November 4
Israel was suffering under the leadership of their wicked King Ahab. Even when God had obviously given them the victory over the Arameans, Ahab decides to disobey God’s instructions. Ahab is recklessly impulsive. So you might wonder why the good king of Judah, King Jehoshaphat, bothered to visit Ahab. I picture a couple of powerful men getting chummy and having a good time and then, the clever Ahab says, “Hey man, Romath-gilead should be part of my kingdom. What do you say we go to war to recapture it for me?” And Jehoshaphat says, “Why, of course! Let’s first check to see what the LORD’s thoughts are on our plans. That really is the smart thing to do. But brother, I’m already liking this idea.” (Disclosure: this is not how the Scripture exactly reads.) Ahab calls in his prophets because they always say what he wants to hear. Jehoshaphat, in a moment of clear-headedness, says they need a true man of God’s advice. Ahab admits there is a prophet who could consult the LORD for them, but he never says anything good. And Jehoshaphat says, “That’s not the way a king should talk!” (I Kings 22:8) You would think at this point King Jehoshaphat would be having second thoughts about rushing into battle with Ahab. Especially after they hear what Micaiah, the prophet, has to say!!! Ahab must have been a smooth talker. Not only did Jehoshaphat go into a needless battle with him, but he put on Ahab’s king’s robes so that he would look like the perfect target for the enemy. In the end, Jehoshaphat is remembered as a good king who “did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight”, but there is a good lesson here for all of us. We need to be always alert to the warning bells that the company we keep may cause to go off. It may sound like a good time and we may really like the person or people we are hanging out with, but are they following God’s way?
Thursday, November 3
An important lesson can be garnered from the life of Elijah in chapter 19 of I Kings. If you haven’t dealt with depression yet, there is a good chance you will at some point. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) So how do we deal with depression? I believe all the steps are provided for us here…
1. Sleep – Elijah had just been through a pretty significant experience. He challenged the prophets of Baal and God used him in powerful way. On top of that, Elijah then ran mighty fast for about seventeen miles using the “special strength” God gave him! When we are physically drained everything seems worse. And at this point Elijah was ready to die. “Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.” ( I Kings 19:5)
2. Eat – God knew what Elijah needed. He let Elijah sleep for a bit and then sent an angel with some fresh bread and water. (Food directly from God must taste extra yummy and it was undoubtedly super nutritious too!) Then Elijah slept some more and the angel returned to make sure he ate again so that he would have the strength to keep going.
3. Go to God – The spent and sorrowful prophet headed to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. He needed some quality time talking to God and he poured out his heart to Him. Elijah was lonely. He felt like he was the only one left who wasn’t worshipping Baal. God, in a gentle whisper, told Elijah that it was time to anoint a new king in Israel and a new prophet to replace himself.
4. Remember you aren’t alone – Elijah wasn’t alone. There was a very good man in Abel-meholah that would become like a son to Elijah. There were “7,000 others in Israel who had never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” And whatever trials we may face as Christians, we can be assured that we aren’t alone either.
Wednesday, November 2
Israel has already had several bad kings, but now we have Ahab, a man “who did more to provoke the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.” (I Kings 16:33) It’s interesting that when there is great evil going on God provides an example of righteousness. Elijah’s first encounter with King Ahab is to tell him that the God who lives will be making sure there is a lack of dew and rainfall for years. Our God does nothing without reason.
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were leading the Israelites into worshipping Baal. It’s important to note that Baal was supposed to be a fertility god. Baal was thought to keep the land producing crops and the people producing children. And so Elijah is sent to show Ahab and the people that the living God of Israel provides the water. The mention of the widow from Zarephath, another Baal-worshipping town, is insightful too. When the widow’s son dies, Elijah prays to the living God and “the life of the child returned!” Now who is the God of fertility? Who causes the crops to grow and the children to live?
Tuesday, November 1
written by: Melissa New
It is amazing how kind our Father is. Previously, we saw that Solomon deliberately disobeyed God and because of his sin, which in turn led many others to sin by worshipping idols, God did what He said He would do. He would “tear the kingdom away from you (Solomon) and give it to one of your servants.” (I Kings 11:11) He sent the prophet Ahijah to tell Jeroboam of some spectacular news for his future. God was making a new covenant promise for Jeroboam! Solomon broke his covenant promise from God, and now Jeroboam is given the opportunity to enjoy a covenant promise. Could he learn from the mistakes he saw Solomon make? If he would be wholeheartedly devoted to God, as David was, then Jeroboam could have the benefits of a similar promise!
We find in these chapters that Jeroboam’s god was “power.” He was unwilling to risk losing any of it. He didn’t trust the promise of God. He thought he could better rule the people of Israel without God. So he made golden calves for the Israelites to worship. He led the people into idolatry. But God gives Jeroboam a second chance! Just as he warned Solomon, he sent a man of God to tell of his demise. Jeroboam’s life would come to a nasty end because of his sin. He didn’t listen to the man of God even though he proved that what God says comes true. In chapter 13 we see that another prophet learns that what the “man of God” said was, indeed, true, but Jeroboam would not “turn from his evil ways.” In chapter 14 we see that Ahijah no longer has good news for Jeroboam. His prophecy for Jeroboam is dishonorable death and a future dispersing of the Israelites.
The legacy of Jeroboam is wickedness. Israel will have 20 kings until they are taken over by Assyria, and all of them will be BAD. Many times Christians think that a little sin in their lives only affects themselves. And it’s true that leaders, like Jeroboam, have a lot more influence, but sin has consequences for any who see or are around it. In some cases, it could have an impact on people not even born yet.
Monday, October 31
If ever there was a man that “had it all”, Solomon was that man. Precious things were flooding into Israel during his reign. Gold, silver, wood, horses, spices, weapons, mules, jewels…..and wives. 10:21 tells us the wealth was so immense that “silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!” There was just one thing that Solomon was lacking; complete obedience to God. His dad warned him before dying. Why didn’t he keep the sound advice of his father? God’s great covenant blessings only come with one condition. Solomon himself told everyone in his prayer at the dedication, “You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.” (I Kings 8:9) In I Kings 11:10 we see that the LORD “had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the LORD’s command.” It was a case of deliberate disobedience, and as any parent knows, this means that there has to be consequences.
God is such a good father. He explained to Solomon what would happen because of his disobedience. It would seem that Solomon didn’t take correction as well as his father always did, though. David worshiped God after his first son with Bathsheba died, he accepted the abuse of Shimei because if it was from God he knew it was justified. David confessed to God his sin in taking the census, asked for forgiveness, and then was distraught, but willing to personally accept the consequence for his sin. It would seem that when adversaries came up against Solomon, he didn’t ask God for help. Did Solomon hear of Ahijah’s prophecy to Jeroboam? It seems like he did, and instead of praying and accepting God’s decision, he tried to kill Jeroboam.
Our response to sin is indicative of our devotion to God. Unfortunately, we will all sin. It’s how we act afterwards that shows God and others what really matters to us.
Sunday, October 30 – start of week 15
I love to picture in my mind the great King Solomon, in his prime, standing humbly before the newly finished temple. With his hands raised to Yahweh, he is the epitome of a great spiritual leader in that moment. And what a prayer! First, he recognizes that there is no God like our God. Then, he is grateful to Him for keeping his covenant. Solomon knows that it’s a precious privilege for him and the Israelites to have a permanent place to go to worship God and offer sacrifices. Next, he petitions for Yahweh to always hear and forgive when His people confess and repent. And Solomon wants this not only for the Israelites, but for any foreigners who would come to the Temple because they have heard of “your great name.” Finally, at the end of his remarkable dedication, he reminds the “O Sovereign LORD” that He had set Israel apart to be His “own special possession.” How cleverly and beautifully worded! It’s a reminder to all of the Israelites listening that they need to confess and repent when they do wrong for “who has never sinned?” he asks. It is vital, too, that we ask for forgiveness when we do wrong. We need to acknowledge our sin as the wickedness that it is, turn away from it, and instead turn with our whole hearts to God. There is comfort in knowing that we are His special possession too; and He will hear our heartfelt prayers and forgive.
Melissa New attends the McGintytown Church of God of Abrahamic Faith in Arkansas. She is pleased to be a part of this community of COG bloggers and is already feeling much blessed by it! Her favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”