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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27 - 1 Kings 17-19: These Are the Days of Elijah

Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 17-19

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Elijah wants God's name to be protected and honored. God protected and honored Elijah in return.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Elijah confronted Ahab. Israel would have no rain.
God protected Elijah beside a brook. When it dried, God sent him to a widow preparing to die of starvation. God instead gave her unending flour and oil.
Later, her son died. Elijah cried out and God revived him.
God sent Elijah to Ahab again. Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal. When Elijah's god prevailed the 450 prophets were executed.
Elijah escaped Jezebel's wrath. God visited Elijah on a mountain. He instructed Elijah to anoint kings over Aram and Israel and Elisha as his successor. Elisha followed Elijah as his right-hand man.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Ahab and Jezebel were antagonistic towards God and all Israel suffered.

Israel suffered a drought that lasted over two years because Ahab and Jezebel openly worshipped another god. Although God saved the widow and her son at Zarephath (who housed Elijah) many others died. It echoes the negative side of leadership: as leaders go, so goes the nation. Leaders set the tone for obedience or disobedience for an entire group.

The widow blamed Elijah for her son's death, not God.

The widow and her son were about to die of starvation. Elijah came and his god helped them survive the terrible drought. However, when her son got sick and died the widow did not blame God, "Why did you ever show up here in the first place—a holy man barging in, exposing my sins, and killing my son?" (17:18, The Message). She humbled herself to think that God's wrath came on her because of Elijah showed it to God. So we, today, should not blame God for bad things that happen. God is not the source of the bad that happens in our lives. Ask that our sins be forgiven instead of what we have returned.

Elijah wanted God's Name to be praised.

In all his interactions, Elijah makes it clear that God's Name is to be praised. The drought was caused by God, not Elijah. The widow at Zarephath would be spared because of God, not Elijah. Her son was revived by God, not Elijah. When he challenged the 400 prophets of Baal, Elijah prayed,
O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I'm doing what I'm doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance. (18:36-37)
God's People want God's Name praised, not their own.

Jezebel was an evil, wicked woman.

Just in case you did not pick it up, Ahab was most likely a henpecked king with Jezebel pulling the shots. She wanted the altars to Baal. She ordered the prophets of God murdered. She ordered Elijah's execution. Why Ahab married her is a mystery. I normally do not point out bad actors in the Bible unless they show some larger way God is setting things right; however, Jezebel is so evil I had to make an exception. Don't be like Jezebel!

God protected Elijah.

Elijah had a difficult life because he lived in a time when Israel had turned far away from God. However, because he was willing to do the hard things—confront the king twice, battle 450 prophets of the state religion—God protected him from harm and disaster. When we are willing to set all things right for God, no matter the consequences, He will protect us.

Compare the worship of God and God's arrival to the prophets of Baal.

The prophets of Baal thought they needed to cry loudly and harm themselves to be heard. They cut their arms until they were covered in blood. All of these things were meant to garner the attention of their god. What came from Baal? Silence.
Elijah, on the other hand, did not cry in a loud voice (although he may have spoken loudly) and only asked God to prove His legitimacy, Elijah's legitimacy, and His steadfast lovingkindness. Then fury was unleashed by God.
When God passed by Elijah, there was a fury before God arrived; however, God arrived in a quiet voice speaking to Elijah. God is not a "god of fury," forcing his followers to perform theatrics to prove their love and obedience. God is a god of stillness, quietness, and uses His Love to prove His Worthiness. We should also be people of stillness, quiet, and using our love to prove our god's authority and worthiness.

Do you obey a theatrical god or the Quiet God?

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