Do you see any patterns as you read through the history of the kings? Sin, idolatry, sabotage, bloodshed-what a grizzly time of history to be living! I think this stretch of history shows human nature quite thoroughly.
16:15 Zimri began to rule over Israel in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa's reign in Judah, but his reign in Tirzah lasted only seven days. Wow, Zimri accomplished quite a list of objectives in his short time in office (vs. 11-12):
Zimri immediately killed the entire royal family of Baasha, leaving him not even a single male child. He even destroyed distant relatives and friends. 12 So Zimri destroyed the dynasty of Baasha as the Lord had promised through the prophet Jehu.
It's hard keeping all these kings and their domain straight, but basically Israel is divided into two kingdoms now, the northern Kingdom (Israel) and Judah (the southern kingdom). So now we're going through the history of these two kingdoms, following the kings for each one side by side. The northern kingdom is made up of 10 tribes (declared by God in 1 Kings 11:31, 35), and the southern kingdom is only Judah. That only adds up to 11 tribes, so which one is missing? It's very complicated and possibly unknown. Here's some commentary on Wiki about that.
16:30-31 But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord's sight, even more than any of the kings before him. And as though it were not enough to follow the example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel... Who is Jezebel? According to Wiki:
Ahab and Jezebel let temples of Baal operate in Israel, and the pagan religion receives royal patronage. Furthermore, the queen uses her control over Ahab to lead the Hebrews into idolatry, "sexual immorality" and subjects them to tyranny.
After she has the prophets of Yahweh slaughtered, the prophet Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a test (1 Kings 18), exposes their god as powerless, has them slaughtered (1 Kings 18:40), and incurs Jezebel's furious enmity.
After Ahab's death, Jezebel continues to rule through her son Ahaziah. When Ahaziah is killed in battle, she exercises control through her other son, Jehoram.
Her name likely means, "Where is the Prince?" It is a form of invocation, calling on the god named to appear and act. In other words, this Tyrian princess was given a name in praise of the chief god of her people (whom the Hebrew Bible refers to mainly by the title "Baal", meaning "lord, master"). The transliteration is 'Iyzebel meaning "Baal is exalted".
17:8-9 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." (NKJV) I can't help but think "commanded" means that He commanded it to happen. She is not expecting Him, but the command has been given. I wonder how many things we do that are "commanded" that we don't even know about? In a sense, His command gives the widow faith! Another observation here is that this woman is a Gentile. Later, Jesus uses this story to rebuke the Jews that Elijah ignored Israel and went to the Gentiles. Apparently it is a foretelling of Jesus closing up the opportunity for salvation to the Jews and giving it to the Gentiles. Consider Luke 4:25-28:
"But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. "And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things... Did you by any chance notice how long the sky was shut up? Same amount of time as the coming Great Tribulation (3.5 years of calamity, but I am not saying there is any relationship, just an observation of some sort of pattern).
17:12 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." Here is proof that the woman has no inkling of any command given. But yet, she is about to demonstrate faith...faith that is given to her. Lord, give us the faith of the widow of Zarephath!
I know this passage is rich with meaning, but I just can't seem to put it together. We've got an Israelite prophet sent to a Gentile woman who shows him kindness (a cup of cold water?) and no bread. She is promised continuous flour and oil until the 3.5 year famine comes to an end. Then her only son dies and he is brought back to life in an upper room after Elijah stretches over him three times. Hmmm...very strange.
I have noticed that there are different prophetic gifts. Compare Elijah to David. They are both prophetic in their gifts, but in such different manifestations! You never see David doing any miracles-multiplying oil and flour or raising people from the dead. He only wrote prophetically, but otherwise, David was more of an average guy compared to someone like Elijah. This was a great observation to me as I heard messages from certain churches that tried to pin the same gifts on everyone, and it just ain't happenin' in the Bible! God uses us differently (hear the "amens" from the proctologists and the florists)!
17:14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!" On a fluffier level...during times of personal spiritual famine, God keeps just enough "oil" going to sustain us until the drought is over. But only when we act in faith first (vs. 15).
17:24 Then the woman told Elijah, "Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you." The Gentile widow accepted the truth, unlike Israel. It was the same miracle that made one widow believe and the other turn away in unbelief (raising a dead son).
10:28 And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean." This explains the meaning of Peter's vision. It had nothing to do with food (we established), but associating with Gentiles.
10:34-35 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." This is a monumental moment for Peter. He actually opens his mouth and says something worthwhile. How I identify with Peter! But what a beautiful truth that God has given him, especially since Jesus purposely snubbed the Gentiles during His ministry.
"God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,
not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by
God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the
dead." I never realized before this read through that Jesus
only appeared to a select few. That would explain why the history books
may not bear witness to His resurrection. He is always giving just
enough truth and evidence for those who would believe, and hiding it
from those who are unbelieving!