Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And they who know Your name (who have experience and acquaintance) with Your mercy will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek for You, on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity.”
“Lord, give me faith! – to live from day to day,
With tranquil heart to do my simple part,
And, with my hand in Thine, just go Thy way.
Lord, give me faith! – to trust, if not to know;
With quiet mind in all things Thee to find,
And child-like, go where Thou wouldst have me go.
Lord, give me faith! – to leave it all to Thee,
The future is Thy gift, I should not lift
The veil Thy love has hung twixt it and me.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel before him. In his days, Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of the life of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Joshua son of Nun.”
1 Kings 16: 33,34
“God’s Word Stands Forever” Part 1
“Let all the earth fear the Lord, revere and worship Him; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For he spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nought, He makes the thoughts and plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart through all generations.”
Psalm 33: 8-11
What do I think the Bible means when it says that the “counsel of the Lord stands forever”?
Do I live out the words of God in my daily life?
How do I follow the “counsel of God”?
“The devil is ready to put out men’s eyes that are content willingly to wax blind.”
Sir Thomas More
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus hath fled?”
Rippon’s - A Selection of Hymns
My original intent was to begin our study on the life of Elijah by starting with 1 Kings 17: 1. However, God in His marvelous providence, provided me with a book, written a number of years ago by M.B. Van’t Veer, scholar and pastor in The Netherlands. Fortunately, this tremendous volume was translated into English by Theodore Plantinga and I feel blessed to have found this inspiring book which led me to back up and read the entire chapter of 1 Kings 16 again before jumping into Chapter 17.
Tragically, 1 Kings 16, contains a litany of acts of murder, treachery, and gross evil found in Israel. We are informed that Omri, who was a very bright and strategically astute king, strengthened the country of Israel by purchasing “the hill Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver.” But Omri didn’t just stop with the acquisition of land, he had bigger plans than just owning a mountain of dirt. 1 Kings 16: 24 informs us, “He (Omri) built a city on the hill and fortified it, and called it Samaria (Shomeron), after the owner of the hill, Shemer.” But this isn’t where the Bible stops. 1 Kings 16: 25 has some extremely serious words, “But Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, even worse than all who were before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebal and in his sin, by which he made Israel sin, to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger with their idols.”(1 Kings 16:24-26, Amplified Bible)
There you have it! Omri led his subjects down a path of idolatry! Anything in place of God was his mantra. What I find discouraging about this chapter as it relates to the history of Israel, is that what the father was, in most cases, the son became, too. When Omri died, the acorn didn’t fall far from the oak tree for Omri’s son, Ahab, “upped the ante” by becoming the worst king in Israel’s history. This is what the Bible states: “As if it had been a light thing for Ahab to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took for a wife Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and served Baal and worshipped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah (idolatrous symbol of the goddess Asherah).” Then, as if to highlight how evil Ahab was, the Bible repeats this often used phrase describing the kings of both Israel and Judah: “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel before him.” (1 Kings 16: 31-33, Amplified Bible)
One of the most interesting portions in this passage is found in 1 Kings 16: 31, and I want to share with you the translation of this text from the N.I.V. Bible and also the paraphrase from The Message Bible:
1 Kings 16: 31, New International Version
“He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.”
1 Kings 16: 31, The Message Bible
“It wasn’t enough for him (Ahab) to copy the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat; no, he went all out, first by marrying Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then by serving and worshiping the god Baal.”
In fact, The Message Bible calls Ahab the, “Champion of evil.” Frankly, the name fits the crimes.
Now, you may be wondering why I wanted to step back to 1 Kings 16 and look again at what preceded the arrival of Elijah on the scene of action. First, it is important for us to gain insight into the situation Elijah faced when God sent him with a confrontational message to deliver to the wayward King Ahab. Not only had Ahab chosen to follow in the pathway of idol worship begun by Jeroboam, he’d gone a lot further in his rebellion against God. He married a Baal-worshiping fanatic with unbridled passion for the gods of her foreign country. With a spineless wimp as her husband, Jezebel became the neck that controlled the head -- turning Ahab into a Baal worshiper himself. What the God of heaven and earth had to say, didn’t matter one wit to Ahab. His eyes were blind and his ears were deaf -- at least to the spiritual things of God, to the point that the long history of God’s leading His children not only didn’t matter to Ahab, he felt he could ignore God and that there were absolutely no consequences to his behavior.
This brings us to an interesting passage of Scripture, tucked between the report of Ahab’s evil behavior and the arrival of God’s messenger and prophet, Elijah the Tishbite.
As our study text today reveals in 1 Kings 16: 34, “In his days, Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho.” As I read this passage, I asked myself, “In whose days?” This event happened in the days of Ahab -- he was the “who.” But this is more than just a record in the Bible that Jericho was rebuilt. It is an alarm. A “shout out” to all God’s children down through history that in the midst of great evil; at a time when nobody seemed to care that evil overpowered the good; during days of repeated despair when things could not seem to get any worse, an evil king and a greedy businessman, combined their efforts to ignore the God of heaven and earth.
Five hundred years before Ahab ever took over the throne of Israel, our God had spoken. PRAISE GOD! And when our God speaks, not only is His Word true, but His words are everlasting. In a world where it has become nearly impossible to trust what anyone says, our Father in heaven’s word stands the test of time -- from the beginning to the end -- and throughout eternity. As M. V. Van’t Veer so correctly stated, Ahab thought he could erase the voice of God for Ahab, “no longer knew what it was to tremble at God’s power.” Oh, what a terrible mistake Ahab made when he denied the everlasting power of the word of God. And we do well to learn from his mistake. God’s Word stands, forever! AMEN!
“Your Word” – Psalm 119 Excerpts
“I will keep Your statues…Your Word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes…I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches…I will delight myself in Your statues; I will not forget Your Word…I have chosen the way of truth and faithfulness; Your ordinances have I set before me…Establish Your Word and confirm Your promise to your servant…the law from Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces…all Your commandments are faithful and sure…forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven…I have seen that everything human has its limits and end, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad and extends without limits into eternity…How sweet are Your Words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth…Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God, hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them…It is time for the Lord to act; they have frustrated Your law…Your testimonies are wonderful, far exceeding anything conceived by man; therefore my penitent self keeps them -- hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them. The entrance and unfolding of Your Words give light; their unfolding gives understanding, discernment and comprehension to the simple…You have commanded and appointed Your testimonies in righteousness and in great faithfulness…Your righteous testimonies are everlasting and Your decrees are binding to eternity; give me understanding…all Your commandments are truth. Of old have I known Your testimonies, and for a long time, therefore it is a thoroughly established conviction that You have founded them forever…The sum of Your Word is truth, the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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