Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 12:20-13:34; Acts 9:26-43; Psalm 132:1-18; Proverbs 17:6
The prophecy of 1 Kings 11:29-39 comes true in 1 Kings 12:20 when Jeroboam, a son of one of Solomon’s servants is made king over the 10 tribes of Israel.
There are two types of promises God makes: unconditional and conditional. In an unconditional promise God vows to do something unilaterally. He says He will do it (whether it be “good” or “bad”) and He will do it. With a conditional promise, though, God will only do what He says if the other party does their part. This is the type of promise that God made with Jeroboam.
All Jeroboam had to do was walk with God and God would have kept him as king. Yet Jeroboam decides to attempt to secure his position as king through a way that makes sense to him. This is never a good thing.
Jeroboam built two worship centers in his territory (1 Kings 12:26-30) and also ignored God’s command that priests be of the tribe of Levi. Instead he made anyone he liked a priest (1 Kings 12:30). Not only that but Jeroboam created his own religious festival where sacrifices were made to golden calves. (1 Kings 12:32).
Here we see how a leader can lead people away from God through the decisions he makes. This is why it is so important to have godly leadership – something the United States has pretty much lacked for decades if not a century or more. Without godly leaders, the people will begin to worship the wrong things.
We like to think of ourselves as independent, not needing anyone to watch over us. But the fact is that people need to be lead. That is an innate part of us. We need leadership that will lead us according to God’s plan. Because when we have leaders who refuse to lead, or who are actually lead themselves by the people, we are in trouble.
Things were so bad in Israel that God had to send a prophet from Judah to rebuke Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:1) because there were no men of God left in Israel. This prophet predicts the coming of Josiah some 350 years later (1 Kings 13:2) as well as some immediate events.
Note that rather than heeding the message Jeroboam’s inclination is to arrest the messenger (1 Kings 13:4). We can ignore God’s warnings and messages to us if we want. But we do that at our own expense.
Despite the warnings of the prophet Jeroboam never really repents (1 Kings 13:33). Over the next few weeks we will read about the subsequent kings of Israel with only Ahab being mentioned as worse than Jeroboam who regretfully lead an entire nation away from God into idolatry.
Saul joins the apostles in Act 9 but not after needing a witness to prove that he was no longer persecuting Christians. God sent Barnabas to mediate between the Saul and the disciples who were afraid of him, not believing that he was truly converted (Acts 9:26).
Once accepted, Saul begins preaching with them and he does so boldly (Acts 9:28). Saul had killed Christians boldly. Now he is trying to teach people about Christ boldly. This is how our lives should be – boldly proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.
Saul went from being a man who killed Christians to being a man who was in danger of being murdered for being a Christian (Acts 9:29). The Christian life is not easy. It comes at a big price.
For his own safety the apostles send Saul away to his hometown, Tarsus, where he will be protected by friends and family (Acts 9:30). More than a decade will pass until Saul becomes Paul and begins to plant churches in Asia Minor.
In the rest of Acts 9 Peter travels around carrying out acts of God’s great love. He heals a paralytic (Acts 9:33-35), and brings a woman back to life (Acts 9:39-41). The purpose of these acts were the same as the purpose of Jesus’ miracles: to bring comfort and healing and to display God’s mercy. As a result of both these events many people turned to God and were saved (Acts 9:35, 42).
By being present in a room with a dead body and by living with a tanner – who spent time around dead animals (Acts 9:43) – Peter correctly understands the Old Testament laws are no longer valid. A new era has been ushered in by the death of Jesus on the cross. All the ceremonial regulations are not needed because our sins have been forgiven. We have been forever cleansed.
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