Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 15:25-17:24; Acts 10:24-48; Psalm 134:1-3; Proverbs 17:9-11
We read about more of the kings of Judah and Israel today. Some reigned for a very short time (e.g. 2 years for Nadab and Elah; 7 days for Zimri) but all were poor rulers who did not follow God.
Leaders have tremendous influence on the people they lead. If they are godly the people have a good chance of being godly. But if they are deep into sin, the people will behave likewise. We see that in 1 Kings 15:34 where we read that Jeroboam led Israel to sin. It is not necessarily a good idea to follow the example set by our leaders. The only one we should follow is God.
Leaders can cause people to sin by setting a bad example, but also by not stomping out sin when it is in their power to do so (1 Kings 16:2). People who are in authority on this earth are there because God has placed them in those positions (1 Kings 16:2). But when God gives responsibility He demands accountability. Leaders will have to answer to God for the sins of their people.
Notice how God records that these kings followed the example of Jeroboam. I don’t think it would be very pleasant to go through all eternity being known as the worst king in all of Israel’s history. Thankfully for Jeroboam along came Ahab.
Ahab did more evil than any of the kings before him (1 Kings 16:30). That’s saying a lot! But not only did he commit the same sins as Jeroboam, Ahab married Jezebel who lead him to worship of Baal, a false god of the neighboring people. Ahab also built an Ahserah pole which was essentially a phallic symbol used in the worship of sex (1 Kings 16:31-33) which was prevalent at that time (just like today).
We meet Elijah today in 1 Kings 17. During this time of severe apostasy in Israel, Elijah (whose name means “Yahweh is my God”) will be a light in the darkness. God will speak to Israel through Elijah in an attempt to win Israel back. Even his name reminds the people that Baal and Asherah are not their gods.
Notice that God leads Elijah one step at a time. First He commands Elijah to deliver a message of drought to King Ahab (1 Kings 17:1). Then God tells Elijah to wait near a brook (1 Kings 17:5). Elijah sat there as the brook dried up waiting for God’s next instruction. What faith it must have taken to watch the water start off as a flow and dwindle down day after day to nothing knowing that God was going to take care of him. I wish I could have faith like that.
God then sends Elijah to the home of a very poor widow who is about to fix the last morsel of food she has and then starve to death (1 Kings 17:12). In this story we see Elijah challenge her to also have faith in God – the same faith that he had just learned to have by the brook. God will often send us through trying experiences so we can relate those experiences to others in order that their faith in God be strengthened too.
Everytime a man or angel is offered worship in the Bible, it is refused just as Peter does in Acts 10:26. The only one who accepted worship was Jesus, proving that He was more than a human being and also more than an angel.
God is the Lord of all (Acts 10:36). He is the God of black, white, Asian, and Latino. He is the God of male and female. He is the God of rich and poor. He is the God of gay and straight. He is the God of young and old. He is the God of the living and the dead. There is no one whose God is not God.
Peter teaches this Gentile crowd of non-believers who Jesus was (Acts 10:36-43). His message is short and to the point. This is exactly the way we should deliver the message of Jesus to our family and friends. Notice Peter didn’t call Cornelius a sinner who was going to hell. He didn’t debate creation vs evolution. He simply told everyone about Jesus and how they can be forgiven. There is tremendous power in that simple story.
We know this is true because all the people who were listening to Peter believed and became indwelt with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44). Additionally, these new believers were baptized. Baptism does not send anyone to heaven. It is an outward symbolic gesture God asks of believers to publicly demonstrate our new faith and the fact we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The best way to create love in our relationships is to forgive (Proverbs 17:9). We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. Holding onto a grudge or refusing to forgive can only separate people, no matter how close (Proverbs 17:10).
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post