Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 18:1-46; Acts 11:1-30; Psalm 135:1-21; Proverbs 17:12-13
Today we read one of my favorite stories in the entire Bible: the confrontation between the prophet Elijah and the evil king Ahab.
Elijah had pronounced a drought on Israel in yesterday’s reading then went into hiding at God’s command. In today’s reading the drought has lasted 3 years (1 Kings 18:1). At this time God tells Elijah to confront Ahab (1 Kings 18:2). Sometimes God wants us to be alone with Him to build us up and teach us. But there will always come a time when He will want us to then go and take His message to other people.
All the kings prior to Ahab were terrible. Yesterday we read that he was the worst of them all. One of the reasons was he was married to an extreme non-believer: Jezebel. Jezebel was very much into the false gods of the day and even murdered God’s prophets (1 Kings 18: 4). You know times are bad when the leaders do not promote, or at least stand up for, freedom of worship. There is no doubt in my mind that our current president rules in a similar manner. President Obama has no tolerance for the Bible, God, or Jesus. This will only send the country to ruin.
Not only did Jezebel and Ahab kill God’s prophets, they actively sponsored the false prophets of Baal and Asheroth (1 Kings 18:19). This is also something we see Obama do. He actively courts those groups that are openly and adamantly against God. As I write this I can’t believe that this is the state of the United States today.
Notice what Ahab thinks of Elijah: he thinks he is a troublemaker (1 Kings 19:17). Non believers who are so entrenched in their idols will look at us Christians as the cause of problems. What they don’t realize is it is refusal to believe in God that causes every single problem earth has ever seen.
Elijah challenges these false prophets to a duel of sorts. Notice it was 950 false prophets against Elijah (1 Kings 18:19). That did not phase Elijah. Christians are a very small minority on this planet. We cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated. These people need to hear the message of Jesus Christ.
The false god Baal is unable to bring fire down despite being given many hours to do so (1 Kings 18:26). I love Elijah’s response in 1 Kings 18:27. He knew that he was not going to lose this battle. Finally, Elijah put these prophets out of their embarrassment and called on God to send fire on his offering, which God does immediately (1 Kings 18:36-38).
Elijah then demands the same treatment for the false prophets that they had inflicted on the true prophets of God (1 Kings 18:40). In the end, God always brings justice upon those who oppose him.
Peter is confronted by some Jews upon his return to Jerusalem after meeting with the Gentiles. But after Peter explains the entire story, they understand and ceased their objections (Acts 11:18). Its not a problem for us to not understand something. God realizes that we are not omniscient. But we need to seek out the facts and put our objections aside when we see the hand of God at work.
In the rest of Acts 11 we read about the growth of the church at Antioch which was in modern-day Syria. Antioch was the third most important city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria. It was a very successful city known for its commerce and immorality.
It was at Antioch that believers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Originally the term “Christian” was used in a derogatory way. But much like the cross, which was a symbol of shame and is now a symbol of God’s forgiveness, the term “Christian” now has a more positive meaning to it.
We see Barnabas and Saul team up together at the end fo Acts 11. It has been over 10 years since we last saw Saul. He had gone home to Tarsus and presumably studied the Scriptures during this time. He is now ready to be used by God to do some amazing things.
Sometimes I feel that I have been a believer so long and yet have not done much for Him. I’m sure many other Christians feel likewise. But then I realize that Saul (later known as Paul) spent at least his first 12-15 years as a Christian not doing much at all. God was preparing him. God continues to prepare people for ministry. During this period of waiting we need to be obedient, study His word, and be ready when God is ready.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post