Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 20-21:29; Acts 12:24-13:15; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16
After the humiliating defeat of her gods, Jezebel could have (and should have) believed in God and realized that Baal was a fraud. Instead she reacts with anger and promises to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:2). As always, people have a choice in how they react to God’s truth. Most will stick to their false beliefs as Jezebel did. But, thankfully, some will switch to the winning team.
Elijah’s reaction to Jezebel’s death threat is quite surprising. He flees for his life, which is understandable (1 Kings 19:3). But he becomes depressed and asks God to end his life (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah apparently believes he is a failure. But we are never a failure when we obey and stand up for God.
Notice that during this time God does not chastise Elijah. Instead God provides for him (1 Kings 19:5-9). God always loves us and provides for us no matter what our emotional state. God even allows us to vent when we need to (1 Kings 19:10). We never have to feel bad about feeling bad.
After giving Elijah a personal encounter with Himself (1 Kings 19:11-13) during which Elijah’s spirits were certainly lifted, God gives him something to do. We all need some time away on our own with God but eventually God wants us to stop dwelling on our problems and to do the things He wants us to do.
Elijah passes the torch to Elisha in 1 Kings 19:19-21. Elisha was apparently a very wealthy man as he had 12 teams of oxen. This indicates a very large estate. But Elisha thinks nothing of leaving it all behind to serve God. There is nothing that we own or anything that we can achieve on this earth that compares to serving God. It is the most fulfilling thing we can do.
James is killed by King Herod Agrippa who sees that this pleases the people (Acts 12:2-3). James was the first of the apostles to be martyred and we see that God makes no promises to those who follow Him. We get no guarantee that our lives will be protected.
The fact that the death of James was pleasing to some is very disturbing. Certainly there are some cultures today where killing Christians is popular. In the last days when the antichrist is ruling the earth it will be very dangerous to be a Christian anywhere in the world. According to Revelation 20:4 Christians will be beheaded during the Tribulation.
Killing James was so popular Herod also arrests Peter with the intent of killing him too. But due to the Passover, Peter’s execution is delayed. This gives God enough time to miraculously free Peter. Notice that God responded to the constant prayer of Peter’s church family (Acts 12:5). We should never cease praying for other Christians when they are in trouble.
Herod ordered the four guards to be put to death (Acts 12:19). The penalty for a guard losing his prisoner was the same penalty that the prisoner would have received. This is one way we know that the soldiers who were guarding Jesus’ tomb did not take His body or in anyway aid anyone else in doing so. They would have been put to death if they had.
God is a god of justice. He always rules with perfection. He does not like it when we do not administer justice ourselves (Proverbs 17:15). But that is exactly what we do in our society. Not only when it comes to legal issues but when it comes to spiritual issues as well. We declare ourselves “not guilty” of breaking God’s laws such as abortion and homosexuality while at the same time ridiculing and persecuting those who are innocent – born-again Christians who are innocent in God’s sight. We live in an upside-down world.
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