Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 20-21:29; Acts 12:24-13:15; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16
King Ahab demonstrates that he is a man of weak character by unconditionally agreeing with King Ben-hadad’s demands (1 King 20:4). Ahab has no will to resist his enemies just like Israel had no resistance to their spiritual enemies. We cannot just roll over against the lies and attacks of Satan. We need to fight.
Even though Israel has rejected God and gone after the false-god Baal, God decided to deliver them from Ben-hadad (1 Kings 20:13). God was under no obligation to do this. But He is rich in mercy and grace, always willing to give us what we do not deserve. Even when we do not want Him, He wants us.
God did what He promised and Israel easily routs the Arameans (1 Kings 20:20). Notice that Ben-hadad was quite overconfident – he is getting drunk at noon the day before he plans to attack Israel. As Psalm 16:18 says: “Pride goes before a fall”.
The concept of local deities was very prevalent back then which is why the Arameans chalk up their defeat to God being “of the hills”. The second time around they want to fight on the plains where they believe God will not be (1 Kings 20:2). So often we think that God’s blessings are conditional. We think He will do something for someone else but not for us. This is not true. God is God everywhere, all the time. His blessings are for all His children no matter where we are at (both physically and spiritually speaking).
After Israel’s second victory Ahab captures Ben-hadad but then lets him go (1 Kings 20:34). This angered God. When we have defeated sin there is no reason to let it loose to tempt and deceive us again. Then we just have to defeat it over and over. God wants us to be free from this type of bondage but so often we don’t grab hold of a victory.
In 1 Kings 21 we read of the devious plan by Jezebel to take a plot of land away from a common man who did not want to sell it to Ahab. Even though it was Jezebel who had Naboth killed, notice that God holds Ahab responsible (1 Kings 21:18-19). Just like He did with Adam, God holds the husband/father accountable for the actions of his family.
Ahab calls Elijah his enemy in 1 Kings 21:20. In reality, Elijah was Ahab’s friend and best hope. It was Jezebel who was his enemy only he didn’t know it. Our current society considers that Christians, with our desire to see the country return to God, are the enemy of progress. But really, we are the only hope the United States has. That is why Jesus called Christians “salt” and “light”. Once Christians are removed from the earth at the Rapture the world will find out just how beneficial we were.
Ahab was a terrible sinner, yet God still has mercy on him and withholds His judgement. But notice that sin still has to be paid for (1 Kings 21:29). In this case it is Ahab’s sons who will pay. God is completely just. All sin that has ever been committed on earth will be paid for. Either by Jesus on the cross or by sinners in hell.
Barnabas and Paul go on their first mission trip in Acts 13. Notice that before God could use them they had to be dedicated (Acts 13:2). If we are half-hearted towards God and not fully dedicated, He can’t use us.
Notice too that this trip was apparently organized and funded by the church at Antioch (Acts 13:3) which demonstrated total dependence on God for this trip through fasting and prayer. It is only by being totally dependent on God that we can know His will for our lives. Barnabas and Paul seem to have no specific itinerary. They go where the Holy Spirit leads them (Acts 13:4).
As neither Barnabas or Paul were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus, they bring John Mark who did meet and see Jesus. His testimony would be of great benefit when speaking to the people of Cyprus.
One way to know that we are doing God’s will is that we will face opposition. This is exactly what happens to Barnabas and Paul when they encounter the false prophet, Elymas, who was trying to keep people from believing (Acts 13:8). Elymas was obviously under the influence of Satan who does not want people to believe in Jesus. Unfortunately the world is filled with many people like this who don’t believe and who don’t want others to believe either.
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