Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 22:1-53; Acts 13:16-41; Psalm 138:1-8; Proverbs 17:17-18
The kings of Israel and Judah align themselves against a common enemy (1 Kings 22:4). Before going into battle Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, wants to find out what God wants (1 Kings 22:5). Its been a long time since we read about a king of Judah/Israel who was walking with God.
Ahab had 400 prophets! Yikes. That is a lot of prophets. But they simply told him what he wanted to hear. They were not true prophets of God. Isn’t it true that we often surround ourselves with like-minded people and then use their opinions to justify what we think God thinks.
There is one true prophet of God, Micaiah, but Ahab despises him because he (Ahab) doesn’t like the things Micaiah tells him (1 Kings 22:8). Ahab thinks he hates Micaiah but in reality he hates God. As witnesses for Christ we need to remember this. When people attack us they are really attacking God because they don’t like His message. So they take their anger out on the messenger. God will reward people in the next life who suffer for His sake in this life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10).
Just like Micaiah did, we need to be willing to stand up against the majority and say only what God wants us to say (1 Kings 22:14). Just like with the 400 alleged prophets, the majority is not necessarily right. As Mark Twain said:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”.
Ahab comes up with a plan to avoid being killed in battle (1 Kings 22:30). But man’s plans are no match for God’s plans. In the end, things turned out exactly as God had predicted (1 Kings 22:38). God wins. Always.
Jehoshaphat was a pretty good king but he still made mistakes, namely not removing pagan practices and worship centers (1 Kings 22:43). This was especially bad because this is the exact thing that lead people away from God. It would be very difficult for a leader to remove our false-gods today as today they are less tangible. Our gods are money, fame, sex, power, celebrity. Since these cannot be physically removed the only outcome is that we will fall further and further away from God as a society and as individuals.
With this we finish the book of 1 Kings. It started on a high note with King David on the throne. It ends with a nation divided by civil war and a string of inept and ungodly kings. Israel has fallen a long way in a long time. I’m sorry to say it, but I believe the United States has followed this same trajectory.
Paul’s teaching in Acts 13 demonstrates how all of history culminates in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:16-31). Just like Ahab, the men of Jesus’ day had a plan. But God had a better plan (Acts 13:30). The Pharisees and Jewish leaders thought they had won by killing Christ. But even death can’t stop God’s plans.
Its is through Jesus (and only through Jesus) that our sins can be forgiven (Acts 13:38). If anyone believes in Jesus that person is declared “not guilty” of sin by God. There is no way that anyone can be declared “not guilty” by following the law (Acts 13:39).
God takes care of the humble – those who need to be taken care of (Psalms 138:6). But those who are proud on this earth – those who are arrogant and think they don’t need God – will find themselves distanced from God. And that is not a good thing.
One characteristic of friendship is loyalty (Proverbs 17:17). If you want to be a friend, you need to be willing to stick it out when another person needs you. Otherwise, you are not a friend.
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