Faithfulness

Real Life, Real Ups & Downs (1 Kings 19-22)

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After being incredibly use by God, Elijah has a sad precipitous decline.  The contrast between chapters 17-18 and chapter 19 is remarkable.  The confident faith-filled Elijah who prophesied no rain, told the king what to do, called the nation together, put on display God’s awesome power, executed God’s judgement on the prophets of Baal and beckoned the rain to come again to the nation – is suddenly fearful (1 Kings 18:3) and depressed and out of gas entirely (1 Kings 18:4) all because of one person he fears – Ahab’s wife, Jezebel!

Is there someone like that for you?  Someone you fear, someone who has an influence over you and over your faith in God?  May you choose to not allow anyone to impact your faith in God in the way that Jezebel did for Elijah.

I love the honesty of the bible, love the way it reveals Elijah’s frailty – I can identify with him.  I love the way God cares for Elijah, strengthens him, calls him out from his depressed state (1Kings 18:9&13) and re-commissions him (1 Kings 18:6-18).  But in the end Elijah is never the same again.  God tells him to anoint Elisha his successor.

Do you feel like running away, hiding in a cave from life, from your calling, from God & others?  Know this; your heavenly Father loves you, is kind and compassionate, wants to refresh and restore faith in you!  Reach out to Him in prayer and allow Him to renew you.

Chapters 20-22 recount the end of Ahab’s rule and God’s judgement on him for his many sins.  Twice God sends prophets (Elijah’s belief that he was the only one left was not true, there were many others faithful to God still in his day, he had believed a lie) to Ahab with the express purpose of showing Ahab that “I am the LORD” (1 Kings 20:13 & 28).  Mount Carmel, the rain being withheld and then coming, these incidents – all were designed for Ahab to believe in the one true God, they are God graciously reaching out to Ahab in spite of his gross sin.

Is God reaching out to you in some way, showing you again and again who He really is, wanting you to only believe in Him and put your trust in Him?

Ahab with his wicked wife’s help sins against an honest man who’s vineyard he is coveting – Naboth.  Jezebel has him murdered and Ahab takes the vineyard and this is the final straw for God.  And so, Elijah is told to go and condemn Ahab (1 Kings 21:19).

Remarkably, Ahab repents (1 Kings 21:27-29) and so God relents and decides to delay some of the punishment but Ahab will still be killed by a not so random arrow (1 Kings 22:34) as prophesied by a remarkable prophet who alone heard God correctly and was bold enough to declare it – Micaiah (1 Kings 22:14-28)!

Are you willing to obey God like Micaiah did?  Even when what you’re saying is the exact opposite to what everyone else is saying God is saying!  May you have courage like this one man – Micaiah.

Enter God’s Agent (1 Kings 17:1-24)

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What an introduction!  There is no mention of Elijah prior to this point, we don’t know anything about him, his upbringing, his faith journey up to this point.  In that sense, he is not like David who is introduced as a shepherd boy learning God’s ways and in preparation for the moment he stands before Goliath.  Elijah just arrives on the scene but does so with remarkable courage and faith.  

I am intrigued.  What lead to this man’s remarkable faith and courage in the gift God had given him?  What multiple little steps of faith had he climbed to get to this place of faith?

He goes to the despicable king of the northern tribes, Ahab and declares;  

“As the LORD, the God is Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)

Don’t you love that God-inspired boldness!  To go before a wicked king who could kill you in a flash but to be so much more aware of God than him that you pronounce what God tells you to with conviction.  This is not arrogance but godly obedience.  This is God’s man declaring to this wicked king where the authority really lies – in God alone.

Baal-Hadad (or just ‘Baal’ for short) was the god of storms and rain and so people at the time were tempted to worship Baal, falsely hoping that Baal would provide the much needed rain to make the land fertile.  This prophetic announcement is a direct attack on the falsehood and futility of Baal worship which is what Ahab had allowed to proliferate in Israel.

Having spoken God’s word to Ahab about the coming drought, God leads Elijah to an inhospitable  ravine in the mountains with a little brook in it presumably to wait for the drought he had prophesied to begin having its effect.

But think about it.  God said through Elijah that there would be no rain, and yet God sends Elijah not a city with water reserves but to a ravine in the mountains with a little stream – that then dries up!  Elijah must have felt both relieved and concerned by the brook.  Relieved that God had withheld the rain (1 Kings 17:7) in a display of his power over Baal – just as Elijah prophesied and yet concerned in that his life-support was drying up too.

God spoke again!  ‘At last’, he might have a thought – ‘…time for a big meal and comfy room.’  However, this time God leads him to a town on the coast in the midst of Baal-worship territory (Zaraphath) where  he meets his host – a widow with no food in her house who is about to eat her last meal and then die (1 Kings 17:8-12).  ‘Great!’  I can almost hear him saying under his breath.

Elijah had followed God to the brook (1 Kings 17:5), Elijah followed God to a widow in Zarapheth with no food at all (because of his pronouncement of no rain).  Sometimes following God leads you right into hardship or scarcity in the natural realm.  We make a mistake when we assess whether we’ve been lead by God on the basis of circumstances being good/easy assuming hard/lack = not the will of God….

Why did God send Him here?

Did God send him to a foreign land to show him the extent of God’s power over not just Israel but all nations?  Did God send him here to experience the stress and strain of another person and to bring relief to her as maybe she had prayed to God?  We don’t know…

Elijah tells her to make a cake for him first and then for her a her son and then promises to her that God says that her little flour and her jug of oil will not run out until the drought is over because God ends it (1 Kings 17:13-14)!  And so a miracle of provision is recorded because she believed the word of God through Elijah.

Faith is believing God when we can’t see, when there is no evidence but miracles reside on the ‘other-side’ of faith and obedience.

Is there something God is telling you to do, to trust him in?  Do you, will you?

Faithfulness (1 Kings 5-8)

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In a long section with lots of detail that can seem insignificant to our eyes potentially.  I was struck by a number of little gems along the way with a theme.

In 1 Kings 5:12 it simply says; “And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as He promised him.”  I love that!  Solomon wisely asked God for wisdom, and God promised to give him what he asked for and more (1 Kings 3:11-13).  Here is this passage the writer simply records the full circle, that God was faithful to what God had promised.

In 1 Kings 6:1 we read that; “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt…he began to build the house of the Lord.”  Think about how long that is!  That is older than the country I live in, it is nearly all the way back to the days of the Reformation and Martin Luther…  When God brought His people out of Egypt he commanded them through Moses to not worship Him anywhere like the foreign people who worshipped their gods on any high place but that they should ‘seek the place that the Lord your God will choose’ (Deuteronomy 12:5, 12:13-14) but to build a sanctuary “that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8).  That elaborate tent, the sanctuary which moved about in the wilderness with the people of God, was always intended to become a temple a permanent place which represented God’s presence with His people, the place of worship.  And yet it took 480yrs from promise to ultimate fulfilment.  What a journey, what an old tent!  How many people might have prematurely concluded that God was not going to have them build a temple?  God does what God says – He is faithful.

Then in 1 Kings 6:12-13 God calls for Solomon to be faithful like He is faithful.  God makes promises to Solomon but they are promises that contain a little word that has a BIG impact – “IF”.  God says IF you are faithful and obey ‘all my commandments’ THEN I will be true to the promises I made to King David and my people Israel.  God is faithful, and here He calls Solomon to be like Him, to also be faithful, promising amazing blessing to Solomon ‘if’ he is faithful.

In a little sidebar – it is concerning to say the least that after God waited 480yrs for His permanent house to be built, Solomon took 7yrs to build God’s house and in the very next verse it says that Solomon took nearly double that time to build his own house!  Hmmmmm.  The bible is not arbitrary, this is communicating something.  It is SO important that we do not relegate God and God’s house to the sidelines making our own financial agendas more important than that of His.  How are you doing on this front?  Are you being faithful with bringing your whole tithe into God’s storehouse (the church) or are you more focused on your personal financial goals/desires?  It’s worth asking and being provoked to think regarding this.

Lastly, in 1 Kings 8 there is a long section with the dedication of the temple and God is faithful again in vs10 by coming and filling this ‘house’ built for Him with His presence!  Solomon prays honouring God as the faithful One, the faithful, covenant keeping God to all those who are faithful in walking before Him with ‘all their heart’ (vs23).

God is faithful always!  He desires that we be like Him.  He wants you and I to love Him and to obey Him because we love Him.  May we be like Him.

God is faithful!