A Name That Speaks Conviction

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from the Gilead settlers, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, in whose presence I stand, there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Leave here, turn eastward, and hide at the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan. You are to drink from the wadi. I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”

So he proceeded to do what the Lord commanded. Elijah left and lived at the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan. The ravens kept bringing him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening, and he would drink from the wadi. After a while, the wadi dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

1 Kings 17:1-7

As Israel continues to spiral into idolatry and immorality, Elijah emerges on the scene. Even his name (literally “my God is Yahweh”) points to his ultimate mission: to reassert the divinity of Yahweh over the false gods that the kings of Israel had introduced into the land. With this matter-of-fact boldness, he approaches Ahab and announces that there will be no rain until he commands the rain to come back. Yahweh knew he needed to get Ahab’s attention and this was the way to show that He was a more powerful God than Ba’al.

In the midst of this time of trial, God miraculously provided for Elijah. We will also see other stories later where he used Elijah to provide for the needs of others affected by the drought. When their natural resources were dried up, God was able to show Himself faithful to those who were committed to Him. In some ways, this life of dependence may have reminded them of the day-to-day dependence shown by their ancestors in the wilderness wanderings.

In times of difficulty, when others are relying on their own strength and false gods, we need the conviction of Elijah that says, “my God is Yahweh and I will trust Him.” How can you grow in trust and conviction about God today?

God’s Presence In The Midst Of Chaos

In the twenty-seventh year of Judah’s King Asa, Zimri became king for seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon of the Philistines. When these troops heard that Zimri had not only conspired but had also struck down the king, then all Israel made Omri, the army commander, king over Israel that very day in the camp. Omri along with all Israel marched up from Gibbethon and besieged Tirzah. When Zimri saw that the city was captured, he entered the citadel of the royal palace and burned it down over himself. He died because of the sin he committed by doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight and by walking in the ways of Jeroboam and the sin he caused Israel to commit.

The rest of the events of Zimri’s reign, along with the conspiracy that he instigated, are written in the Historical Record of Israel’s Kings. At that time the people of Israel were divided: half the people followed Tibni son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. However, the people who followed Omri proved stronger than those who followed Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.

In the thirty-first year of Judah’s King Asa, Omri became king over Israel, and he reigned twelve years. He reigned six years in Tirzah, then he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for 150 pounds of silver, and he built up the hill. He named the city he built Samaria based on the name Shemer, the owner of the hill.

Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he did more evil than all who were before him. He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat in every respect and continued in his sins that he caused Israel to commit, angering the Lord God of Israel with their worthless idols. The rest of the events of Omri’s reign, along with his accomplishments and the might he exercised, are written in the Historical Record of Israel’s Kings. Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. His son Ahab became king in his place.

1 Kings 16:15-28

1 Kings 16 shows the progression of the downward spiral of the kings of Israel and sets the stage for Elijah to emerge as a prophet to the 10 northern tribes of Israel. This period seems to be marked by chaos. The rapid succession of Zimri followed by Omri illustrates this best. Though God had already told Baasha that his family’s reign would end because of his disobedience, God still allowed his son Elah to reign for two years. Though there is no indication that God had told Zimri to do so, he took it upon himself to kill Elah when he was drunk and proceeded to kill off the entirety of Baasha’s family.

It also appears that Zimri did not have the people of Israel behind him either, because the people selected Omri as their king. Omri and the rest of Israel’s army laid siege to the city where Zimri had himself crowned king.  Knowing the situation was a lost cause, Zimri hid in a citadel and burned the building down around himself, thus ending his seven-day reign. Even with Omri securing his place as king, the infighting continued with others claiming the allegiance of different factions of the tribes of Israel. Omri remained in power but is reign was summed up as being more evil than all that came before him. His son, Ahab, would continue that distinction.

In the midst of such chaos and corruption, it can be hard to find hope. Yet God was working in the background to continue to preserve those who were faithful to Him in the midst of this chaos. God was preparing Elijah to be His spokesman to the evil powers of his day. In times when we see evil prevailing on the government levels of our society, we can rest assured that God is as work in the background preparing someone to speak His truth to the powers that be. Perhaps someday He may give you that assignment. The important thing, no matter what, is to stay focused on God’s truth and character in spite of what we see happening around us.

  • How may God be preparing you to be a messenger if His kingdom in the midst of the evil we see around us?

Knowing the Cost

1 Kings 15:9-15

In the twentieth year of Israel’s King Jeroboam, Asa became king of Judah, and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His grandmother’s name was Maacah daughter of Abishalom.

Asa did what was right in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. He banished the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all of the idols that his fathers had made. He also removed his grandmother Maacah from being queen mother because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. Asa chopped down her obscene image and burned it in the Kidron Valley. The high places were not taken away, but Asa was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his entire life. He brought his father’s consecrated gifts and his own consecrated gifts into the Lord’s temple: silver, gold, and utensils.

The history of the kings of Israel and Judah after the civil war that began with Rehoboam and Jeroboam was a history of spiritual ups and downs for the descendants of Israel. For the northern tribes (a.k.a. Israel) it was a steady stream of rebellious kings. The only positive glimmers of light came through the prophets that were still devoted to Yahweh. With the southern tribe (a.k.a. Judah), the ups and downs found their expression in generations of kings that either followed Yahweh and those who rejected Him (or at least did not follow Him with their whole heart). After two kings that had not followed the ways of Yahweh, Asa emerged on the scene as a spiritual reformer in Judah.

What stands out among Asa’s many reforms is the personal cost it had for him when he removed his grandmother Maacah, third wife of Rehoboam and daughter (or granddaughter) of Absalom from her position in the royal family because of her role in leading Judah into idolatry. We can only speculate what personal cost this meant for Asa in relation to the rest of his family. After two generations of kings that were half-hearted in their commitment to Yahweh, Asa was making a serious generational shift.

Sometimes we are called to break generational cycles to follow Jesus. Jesus, Himself, said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, 27) Obviously, we seek to love our family, honor our parents, and our heart’s desire is to see them join us in the Kingdom of God. Still, Jesus uses this strong language to remind His would-be followers that they may need to separate from their closest loved ones in order to follow Him, as hard as that may be.

We need to allow the decisions of Asa and the words of Jesus to challenge us today.