Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19: 1 Kings 20:26 – 21; Psalm 137; Proverbs 17:14-15; Acts 12:25-13:15



Overview

            1 Kings: Ben-hadad came back to fight Israel at Aphek in the spring. A prophet told Ahab that the he would defeat Syria because they said the Lord was not a god of the valleys. Israel was significantly outnumbered but killed 100,000 of the enemy. The rest fled inside Aphek and the wall fell and killed 27,000 men.
            Ben-hadad hid in the city. His servants said the king of Israel was merciful so they went out with sackcloth and asked Ahab to spare Ben-hadad. Ahab treated him as a brother; Ben-hadad restored cities to Ahab that Ben-hadad’s father had taken. They made a trade covenant also.
            By the Lord’s command, a prophet asked another to strike him. He refused and was told a lion would kill him because he refused and one did. A second prophet was asked and he struck the first. The wounded prophet put a bandage over his eyes and waited for Ahab to pass him on the road. He told Ahab he was charged with guarding a prison but the man escaped. The penalty was his death or a talent of silver. Ahab replied that he had already named his punishment. The prophet then revealed he was a prophet and told Ahab that his life and the people would pay for letting Ben-hadad go free when the Lord wanted him dead.
            Ahab went home sulking. He asked Naboth to sell his vineyard by the palace in Samaria so he could have a garden there. Naboth refused so Ahab sulked even more. Jezebel rebuked him for being a weak ruler and said she would get the vineyard. She conspired to have men accuse Naboth of cursing God and king so that he was then stoned. Jezebel then told Ahab to take possession of the vineyard and he did.
            The Lord told Elijah to confront Ahab and tell him he would die and in the place where Naboth died, dogs would lick up his blood. Elijah told Ahab that because he had killed Naboth and taken his possession of his vineyard, disaster would come on him and all the males in his house. His house would be killed just like Jeroboam’s and Baasha’s. He also said Jezebel would be eaten by dogs.
            No one had done worse than Ahab by going after idols. When he heard Elijah’s words he repented in sackcloth and fasting. The Lord told Elijah that because he humbled himself, he would not bring the disaster in Ahab’s days but his son’s.
            Psalm: The captives in Babylon lament that they have been taken away from Jerusalem and are even forced to sing songs about Zion for their entertainment. They have great difficulty doing that in a foreign land. Yet, they don’t want to forget Jerusalem and would want to lose all their musical skill if they did. They want to set Jerusalem as their highest joy. The Psalmist asks the Lord to remember the desires of the Edomites who wanted Jerusalem destroyed and the Babylonians who did it. He wants God to bless those who will kill all the babies of Israel’s enemies.
            Proverbs: The beginning of a quarrel is like a trickle of water that then washes away a dam causing a flood. So stop it before it goes too far. God really hates anyone who pardons the wicked but punishes the righteous.
            Acts: The church in Antioch had several prophet and teacher including Barnabas, Saul and even a member of Herod’s court. While worshiping and fasting, the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Barnabas and Saul. So the church sent them off.
            They took John to assist and went to Cyprus where they proclaimed the gospel in the synagogues. When they arrived in Paphos, they were opposed by a magician and false prophet named Bar-Jesus also named Elymas. He tried to prevent the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, from hearing and turning to faith. Saul, who was also called Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and confronted him as an enemy of righteousness. He told him he would become blind and that’s what happened. Then the proconsul believed.
            They left Paphos and went to Perga in Pamphylia. John went back to Jerusalem but Paul and Barnabas continued to Antioch in Pisidia. They went into the synagogue on the Sabbath. After the readings from Scripture, the synagogue rulers asked them to speak if they had a word of exhortation.

What Stood Out

            1 Kings: “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster upon his house” (1 Kings 21:29).
            Psalm: “If I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy” (Ps 137:6)!
            Proverbs: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out” (Prov 17:14).
            Acts: “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” (Acts 13:3).

Insight

            1 Kings: Ahab can’t seem to do anything right. He has been given the opportunity to kill Ben-hadad, a king who did his best to wipe out Israel. When Ben-hadad surrenders, Ahab forgives him and treats him as a brother. That seems like the Christian thing to do, but somewhere along the line, he was told that Ben-hadad was devoted to destruction. This was probably when the first prophet told him that the Syrians were given into his hand. The last prophet that confronted him for letting Ben-hadad go also said Ben-hadad had been given into Ahab’s hand. Ahab’s reaction is not repentance but silent rebellion. We’ve all seen teen-agers do this. Correct them and they sulk about it because down in their hearts, they believe they are right and should not have been corrected.
            Ahab is a spoiled brat. He sulks because Naboth wouldn’t sell his vineyard. He lets Jezebel kill Naboth just so he can get his vineyard. We sin when we will do what is wrong to get what we want. Ahab has a huge heart problem. Then a remarkable thing happens. Ahab repents when confronted by Elijah. It is so remarkable that the Lord even comments on it.
            It just goes to show that true repentance is what the Lord wants from us. He doesn’t want to hear “I’m sorry” without any change of heart. He wants to see that we understand the gravity of our sin, that it is an affront to God as well as its harm to others. He wants us to acknowledge that his way is right and ours is wrong. When that happens, we will be forgiven.
            Psalm: This is a Psalm of lamentation over the status of Jerusalem and the captives that were taken away to Babylon. It is full of emotion as they remember Jerusalem. We could probably relate to some great loss in our lives. Perhaps is a relationship or a loved one who has died. However, this lament also reveals a couple of ungodly attitudes. The first is the reason that they were sent into captivity. They had placed Jerusalem ahead of God. If you read Jeremiah, you find that they worshiped the temple but not the Lord (Jer 7:4). They didn’t express any repentance but placed their hope in returning to the city instead of returning to the Lord. The second ungodly attitude was vengeance. While the Lord takes vengeance on those who wickedly do his bidding, they were dictating some gruesome violence against the people the Lord had sent to punish them. When we face tribulation that is a result of our sin, may we face it with repentance and not ungodly attitudes.
            Proverbs: Proverbs 17:14 is a great picture of what happens when people quarrel. It can start as a very small thing. Growing up on a farm where we had to irrigate, we often saw what happens when a ditch has a small leak. The trickle of water soon erodes the bank. Once it reaches a certain point, the leak expands exponentially destroying the bank and flooding the wrong fields or just wasting the water. The same thing happens with relationships when we don’t observe and correct those things that lead to quarrels or take immediate action to resolve conflict. Some people have spent a lifetime in bitterness because of a small quarrel that got out of hand.
            Acts: There are times in an evangelist’s life when he has to get confrontational. Paul ran into a person, the magician Bar-Jesus, who was actively trying to stop another person from hearing the gospel to prevent him from becoming a Christian. This may have been more spiritual warfare than we usually see, but it can happen. My trainee in evangelism and I were calling on a couple once evening. By his answers to our questions, the husband appeared to be a Christian but the wife was not. So we focused on her understanding the gospel. Unexpectedly, the husband started interrupting. I don’t know if he just wanted to show off his knowledge or if he wanted to protect her from unwanted pressure. He may have unsuccessfully tried to share the gospel with her with unpleasant results. Finally, I had enough and explained that he was not helping and asked him to be quiet while we conversed with his wife. To my surprise, he didn’t let out a peep while we answered her questions and she accepted Christ.
            Confrontations don’t always have to end up blinding the opponent. Confrontations may come for those who are Christians. The point is to handle them in way the Holy Spirit leads.

Application

             I need to make sure I’m obedient to what the Lord wants done in my life and those around me. When I fail, I need to repent, not become sullen or rebellious. I need to let the Holy Spirit guide because I don’t always know the whole story.

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