Day 121

1 KINGS 13:1 – 15:34 and JOHN 6:1–21

1 Kings 13
It is interesting that a man of God would come to the altar at Bethel and bring forth a profound prophecy about a future king that would be named Josiah. This king would be born in about 300 years’ time. Here you have a prophet coming to an altar that was an abomination to begin with yet the Word of the Lord was clear and accurate. It certainly was not to Jeroboam’s credit seeing that the altar was to be rent in two with the ashes upon it being poured out. It is also interesting to note that Josiah would be a priest who would serve as a catalyst for a great revival. This would be the last great revival before Israel went into captivity. The revival begins as Josiah has the law of God read to him. The word did not go down well with Jeroboam so he sought to lay hands upon the prophet only to find his hand wither up. Immediately afterwards the altar was rent resulting in Jeroboam asking the man to pray for him. His hand was restored and because of this the king sought to bring him into his house to be given a reward. The man stated that his instructions from God were clear and that he was to take no bread or water but to move on.

There was another prophet who heard what had taken place so he went after the prophet and invited him into his home. Once again this man of God said he was to take no bread and water. The old prophet then lies in saying what the Lord spoke to him in that it was ok for him to partake of bread and water. He returns with the old prophet and dines with him. Soon afterwards the Word of the Lord comes to the old prophet and rebukes the man of God for disobeying the commandment of God. What is happening here? This old prophet on one hand is saying that God spoke to him to bring this man of God to his home. This same old prophet then rebukes the man of God for disobeying His original command. There are many similarities to what happened with Balaam. When Balaam was first approached by Barak he was promised many things if he would but prophesy against Israel. Balaam would respond by saying if all the gold and silver were to be given he would not go against the Word of the Lord. This man of God says something similar in verse 8.

1Ki 13:8  And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place:

The motive of the old prophet in bringing this man of God back to his home is unclear nonetheless there had to be something amiss in the man of God’s heart. In the end he responded to a prophetic word that found resonance in his heart. This is one of the most significant warnings to us in these last days. There will be prophets sent that will have messages that speak to uncircumcised hearts which will confirm people on respective paths. We have already seen on a number of occasions the fallout that takes place when an issue of the heart is not dealt with. Judas is one example; he had a heart that coveted and it was available for Satan to be able to sow the seed of betrayal.

The man of God died as a result of his disobedience. This is a sad ending for this man of God, especially when you consider the message he conveyed. He prophesied Josiah by name 300 some years before he came to assume the throne. This message was given on a perverted altar and it could be the reason why God did not want him to spend any time with Jeroboam or anyone else from that region. The mercy of God was on display in warning Jeroboam and Israel of what was to come. The follow-up breaking in two of the altar really drove the message home. The man of God had a mission and that was simply to speak the Word of the Lord and move on. He was to give no sanction or credibility to the altar or to the work that Jeroboam was involved in. It was a serious breech. God allowed for a profound message to be delivered upon a perverted altar and there was to be no identification with Jeroboam or the land or the partaking of bread or water.

Jeroboam did not learn from this incident and continued to promote the basest of people into priests. This became sin to him and to his successors.

1 Kings 14
One of the immediate judgements to come upon Jeroboam will involve his son. Jeroboam speaks to his wife to go to Shiloh in disguise and seek out Ahijah the prophet who spoke favourably to him about one day becoming king over the people (1 Kings 11:31). How foolish he is in thinking that he can manipulate the prophet into speaking a word of healing by seeking to keep his identity hidden. In reality he is mocking God. The Lord informs Ahijah of what Jeroboam is looking to do prior to his wife’s arrival (vs 5). The prophet speaks the Word of the Lord to Jeroboam’s wife as to all the evil he has done. The Lord also emphasizes the opportunity he had if he were to follow His commandments as David did.

In every instance of judgement upon one who has been given a promise it comes as a result of not keeping God’s laws and commandments. We must not miss this common thread throughout scripture. After all, it was the breaking of God’s 1st law in the garden that resulted in sin being introduced to man. The word given to Jeroboam’s wife is severe due to the abominations committed by Jeroboam. He has crossed a line and the judgement will not only come upon him but his successors as well. We will see that the kings of Israel will have as a tag line for future kings that they departed not from the sins of Jeroboam. The only good word that the Lord had for Jeroboam is that his son would die the moment his wife returned. He will be mourned for and buried. The Lord in his mercy is allowing this due to seeing some good in him. Jeroboam reigned for a period of 22 years. His son Nadab assumed the throne after his death.

The scene switches back to Rehoboam in the southern kingdom of Judah. He assumed the throne at the age of 41 and reigned for a period of 17 years. He built up high places while making allowances for images. He also made allowance for Sodomites to practice their abominations in the land. When these kinds of sins are promoted it breaks down the hedge of protection that God would have over a nation. An interesting judgement that results from Rehoboam’s sin is the removal of the treasures from the house of the Lord. This included the gold shields which Solomon had made. This is a common judgement seen throughout the reigns of many kings to come. The removal of treasures that coincide with sin that is committed in the land.

There is an interesting parallel to our day. It is not my intent to delve into economic lessons but it is interesting to note that many countries are seeking repatriation of their gold deposits stored in either Fort Knox or the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The US government has borrowed against its own gold and replaced them with paper gold instruments so as to maintain the illusion of gold on hand. The truth is that a large majority of the gold supposedly stored and on hand has been claimed by other countries who are holding US debt. Meanwhile we see sin throughout America and the breakdown and removal of God’s laws. Rehoboam sought to replace the gold taken by Shishak with treasures and shields made of brass. This was a cheap substitute for the real thing much like the fractional gold lending practices employed today by America’s handlers. What is the difference between our day and those we are looking at in the Old Testament? We are far more clever in our ability to disguise the truth. Worse; we are far more accountable having the advantage of history and the enlightenment of God’s Word. Will we truly learn from history?

1 Kings 15
We are introduced to the son of Rehoboam who is named Abijam. In verse 3 it mentions that he walked in the sins of his father and that his heart was not perfect. We also see how God goes to great lengths to preserve the kingdom and it is due to the foundations seen in David. It is for David’s sake that God keeps a light alive in Judah (vs 4). Abijam’s rule was for a period of 3 years and there was constant war between him and Jeroboam.

The son of Abijam is Asa and he begins a reign that will last for 41 years. Asa’s mother was named Maachah.  History records that Maachah would be the grand-daughter of Absalom and she was responsible for considerable idol worship which was evident in the land. This is one of the contributing factors to Abijam’s corrupt rule. Asa immediately began to implement changes as king. He removed the Sodomites out of the land as well as all the idols that his father had put up. It would be refreshing to see such a leader emerge today who could turn back the tide of the sin of Sodom. The example of Asa should give us encouragement in seeing that it can be done. He did not stop there; he removed his mother Maachah from her position as queen mother (vs 13).

We have seen the fallout of a father who was a priest (Eli) who did not deal with the sins of his sons (Hophni and Phineas) when he was in a position to do so. Here we see Asa taking swift action against the practices of his mother which resulted in a strengthening of the kingdom under his rule. In spite of this purge we still see that the high places were not removed (vs 14). What does this mean?

All designated worship should have taken place at the temple but there were other gathering places that some of the people used. This was of the initial issues concerning Jeroboam when he put up altars in Dan and Bethel. It results in an alternative style of worship that is at variance of the worship of the true God. It may be that disposing of all these high places would have caused Asa major problems with some of the people. In spite of this, Asa’s heart was in right standing with God throughout his reign (vs 14).

In verses 16-24 we see the war between Israel and Judah. Asa seeks the help of Syria by giving them a present of gold and silver to break the agreement that Syria has with Israel. Though this helps to secure a victory it is a bribe to take something dedicated from the temple to secure victory on God’s behalf. It signals a flaw in Asa’s character which becomes more accentuated as he gets to the latter part of his reign. This is covered in greater detail in 2 Chronicles 16 and will be picked up there.

The Bible now backtracks a bit as we are introduced to Nadab, who was a son of Jeroboam. He had a reign of less than two years. He comes on the scene around the 2nd year of Asa’s reign (vs 28). He was an evil man who walked in the ways of his father. There was a conspirator by the name of Baasha who smote Nadab and assumed rule over Israel. This would have been in the third year of Asa. He was an instrument who smote the entire house of Jeroboam which was a fulfilment of a prophesy given by Ahijah the Shilonite (1 Kings 14:10). God is not mocked and we see quick judgement coming down upon Jeroboam’s house for the gross sins of idolatry. This did not have to happen. God gave Jeroboam opportunity to have a long and fruitful reign if he chose to abide in God’s ways. Like so many others he chose a contrary path, making light of the laws and commandments of God. Later in the reign of Baasha he makes war against Asa and Judah as we just saw earlier. Baasha reigned for 24 years and did that which was evil once again being traced to the sins of Jeroboam. He walked in the way of the king (Jeroboam) whose house and legacy he destroyed (vs 29).

John 6
I have often made the statement that if I was given one chapter in the whole of the Word of God to preach on it would be John 6. Why? It sums up the ministry and message of the Lord in one chapter. Consider the following: 1) In the beginning of John 6 you see that there are multitudes surrounding Jesus (vs 2). At the end of John 6 you see there are only a few surrounding Jesus (vs 70). Why is this so? Well we see in the middle of John 6 the message of the broken bread; the message of the Cross.

We see that Jesus is growing in popularity due to the miracles that He is performing (vs 2). His reputation grows in greater measure as He performs another extraordinary miracle in the feeding of the thousands who have gathered to hear His teaching. It was a teachable moment due to their scarce provisions in light of thousands who were hungry and famished. There are some key lessons to draw from this event. Notice how Jesus prayed over this need. He did not look at the thousands and begin to pray in fear about how the need was going to be met. This is what we often do. We focus more on the need than the one who can meet the need.

Secondly, Jesus took stock of the provisions that He had and gave thanks for it. This is so important; attention needs to be given for what we have and to be able to be thankful to God for it. God is well able to meet any need; He is not limited and we honor Him when we can approach Him accordingly. How does the Lord’s Prayer begin? “Our Father who art in heaven…” Jesus knew that He was approaching the God of all the earth who could meet any need. He focused on His Father and His ability to do all things. He also was one who practiced thanksgiving. The apostle Paul says that we are to give thanks in all things (Eph 5:20).

One can now imagine how popular Jesus is after performing another extraordinary miracle. He is the man! The time has come when the people decide that this man should now become king (vs 14-15). When Jesus came to know their intent He immediately withdrew Himself into a mountain alone to pray. This is a critical and telling moment. It also very much resembles a similar Old Testament account.

1Sa 8:5  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

The above verse is at a time when Samuel the righteous judge, prophet and priest is growing old. The people cite the fact that his sons were corrupt and that it was now time for them to have a king over them. They liked the way it was working for other nations and Israel wanted to be like them. This request was most displeasing to the Lord as well as to Samuel. They persisted and in the end they obtained from the Lord exactly what they wanted. Let’s notice how the Lord speaks to Samuel regarding this demand:

1Sa 8:7  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

They wanted a king but they did not want God to be Lord over their lives. In other words, they desired a king for the wrong reasons. The question that needs to be asked is why did they want Jesus to be a king? The answer is the same as above. They wanted him to be king for the wrong reasons. They enjoyed the miracles and the ministry that they had seen but that was not the primary reason why He came. When He perceived that they were going to try and take him by force to be king He retreated to the mountains so as to be alone with the Father.

Jesus had a very consistent devotional lifeline with His Father but there were unique times where he had to be removed from the crowds so that He could be refreshed and recalibrated for His work and mission. This was a critical moment. His popularity was at its peak. What is to follow will be a dramatic shift in emphasis in how He goes about His ministry. We will also see a more defined message that will challenge the hearts of those following Him. That one night brought forth a change on many fronts. Before the Lord would meet up with the people the next day a dramatic event takes place in the middle of the night. A fierce storm arises and it so happened that the disciples were in the midst of it upon the sea. They fear for their lives and then amazingly they see Jesus walking towards them on the sea. Can you imagine what that must have looked like? What was more fearful, the storm or seeing Jesus walking on water in the midst of it.

Once He was received into the ship it was immediately brought forth to land where they were planning to go. This would serve as a wakeup call to those disciples who witnessed such an event. That evening seems to denote a shift of something in the Spirit as well because we are going to see Jesus begin focusing on the message of the Cross. We are going to the true reason as to why people are following the Lord. Is it for the signs and wonders only or is because of who He is and what He is called to do? The wake-up call that the disciples witnessed on the sea that night was to prepare them for this shift. The question(s) we need to ask ourselves is the following: Why do we serve Jesus? Which group of people will we more resemble; the multitudes or the few? Are we ready to receive the message that Jesus is about to bring? It is a message that the church now has to address today.

The people were looking forward to another day of ministry along the lines of what they had seen the day(s) before. They now want Him to be their king. What they are about to see in Jesus is not what they were expecting. Something changed overnight and we will now see the Lord’s message taking on a whole new tone. The dramatic storm and scene on the Sea of Galilee was to prepare His disciples for this change of emphasis in His message. To begin with Jesus was not at the portion of the sea where they were expecting Him. They immediately went seeking after Him and finally discovered Him at Capernaum (vs 24).

They questioned Him as to why He was there and it opens the door for the Lord to introduce a message that can be likened to “new wine”. How will this message be received? What is this new message? Actually, Jesus references the miracle of the multiplication of fish and bread to establish the message that He seeks to now convey. He also goes back to the Old Testament when God the Father provided the people a daily provision of manna. This bread kept them alive while at the same time pointing towards a greater fulfilment of the Living Bread which would be fulfilled in Christ. They had just been miraculously provided bread that satisfied their hunger. Jesus is now going to build upon that foundation to establish Himself as that Living Bread, the bread that will not only feed thousands but all of mankind who chooses to be a partaker. Jesus points to Himself as being the True Bread from heaven (vs 32).

He then makes clear the cost of being a partaker of the bread. In essence the Lord is presenting a picture of the Cross; making it clear that He will be giving of His life (vs 53-58). To be a partaker of this bread requires the submitting of one’s will (vs 37-40) while choosing to identify with the message and the messenger. It comes down again as to who is reigning as Lord. Is it self; partaking freely of the miracles and wonderful teaching as seen in the beginning of John 6 or rather the choosing to submit to the King of kings and accepting Him as Lord in our life? That is the question that now lurks in the minds of His audience.

In our study of 1 Kings 18 we see the people being brought to a decision. Is it Baal or is it God? Jesus was concerned when He came to know that they sought to force Him to become king (John 6:15). His retreat to the mountain and reappearance brought with Him a fresh approach in conveying His message. He does this by building upon the breaking of the bread which filled the thousands of people who gathered to hear Him. Now, He shows Himself as being the Broken Bread that has the potential to feed all of mankind, provided people choose to make Him king over their hearts and lives. Jesus is King and very much wants to be their king but for the right reasons. It is a similar dilemma being seen today. The question is this: Why do we serve the Lord? What is the motivating factor in serving God? Is it for what He can do for us by way of miracles, safety and blessings? Perhaps it is due to the recognition of who He is, what He has already done for us in demonstrating His love as a Saviour. Interestingly, these two options of why we serve the Lord can be traced right back to Cain and Abel in Genesis. They both brought an offering before God but their motives were very different. We see these two motives on display in John 6.

The result of the Lord’s sharing about being broken bread was that many of His disciples found it to be a hard and unreasonable saying (vs 60). He then asked them if His Words offended them. Is the message of the Cross an offense today? The Word has the ability to put us into a position of choosing. The problem is we often take in only suitable portions of God’s Word; the bread that is convenient and easily assimilated. The danger of such an approach is that one’s heart will be divided and eventually fall prey to the wiles of the evil one. The Lord, knowing that many were offended at His Words then asks His twelve if they too will go away. It’s as if the Lord is allowing them a door of opportunity to either stagnate in their walk or turn back. The message of the Cross is an ongoing one which requires adaptability on the part of the follower. The 12 recognized that Jesus indeed had the Words of life and to them there was no other option (vs 68). They were able to become the new wineskins for the new wine that Jesus was bringing forth. What about us? Are we more like the multitudes as seen in the beginning of this chapter or the few who identified with Jesus and His message? We cannot halt or decide between two opinions, a choice must be made (1 Kings 18:21).