1 KINGS 16:1 – 18:46 and JOHN 6:22–71
1 Kings 16
The kingdom of Israel in the north goes through some turbulent years as a series of kings will come and then just as quickly go. Baasha, who conspired to kill Nadab, son of Jeroboam reigned for a period of about 23 years and he was no better that Jeroboam. The prophet Jehu pronounces judgement upon Baasha who had an opportunity to not only purge Israel of the sin of Jeroboam but to have an established reign. He reigned throughout the time that Asa was king over Judah. Baasha’s son Elah reigned for two years until his servant Zimri slew him during a drunken binge in the house of Arza (vs 9). Zimri did a thorough purge of the house of Baasha upon coming to the throne. This was the fulfilment of the prophetic word that came to Jehu when he spoke against Baasha (vs 2-5, 12-13).
One can understand the term “dog eat dog” when looking at how the early reign of the Kings of Israel got started. It is not finished! Zimri’s reign lasted for a period of about 7 days when word got out of what he had done. The people of Israel made Omri the new king and he came to Tirzah where Zimri shut himself up in the palace of the king’s house where he set it on fire, killing himself. His epitaph is very similar to all the other kings of Israel we have seen thus far. He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam. This reminds us of how serious the breech was that Jeroboam committed. He totally circumvented all the laws, commandments and instruction that God gave through Moses in the lead-up to Joshua’s rule in Canaan. He rewrote the rules of worship and priestly service which resulted in gross idolatry and evil that soon permeated the land.
This was the foundation of the kingdom of Israel (the 10 tribes) to the north. There is a reason why all of the kings of the north are corrupt. It started with Jeroboam; this was the foundation. It is in such an environment where Satan is able to gain a foothold. This was not the design of kingly rule that God had in mind for His people. Still, it is in the heart of God to raise up kings and priests in these last days so there are lessons to learn. It bears repeating; royal rule must be established via a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9). There is no shortcut or other way to the throne. This early glimpse into the divided kingdom is making this abundantly clear.
Omri is the next king of the north to come to the throne. There were some divided loyalties as a following of Zimri’s men promoted Tibni to be king but this did not last long as Omri prevailed (vs 21-22). In verses 23-28 we get a window into Omri’s reign and we see that he is even worse than all his predecessors; once again being rooted to the sins of Jeroboam. His rule is paving the way for perhaps the most wicked king of all. We are speaking about King Ahab who comes to the throne in the latter years of King Asa’s rule from Judah. Asa’s rule has outlasted 6 kings of Israel and Ahab, the newly appointed king of Israel, represents the 7th.
One of the most wicked things that Ahab did was to marry Jezebel who was the daughter of a prominent Baal worshipper. His name was Ethbaal, a king and a priest of the Zidonians. Can you see how natural it has become for such wickedness to have gained an entry into Israel? Ahab even stoked the anger of the Lord to greater heights than all of the previous kings. This is the fruit of what Jeroboam put in motion when he established altars at Bethel and Dan in the beginning of his reign. Satan, through the worship of Baal, now has a significant platform from which to operate. He is no longer on the outside looking in, he is in. We will see that his penetration will go even deeper with future alliances to the royal line of Judah. It is also important to note that the origins of Baal worship can be traced back to the days of Balaam. Remember how subtly that all began? It is very similar to the tactics that Satan used in the garden in his approach to Eve. The fruits of what Balaam put into motion is about to become fully manifest with very dangerous consequences. We will need to pay very close heed as to how this challenge will be met and addressed. It is important to take note because the same scenario is developing and taking shape in our day.
1 Kings 17
This chapter introduces us to one of the more prominent Bible characters found in scripture. In this account of the Kings it’s as if he appears out of nowhere. His words to Ahab regarding the drought were probably due to the idolatry taking place in Israel. He makes clear that this drought can last years and it will only be through the words of Elijah as he is instructed from God. The Bible does not give an indication as to how Ahab responded to these words but we do find Elijah moving quickly eastward towards a brook named Cherith. God supernaturally provided for his servant until the brook dried up.
Once again the Lord directs Elijah to a woman in Zarephath who will make available provision for him. Elijah, this mighty prophet was not living a luxurious life but his needs were being met. It does seem to be a picture of what it could be like in the future days before us. Here we have Elijah, a mighty prophet, a man who will be prominent in the days of Jesus as seen at the Mt. of Transfiguration and who will also be on the scene in the last days being cared for by a widow. In actuality this widow provided Elijah an opportunity to demonstrate the supernatural provision of God. She felt that her days were numbered as she only had very few provisions for her and her son (vs 12). Elijah instructed her and in obedience she and her house never failed of meal or oil all the days of the drought. This woman was spending all that she had to preserve her son and house but she did put forth effort in bringing a cake to Elijah first which opened up the never ending flow of provision.
After some time the son of this woman fell sick and died causing her to anguish over her condition of sin (vs 18). Elijah took the child and stretched himself upon him three times and prayed that God would restore his soul to him. God heard his cry and restored life to the son (vs 21-22). This act further established the authority that God had placed within this prophet. He will be God’s instrument to help bring judgement upon the house of Ahab and the prophets of Baal.
In the last days he will link with Moses and will be used to bring restoration of life and relationships to homes and families. He will also be instrumental in bringing judgement upon the modern day Baal worshippers in much the same he will do upon Mt. Carmel as we will see in the next chapter. The Lord is establishing a message and an authority within Elijah. He will be one of the primary remedies that God will raise up to counter the stench and perversions seen in Israel. In our day we are seeing similar erosions taking place providing the need and platform for modern day Elijah’s to arise. He is a prophet whose origins are difficult to trace other than being a Tishbite from Gilead. He is a unique prophet that comes on the scene at a unique moment and time of Israel’s history. He is a prophet that is coming again alongside Moses in the last days; the last days which could well be the days we are now living in. Elijah was a prophet who was used of God to place people into one group or another. That separation is beginning to take place. Whose side will we be on?
1 Kings 18
The famine has now taken hold in Samaria. The Lord instructs Elijah to go and make his way to Ahab and in so doing will bring rain upon the earth. It must be realized that Ahab was enraged against Elijah yet he immediately obeyed in going forth to meet the king. There is a man by the name of Obadiah who greatly feared God. He was instrumental in hiding 100 prophets when Jezebel began purging the prophets of God in lieu of the prophets of Baal. He divided them into two groups of 50 and preserved them in separate caves with bread and water. Ahab tasked Obadiah, who was probably in a position of being a chief steward to go and find any potential places of water and grass for the horses and beasts (vs 5-6).
In verse 7 there is a term of significance used that speaks of another great servant who was given a difficult task. Remember Eleazar, chief steward of Abraham? While he was in the way the Lord brought before him Rebekah who would become the bride of Abraham’s son Isaac. It is a beautiful truth of what happens when one faithfully serves their master (Gen 24:27). We see that Obadiah, while he was in the way had Elijah come before him (vs 7). God honours those who uphold him. It is a vital truth we must come to appreciate. When we are “in the way” of God’s purposes it opens doors for the Lord to work in profound ways. This is one of the fruits of faithfulness. It is seen in both Eleazar and Obadiah. They were good and faithful servants to their respective masters. Elijah instructed Obadiah to inform the king that he was here and that he would meet with the king later in the day (vs 15-16).
Ahab and Elijah have an interesting exchange as they meet. Ahab placed immediate blame upon Elijah as being the source of the great famine upon the land. Elijah was not politically correct in his response. He cut right to the heart of the matter; he cited their sin in forsaking the commandments of God and for following Balaam as the true reason. This took great daring and courage! This gathering that was about to take place upon Mt. Carmel is a showdown of mammoth proportions. It is a picture of the 2nd coming of Christ when He returns to judge the earth and its inhabitants. It is either God or Baal with no middle ground.
This sentiment grips Elijah as he makes this strong declaration before all the people which includes the prophets of Baal that Ahab had summoned. The famous declaration from verse 21 is a declaration being made today. If Baal is your god, serve him or if God is God serve Him; make up your mind and no longer be between two opinions (vs 21.) It is similar to when the Lord through Moses echoed the words “Who is on the Lord’s side” (Exo 32:26)? There comes a time when clear cut decisions need to be made. It is either one way or the other. We must never be deceived into thinking that we can carry on indefinitely being of a double-minded nature. There is no stability in such a person and such a person will never be able to stand in the day of testing (Jam 1:8). A double-minded man is a product of a divided heart; a heart that has not willingly submitted to the sword of circumcision (Heb 4:12). The challenge upon Mt. Carmel consists of offerings placed upon altars that were to be answered by fire. It was agreed that this would be the method to demonstrate as to who was the true God. The prophets of Baal feverishly sought to have their god Baal answer by fire but to no avail. We then see Elijah mocking them by insinuating that maybe their gods were on a journey or maybe even sleeping. It is here where Elijah appears to have stepped over some boundaries. The Bible does make mention about the Lord laughing at the devices the enemy employs but it seems not to be a role undertaken by any of his prophets. It could be for this reason that Elijah is setting himself up for spiritual attacks which will be seen in the next chapter.
In verses 30-40 we see the account of how God answered Elijah when he called down fire to consume the sacrifice. This powerful display of God’s fire coming down settled the issue as to who was the true God to those who were witnesses. The conclusion of this event was the gathering and subsequent death of all the prophets of Baal at the brook Kishon. Elijah is now in a position to dictate terms to Ahab and he tells him to go to the top of Carmel for there was the sound of an abundance of rain. Indeed the rain did come which brought to an end the famine that lasted for a period of about 3 1/2 years.
The Bible has a wonderful way of providing hints and insights in being able to tie things together. Elijah confronted Ahab who was one of the most wicked men of all time over the issue of Baal worship. This encounter took place after 3 1/2 years of famine. Later, as the church age comes to a close, we will see Elijah confronting the man of sin (Antichrist). When will this take place? It will be in the midst of the last 7 year tribulation period. In other words this confrontation will be 3 1/2 years into the reign of the antichrist. Do you see the similarities? The declaration Elijah made at Mt. Carmel is also being made today. How long will you be between two gods? Is the world and mammon your god? If so, then go after your heart’s desire. If God is your God then give Him your whole heart and serve Him. There will be no middle ground. 1 Kings 18 goes a long way in helping to establish a modern day blueprint for last day events. 1 Kings 19 will further clarify that blueprint.
John 6 – Read day 121 commentary