1 KINGS 19:1 – 20:43 and JOHN 7:1–52
1 Kings 19
Ahab experienced humiliation upon Mt. Carmel as the prophets of Baal were destroyed. He also just experienced the downpour of rain after 3 ½ years of drought. Jezebel his wife was fully incensed and put an edict out for the life of Elijah. This is a battle that goes far beyond flesh and blood. Ahab was an evil man but Jezebel was the center piece of Baal worship. The demonic presence she carried was immense and she could not help but react in great disdain against Elijah.
The spirit that governed her will come alive again in the Book of Revelation as seen in the address to the church of Thyatira (Rev 2:20). The moment Elijah came to know of this he fled for his life. The threat was real and the power that was released was clearly targeted to take him out. He was not fleeing from a woman per se, it was the demonic forces governing her. Remember, the day before Elijah made an open show against the prophets of Baal. I am not sure his added taunting helped matters but he disposed of several hundred prophets who were primary vehicles of expression for Satan.
In verse 4 we see a very different Elijah from the day before. He travelled for a day and makes a statement to the Lord to take his life. He simply was overwhelmed due to the spiritual battle being waged against him. This is a critical truth to absorb. When we are called to come against principalities and authorities we must do so in humility. The angels of the Lord do not make railing accusations against God’s enemies nor should we. It seems that Elijah may have opened himself up a bit by his mocking gestures upon Mt. Carmel.
2Pe 2:11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
Jud 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
We do see that Elijah has come to a place where he is unable to go further in his own strength (vs 7). It is here where he enters into a position of rest. Have you ever tried reconciling the verse from Hebrews that speaks of labouring to enter into rest (Heb 4:11)? This is a good example of what it means. In one sense it appears to be a contradiction but it serves as an opportunity for God to administer grace (Divine enablement) when we have no strength of our own. This experience strips a man of pride and allows God to undertake the cause. This was essential for all that God was yet to do through Elijah.
The grace Elijah received was in the form of “meat” that was provided by angels that saw him through for 40 days. Here is an important truth. We will see later in the life of Elijah that he will be one of the two witnesses that will stand before the Lord of all the earth (Rev 11:3-4). Elijah will be a type of the Lord Jesus Christ as we will later discover. The Lord was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. When he finished His 40 days He was confronted by Satan. (Math 4:1-10). Elijah was driven into the wilderness by Jezebel and the demonic forces that governed her and it will be the Lord that ministers to him when he finishes his 40 days. There is a lot of thought that can be developed with this truth.
Elijah still only saw himself as being jealous for the Lord but this was countered by the Lord when it was said that there were yet 7000 others who have not bowed their knees to Baal. This is the way we often feel when we are going through an intense trial. It is at such times when we have to guard against being isolated while seeking to be close to a body of believers (Heb 10:25). The Lord calls Elijah into a deeper position of Rest. He brings him to the mount of the Lord and allows for physical demonstrations of powerful events like earthquakes, fire etc. These are events that would normally be associated with God speaking but God was not in them; he was not speaking anything to Elijah. It was “the still small voice” that grabbed his attention. It could only come as Elijah allowed God to being him into a position of Rest.
This really speaks to me seeing that I live in a Singaporean context which has a pulse of constant motion. Hearing the “still small voice” of God requires an intentional mind-set of setting aside time to meet with God. It may require getting up earlier or intentionally laying aside a prioritized portion of our day so that God can have access to us. It would be an access that would allow Him to speak; being far removed from the ever strong current that permeates this culture.
What did God speak to Elijah in this still small voice? One of the issues was that He would anoint Jehu to thoroughly cleanse the house of Ahab for its sins with Baal. More importantly, he would anoint Elisha, who would later serve in his office. Sure enough, Elijah met Elisha soon afterwards and the two walked together. Elisha served Elijah and learned under his example. This chapter gives many insights that help us to better understand the events surrounding Elijah’s day. In addition, it gives glimpses of the last days as well. Elijah, along with Moses will later contend with the antichrist that will be fully energised by Satan. This encounter with Jezebel and her demonic presence is a foretaste of an even greater battle; a battle that could well play out in our day. Elijah and Moses as the two witnesses will bring forth a message and authority that will shake the earth. It will be very similar to the ministry that the Lord undertook as the Son of man. Like Christ, the two witnesses will be killed and raised from the dead after 3 ½ days. They will also ascend as the Lord did soon after His death. 1 Kings 19 is indeed a rich and enlightening chapter.
1 Kings 20
Benhadad the king of Syria makes threatening gestures to Samaria, the northern kingdom. There is an exchange that takes place between the messengers of Benhadad and Ahab. It seems that Ahab was under the impression that only some tribute would be exacted from him but soon came to know the overreaching nature of the king of Syria’s intent. Ahab rattles Benhadad with the following verse:
1 Ki 20:11 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
In other words don’t boast of a victory until the battle has been fought. The king of Syria immediately responded by setting his armies up for war while drinking with his leaders and servants. There is a prophet who comes to Ahab to inform that he (Ahab) is to order the war against the Syrians. Benhadad and his men do not take the approaching army of Israel seriously and wind up being thoroughly routed in the battle.
The prophet (probably the same one as before) comes again to Ahab and tells him that Benhadad will return to war against Israel. Benhadad’s men will surmise that Israel is effective in battle while fighting in the hills so a battle where they will be drawn into the valley can be won. God was allowing the sin of iniquity to become ripe within Syria. They would not accredit Israel’s victory to God so the Lord allowed them to again be defeated (vs 28-29). Israel slew about 100,000 footmen in one day. God was clearly fighting on behalf of Israel. This is interesting seeing that Ahab was a very wicked king. The sin and stench of Syria was even worse hence God utilizing the arm of Israel as his means of judgement. It is also a display of God’s mercy upon Israel.
The men of Benhadad now recognize they cannot defeat Israel so they approach the king in sackcloth on behalf of Benhadad. They request on his behalf that he might live. Ahab will make a mistake that we will later see with Jehosophat. It is a sin that Saul had made on an earlier occasion. When God moves in judgement against a leader, a people or nation we are to follow through in obedience. He asks if he is alive and then comments that “he is my brother” (vs 32). Ahab lets him live and soon thereafter a prophet comes to Ahab and tells him he let a man be set free that God had ordained for destruction. It will in the end cost him his life as well as the life of many others. The primary lesson here is to know the heart of God in these matters. We need to learn to love the things the Lord loves and hates the things He hates. In doing so we will learn how to rule and reign effectively for His glory!
Psa 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Psa 45:7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
The Feast of Tabernacles is brought out in this chapter. It is the 7th of the primary Feasts of Israel and it represents the Feast that the last day church is about to enter into. There are several different names that pertain to this Feast. It is known as the Feast of Rest, a time when man ceases from his own works and enters into the works of God. Jesus is fulfilling this as He moves in accordance to the pleasure of His Father. It is known as the Feast of Glory, a picture of the glory seen at Solomon’s temple which is only a portion of the greater glory to come (Hag 2:7-9). It is also the Feast of Restoration which is typified by the spirit of Elijah that will restore hearts of fathers to sons. We also see a picture of this restoration after Israel came out of Babylon. God is going to restore that which is broken. A Feast of Joy as seen in Neh 8:8-10 which took place at the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a Feast of Harvest or Ingathering when the sheaves and abundance of souls are brought into the barns or churches. It is a glorious feast and one that we all look forward to in these challenging and volatile days. There is another name given to the Feast of Tabernacles and it will be the central focus of this chapter. The Feast of Tabernacles can also be named the Feast of His Appearing. It refers to the time when Jesus Himself comes on the scene.
Jesus is aware that the Jews are looking for him with the intent of killing him primarily due to the miracle that took place at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:16). Jesus continued teaching making reference to Himself as being the Son of God (John 5:19-47). It is because of this that He chooses to not go up to Jerusalem with the others to celebrate the feast. It was not because of fear but it was because He knew His time had not yet come. The teachings and words of Jesus had now become offensive to many, especially after the message on being the broken bread. His disciples at this point had nothing to fear so they could freely go up to the feast but Jesus had to mark His timing. The feast commenced and the people were asking as to where Jesus was. There was considerable discussion concerning Him as to whether he was a good man or not. There was tension concerning Jesus and people who would not openly speak about Him for fear of the Jews (vs 13).
Jesus appeared in the temple in the middle of the Feast (vs 14). He again speaks of the doctrine and will of His Father; it’s a follow-up to His message as seen in John 5. He challenges them on the law of Moses and on the issue of their wanting to kill Him (vs 19). He cites the one work he had done at Bethesda where the impotent man was made whole and how they make an issue of it because it was done on the Sabbath day. He links the act of circumcision as given by Moses (Lev 12:3) which was done on the Sabbath asking why is it they take issue with the healing of a man who was made whole (vs 22-23)? He then states that they are to “judge righteous judgement” and not according to appearance. The people who gathered to hear Jesus marvelled as to how bold He was in His teaching. They also marvelled that no one was taking issue with His words. Jesus, under a powerful anointing continues His teaching by reasserting His link to His Father. Though there were many who were angry and wanting to take Him by force they could not due to the fact His time had not yet come. This is an important truth. Jesus is under the complete authority of His Father. He is doing the will of His Father that sent Him. Consider the following verse:
Joh 7:30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
The testimony that Jesus is presenting to the world of His day is very similar to what will be seen in the last days. There is a tremendous authority and anointing upon Him as He goes about teaching and ministering amongst the people. There is also a very close union with His Father during this period. This is why it will be essential for the church of the last days to have a close and harmonious walk with God. A devotional life that allows room for God to speak, guide and direct as seen here in the life of Jesus.
Jesus is seen again on the last day of the Feast when He makes this famous statement:
Joh 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Joh 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Joh 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
It is here where Jesus speaks of the person of the Holy Spirit which will come upon the early church after His departure. The Holy Spirit will be the means by which all things will be fulfilled at both a personal and corporate level. First and foremost there must be belief upon the Son of Man, He must be received into one’s life. Soon afterwards it will be Jesus who will be the one who baptizes the believer into the person of the Holy Spirit. What is abundantly clear in John 7 is that the person of the Holy Spirit will be prominently featured in the last days. It is through the Holy Spirit where communion and fellowship with the Father and Son is realized. It will be through the Holy Spirit where the harvest will be gathered in; where the teaching of doctrine will flourish; where the glorification of the Son will be upheld. The Holy Spirit came upon men and women of God in the Old Testament but He was not given unto them (Baptized) due to Jesus not yet being glorified through His death and resurrection. After this discourse of the Lord we see again where many sought to lay hands upon Him but they could not do so (vs 44). His teaching also brought further division among them which is what the Word of God will do. It is meant to get to the heart to reveal where men are really at. This is what the teaching of good doctrine will do. May God help us to be faithful in this regard as well.