Scripture reading for April 13: 2nd Kings 9-12
My father is a man who is true to his word. As I was growing up, he would buy and sell cattle worth hundreds of thousands of dollars over the phone. He would call the banker and tell him how much he needed put into his bank account as a loan. They would do it and he would come in later and sign the note. My father knew the value of a good reputation and it was a badge of honor to be a man of your word. In fact, this trait is honorable because it is one of God’s character traits, too! In today’s reading, we hear the writer of 2nd Kings recounting time after time how God’s Word was spoken by men and how it came to pass.
The prophet Elisha sent a word with one of the members of the company of prophets. He was to anoint Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat to be king over Israel. He was also to give Jehu a mission of destroying the house of Ahab and Jezebel for their murderous and adulterous behavior. (2nd Kings 9:6-10) He told Jehu that dogs would devour Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel that she had stolen from Naboth and that no one would bury her. Jehu went to Jezreel, found Jezebel and had her killed. As he rested, dogs came and ate up her body. The Word of the Lord was fulfilled! (2nd Kings 9:34-37)
Next, Jehu went after the remaining sons of Ahab in Samaria. He came to Samaria and killed all who were left of Ahab’s family. (2nd Kings 10:17) This was according to the Word of the Lord spoken to Elijah the prophet. (1st Kings 21:20-22) This word was given several years earlier. Time may pass, but God’s Word remains true!
We would do well to heed the Word of the Lord. God’s Word is the only source of ultimate truth. (John 17:17) God is faithful to watch over His Word to perform it. (Jeremiah 1:12) Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will never pass away. (Matthew 24:35) As we approach the last days of these last days, it is more important than ever to give attention to God’s Word.
Scripture reading for April 9: 1st Kings 20-22
Learning lessons in the school of life can be fun and rewarding. God places us in a family so that we might learn from those parents who are older and wiser. Learning from those with wisdom is an easy way to gain understanding. God may also place a mate in our life. A mate may be a great blessing or may lead us astray. God also sends people to us who will speak the Word of God into our lives. The Old Testament called them prophets. They were sent to give warning, direction, and advice for living God’s way. Heeding their word resulted in a victorious life; rejecting their word brought trouble and defeat.
As we think back on the lessons God has already given Ahab and Jezebel, we remember the drought of three years that began at the word of the Lord through Elijah. (1st Kings 17:1) We remember the cause of the drought was Jezebel killing the Lord’s prophets and feeding 950 prophets of Baal and Asteroth at the king’s table. Elijah confronted them with this truth and demonstrated God’s power in the contest on Mt. Carmel. (1st Kings 18:18-19) He then killed the false prophets and prayed for rain again on the land and God sent a storm! God demonstrated his power and correction to this couple through the prophetic ministry in a way that was sure to make an impression!
In the course of time, God sent another prophet to Ahab with instructions on how to defeat his enemy, Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. (1st Kings 20:13) God worked a miracle and the enemy was defeated soundly but Ben-Hadad appealed to Ahab, and Ahab made a treaty with him. He didn’t even consult the Lord! God sent another prophet to speak to Ahab a word of judgment. (1st Kings 20:41-43) Ahab responded with anger and sulking! Out of this response, Ahab turns to coveting a neighbor’s vineyard to build a garden for himself. The neighbor, Naboth, refuses to sell or trade the family property. Ahab sulks to his wife, who promptly sets in motion a plan to get the vineyard through lies and manipulation. Naboth is killed and the vineyard is secured for Ahab. God is not pleased, and sends Elijah the prophet to speak another word of judgment. This time Ahab is humbled and goes about mourning.
What’s the point of all this prophetic intervention and correction? Why was God so gracious and long-suffering with this king and his wife? God always gives each person time to repent and to grow in grace. He is working out purposes that are bigger than one person, but He cares for each person, too. He understands our weaknesses and tries to work with us. But, there is a point where patience runs out. We can harden our hearts and miss the grace of God. Jezebel was worldly, manipulative, and lived for the present. She refused correction when God made it plain! Ahab knew what to do, but allowed his wife to direct him instead of taking charge himself. When corrected, he was often not teachable but grew angry and sullen. Would that we would be quicker to learn!