Posts Tagged ‘I Kings’

Hills and Valleys

And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

I Kings 20:28

The Syrians were here preparing to attack the Israelites and they did have some fear of the God of the Israelites. They did say that “the Lord is God of the hills”. But they did not fully understand the Lord, because they also said “but he is not God of the valleys”. They wanted to attack the Israelites in the valley because they did not think that God could deliver them there.

The same is true of the world, the flesh and the devil today. They attack us in the valleys. When we are on the mountain top having a great victory in our Christian lives and praising the Lord, it’s easy to live for Him. But in the valley, when things aren’t going quite the way we think they should, it sometimes gets easy to take our eyes off of the Lord. When we are going through a tough time in life, we are more susceptible to an attack from the Devil or from our own flesh.

The thing that we must remember is that the Lord is the God of the hills AND He is God of the valleys. When you are on the mountain top, praise Him; when you are in the valley, trust Him.

Not the Only One

And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

I Kings 19:10, 18

Elijah here makes the same mistake that it is easy for us to make every day. Sometimes we start to think that we are the only ones who are standing for Christ. It’s easy to be in the world and go to work and think that there is nobody else doing what they should be doing. Any time we start thinking that we are “we are the only ones”, we start either sinking with despair (which is not good) or we start swelling with pride (which is probably even worse).

The truth is that there are a lot of good people out there. There are a lot of people who have not “bowed unto Baal”. God told Elijah that He still had seven thousand men who had not bowed to Baal. Seven thousand doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is quite a few more than one. And it is true that, in the world, we as Christians are outnumbered. But we aren’t the only ones. It always encourages me when I go on vacation or visit a church in another state or area and find a whole group of people that I may not know by name, but I know in Christ. I can walk into a church hundreds of miles away from my home and be with “my people”. Even in distant lands where I may not speak the language, there are people who are “family”. I have enjoyed “meeting” people through this blog who are wonderful Christians and who love the Lord and they have been a huge encouragement to me.  The world may seem overwhelming, but there are still quite a few people out there who are still following Him.  That is an encouraging thought, especially when it seems that the whole world around you is against you.


The Journey Is Too Great

And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and nights unto Horeb and the mount of God.

I Kings 19:7-8

In these verses we have a wonderful picture of the Christian life. Elijah had been discouraged to the point of wanting to die, but an angel of the Lord came to him and gave him food and water and encouraged him. In these verses, the angel of the Lord appeared to him a second time to tell him to “arise and eat” because “the journey is too great for thee”. The journey is too great for thee. We who claim the name of Christ have set out to live a Christian life. No matter how strong of a Christian we are, the journey is too great for us. No matter how much we think that we can resist sin or have overcome sin, the journey is still too great for us. We simply can not live even the most basic Christian life in our own strength.

Because the Lord knew that the journey would be too great for Elijah (and us), He told him to “arise and eat”. We need to arise and eat every day. We need to eat spiritual food every day- the New Testament phrases it “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). When we go without eating food for even a day or two (or in some cases, an hour or two), we start to get weak. So it is with our spiritual food- if we go to long without it, we start to get weak and we start to stumble. We need our “daily bread” from God and His Word.

After Elijah ate, the Bible tells us that he was able to go to Horeb and he went “in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights”. The food that God gives us is supernatural. Now, I don’t think that we can get our spiritual food once every forty days and be fine, but the food that He gives us will sustain us. There are things in the Bible that I learned months ago that I am still meditating on and still “feeding on”.

What a blessing it is to have all the spiritual food we need available to us. And we need it, because the journey is always going to be too great for us.

We All Get Discouraged

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.

I Kings 19:4-6

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets that ever lived. He was a mighty man of God who is famous for challenging the false prophets of Baal and convincing the Israelites that the Lord is God. He is famous for his mighty power in prayer. But in these verses we see a different side of Elijah. In these verses, Elijah is discouraged. He had just won a great victory for the Lord, but soon after, he finds himself discouraged.

If a man like Elijah can get discouraged, how much more are we prone to become discouraged? There is no person on the Earth who is immune to discouragement. It’s easy to get down as we go through life, but there is always hope. Elijah wanted to just die. But “as he lay and slept”, an angel touched him and brought him food and water to strengthen him.

How often has that happened to us (maybe not literally, but figuratively)? How often has the Lord given us just the little amount of encouragement that we need to keep us going? How often has He helped us when we were discouraged? He knows just what we need and He stands ready to help us if we will look to Him.

If you are going through a period of discouragement, look to Him. He knows just what you need.

Hard Hearted

And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they (the prophets of Baal) prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

I Kings 18:29, 38

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.

I Kings 19:1-2

In case you are not familiar with the story in I Kings 18, here is a quick summary: 1. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a showdown.  (Each would get one bullock and pray to their god or God to consume the sacrifice with fire)  2. Baal’s prophets pray and dance and cut themselves all day to no avail (while Elijah mocks them).  3.  Baal does not answer.  4. Elijah has the people dump a bunch of water on his sacrifice.  5.  Elijah prays to God.  6. God sends down fire and consumes not only the bullock on the altar, but also the “wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water” just to leave no room for doubt.  7. The people choose God over Baal.

Now that we are all up to speed, we can look at the first two verses of the next chapter.  Ahab goes back to Jezebel and tells her “all that Elijah had done”.  Jezebel then tells Elijah that she is going to kill him.

That is a picture of a person with a hard heart.  In one of the most amazing displays of divine power that the world has ever seen, God clearly proves His superiority to Baal.  Baal could do nothing.  Baal failed.  God won.  And in the face of this epic failure from Baal and epic triumph by God, Jezebel still hates Elijah, still hates God, and is still trusting in Baal.

That may seem silly to us, but how often do we continue to serve the world and the flesh and the devil despite the fact that Christ has clearly proven His superiority?  How often do we continue on our own path of self=destruction when His way has proven over and over again to be good and right?  I think we may sometimes have a little bit of Jezebel in us.  What a grim reminder of just how hopeless we really are without Him.

Seeing and Believing

Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord he is the God.

I Kings 18:38-39

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20:29

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

It must have been an awesome sight to see the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.  What an amazing thing it would have been to have witnessed fire coming down from Heaven and consuming not only the offering on the altar, but also licking up the water around the altar and consuming the stones of the altar itself.  I’m sure that a sight like that would invoke a reverential fear in just about anybody that witnessed it.  It did cause the Israelites who were there to fall down on their faces and worship God.  It caused them to declare that “the Lord, he is the God”.  The Israelites believed in Him because of an awe-inspiring display of power. 

In John chapter 20, Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection and Thomas is unsure.  But when Jesus showed him His hands and side, Thomas believed.  Thomas believed in Him because he could physically see and touch Him.

We do not have the opportunity to see God literally send down fire from Heaven to consume a burnt offering.  We do not have the opportunity to physically see Jesus Christ in the flesh and touch Him.  And yet we believe.  That is where faith comes in to the picture.  Hebrews 11:1 gives us a great and simple definition of faith: “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.  Faith is taking God at His word and believing Him even though we may not be able to actually see Him.  May He give us great faith to believe in Him!

The Way Home

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy…

Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying , We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;

And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul…

Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,

And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them

I Kings 8:46-50

This is a prayer of Solomon, the wisest man ever to live.  I think there is some great wisdom in this prayer, and I think that there are some things we can apply to our situations. 

1. Our sin.
-“If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,)…”  It’s not a matter of “if” I am going to sin.  It’s a matter of “when” I am going to sin.  If I am awake, I probably have some sinful thought or desire or motive that I need to deal with.  If I am asleep, I have probably just hit the snooze button for the third time and am guilty of a little bit of sloth.  We all sin.  The Bible tells us in I John that “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”.  Solomon knows that the people are going to sin.  And we know that we are going to sin.

2. God is angry with sin
-“…and thou be angry with them”.  God hates sin and is not pleased when we sin.  He knows that we are going to sin, but that does not lessen his hatred of it.  When we sin, we make God angry.

3. We must “come to ourselves”
-“Yet if they shall bethink themselves… and repent… and make supplication… saying, We have sinned and done perversely, we have committed wickedness, And so return unto thee with all their heart…”  Just like the Prodigal son in Luke, when we “come to ourselves”, we are ready to repent, we are ready to go to the Father and confess our sins and throw ourselves on His mercy.

4. There is forgiveness.
-“Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven… And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee”.  Once we come to ourselves and leave our sin behind, coming to Him, He is ready to forgive.  The Prodigal son was welcomed by the Father, and we will be welcomed and forgiven by our Heavenly Father. 

What a blessing it is to know that no matter how we sin against Him, He still stands ready to forgive, if only we will turn to Him. 


A Big Heart

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

I Kings 4:29

I don’t know if this verse is where the phrase “big hearted” comes from, but it does carry that connotation.  The first part of the verse is great and something that we could all be praying for and working toward: “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much…”  It should be our desire to have “exceeding much” wisdom and understanding.  That is where studying and meditating on the Bible comes in to play.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit can give us the wisdom and understanding that we need to deal with any situation that may come into our lives. 

But it is the second part of the verse that I have been thinking about this morning.  “And largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore”.  To be totally honest with you, I am not sure exactly what is meant by this phrase as it is applies to Solomon in the context of the verse.  I looked up a few commentators and they didn’t seem to have a satisfactory answer either.  Some said it may have had something to do with Solomon’s ability to teach and apply his wisdom, which may be true.  But whatever the exact meaning, we do know that it was the Lord who gave Solomon his “largeness of heart”. 

When I think of largeness of heart, I think of someone having a “big heart”.  When you think about people who could be described as having “big hearts”, you invariably think of someone who is generous and kind and puts others before themselves.Generosity, kindness and selflessness are all qualities that we should be striving to possess.  And it is God who can give us those qualities. 

When I think of “small hearted”, I always think of the Grinch.  I love listening to the classic Grinch around Christmas, and I always think of the Grinch’s small heart and how it “grew” at the end of the story.  So many Christians are living their lives like spiritual Grinches, they are not generous or kind and they are very self-centered.  That is not the way it should be.

Make Up Your Mind

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions?  if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.  And the people answered him not a word.

I Kings 18:21

When I read this verse, I couldn’t help but think of Christianity today.  It seems like there are so many Christians today that are “halting between two opinions”.  I know that, for a while in my own life, I was one of those who halted between two opinions.  Which way to go?  Live for God or live for the flesh and the world?  That is not a new question; it is a question that has been around since the time of Elijah (and I suspect that it was a question that had been asked long before Elijah also).

The Bible clearly tells us that “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”. (I John 2:15b)  It also tells us that we can not serve two masters.  We are either going to follow the Lord or we are going to follow ourselves and the world.  It’s either going to be the Spirit that leads us or it will be our flesh that leads us.  Whatever the case may be, it will be one or the other; it is never going to be both.  You can’t go in two directions at once.

So many people are “halting between the two decisions”.  They want to follow Christ, but they also want the things and adoration of the world.  They can’t decide which way to go.  We have two jobs: 1. Make up our own mind that we will follow Him.  If we are the indecisive ones, we need to resolve to follow Him and serve Him.  and 2. We need to help those who may be “on the fence”.  We need to encourage others to make the right decision.  You never know when a prayer or a word of encouragement will be the little thing that keeps someone on the right path.