Lying Prophets and a Dead King

1 Kgs 22:1-53

Today, we come to the last chapter of the book of 1st Kings, and also the last chapter of Ahab‘s life. Jehoshaphat the king of Judah visited Ahab, and Ahab along with his servants decided that they should take Ramoth Gilead from the Syrians. He invited Jehoshaphat to come along with him in the battle, but the king of Judah was interested in knowing what God thought about the war.

So, Ahab gathered up to four hundred prophets together, and they all prophesied that the king should go ahead that God would deliver to him Ramoth Gilead. I am not sure exactly what Jehoshaphat saw, but it was as though he could sense there was something wrong somewhere, so he asked Ahab if there were still no other prophets of the Lord. AT this point Ahab admitted that there was one he had omitted, by the name Micaiah, because he always prophesied evil against him. Is it not amazing how we listen for only what we want to hear as opposed to the truth. Ahab was contented to have false prophets so far their declarations were in his favour.

Eventually, Micaiah was summoned, and though he initially went along with the other prophets, at further demand by the king, he made him to know the truth that had been decided in the spiritual realms. God had allowed a false, lying spirit to deceive the other prophets in order to bring judgement on Ahab. It was like a self-fulfilling prophesy, despite this truth Ahab still went ahead to battle, locking Macaiah in till his return.

The king however did not return, he was smitten in battle by the bow of an unnamed man, and by evening he was dead from the wound, with blood all over his chariot. Though Jehoshaphat was in the same battle, and even disguised like the only king, his own life was spared, we were told he reigned for twenty five years in all in jerusalem.

God’s judgement eventually caught up with Ahab. While his blood-stained chariots was being washed, his blood was licked by dogs as foretold in the case of Naboth. After his death, Ahaziah his son took over, but also only reigned for two years since he followed after the ways of his father, serving Baal.

What type of king/leader will you be? Walking in God’s commands ensured kings reign and rule long, disobeying him leads to their demise. We will do well to obey him, thus prolonging our days in the land of the living.

Some verses to remember

vs 6: Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

vs 23: Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.

vs 35: And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.


Ahab and Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Kgs 21:1-29

Without a proper moral foundation, moral standards a laxed and easily swayed. This is the exact case in today’s reading with Ahab the king of Syria.

The passage starts by telling us that Ahab desired Naboth‘s vineyard due to uts closeness to his palace. He wanted to have the vineyard to plant herbs, but Naboth declined the request saying the vineyard was an inheritance from his fathers and God forbid he sold it. Now Ahab was very much willing to ask for the vineyard and not snatch it, he was willing to pay for it and not seize it. He eventually went home sad and displeased at not being able to have possession of the vineyard. If we are thus to judge up tot this point, we won’t say the king had really done any evil.

However, because his moral standards did not have any strong foundation, when his wife Jezebel plotted to have Naboth killed, and devised a plan for that in the king’s name, he did not decline. And eventually when Naboth was lied against and killed, Ahab consented by going ahead to claim the vineyard he was denied before.

God shows he is interested in kings and rulers, and would not allow what Ahab had just done, so he sent Elijah to him. Elijah told him of his sin, and told him that the same place where the dogs licked Naboth’s blood would be the same place where they would lick his too. He also told him, his house would be cut off like Jeroboam and Baasha were cut off because of their sins of idolatry.

Now when Ahab heard all these, he rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, fasted and lay in sack sackcloth and went softly. This is where I strongly feel that Ahab’s problem was that of negative influence. Because he lacked a strong moral foundation in God’s law and commandments, he was influenced by his pagan wife – Jezebel. When God saw the way he humbled himself, he sent Elijah back to him to tell him that the punishments would not come to pass in his own days but in his son’s days.

God’s willingness to be lenient with Ahab when he humbled himself tells us a lot about God’s mercy, and willingness to see even the worse person come to repentance and be saved. If we will humble ourselves before him and draw nigh to him, he will surely draw nigh to us.

Some verses to remember

vs 2: And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.#

vs 13: And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.

vs 25-26: But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

vs 27:  And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.

vs 29:  Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

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Ahab’s War with Ben-hadad

1 Kgs 20:1-43

Today, Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered along with thirty two other kings to fight against Ahab king of Israel. Prior to this, Ben-hadad was indeed harassing the king of Israel here. He initially sent messengers to tell him that all his silver, gold, wives and children belonged to him. Ahab submitted to this, but later on when the messengers came again and told him that Ben-hadad would send his servants and take whatever they desired from his house, Ahab called a meeting of the elders, and he declined giving access Ben-hahad access to his properties.

The response meant there would be war! SO, Ben-hadad rallied the kings with him to attack Samaria. God however sent a prophet to Ahab to tell him that the multitude of the army would be delivered unto his hands, and this would be through the young men of the princes of the people at Ahab’s command.So, at Ahab’s command, the children of Israel, led by these young men, proceeded to face Ben-hadad, and the young men slew his army, causing him to flee on a horse.

After this first victory, the servants of Ben-hadad told him that Israel‘s gods were gods of the mountain and that they should fight them in the plains for victory. So, at the turn of the year, Ben-hadad gathered his men again to fight Israel at the valleys, this time in a larger number. God however showed that He is not only God of the hills, but of the valleys also. He gave Israel victory as they defeated a hundred thousand men of the Syrians, while the rest fled.

Ben-hadad also fled, having been defeated. However his servants cunningly went ahead of him to meet Israel’s king to beg on his behalf for him to live. Surprisingly, the king sent for him, caused him to sit with him in his chariot and made a covenant with him to preserve his life.

This was very strange and looked so foolish, considering how the whole chapter started with Ben-hadad’s threat. God had to send a prophet to Ahab to reveal to him that he had not executed judgement the way God wanted him to by allowing to escape a man God had handled over to him. Because of this, Ahab’s life would go for his life and Ahab’s people for his people.

Are you dealing with issues, situations, circumstances and people the way God wants you to? Are you allowing things to happens and pass by the way they should not? Do not be unequally yoked with wrong people, do not form a league with God’s enemies, it could be costly to your own soul. Beware!

Some verses to remember

vs 1:  And Benhadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.

vs 13: And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

vs 28: 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.

vs 34: And Benhadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.

vs 42: And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.


Elijah Flees From Jezebel

1 Kgs 19:1-21

After the exploits of Elijah as we read yesterday, things took a different turn. Ahab told Jezebel all that happened, and she swore to do to Elijah exactly what he did to the prophets of Baal. When Elijah heard this threat he fled. One question that bogs the mid is why would such a great man of God flee from a pagan woman of Jezebel’s calibre?

The key answer would be that of spiritual strength being used in spiritual services, and the fact that we could have both highs and lows in our spiritual walks and experiences with God. Elijah was used up to the point that he wished to die. God’s angel however woke him where he slept and told him to eat twice for the journey ahead of him was still great. After going in the strength of the food he ate for forty days, he eventually came to Horeb, the mount of God.

At this mount Elijah met God again, and though he thought he was the only prophet left to defend the name of the Lord God of Israel, God made him to know there were some other seven thousand people who had not yet bowed down to Baal. When we also feel we are the only ones passionate about God, we should be aware that we are not alone, and that God always have people who are still after his heart.

God eventually told Elijah what to do before he departed the mountain. He was instructed to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as his own replacement in the office of prophet. With these three in place there would be no escape for evil perpetrators in the land. Elijah left and met Elisha, who abandoned his oxen and family and followed after Elijah, ministering to him.

Some verses to remember

vs 7-8: 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 forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

vs 11-12: And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

vs 17: And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.


Elijah and The Prophets of Baal

1 Kgs 18: 1-46

Today’s chapter is a very popular and renowned one, and two elements made it so common with so many preachers: fire and rain or water. It was three years into the drought and the word of God came to Elijah again. This time around, he was to go and show himself before Ahab, then God would send rain on the ground.

Ahab and one of his servants, the governor of his house, Obadiah, were setting out to look for grass for his horses before they all died. Obadiah was described as a man that was god-fearing. This was shown by his hiding and feeding one hundred of God’s prophets when Jezebel cut off the rest of them. Obadiah was first to meet with Elijah, and he wanted to be sure God’s Spirit would not make him disappear before he went and told Ahab. The king we learnt had been searching for Elijah in every nation all the while.

When Ahab finally met Elijah, they needed to clarify who was it that was troubling Israel – Elijah or Himself. Elijah made him know that his sin of idolatry was responsible for the trouble Israel was in. He then told Ahab to gather together all the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal with all Israel at Mount Carmel. It was here that the challenge was set – the Baal prophets were provided a bullock and likewise Elijah, each side was to pray to their God, and the God that answers with fire would be the true God.

One thing that struck me with the prophets of Baal was that they went through all their religious rites from morning till late, even jumping on the altar and cutting themselves till blood gushed out, but nothing happened. This means that the fact that a religious rite is long, dramatic or rigorous does not mean it holds any power, without God all religious practices are futile, they are false.

It was then Elijah’s turn! We learnt that he first rebuilt the altar of God, setting the stones in place. He then requested that the trenches be filled with water and also that water be poured on the burnt offering, so it was clear that no fire was hidden anywhere. Elijah then prayed unto God before all the people and fire from heaven consumed the offering, the stones, dust and even licked up the water in the trenches. The purpose of the prayer was clear, it was to turn the people’s heart to God, and when the people saw what happened, they bowed down and worshipped God as the true God. So Elijah ordered that all the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal be captured, and he slew them at the brook of Kishon.

The final part of this powerful chapter was Elijah’s prayer for rain. He told Ahab to proceed to eat and drink for there would soon be an abundance of rain. Elijah then prayed, and though his servant went to check seven times at the sea for a sign, the rain did come powerfully after three years of drought. The prayer of a single man defeated four hundred and fifty false prophets and restored rain in a whole nation.

As much as we might say that Elijah was special, we learnt that he was a man of like passions like ourselves, and if we also pray fervently as he did, our prayers would avail as his did (1 Pet 5:17-18). Will you?

Some verses to remember

vs 21: 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.

vs 37: Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

vs 38-39: 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.

vs 45:  And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.

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Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath

1 Kgs 17:1-24

This chapter introduced Elijah, one of Israel‘s most famous prophets, for the first time. He told Ahab that there would be no rain nor dew in the land until he said otherwise. After this declaration, God told Elijah to go hide in the brook of Cherith close to Jordan. At this brook, God sent ravens to feed Elijah with bread and flesh morning and evening, and he also drank from the brook.

After a while the water from the brook dried up because of the drought, then the word of God came to Elijah again. This time God told him to go to Zarephath, and that he had given command to a widow woman to sustain him there. God showed that he goes ahead of us and makes provisions for our needs even before they arise. Maybe this widow was praying and God already told her that she would be hosting a prophet in Elijah, or maybe he had simply prepared her heart to be kind and welcoming to strangers, all are different ways in which God could use others to minister to us.

So, Elijah went to Zarephath, and as he got to the gates he saw the widow gathering sticks and told her to get him some water. As she went, he asked for more, “and some bread”. The woman then made him know that the stick she was gathering was to make the last bread from the little flour and oil left  in the house, herself and her son would eat that and afterwards die. Elijah, however told her not to worry and go prepare his first, and that at God’s word, the flour and oil would both not finish until God sent rain again. The woman went and did as she was told, and she and her her house ate many days. Through her faith in God, this woman was sustained through famine, she did not argue with God’s word, trusted his servant, and was fed.

However, in the nature of many things in life, despite Elijah’s presence, evil still raised its head as we learnt that the only son of this widow got sick unto death. The widow thought it was due to the presence of Elijah, and God bringing her own sins to remembrance, just like we would all want to explain the reasons for the bad things that happen to us. Elijah however took the boy to his bosom, interceded to God on his behalf, and the boy’s life was restored as his soul came into him again. When the widow received her son back alive, she testified that Elijah was indeed a man of God, and God’s word in his mouth was truth.

Walking with God is usually not a straight or smooth path. It is a whole journey, an adventure that could be filled with thrills and frills. Both the life of Elijah and this widow of Zarephath exemplified this.  The main thing however is that through them all, we should trust in him who has called us to walk with him, and know that he has good thoughts and intentions for us.

Will you believe and trust Him???

Some verses to remember

vs 5:  So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

vs 14: For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

vs 22:  And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

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The sinful kings of Israel

1 Kgs 16:1-34

This chapter begins with God’s judgement being pronounced on Baasha by Jehu the prophet. Despite seeing what happened to Jeroboam because of his sins, Baasha still followed a similar path, and a similar judgement to Jeroboam’s was meted to him- any of his that died in the city would be eaten by dogs,and those that die in the fields, by birds.

After Baasha died, his son Elah reigned in his place, however his servant Zimri conspired against him within two years of his reign, smote him and killed him while he was drunk. Zimri then became king in his stead, and his first task was to destroy the whole house of Baasha, thus fulfilling the prophecy Jehu gave.

Zimri was however reigning in Tirzah, meanwhile the people made Omri, the captain of the host of Israel, king over Israel. Omri and his host with him then besieged Tirzah, took the city, and this forced Zimri burn himself up along with his palace. Zimri too was thus judged for his treason.

After this, the people were divided, some made Tibni their king, and the other half followed Omri. Those following Omri however prevailed, Tibni died and Omri reigned as king. However Omri too did evil in the sight of God, even worse than those before him. After Omri died, Ahab his son became king in his stead, and he also continued the evil trend of Israel’s former kings, even worse. He also took Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, as wife.  Ahab became renowned for the worship of Baal, setting up an altar for its worship in Samaria.

This chapter concludes by referring to the fulfilment of a prophecy by Joshua, when he warned about rebuilding the walls of Jericho (see Joshua 6:26). Hiel laid the foundation of the wall with his firstson- Abiram’s death, and set up its gate with the death of his youngest son Segub’s death.

Some verses to remember

vs 25 But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.

vs 30:  And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.


Kings Abijam, Asa, Nadab and Basha

1 Kgs 15:1-34

We were in this passage given a summary of the reigns of two kings from Judah and two from Israel.

Abijam, king of Judah walked in the sins of his father Rehoboam. His heart was not perfect before God. Nevertheless, for David’s sake and the promise made to him by God, his family was not cut off the throne in Jerusalem.

After Abijam, Asa, his son took over. Asa reigned for forty one years in Jerusalem, and did what was pleasing in the sight of God. He destroyed the sodomites out of the land, removed the idols of his father, and also relieved Maachah, his mother, of her post as queen because of her idolatry. Asa indeed took a hard stance for God, and was willing to go against his own family to obey God’s commandment, his heart was indeed right before God. He was also able to restore some of the treasures taken from the temple. After Asa’s accomplishment (including victory in war with Basha of Israel), he died and his son Jehoshaphat became king in his place.

In Israel meanwhile, during the same parallel period of time, Nadab the son of Jeroboam did evil like his father. He was only able to reign for two years as Basha conspired against him, and killed him. Basha then ruled in Israel. Basha also smote all the house of Jeroboam, fulfilling God’s word through Ahijah. Basha then ruled in Israel for twenty four years, but he also did evil in the sight of God by walking in the ways of Jeroboam.

We will continue to read about these early kings and what we could learn from them.

Some verses to remember

vs 4:  Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem

vs 11:  And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.


Judgement on Jeroboam and Rehoboam

1 Kgs 14: 1-31

It was eventually judgement time for Jeroboam as his son fell sick. I believe he must have really loved the boy a lot. He told his wife to disguise and pay a visit to Ahijah, the prophet who told him he would be king in the first instance. Is it not surprising how people turn to God for help after being disobedient to him. As we had learnt at this time Jeroboam had made idols and altars, putting people who were not Levites as priests over these places of idol worship. We then ask the question to why he did not turn to his own priests in his time of trouble?

When Jeroboam’s wife got to Ahijah, despite his loss of physical vision, the prophet still saw visions from God and could hear his voice. He unveiled Jeroboam’s wife’s disguise and delivered God’s verdict to her. The message was clear, all men in jeroboam’s family would be cut off, and none would have a decent burial (eaten by dog or birds). The son would die also as the woman enters the city, and would be the last to have a decent burial in Jeroboam’s family. In addition, Israel too would suffer punishment for following the idolatry ways of Jeroboam. The prophecy was fulfilled as declared by Ahijah, with Jeroboam’s son dying and being buried. jeroboam later died too after reigning for 22 years, and his son Nadab became king in his place.

We were then told of what happened with Rehoboam who was reigning in Judah. just like his Israel counterpart, He and Judah provoked God with their  idolatry. This led to the king of Egypt, Shishak, attacking and looting of the temple, carting away the gold treasures that Solomon had put in the temple. In their place, Rehoboam had to put brass treasures. So, Rehoboam also reigned for seventeen years in Jerusalem and was buried, with his son, Abijam, taking over.

As the book says, it is all about the kings and chronicling what they did. So how did the next generation of Israel and Judah kings proceed? We will wait and see.

Some verses to remember

vs 15:  For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.

vs 22: And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done.


The Man of God From Judah and The Old Prophet of Bethel

1 Kgs 13:1-34

Today, we saw a strong word coming from God against the sin of Jeroboam the king of Israel. A man of God from Judah prophesied that Jeroboam’s altar in Bethel would be used to sacrifice the priests who offer sacrifices on it, by Josiah, a descendant of David. He also said that as a sign from God, the altar would be rent and the ashes upon it poured out. When Jeroboam heard the prophecy, he stretched out his hand that the prophet should be caught, but his hand withered and he could not withdraw it. The altar was also rented as the man prophesied and its ashes poured. So, Jeroboam pleaded with the man of God to pray for him for his sin to be forgiven, and his hand was restored.

After this, Jeroboam asked the man to come home with him to refresh himself, but he declined saying God had warned him not to eat or drink, nor go back the same way he came. So, the man of God departed.

We however learnt that an older prophet who dwelt in the land after being told all that had happened, pursued after the young man and asked him to come with him to eat and drink. Initially the man of God refused, reiterating God’s warning, but he later consented when the older prophet lied to him that God’s angel had told him it was OK for the young prophet to come with him to dine.

So, the man of God went with the older prophet and ate and drank in his home. But while they ate, God’s word came to the older prophet saying that, because the man of God had disobeyed God in returning to eat and drink, he would be devoured by a lion on his way back. When the young prophet left with his ass, he was met on his way by a lion which slew him according to God’s word. What does this teach us? We should fear and respect God, obey his instructions only, and not that of men, no matter whom they are. In the long run, we would be responsible to God, and so we must confirm every instruction that affects our lives from him ourselves, and be fully persuaded. Despite his own role in the events, the old prophet was not judged, but the young one who received instructions initially from God was.

The chapter concluded by noting that despite the warning and signs from the man of God, Jeroboam did not desist from his sins. He continued to make the lowest of people priests for his high places, whosoever wanted to, he consecrated and made priest. This later brought judgement on him as his house was cut off from the face of the earth.

Some verses to remember

vs 2: And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.

vs 21-22: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

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