Wednesday, 7 May 2014

(128) May 8: 1 Kings 14-15 & John 1:1-28

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider the basis on which God assesses Israel and Judah’s kings.

To ponder:
Jeroboam may have sent his wife to Ahijah (see 11v29-40) in disguise so he wouldn’t receive a rebuke over his faithlessness. Whatever, it showed a lack of faith that God can reveal everything to his prophets, seen in Ahijah’s knowledge even though blind. Nothing can be hidden from the Lord. And this seems to be a theme as kings are then assessed on whether they do what’s “right” or “evil” in “the eyes” of the LORD.
            Ahijah message was that Jeroboam had provoked God’s anger. Despite being made king, he had “done more evil than all” before him with his idolatry and “thrust” God behind his back. So God promised to “cut off” all Jeroboam’s descendents, burning them like “dung” – stressing their uncleanliness and God’s disgust. The reference to being eaten by dogs and birds implies they would not be buried. However, although the sick son Jeroboam enquired about would die, he would be mourned and buried because God saw something “good” in him – presumably a degree of faithfulness. Moreover, not only will God raise up a king to destroy Jeroboam’s family, but because Israel followed Jeroboam, God would uproot her from the good land he had given, and scatter her beyond the river (Euphrates). This is important, giving the reason for her future destruction and exile under the Assyrian Empire. As if to confirm Israel’s fate, Jeroboam’s son died as Ahijah had predicted, proving him a true prophet (14v12, 17-18, Deut 18v21-22).
            After hearing of another of Jeroboam’s sons ascending to the northern throne, we turn to Rehoboam in the south. Due to his father’s sin over who he married, he was not a pure Israelite (14v21). And under him Judah following the idolatry and related prostitution of the nations God drove out, just as he had forbidden. The reference to God’s “jealous” anger portrays him like the husband whose love for his wife is expressed in his outrage at her giving herself to another.
            The immediate record of Shishak’s attack and plunder of the temple implies it was an aspect of God’s judgement for this sin. Rehoboam displays wrong priorities, concerned for the items in the temple rather than the significance of the temple as the place to which to pray for forgiveness (1 Kgs 8). Expressing zeal for Christ or the church is hypocrisy without repentance.
            What is striking, however, is that despite ongoing conflict between the north and the south, God does not promise the destruction of Rehoboam’s line or the kingdom of Judah as he did with Jeroboam and Israel. The reason is given when Rehoboam is succeeded by his son Abijah, who commits his father’s sins, but for whom God nevertheless gives “a lamp in Jerusalem” by raising up a son. We are told this is for “David’s sake” in doing “what was right in the eyes of the LORD” – except with Uriah (15v4-5, see 2 Sam 7). This shows that God’s promise to David is the guarantee of the southern kingdom enduring, and that David is the gold standard by which future kings will be judged. So when Abijah’s son Asa is enthroned, he is commended for “doing right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done” (but for removing the high places), being “fully committed to the LORD all his life.” One cannot but aspire to the same.
Despite Asa’s faithfulness, the peace of Solomon’s time was not regained (15v16-22), showing that someone superior even to another David would now be needed to bring true unity and restoration to the two kingdoms. Indeed, the aside about Asa’s feet may be intended to show that faithfulness would no longer guarantee blessing.
 As for the northern kingdom: Nadab succeeded Jeroboam and followed his evil only to be killed by Baasha who also did as Jeroboam did, but who killed all Jeroboam’s family in fulfilment of Ahijah’s prophecy (15v29-30, see 14v1-11). We should be sure that all Christ spoke about the final judgement for humanity’s idolatry will come to pass too.

Praying it home:
Praise God for the comfort it is to know he sees all and acts justly. Pray that you would be truly repentant and committed to him all the days of your life.

Thinking further:
None today.

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