Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1 Kings 16-17 Evil Kings & Elijah

LINK: 1 Kings 16-17

BACKGROUND
Chapter 16 is focused on the next few kings of Israel.

Baasha reigned 24 years (909-886 B.C.) and "did evil in the sight of the Lord." God promised to wipe out the family of Baasha because of his great sin.

Elah (son of Baasha) succeeded him to the throne and reigned two years (886-885 B.C.). One of his major military commanders, Zimri, conspired against him and killed him as well as all other members of Baasha's family, fulfilling God's promise to destroy Baasha's household.

Zimri reigned only seven days in the year 885 B.C. before the people of Israel rose up against him. When Zimri saw that he would lose the throne, he burned his house down overtop of himself.

There was a dispute over who should be king -- Omri or Tibni -- but the supporters of Omri prevailed and Tibni died (probably murdered).

Omri reigned twelve years (885-874 B.C.) and established Samaria as the capital of Israel.

Ahab, son of Omri, reigned next for 22 years (874-853 B.C.) and was the worst of all kings so far. He married Jazebel and together they led Israel deep into pagan worship. Ahab built an altar for Baal and made an Asherah pole.

Baal was the storm god, the "rider of the clouds" who exercised control over rain, wind, and clouds. As the fertility god, he became the most significant deity, since life depended on rain and harvest. The stories of the gods were full of violence, cruelty, rape, and seduction. Baal worship was characterized by idolatry and immorality that went along with cult prostitution. The mother goddess Asherah was sometimes depicted as Baal's enemy -- but more often as his consort. Often depicted as the naked goddess, the goddess of fertility, she was honored by a wooden pole or a stone pillar, which probably had sexual implications. (from Gary Inrig's commentary on 1&2 Kings)

Chapter 17 introduces Elijah. He showed up on the scene and declared that it will not rain for three years until Elijah himself tells it to rain again. This directly defied the false god Baal. Through the drought, God provided for Elijah. The Lord sent Elijah to a Gentile widow and provided for her as well. When the widow's only son died, God brought him back to life, demonstrating his power over life and death, further convincing the widow that Elijah truly was a man sent by God and that he spoke the true word of God.

That's enough comments for today. Keep reading; Elijah (and God) will do some exciting things in the next few chapters!

PRAYER
Lord, help us not to get distracted with our own desires and the things of this world that lead us into idolatry. Keep our hearts pure and fully devoted to you, because you are the only true God and the salvation of our souls. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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