June 16, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for 1 Kings 14-18
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Context: With the reign of David and Solomon over, we seem to speed through the various kings that rule Judah and especially Israel. As a fledgling nation, Israel had no strong kings, and no kings who served the Lord God. It can be difficult to keep track of all the kings, which nation they rule, and who the corresponding ruler in the other kingdom. I encourage you to create a chart to keep track of the kings. What made the bad kings bad? What made the good kings good? Elijah appears suddenly on the scene in chapter 17, with no introduction. He tells King Ahab that there will be no more rain until Elijah asks for it. Oh, and he was leaving town! Quite a dramatic and brave entrance and exit. God was not finished with Elijah, for He still had much to teach him. Elijah relied on God for his sustenance and God provided for all his needs. Elijah also had great faith in the Lord, allowing him to revive the widow's son. Chapter 18 is the showdown between Elijah and Baal's prophets, all 450 of them! What a powerful chapter! Attempt to visualize this chapter as you read it. Can you see the people? Can you smell the blood? Can you hear the chanting to Baal? Ahab blames Elijah for stirring up trouble, similarly to those upholding the word of God today. We are constantly being told we must change with the times, but do we really? The problems that have befallen Israel did not come from keeping a lifestyle that is honoring to the Lord. Problems arose by turning away from the Lord - changing with the times.
World History: The worship of Baal was around for several centuries in Near Eastern countries prior to becoming a major problem in Israel. The Baal worshipped here was a storm god. It was believed that he made it rain. Elijah's prayer and test proves that it is the Lord God, not Baal, who controls the rain. In an attempt to explain the drought, Baal priests theorized that Baal submitted to Mot, the god of death, which caused the droughts. Jezebel was the princess of Tyrian wife of Ahab. While Ahab allowed her to continue worshipping Baal, even building a temple, Jezebel was not satisfied and sought to replace the worship of the Lord God with the worship of Baal.