Sep 6 2020 1 Kings - God Provides
13th September 2020
Baal – was considered to be the god of the weather – so they would pray to him to help their crops to grow! If it rained, he was with them – if there was drought, he was absent. If he was absent, they thought they needed to offer more sacrifices
Mot – the god of the underworld – had these jaws to swallow people. Mot would summon Baal and hold Baal captive, and there would be drought – and then there would be enough sacrifices to free him – and the rains would come.
As we read about Elijah – they often dealt with the weather – so it is important
1 Kings 16:29 29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.
What a testimony! In Judah, the king was (mostly) good; - in the Israel, they had the worst king ever.
31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.
We see a whole bunch of mistakes – the high places weren’t torn down – he does what Solomon does – marrying an enemy.
Sidon was the center of Baal worship – and he turns all of Israel away from God.
Asherah – known as a mother-god – and they would put these poles, carved in images, and it would draw them into their type of worship. This broke the first 2 commandments – having many other gods and graven images.
Onto the stage comes Elijah -
1 Kings 17: Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."
God, through Elijah, engages this contest with the gods of the Canaanites – Okay – you’re the god of weather? Let’s see who is the God of weather! I’m going to make it stop raining until I say it is allowed to start.
The number one purpose of this story – there is one god and it is Yahweh.
2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there."
The secondary purpose – not only is God God – but the only one who can truly provide. Baal does not provide – God provides – and He does it in unconventional ways. He chooses ravens. He doesn’t tell us why – I think God is saying – I can do anything – have birds bring food if I choose to do it.
5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.
So this is a hyperlink to the children of Israel in the wilderness – bread and meat out of the sky! It takes place in this wilderness land – and the brook dries up, so God needs to provide another way for him.
In the wilderness, when they were out of water – it just came out of a rock. He could have done that here – but He does it totally differently. I think this says that God will not be controlled by our expectations – we want Him to be predictable. He is much better than predictable. He is faithful. And will always be faithful – but He will not be predictable. Our tendency is to want to put God in a box – but He chooses to do things in totally different ways. We see Him doing NEW things – don’t call to mind former things! I will do something new!
8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 "Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food."
So God sends Elijah into the heart of Baal worship.
10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?"
God sends him to where Ahab and Jezebel live – the heart of Baal worship and that is where he will provide for Elijah – and He does it through a worshiper of Baal.
11 As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread."12 "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread--only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it--and die."
It almost seems – uh – a little bit strange, this story.
This widow, at some levels, knows something is going on – As surely as the Lord your God lives – she understands that there is a contest between her god and Elijah’s God.
13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.'
Elijah gives her the big promise. God will provide for you if you do this for me! And it is even much more than that – he is not just telling her what is going to happen – he is inviting her – or bringing her, this Canaanite woman, into this conflict as a partner.
Jesus is going to use this story to open His ministry on earth in Luke 4 – he tells the story of this Canaanite woman to explain what He is doing on earth at the very beginning – allowing a Gentile to become part of the work of God. And that is why people wanted to kill Him – because they knew what He was saying.
Bringing this to our world – I think God has entered into conflict with the gods of this world – in a significant way – and is using these events as part of that conflict – and we, as Christians, need to be able to identify these gods in our world. There is a conflict between Yahweh and the gods of our neighborhood – and as we identify them – like Elijah – the Lord is bringing us in as partners in this context. He wants us to faithfully represent Him in the midst of this battle – in this time.
This time of great turmoil – our responsibility is to be faithful witnesses – to be other and different. A new creation! The world is the old creation. We are to live as a whole new thing that is nothing like the old thing – we are a new people, a new race, a new family – and we are to live differently from everyone else!
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.
This is a great story of God’s provision. A caution – this provision was daily bread – the basic of basic needs – a parallel would be the loaves and the fish – and we have to be careful to not take them too far – Jesus said – Give us this day our daily bread. We need to be careful to not extrapolate it beyond that! This is just sustenance.
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, "What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?"
Have you come because of my sin to kill my son? There is this attitude to see God as “You make a mistake and boom!”
19 "Give me your son," Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed.
20 Then he cried out to the LORD, "LORD my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?" 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the LORD, "LORD my God, let this boy's life return to him!" 22 The LORD heard Elijah's cry, and the boy's life returned to him, and he lived.
So what happens here – in this part of the story – someone else enters the scene – Slide 2 – Mot – the god of death – the two most powerful forces in this world (the weather and death) and God dismantles their story. These people – these things they have trusted in – God says – it is of no value to you!
Behind every idol is a narrative! Behind every idol – every false god – is a story. In order to understand the idols of our day – we need to know those stories – what those narratives are.
Quick example – we live in a time and place where we have been told we have a right to be prosperous. We have been told that we should have more than our parents and our kids should have more than us and it should be a never-ending increase of having more! That is a story we have been told! And as part of that narrative – our government should get out of the way or set things up for us to do that!
The problem – this turns stuff and wealth and things into a great idol and god that we worship.
The problem – we got the story wrong – we are focused on the wrong story! That is not the story of God nor the story we are to focus our attention on! We need to understand the narratives – and then dismantle those! They need to be dismantled!
23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, "Look, your son is alive!" 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth."
So what we have – the conversion of this Canaanite, Gentile woman. This story is a foreshadowing of the cross and of the resurrection. When Jesus entered into this world – he, like Elijah (and they kept asking him – are you Elijah?!) there are so many parallels – but as Elijah entered enemy territory – Jesus entered enemy territory to reclaim it for himself.
He is born – and what happens? The enemy tries to kill Him! He is under two!
Then we see Him go to the wilderness and battles Satan – the god of this world – and we know that God is the ultimate ruler and creator of this world – but it seems clear from scripture that at some point He delegated power to these forces.
Genesis 1 Be fruitful! Rule over the earth! Exercise dominion over it! The original rulers of this world were us! As partners with God in His ministry – and then Genesis 3 happens. And we lose our rule. Whenever he says to be fruitful and multiply – he no longer says – and rule over it – we lost our rule.
I’d like to close with this verse
Colossians 2: 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, (that is the God we have! We are not like the woman – have you remembered my sins to kill us? No!) 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 (This next verse is so incredible!) And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
All of the dark forces that have dominated people’s lives throughout history – when He went to the cross.
In 1 Cor. 2 – referring to the rulers and powers – if they had known what was about to happen, they would not have hung Jesus on the cross – they thought it was their victory – but it was His!
We can know now – the powers that hold people – these forces that control lives – Christ has won the victory! And our sins have been forgiven and they cannot be held against us by the enemy at [email protected]!
Thank You, Lord – help us to understand this great battle we find ourselves in! We are on Your side – and it is not against a president or president to be – or against a virus! It is against these powers – evil forces – and it is all to show that there is one God – Yahweh – Jesus – and there is no other worthy of our worship, devotion and allegiance -