Margin notes: Things I scribbled in the white spaces on May 6, 2K8

1 – ” In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.” (1 Kings 16:29, ESV)

RAF: And still God tolerated Ahab to reign in Israel for 22 years. His patience is displayed toward Ahab, and His provocation against the Israelites in leaving them to the whims of such a wicked man. There is always more going on that just the one circumstance.

2 – “You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”” (1 Kings 17:4, ESV)

RAF: Note first that when God’s judgment begins to affect the land, God’s prophet suffers too. As will all the rest of the righteous. Though there is provision at Cherith, the results of the famine strike Elijah as well. Note secondly that God’s provision for His prophet is not what most of us would desire. Here is where our romantic notions of serving God, and the real deal, part company. Ravens are scavengers. They feed on carrion – the carcasses of dead and decaying animals. These are the ones who will bring Elijah his food. Not clean birds. Not birds that one would find attractive and think well of how they might be used. I do not know why it is God would choose these. But when He makes such choices – He is still acting wisely, lovingly and perfectly.

3 – “And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ ”” (1 Kings 17:13-14, ESV)

RAF: Faith is not abstract. While Elijah asks the Widow (not an Israelite by the way, this is a Gentile town) to make him some food first, he does so in the context of giving her a promise. God never asks us to have faith in the abstract. He asks us to believe what He has said – what He has promised. We do not have faith in faith – we have faith in Him and what He has promised.

4 – “The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.” (1 Kings 17:16, ESV)

RAF: Jesus will later use this event as an example of God’s sovereign grace. Luke 4:26

5 – “And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”” (1 Kings 17:20-24, ESV)

RAF: Note the great compassion the Man of God displays on these who are not part of God’s covenant people. May the World know by our prayers, by how exercised we are before God’s throne for their suffering that we are truly God’s people. That our testimony of Him is true. We show them that He is not callous to their plight. That He did not send Christ into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

6 – “And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.)” (1 Kings 18:3-4, ESV)

RAF: This is the same Obadiah whose Old Testament book bears his name. We should read his little book within the context of these times and events. And note how it is God can have His people even in the very midst of the most wicked of human governmental administrations. Pharaoh can have his Joseph. Nebuchadnezzar can have his Daniel. Wicked, rebellious Ahab can have his Obadiah. God is not restrained.

7 – “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?”” (1 Kings 18:17, ESV)

RAF: It is so often true that those who call others into account for their sin, are the ones then blamed for the trouble the sin has brought upon their own heads. Men will avoid personal responsibility at all costs, and make the righteous the cause of their woes whenever they can.

8 – “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.” (1 Kings 18:21, ESV)

RAF: You who call yourselves Christians – how long will you limp between two opinions? If money, success, fame, ambition, comfortability, family, your dream (whatever it may be) – if they are your gods, go serve them. At least declare yourself. But if God really is God – then serve Him. Wholly, Solely. Absolutely.

9 – “And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”” (1 Kings 18:27, ESV)

RAF: There are times when the absolute foolishness of anything but following the Lord God of the Bible in Jesus Christ must be exposed for the foolishness it truly is. This is not mean or intolerant. No more than it would be mean or intolerant to expose to a dying man that he had been given a placebo – sugar pills – when the real cure is right at hand.

10 – “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”” (1 Kings 18:39, ESV)

RAF: As powerful a demonstration as this was, we must note that there was not a national repentance in Israel, or a great turning of the whole nation back to God. We may well imagine such demonstrations would do that – but they do not. No matter what the external proofs, the hearts of men are what need to be changed. There truly are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see. With only the rarest of exceptions, the leadership in Israel remains committed to idolatry and wickedness.

11 – “So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’ ”” (1 Kings 18:42-44, ESV)

RAF: Pray, and do not stop. Pray beloved, pray.

12 – ” Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.” (1 Kings 19:1-3, ESV)

RAF: Those most bold for Christ one minute, can sometimes be reduced to cowering and fleeing the next. We are but men. How good to know that our God knows us, and receives and uses us anyway. He is not as distressed by our weaknesses as we are.

13 – “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”” (1 Kings 19:4, ESV)

RAF: It is often that in the aftermath of great spiritual victories, we can be visited with the most darkened minds, seasons of despair and great emptiness. Watch how gently and knowingly God deals with His servant in these circumstances. Rest and food and finally a fresh revelation of Himself, then a charge for work yet to be done – will restore Elijah in time.

14 – “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”” (1 Kings 19:18, ESV)

RAF: No matter how it looks, God always has His people. We are never the only one.

15 – ” And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”” (1 Kings 20:13, ESV)

RAF: Do not confuse God’s purposes in defeating Ben-hadad with approval of Ahab and Israel’s idolatry. When we try to read these events as omens, we will find ourselves hopelessly without true direction. That God may bless one wicked man in contrast with His judgment on another, is no proof of His approval of either. That God may destroy a Hitler and give nations like our own a great victory, is no sign we are a nation walking in righteousness before God.

16 – “And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places, and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.” (1 Kings 20:23-25, ESV)

RAF: Let no one vainly imagine God is restricted in His rule over any domain. This is a pagan notion – not a Biblical one. He is “Lord of all.” As Abraham Kuyper remarked in his inaugural address at the dedication of the Free University: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” See: Verse 28.

17 – “And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore, and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” And Ahab said, “I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.” (1 Kings 20:34, ESV)

RAF: There can never be any treaty between the People of God, and the World, the Flesh, or the Devil. None.

18 – “And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.” (1 Kings 20:43, ESV)

RAF: Vexed and sullen are two right responses to God’s rebuke. But if they do not lead to repentance – they are useless. Anyone can be sorry they’ve been caught and reproved.

19 – “And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”” (1 Kings 21:27-29, ESV)

RAF: No matter how wicked the man, God honors repentance.

20 – ” And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak.” And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?” And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’ ”” (1 Kings 22:13-17, ESV)

RAF: There is even a right time and place for sarcasm. A sarcasm that exposes the unwillingness of men to hear and obey God.

21 – “And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”” (1 Kings 22:22-23, ESV)

RAF: Like an undercover agent or spy, there is no moral contradiction in employing such means to bring evil to justice.

22 – “But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”” (1 Kings 22:34, ESV)

RAF: Even the randomness of man carries out the purposes of God. This is a great mystery.

23 – “And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the Lord that he had spoken.” (1 Kings 22:38, ESV)

RAF: Probably not on purpose, but nevertheless the Lord’s Word was fulfilled. Some commentators say it was the custom of the temple prostitutes to bathe in the evening rather than in the morning like most women. They would have used this pool, not realizing that Ahab’s blood was mingled in it. But what a graphic description of the pervasive nature of the corruption.

24 – “But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?” (2 Kings 1:3, ESV)

RAF: Is it because there is no God that men seek the counsel of Psychics, Astrologers, Spiritualists, political prognosticators, motivational speakers, Psychologists and Psychiatrists, and Gurus both religious and secular?

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