When God promises Abraham a son, a land, and descendants, He obligates Himself to protect him (Gen. 12:1-2); yet Abraham struggles to appropriate His protection when he flees first to Egypt and later to Gerar. The LORD identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Who He is for the patriarchs, He is for their descendants. As a young nation Israel struggles to appropriate God's provision and protection during the forty years in the wilderness. They also struggle to appropriate His presence and provision during the Judges Era.
Only after lengthy periods of oppression do they cry out to God. David appropriates the promise of protection when Saul and Israel face the Philistines, "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Sam. 17:26). Jonathan, Saul's son, also understands who God is for Israel when he is outnumbered by the Philistines in a battle, "It may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few" (1 Sam. 14:6). Sadly, King Ahaziah of Israel has no such view of God.
When King Ahaziah falls through the lattice of his upper room and injures himself, he sends messengers to inquire of the god of Ekron, as if there is no God in Israel. The LORD sends Elijah to intercept the messengers and sends them back to Ahaziah with a message of His own, "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). The king responds by sending a war party out to capture Elijah, again, as if there were no God in Israel! The LORD destroys the first and second delegation by fire. You"d think that, by now, Ahaziah would concede to the God of Israel. He does not. The captain of the third delegation gets what Ahaziah does not-he lives, and the king dies! Elijah learns that he need not fear the man who does not fear God!
This scene reveals a number of truths about living as though God doesn't exist:
A crisis reveals both man's pride and the object of man's trust.
Only God knows the future, and man cannot know what the future holds unless God reveals it. He has disclosed Himself to His people; however, they must respond to who He is.
Proud people live to prove their independence; they often put the lives of others at risk in the process.
Every man is more dependent upon God than he realizes.
God desires to reveal Himself to the world through Israel. Sadly, Israel's unbelief hinders God's blessing to them as a people and impedes other nations from knowing Him.
Questions from today's chronological Bible reading (2 Kings 1; 3; 8:16-22; 1 Kings 22:41-50; 2 Chronicles 20:31-21:7):
What instructions does Elijah give the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom, and what will it require of them? In what other stories have we seen God give strange instructions? What does this reveal about God? How does the LORD prove Himself to the kings?
Jehoshaphat's son marries Ahab's daughter. How does this marriage alliance affect the reign of Jeshoshaphat's son? What does this reveal about the effects of compromise?
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