Spiritual Rants: June 19 “One Prophet Gets Whacked And Another Gets . . .  Whacked . . .” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29 Acts 12:24-13:15 Psalm 137:1-9 Proverbs 17:16

Old Testament: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

1 Kings 20:1-12   One Prophet Gets Whacked And Another Gets . . .  Whacked . . .

Ben-hadad and thirty-two other city-state kings who were dependent on him decided to take advantage of the famine that had just hit Israel.  So they besieged Samaria and sent word to King Ahab that everything good he had now belonged to them. That included his best-looking wives, kids, silver and gold.  Ahab replied, “OK.”  So Ben said he’d send his servants to collect it all.

Then Ahab had second thoughts after Ben said he was going to search his houses to see what else they wanted.  He conferred with his council and sent word back to Ben that he was drawing the line at all his best-looking wives, kids, silver and gold.  Ben told him, “You’re going to get it then.” By that, he meant he was going to war with him and smash him to dust.  Ahab told him not to calculate his poultry before the germinating process of incubation had fully materialized.

Wiersbe lists five sins Ahab committed: idolatry, covetousness, bearing false witness, murder, and stealing.  He was a pretty rotten guy.  Despite this, Yahweh gave him more than one chance to turn from his sin and trust Him.  You might figure that Ahab would have no chance against Ben-hadad with a laundry list of sins like that.  Yet, in His grace, God promised him victory through one of his prophets.

Ahab mustered 7,000 men to fight against the kings and defeated them soundly.  Another prophet told Ahab that the kings would come against them again.  Ahab was victorious once again the kings.  It wasn’t because of his righteousness but because Yahweh was protecting His reputation.  The Israelites killed 100,000 on the battlefield and then the 27,000 that fled were killed in an earthquake.  Ben-hadad escaped with his life.

Ben had the idea that since the Israelite kings had always been merciful that he might be spared if he showed deference to Ahab by wearing sackcloth and putting rope on his head.  Instead of offing him like he should have (cf. v. 42), reminiscent of Saul not offing the king and his possessions in 1Sam. 15), he made a treaty with him and got his cities back that Ben had taken.

Meanwhile, the sons of the prophets were having a meeting.  One prophet was moved by the Lord to ask another to whack him in the head.  The prophet refused to hit him so the first prophet prophesied that a lion would kill him right after he left the meeting.  Sure enough, a lion offed him as he left the meeting.  So the first prophet asked another prophet to whack him in the head.  That prophet whacked him good.  So the first prophet bandaged his head and waited for the king to pass by.  In a scene reminiscent of Nathan with David, the prophet told the king a story of  how he was supposed to be guarding a man and if he got away his penalty was to be offed or pay $6,500 in silver.  Ahab showed no mercy, telling the prophet he’d have to pay the penalty.

The prophet took the bandage off his eyes so Ahab could recognize him as a prophet.  Then he told Ahab that since he didn’t off Ben-hadad like he was supposed to, he was going lose his life and the lives of his people.  Poor Ahab got depressed after hearing that.

1 Kings 21:1-29  Grapes Of Wrath

Ahab wanted his next door neighbor’s vineyard.  He wanted it really bad.  He wanted to grow veggies in it.  The problem was that Naboth owned it. It had been in the family for a long time and he didn’t want to give it up.  That depressed Ahab, too.  His “wonderful” wife, Jezebel, came in and said, “What’s your problem?”  Ahab told her.  She said, “Don’t worry about it.  You’re the king and I’ll send a few e-mails and it’ll be a done deal.”

So Jezebel sent out some e-mails from the king’s address, pulled some strings and got a couple scuz-buckets to testify against Naboth in court.  They said Naboth was disloyal to the king so they took him out and stoned him with real stones.  Then Jezebel told Ahab he could go ahead and take the vineyard he wanted.

Elijah came back on the scene and went to see Ahab.  He told him for murdering Naboth that the dogs would lick up his blood in the same place they licked up Naboth’s blood.  Ick.

Ahab had a personal grudge against Elijah.  He called him, “his enemy” (v. 20).  Elijah told him that his descendants would like the descendants of Jeroboam and Baasha who also had sinned quite a bit against the Lord.  Then Elijah added that Jezebel would also come to a grim death with dogs licking her blood as well.

Here is the pronouncement of Scripture on Ahab:  “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord” (v. 25).  Not a very good epitaph for a tombstone, was it?

Ahab put on sackcloth and fasted, humbling himself before the Lord.  Because of that, Yahweh told Elijah that he would postpone the punishment due Ahab until the reign of his son.

New Testament:  Acts 12:24-13:15

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Acts 12:24-13:15  Paul Trips Out, Take 1

What a time that must’ve been!  “The word of the Lord continued to grow and be multiplied!” (v. 24).  Barnabas and Saul came back from Jerusalem along with John Mark after fulfilling their mission to bring the famine relief money to Jerusalem (11:27- 30).  JM was Barnabas’ cousin (Co. 4: 10).

The Holy Spirit wanted Paul and Barnabas to take off on the first of Paul’s three missionary trips, after being sent off by the fellowship with prayer and fasting.

They went out toward the island of  Cyprus in Greece, being led by the Holy Spirit.  They started preaching at Salamis where there was a false prophet and magician named Bar-Jesus aka Elymas.  Elymas’ boss wanted to hear what Paul and company had to say and asked to see them.  Elymas was trying to throw a wrench in the works so his boss would’t get saved.  All of a sudden, Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and looked Elymas right in the eyes.  Paul said, “You fraudulent piece of dirt!  Are you trying to blind others?  The Lord will blind you!”  Immediately, Elymas lost his sight and needed someone else to lead him around.  That, along with the disciples’ teaching, was enough for his boss to trust the Lord!

Paul and company jumped a boat for Paphos, still on the island of Cyprus, and ended up in Perga, on the mainland of Greece, where John Mark abandoned them to go back to Jerusalem.  They eventually landed at Antioch, inland in Greece, on a Sunday and went to the synagogue to teach.  The Law and the Prophets were read and then the synagogue officials asked the disciples if they wanted to give a word of exhortation.

 

Psalm 137:1-9   A Lament By Anonymous

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Psalm 137:1-9   Weeping Willows

Linda Ronstadt sings a beautiful song called “The Rivers of Babylon.”  The lyrics are from verse 1 of this psalm.  She sings it “in the manner of the chapel.”  That is the literally meaning of a cappella.  A cappella is a direction to a music leader to sing something without musical accompaniment.  (I had been told it meant literally “without hats” but now I see someone was pulling my leg!).  Anyway, if you can find it, it is very pretty.

Psalm 137 is a song sung by the Jews after they had been exiled to Babylon.  They were dreaming of home and wished they were back in Zion, Jerusalem.

Verse 2 was made into a song used in the musical Godspell.  The song is called “On the Willows.”  It must have been based on verses 2-4.  The captors of the Israelites demanded that they sang them a happy song (v. 3).  The Babylonians, sadistically, wanted the Jews to sing about their homeland.  The Jews’ response was to hang up their accompaniment instruments, harps, on the willow trees (v. 2).  Which may have been why they are now weeping.

The Jews wanted to remember Jerusalem but the very thought of their hometown made them sad (vv. 4-6).  They didn’t want to forget but they couldn’t sing joyous songs about Jerusalem either.

The psalmist asks the Lord for retribution against the Arabs, sons of Edom, who had destroyed Jerusalem (vv. 7-8).  They had broken the city down completely to the ground (v. 7).  The psalmist hoped that Yahweh would destroy Babylon, the pagans’ capital city, in the same manner as their capital city had been ruined (v. 8).

Verse 9 is astonishing since it is written by a follower of Almighty God.  How could a believer request such a thing?  He asks that God break open the idolaters’ little tots by smashing them against boulders.

The answer is that the psalmist is asking for talionic justice, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (cf. Exod. 21:23-25, see commentary on Psalm 64, Boomerang Slang and Word, Part 7).  Jesus gave a new rule for our dispensation.  If we are being persecuted for taking a stand for the gospel, we are to turn the other cheek (cf. Matt. 5:38-42).

However, in the case of national defense, and this is a case of national defense regarding the Lord’s own country, a nation is allowed to defend itself and inflict the same punishment.  A country has different prerogatives than an individual follower of Christ (cf. Luke 22:36, 38).  A nation is supposed to defend itself from oppressors and can even engage in offensive war to achieve safety for its people (cf. Rom. 13:4).  A believer is not to use weaponry for aggression but can use them to defend themselves.

In verse 9, the psalmist only called for God to inflict the same punishment they themselves had endured.

Imprecatory prayers such as the one in verse 9 can be used in prayer against an oppressor of the United States.  It can also be used against spiritual forces that come against us personally (cf. Eph. 6:12).

Proverbs 17:16   Isometrics In Ministry

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

When I was younger, isometric exercises were all the rage.  Instead of using weights or exercise bikes to exercise, a person would push against an immovable object like a wall or their own arms and hands.  It was effective in building up muscles.  Of course, too much exercise can just exhaust you and wear you out.

I have spent an entire career trying to teach spiritual things to some people who just didn’t want to know them.  I am just figuring that out.  It is easy to get exhausted doing that.  It also leads to “burnout.”

I have a pastor friend who says he teaches and if people don’t like it, they can go elsewhere.  I hate to be that cynical but there is probably some truth in what he says.  The problem today is finding anyone who wants to learn anything!   Everyone seems to go to church to hear what they already believe.  If they don’t hear it, they go to another church where they think they will hear what they want.

Jesus knew better.  He warned against throwing pearls to swine (cf. Matt. 7:6).  He also taught in parables so that only people with a heart to know God would understand what He was saying (cf. Matt. 13:10, 13; Jer. 29:13).

There is no reason to do isometrics in the ministry.

 

Choose Life: Scripture:    Acts 13:2-3  NASB    “Called And Cold”

“While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’  Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”  Acts 13:2-3

 

One of the largest churches in America sent my wife and I out to go into the ministry.  It was a member of the largest protestant denomination in the United States.  After I graduated seminary and finally was able to start a church planting ministry in Indiana, we were low on funds when the same denomination continually broke their promise of funding to us.  So I contacted the large church that had sent us out.  They wrote back with a check for $150 and said they wouldn’t be able to help us further.  They never supported us in school and, as far as I know, never prayed for us on a regular basis . . .  if at all.

Now it is twenty years later.  I didn’t realize quite how cold that all was until I read today’s verses to write this blog.  The churches in the first century were in contact with each other and helped support each other (for an example note Paul’s description of early church support in Phil. 4:15-18; 2 Cor. 8-9).  They fasted (went without food!) and prayed for new missionaries Barnabas and Saul.  The result was a worldwide revival.

Are you in a church that is helping to support new church works?

 

 

If you are, you will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

 

Check and see if your church is supporting home missionaries or foreign missionaries.   Do you know who they are?  Do they give your church reports?  Are those missionaries sharing the one true gospel of grace alone by faith?  Are you praying for them?

 

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   One Prophet Gets Whacked And Another Gets . . . Whacked!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.