Wednesday, June 15, 2022

2022.06.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 16:29–17:24

Read 1 Kings 16:29–17:24

Questions from the Scripture text: When did who become king over whom, for how long (1 Kings 16:29)? What is God’s assessment of him (1 Kings 16:30)? How badly? What seemed small to him (1 Kings 16:31)? What did he do in marriage to exacerbate it? With what further result in worship? What did he set up, in what, where (1 Kings 16:32)? What else did he make (1 Kings 16:33)? What assessment is repeated now (cf. 1 Kings 16:30)? What did he build (1 Kings 16:34)? At what costs? Why should he have known better (cf. Joshua 6:26)? Who from among whom now speaks (1 Kings 17:1)? To whom? In whose behalf? What will not happen? Except at what? Now whom does the word of the LORD address (1 Kings 17:2)? Where does He tell him to go (1 Kings 17:3)? And do what there? How will he be sustained there (1 Kings 17:4)? What was the response (1 Kings 17:5)? With what results (1 Kings 17:5-6)? But then what happened (1 Kings 17:7)? How does a solution come (1 Kings 17:8)? Where must he go now (1 Kings 17:9)? With what provision? Where does he go (1 Kings 17:10)? Whom does he find there, where, ding what? What does he ask her? What request does he add in 1 Kings 17:11? Why is this a difficulty (1 Kings 17:12)? For what was she going to use this flour and oil? What does Elijah tell her not to do (1 Kings 17:13)? What does he tell her to do first? And then what? How does 1 Kings 17:14 introduce? What matter was so significant that it received such an introduction? According to what does the widow act (1 Kings 17:15)? With what result for them? By what mechanism (1 Kings 17:16)? Who else acted according to the Word of the LORD? What new problem arose in 1 Kings 17:17? How severe was it? How does the widow address Elijah now (1 Kings 17:18)? In what action, and in what manner, does Elijah respond in 1 Kings 17:19? And then what does he do, and in what manner, in 1 Kings 17:20? Whom does he acknowledge is working this? What does he do in 1 Kings 17:21? How many times? What does he say? What does the LORD do first in 1 Kings 17:22? Then what happens? Now what does Elijah do with the child (1 Kings 17:23)? What does he say? What does the woman say that she knows now about him (1 Kings 17:24)? What does she now know about the Word of the LORD? Where does she find this Word?

What is the great power in the world?  1 Kings 16:29–17:24 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God operates in such a way as to convince us that His Word rules and overrules all things, great and small, with power and mercy.

A new dynasty has begun. Omri was already powerful (cf. 1 Kings 16:27), and now Ahab marries into the royal family of Sidon (1 Kings 16:31). We already know that he will reign twenty-two years (1 Kings 16:29). Surely, this is the story of a great power!

Yes, but not Ahab. What good is a reign without rain? The LORD God of Israel puts His Word in the mouth of a prophet, by which the seemingly insignificant man can control whether the heavens bless the earth with rain. The Word of the LORD stops up the heavens.

But the Word of the LORD also feeds His prophet. “The Word of the LORD came to him” in 1 Kings 17:2, giving Elijah instruction for where to go (1 Kings 17:3) and from where to expect rations (1 Kings 17:4). So the prophet “went and did according to the Word of the LORD” (1 Kings 17:5).

When the brook dries up (1 Kings 17:7), help again comes from the Word of the LORD. “The Word of the LORD came to him” in 1 Kings 17:8. It seems counter-intuitive to designate a widow as his provider (1 Kings 17:91 Kings 17:10). And it seems even more counter-intuitive when we find out that she is literally on her last meal (1 Kings 17:12). But, if the LORD can use a raven to feed Elijah, He can certainly use a widow. The prophet emphasizes to the widow that it is the Word of the LORD that is in control: “For thus says the LORD God of Israel” (1 Kings 17:14). And the Spirit emphasizes to us, that it was the Word of the LORD that was in control: “according to the Word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:16).

So, there’s the miraculous drought. And then there’s the miraculous provision. But the best is still to follow: resurrection. Lest we think that it is the man who is powerful, rather than the Word in his mouth, we see Elijah brought to extremity in the last scene of our passage. The widow’s son’s breath (1 Kings 17:17) and soul (1 Kings 17:211 Kings 17:22) leave him, and the widow fears the worst: that she is getting straight justice rather than grace (1 Kings 17:18). Elijah responds not with retort or rebuke but compassion and desperate cryings out in prayer (1 Kings 17:201 Kings 17:21). How marvelous—in a chapter on the power of the LORD’s Word to men, we read that “the LORD heard the voice of Elijah” (1 Kings 17:22). Prayer, indeed, is a wonder—even on the lips of a sinner like we are (cf. James 5:17).

But the point of the resurrection was not that the LORD truly listens, but rather that the LORD truly speaks. The woman summarizes the theme of our passage at the end of 1 Kings 17:24: “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the Word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.”

Ahab has come to power, but the Spirit immediately points us to the real power that operates in the world: the Word of the LORD!

Who seem to be powerful in this world? What is the real power? By what means may you avail yourself of this power? How else does this speaking God invite you to seek His power?

Sample prayer:  Lord, by the Word of Your power, You created the heavens and the earth. And, by the Word of Your power, You uphold all things. Forgive us for when we are intimidated by wicked rulers like Ahab, or for when we despair over circumstances. Remind us that have not only Your Word, but also Your ear. Give us faith to believe You, and make us faithful in prayer. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH29A “Now Unto the LORD, You Sons of the Mighty”

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