Wednesday, July 13, 2022

2022.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 19:1–18

Read 1 Kings 19:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Ahab tell what in 1 Kings 19:1? Especially what action? To whom does Jezebel respond in 1 Kings 19:2? By whom does she swear? What does she swear to do? How does Elijah respond (1 Kings 19:3)? Where does he go? Whom does he leave there? But where does he go in 1 Kings 19:4? What does he do there? What does he pray? What does he conclude about his own goodness or effectiveness? What is he doing now in 1 Kings 19:5? What happens to him? What does the angel say? What does Elijah see in 1 Kings 19:6? What does he do? What happens now in 1 Kings 19:7? For what is the Angel preparing him with these meals and naps? What does Elijah do in 1 Kings 19:8? In the strength of that food, how long does he go and to where? Into what does he enter (1 Kings 19:9)? What does he do there? What comes to him? What does the Word ask? What does he say that he has done (1 Kings 19:10)? What does he say that the children of Israel have done? What does he say about himself (cf. 1 Kings 18:4, 1 Kings 18:13)? Now what does the Word tell him to do (1 Kings 19:11)? And what does Yahweh do? What tore into the mountains? But Who was not in the wind? Then what came? But Who was not in the earthquake? Then what came (1 Kings 19:12)? But Who as not in the fire? Then what came? Who recognizes that this is how Yahweh communicates Himself (1 Kings 19:13)? What does the voice ask him? What does Elijah say that he has done (1 Kings 19:14)? What does he say the children of Israel have done? What does he say about himself? Now to where does Yahweh tell him to go (1 Kings 19:15)? And what is he to do there? And what other two anointings is he to perform in Israel (1 Kings 19:16)? What are these three being anointed to do (1 Kings 19:17)? How many are there in Israel who have not done what (1 Kings 19:18)? How did this happen?

What is the ultimate power in this world?  1 Kings 19:1–18 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eighteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that though the world, and the weak church, see persecuting rulers as powerful, the ultimate power in the world is the Word of God.

Seeing our lives in context. Just reading 1Kings, we might wonder what Elijah is so afraid of. We’re tempted to laugh when Jezebel says, “the gods do so to me and more.” Sure, if they’re not on the potty! But, it’s difficult to see our lives in context. Living it out is different than sitting down and reading 1 Kings 17, 18, and 19 in the space of five minutes. So the Lord gives Elijah more context. 

First, God reminds him of past personal mercies. He gives him supernatural food like he had in the drought. He makes him run by supernatural strength like he had before Ahab’s chariot in the storm. Second, God reminds him of God’s great dealings with His people. Elijah was going to stop one day south of Judah’s southernmost town. But God takes him instead to Sinai, the Spirit giving us the older name, Horeb, to take us back to the time of Moses. 

Third, God reminds him of His chosen means of exercising the greatest power. The point of the voice is not its stillness or smallness, but that it is a voice. The voice of God, the Word of God, is the ultimate power in this world. Nations rage and the earth quakes; but God merely utters His voice, and the earth melts (cf. Psalm 46:6). 

God’s voice is the ultimate power in the world. It is easy to misread this passage as commending mystic quietness. But what it is really announcing is the comparatively infinite power of the Word of God in the mouth of His prophet. Elijah already knew this. He recognized the power, and as soon as he heard the voice, he presented himself in 1 Kings 19:13. But he needed the reminder, so that he would again operate out of fear of God and not man.

This is what makes the difference in his answer in 1 Kings 19:10 and his answer in 1 Kings 19:14. The circumstances are still the same (although he is forgetting the 100 spared by way of Obadiah). But what are the combined powers of Israel, Tyre and Sidon, and Syria, up against one prophet in the entrance of a cave, if that prophet speaks with the voice of God?!

God has put Elijah’s situation into context. And in that context, we can see that it’s not a fair fight. Jezebel may have brought the throne of Sidon into union with the throne in Samaria of Israel and alliance with the throne of Syria in Damascus. But what are the power of a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire against the power of the Word of God?

So, Elijah is to anoint/ordain a triumvirate of power of his own: new king Hazael of Syria; and, stronger than he, new king Jehu of Israel; and, strongest of all, new prophet Elisha. Not only does Elisha get the fullest introduction of the three, but his ministry is the one that will clean up those who were able to evade even the other two. The combined forces of the evil have fallen seven thousand (!) short of their goal, but the Word-ordained servants of God will leave zero of His enemies alive. God’s voice is the ultimate power in the world.

God’s voice is personal! One thing remains, and that is for us to read our passage in the context of the Bible as a whole. The Angel (messenger) of Yahweh (1 Kings 19:51 Kings 19:7), the Word of Yahweh (1 Kings 19:9), and the voice of Yahweh (1 Kings 19:13) in this passage are three representations/names of the same thing. And we should really say of the same One. They are not thoughts that form in Elijah’s head, but a Person Who comes and addresses him. 

The Word is personal because, as we will find out when He becomes flesh, the Word is a Person. He is the ultimate power, and He would have been within His rights and completely unchallenged to destroy us all. But when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, what we beheld is that He is full of covenant love and faithfulness (grace and truth, in the koine words). 

What circumstances seem frightening or unbearable to you? What prior experience of God helps you put it into context? What prior dealings of God with His people? What ultimate power of God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, even after all that You have done in our lives and in the history of Your dealings with Your people, we too can be forgetful like Elijah. We too can slip into seeing our trouble as great and our help as small. Forgive us for this unbelief. And grant that Your Spirit would bring to our hearts how Your Word is the ultimate power in the World, and that He became flesh in order to save us. In His very own Name, Jesus, we ask for this faith, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress”

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