A government official who is more corrupt than any of his predecessors. A key advisor who wants to do away with religion and replace it with a more secular approach to life. An industry leader who disregards all safety warnings and moves ahead with a questionable project.
Sound familiar? Is this something ripped from today’s headlines? No, these three individuals lived several thousand years ago.
1 Kings 16:29-34 paints a dark portrait of the nation of Israel. A king determined to outshine his ancestors in terms of evil practices. A queen who implements idolatry as the state religion and tries to stamp out those who follow God. Industry leaders who follow along in disregarding God’s instructions and judgments.
Into this arena steps one man with the conviction to speak the truth. Rather than being a super saint, he is described as being “just like us” (James 5:17). Elijah confronts the culture, speaks the truth, and takes a stand for God. His life and ministry provide us with an example of how we can stand for God in today’s culture.
Every generation faces a distinct attack on the truth of God. Will you stand for God against the tide of culture?
We are beginning a new sermon series studying the ministries of Elijah and Elisha in 1 & 2 Kings. We catch a glimpse of the culture and the backdrop of their challenges in 1 Kings 16:29-17:1.
The first king of the northern kingdom, Jeroboam, began Israel’s downward slide. He set up two golden calves in Bethel and Dan so that people did not have to go to Jerusalem to worship God (1 Kings 12:28-29). Not only did he set up idols, but he also ordained priests to lead in idol worship (13:33).
Jeroboam is followed by one murderer after another, one assassin killing another assassin. A line of godless men coming to the throne and incessantly doing evil in the sight of the Lord.
Then comes Omri, who acted more wickedly than all who were before him (16:25). If that wasn’t bad enough, he is followed by his son, Ahab, who was more evil than every king before him (16:30). He considered the sins of Jeroboam as trivial (16:31).
According to the author of 1 Kings, Ahab was guilty of four key sins: (1) He married Jezebel, a Baal worshipper (16:31). (2) He worshipped Baal, and bowed down to him (16:31). (3) He built a temple to Baal in Samaria, the capital city, along with a public altar (16:32). (4) He made an image of the Earth-Mother, Asherah (16:33). Through these actions, Ahab made idolatry the state religion. In so doing, he “did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (16:33).
Ahab also inspired others to disobey God’s instructions (16:34). Hiel rebuilt the city of Jericho, ignoring the curse that Joshua had placed on it (Joshua 6:26).
God sends his prophet, Elijah, into this cesspool with a message and ministry aimed at turning the nation back to God (17:1). Elijah had four primary convictions.
- Elijah was convinced of his identity. Elijah means “Yahweh is my God.”
- Elijah was convinced of the reality of God. “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives…”
- Elijah was convinced he was a representative of God. “…before whom I stand…”
- Elijah was convinced he had the resources of God. He knew the promise of God (Deuteronomy 11:16-17) and he believed in the power of prayer (James 5:17).
What are the idols that clamor for your attention?
|Success||Pleasure||Family time||Be good|
Do you understand your identity in Christ? Do you believe God exists? Do you know that you are Christ’s ambassador? Do you believe in the power of prayer?
According to Ezekiel 22:30, God is looking for men and women who will stand in the gap and call people to repentance. Are you ready and willing to be that person?
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 20, 2021. It is the first message in a series of expository sermons on the ministries of Elijah & Elisha. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.