THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 5, 2008
I am continuing the series I have been doing on Elijah. If you would like to study Elijah's life for yourself, you can find the scriptures relating to him in 1 Kings chapters 17-19, then in 2 Kings chapters 1-2. My prayer is that you will be encouraged and learn from these devotionals over the next few weeks.
In II Kings, Ahab has died and his son, Ahaziah, is now reigning over Israel. He follows in his parents footsteps by serving and worshiping Baal, and by doing evil. His reign ended after only two years.
Chapter one begins, that Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured, so he sent for messengers. He told them, “Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.”
Meanwhile, the angel of the Lord spoke to Elijah and said, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is not God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' Now therefore, thus says the Lord: 'You shall not leave the bed you are lying on, but you shall surely die.'” So Elijah departed.
Elijah met up with Ahaziah's messengers and told them what God had spoken. When they returned back to the king, he asked why they had returned. They told him that a man had came up to meet them; and relayed Elijah's message. Ahaziah asked what kind of man was it who came out to meet them and told them those words.
They answered, “It was a hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.” Not a very flattering description! But the king immediately knew who they were talking about. He said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
The king decided that he would sent his men to go arrest Elijah and bring him back. He sent out a company of fifty soldiers. If you look at the odds – fifty to one – that looks pretty overwhelming!
They found Elijah sitting there on top of a hill. The captain spoke to him saying, “Man of God, the king has said, 'Come down!'”
So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and all fifty men.
Ahaziah sent to Elijah another company of fifty men, and the captain spoke, “Man of God, thus has the king said, 'Come down quickly!'”
Elijah made the same reply to them as he did to the first company of fifty soldiers, with the same response. All fifty men and the captain were consumed by fire.
But Ahaziah didn't give up easily. He sent yet another fifty men and their captain to go get Elijah and bring him back. This captain responded differently to the prophet of God than the previous two had. He came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and pleaded with him, and said to him; “Man of God, please let my life and the life of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight. Look, fire has come down from heaven and burned up the first two captains and all their men. But let my life now be precious in your sight.”
The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah went down with him to see the king.
There are times when those who have chosen to serve and live their life for God die from sickness, accidents, disasters, or various other reasons. Some die a natural death, while the death of others is caused by the action of someone else. It's one of those issues that can be debated and questioned over and over again, and there is no easy answer.
Yet I see from this situation with Elijah, that God can build a wall of protection around his children; that no matter how many may come against them to try and destroy their life, they cannot touch the child of God. No matter how great the odds are, God can do the impossible. Ahaziah sent two different groups of fifty soldiers with their captains to arrest Elijah. But God miraculously protected him. God still had a purpose and plan for Elijah, and him being arrested or possibly murdered was not part of that plan.
We can know that we are under the protection of God. Many live life for themselves, without any regard to God, until trouble or sickness happens. Then they question why God allowed that to happen to them. They expect God to look out for them, without them ever acknowledging Him. But those who love and live for God can know that regardless of what happens, God is in control and will be with them. That doesn't mean there will be no problems or difficulties; but that when those things do occur, God is there with them. And that if there should be an occasion when someone or something tries to come against us and destroy us before God's timing, it will not succeed.
Elijah delivered this message to Ahaziah, “Thus says the Lord; 'Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'”
So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord, which Elijah had spoken.
In 2 Chronicles chapter 21 we read about the nation of Judah. King Jehoshaphat died and his oldest son, Jehoram, succeeded him as king. When he established himself firmly over his father's kingdom, he slew all his brothers as well as some of the princes of Israel. He married one of Ahab's daughters and did evil in the sight of God.
Edom revolted against Judah and set up its own king. Libnah revolted from Jehoram's rule, because he had forsaken the Lord, the God of his fathers. Moreover, he made idolatrous high places in the hills of Judah, and had caused the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, and had led Judah astray.
Jehoram received a letter from Elijah the prophet, which said:
“This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: 'You have not walked in the ways of your father Jehoshaphat or of Asa king of Judah. But you have walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and you have led Judah and the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ahab did. You have also murdered your own brothers, members of your father's house, men who were better than you. So now the Lord is about to strike your people, your sons, your wives and everything that is yours, with a heavy blow. You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.'”
The Lord then aroused against Jehoram the hostility of the Philistines, and also the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians. They came against Judah, invaded it, and carried away all the possessions found in in the king's palace, together with his sons and wives; so there was not a son left him except the youngest.
After all this, God inflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels. At the end of the second year, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great pain.
The Bible says that he passed away, to no one's regret (without being wanted).
I think we can see from both of these stories that God will not allow wickedness to go unpunished. Ungodly leaders may arise and cause nations to turn to evil practices. People may serve other gods and do everything possible to try and satisfy the lust of the flesh. Hearts may be hardened against hearing the Word of God. Sinful practices and lifestyles may be the norm, where Christians and those who stand for holiness and righteousness become a minority.
But as long as there are believers crying out to God, the day will come when God will answer and evildoers will be punished. There will come a point where enough is enough, and He will send judgment upon those who blatantly refuse to heed his warnings.
We see that happening over and over again in the Bible. The wicked seemed to rise in power and draw the nation into ungodly practices and idol worship. They may have been powerful for a while, but the day would come when other nations would rise against them, and they would be involved in continuous warfare.
But God always had a prophet, someone who would preach and proclaim His words. Most seemed to refuse to listen, and the prophets were often rebuked and treated with disrespect. The prophet Isaiah spent his life preaching and speaking out against evil and sin, and his life ended with him being sawn in half. Jeremiah spent his life proclaiming prophecies and speaking on God's behalf, yet not one conversion was recorded due to his messages. We've seen from the study of Elijah, that Jezebel wanted to kill him and he went into hiding.
God will not force Himself upon people, but He will make His message heard and will give everyone an opportunity to choose to accept that Word as truth. Regardless of whether or not they believe, His Word is true and will come to pass.
We see from these two different stories that both of these kings thought they could live as they wanted and do what they wanted. They abused the power which had been handed to them. God used Elijah to speak to both of them, telling them of their death. It didn't really matter whether or not they believed the message Elijah spoke to them; it still came to pass. Both men had been warning of their death and had an opportunity to turn to God. Yet from what we read, neither of them did.
In fact, when Jehoram died, no one even cared or regretted that he was gone. How sad!
We each have a choice on how we live our lives. We can live it to serve our own purpose, please only ourselves, and to see that our personal desires are taken care of. Or we can choose to make a difference in the lives of others. We can serve God and reach out to help and minister to the needs of those around us. No one can make the choice but us.
I've heard others ask an old hypothetical question: Would you want to know when or how you would die? If you knew, what would it change? There might be some temptation to live a wild, crazy life till just before dying, then repent, and give your life to God. Of course, God isn't one to be manipulated like that. But it might be fun to take some risks like skydiving, hang gliding, or something you were scared to do because now you would know that isn't what will kill you.
Ahab, Jezebel, Ahaziah, and Jehoram all knew how they would die. But it didn't do them any good. Maybe they also thought they would wait till the last minute to turn to God and beg forgiveness. Or, maybe they thought it was an idle threat. And they might have been too consumed with anger and hatred to realize God was giving them a chance.
Texas Barbecue Cups
1 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 small onion, diced
1 (10 count) can biscuits
1 cup barbecue sauce
¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400. Brown ground beef and onion. Drain off fat. Add barbecue sauce and brown sugar. Set aside. Using a muffin tin, place a biscuit in each cup, pressing biscuit dough up the sides to the edge of cup. Spoon meat mixture into cups. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
One of my sisters had a really bad temper when she was growing up. Of course the other sisters were aware of that fact, so knew which buttons they could push to set her off. One sister in particular enjoyed aggravating her. She knew just the right moment when her sister's temper had reached the boiling point, and would then run into her bedroom and shut and lock the door; which was the only bedroom in our house that had a lock on the door! The angry sister would throw a shoe at the closed door.
Finally, Daddy had apparently had enough of this. We were having a revival at our church, and during prayer time one evening, he went back to where my sister (with the temper) was sitting, and told her that she needed to go up for prayer. She was a teenager at that time. She went up for prayer, and it really did work! God delivered her that night from having a temper. This is a true story!!
I have a great-nephew who is age five and in kindergarten, and he has a temper. Almost every day at school he was getting into trouble because of it. His grandma told him the story about the sister who had had the temper, and how she had been prayed for at church, and it went away.
A little while after that, they were at church where my brother-in-law (the little boy's grandpa) pastors. It was the end of the service and people were at the front of the church praying. He was beside his grandma, playing quietly. All of a sudden he looked up at her and said, “Well, do you want me to go up for prayer for my temper or not?!” She told him, “Sure, go on up and have Papa pray for you.”
The next week at school he didn't get in trouble at all. His mom was bragging on how well he was doing. He look at her and said, “Well, it's because papa prayed for me!”
Look for opportunities – not guarantees. - unknown
Thanks again for reading our newsletter. May you be encouraged and blessed.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon