Hello Internet Friends;
Sorry to be late with the Bible studies. I have been in the hospital since Saturday recovering from a collapsed lung. Here are the studies for May 14, 15 and 16.
May 14. BAAL’S PROPHETS DEFEATED/FAMINE ENDS.
I Kin. 18:17-46
Ahab’s greeting to Elijah: “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” Many of us today are like the king. As we suffer the consequences for our sins, we blame others for our pain. Elijah had the proper response stating that Ahab and his father’s house had brought on their troubles because of their forsaking the commandments of the Lord and following the Baals.
In order to show who the true God is, Elijah instructed Ahab to bring the children of Israel, the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah to Mount Carmel. It is said that followers of Baal believed that Mount Carmel was sacred to him. The challenge from Elijah would allow favorable conditions to his opponents thus giving more credence to the Lord.
After the false prophets had prepared their choice of the two bulls and had placed it on the unlit wood, they called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, but no fire came to consume their offering. They became more intense in their calls and until time for the evening sacrifice, “there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.”
Elijah’s turn: He repaired the broken down altar of the Lord and took twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes. After digging a trench around the altar, he placed his prepared bull upon the unlit wood as the other prophets had done. BUT, to make the demonstration more interesting, he ordered four pots of water to be poured out upon the sacrifice and the wood, also filling the trench. That was done three times in order to assure that everything was thoroughly soaked and fireproof. Instead of the incessant calling, leaping and self-cutting, Elijah simply prayed to God. Fire of the Lord immediately, “fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.”
The people were convinced that, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” At Elijah’s command, the false prophets were seized and taken to the Brook Kishon were he executed them.
Elijah prayed seven times for rain and after the seventh time, a small cloud appeared, followed by black clouds and wind, producing a heavy rain. After more than three years the drought had been broken.
May 15. ELIJAH STRUGGLES/ELISHA JOINS HIM. I Kin. 19:1-21
Elijah’s thrill of victory over the god, Baal was short-lived. Upon learning that Baal’s prophets had been slain by him, Jezebel sent word to him that within twenty-four hours he would also be dead. The prophet then fled to Beersheba in Judah. In a state of depression, he went a day’s journey farther and sat under a broom tree. There, he prayed that the Lord would take his life and place another person in his place as prophet.
Even God’s people sometimes become discouraged for various reasons. All may seem hopeless, but we should remember that we are not really alone. God still has work for us to do. An angel appeared to Elijah with food and water and he ate and drank. That happened a second time and he was able to press on for another forty days and nights to Mount Horeb without further nourishment. Upon Elijah’s report that Israel had forsaken God and that all of His prophets in Israel except himself had been killed, God stated that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. They probably had to worship in secret to protect their lives.
God outlined the work that was to be accomplished by Elijah. He was to anoint Hazael as king of Syria; Jehu to be king of Israel and Elisha to succeed him as God’s prophet. Those successions were not to be immediate. However, Elisha did join him at that time to help in his work.
May 16. JEHOSHAPHAT BECOMES KING OF JUDAH. I Kin. 22:41-44;
II Chron. 17:1-19
A psalmist once said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Jehoshaphat continued in the leadership of his father, Asa as he followed the Lord’s ways as king of Judah. He became king at thirty-five years of age in the fourth year of Ahab’s reign in Israel. The new king walked with God as David had done before him. He refused to follow the false gods that were around him. “Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand…”
In addition to having God present, a nation’s strength is fortified by its ability to defend itself against its enemies. As Israel had previously been a bitter enemy of Judah, Jehoshaphat fortified his cities with troops. With God on his side and the cities fortified, the kingdoms around were afraid to make war against Judah. Instead, some of his neighbors presented him with tribute and other gifts.
One cannot be obedient if he does not know what to obey. Jehoshaphat sent Levites and priests with his leaders to teach the people in the cities of Judah. With the citizens being taught God’s ways and the cities being well fortified, Jehoshaphat reigned as a rich and powerful king.