May 13. Elijah’s Presence Felt in Israel

I Kin. 17:8-18:40

Even Elijah, the prophet of God was adversely affected by the famine as his water supply at the Brook Cherith dried up. God, however, continued to care for him as He sent him to dwell in the home of a widow in Zarephath.

Women were deemed to be inferior to men and a widow who had no one to provide for her was at the bottom of the economic scale. To make matters worse, this widow had a dependant son in her care. It would seem heartless for a strange man to demand a portion of a widow’s last meal, but Elijah, by the hand of God had a plan that required great faith of the widow. Upon feeding the prophet, her supply of flour and oil was continually replenished until the end of the famine.

Faith and trust in God bring many blessings—some seen and others unseen. When the widow’s son got sick and died, Elijah performed the first recorded miracle of restoring life to a dead person.

After a period of more than three years, Ahab and Jezebel had committed great atrocities against God and His prophets. Obadiah, who was in charge of Ahab’s house, was secretly a God fearing man. He had hidden and cared for one hundred of God’s prophets in two caves during that time of persecution. He feared for his life as his faith was further tested when Elijah told him to report to Ahab that, “Elijah is here.”

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May 12. Ahab Becomes King of Israel; God Sends Elijah

I Kin. 16:29-17:7

About three years before the death of Asa in Judah, Ahab followed his father Omri to the throne of Israel. Each succeeding king from Jeroboam became move evil than his predecessor. Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Sidonian king. She was a wicked woman. He set up an altar for the god, Baal in the temple of Baal and also made a wooden image of the god. That was a blatant disregard of the commandment to refrain from setting up a god before the true God. The Canaanites put great faith in the god, Baal because they thought that he blessed them with rain. Ahab also allowed the city of Jericho to be rebuilt in direct disregard to the warning of dire consequences by Joshua.

In response to Ahab’s grievous sins, God sent the prophet Elijah, who was also a resident of Gilead in Israel to deliver an important message from Him. “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” That was a direct challenge to the power (or lack thereof) of their rain god, Baal.

A devastating drought would come upon the land, but God would care for Elijah. He commanded him to retreat to the Brook Cherith where he would have water and would be fed by the ravens. That arrangement continued until the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.

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May 11. Asa’s Battles with Israel

I Kin. 15:16-24; II Chron. 16:1-14

Asa had been king of Judah about two years when Baasha became king of Israel. His period of relative peace came to an end as he and Baasha continually disputed and warred over the boundary north of Jerusalem. In time, Baasha began to fortify Ramah to prevent his people from entering Jerusalem to worship.

The king of Judah made a treaty with Ben-Hadad of Syria to return Ramah to the control of Asa. With that being completed, Asa’s people began to remove the fortifications that had been placed by Baasha.

There was a huge problem with Asa’s action. The Lord sent Hanani the seer to inform the king of his mistake. He had relied upon assistance from another source instead of seeking help from God as he had done previously during the attack from Ethiopia. As a result, he would continue to be plagued by wars during the remaining time of his reign as king of Judah. He died from a disease of his feet ending a reign of forty-one years.

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May 10. Succession of Kings in Israel

I Kin. 15:25-16:28

Israel was led by a succession of five kings during the reign of Asa in Judah. Nadab, the son of Jeroboam began his reign during the second year of Asa, but because of his wickedness and Jeroboam’s lineage being taken away by God, he was assassinated in less than a year by Baasha, also an evil man.

Baasha destroyed everyone in the house of Jeroboam. God sometimes uses evil people to execute punishment upon other evil persons. He reigned for twenty four years and at his death, his son, Elah became king of Israel.

Elah’s reign began during the twenty-sixth year of Asa’s Judean reign. However, because of the wickedness of himself and of his father, Baasha, he also was assassinated by Zimri during Asa’s twenty-seventh year.

After Zimri had been king for only seven days, the Israelites revolted and made their army commander, Omri king over Israel. His reign began in turbulence since half of the people wanted Tibni to be their king, but the followers of Omri prevailed after a four-year civil war. He ruled over Israel for twelve years. Israel was governed by many wicked kings. Omri was no exception as was stated, “Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all who were before him…” He died and was followed by his son, Ahab.

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May 9. Asa Becomes King of Judah

I Kin. 15:9-15; II Chron. 14:2-15:19

During the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign over Israel, Asa had become king of Judah. Azariah, the prophet presented an important message to Asa that still applies to us today. “Hear me…The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you…”

Whereas his father, Abijah and grandfather, Rehoboam had disobeyed God and had introduced idol worship into Judah, the great reformer, Asa destroyed the idols and places of idol worship and turned the people back to God. Even in his zeal to reform, Asa was unable to completely rid the kingdom of its unscriptural places of worship.

The time during Asa’s reign was relatively peaceful. However, Zerah, king of Ethiopia assembled a massive army of a million, three hundred thousand men against his five hundred eighty thousand man army. Asa’s faith and reliance upon God resulted in the defeat of the Ethiopian army and the plunder of many of their cities and cattle.

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May 8. End of Jeroboam’s Reign in Israel

I Kin. 14:1-20

Jeroboam also had a son named Abijah, who became sick. King Jeroboam sent his wife disguised as an ordinary woman to Ahijah, the prophet to find out the fate of his son. She maybe could have fooled the blind prophet, but God was not deceived. The prophet gave her more information than she and the king wanted to know. Because of his evil deeds, God through the prophet stated that the child would die upon her return home and that the kingdom would be taken from him and his sons in disgrace and given to a new king. Israel would be scattered. Jeroboam died after twenty-two years as king of Israel and his son, Nadab reigned in his place.

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May 7. Abijam/Abijah Reigns in Judah

I Kin. 15:1-8; II Chron. 13:1-14:1

Abijam, whose name is also called Abijah, began his reign as king of Judah during the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He was a son of Rehoboam and maternal great-great grandson of David. Abijah’s three-year reign continued in the sins of his father. However, he did allow the priests to perform their duties as the people worshipped God.

There had been continual warfare between Jeroboam’s Israel and Judah. In his final battle with Jeroboam, Abijah gathered an army of four hundred thousand valiant warriors against eight hundred thousand choice men of Israel. Prior to the battle Abijah called out to Jeroboam in an attempt to persuade him to return to the true worship of God. He pointed out the importance of maintaining God’s commands. As the king of Judah was attempting to unify the two kingdoms, Jeroboam positioned an ambush in the rear of Judah’s army in addition to his forces to the front.

Even though Abijah had sinned against God, it was His plan to preserve the lineage of Judah for the coming Messiah. Seeing the ambush behind him, Abijah cried out to the Lord and the priests sounded the trumpets. God allowed Judah to slaughter five hundred thousand of Israel’s choice men. Jeroboam was defeated and died soon afterward.

Abijah died and his son, Asa became king of Judah.

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