1 Kings 20:1-21:29; Acts 12:24-13:15; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16
Ahab is weak-willed. He is, by and large, under the influence of his very evil, very pagan wife (see 1 Ki. 21:25). But he yet understands the purity and holiness of God. See how responsive he is to the words of the prophets. He relies on their words (I Ki. 20:13-17), and smarts under their rebukes (vs. 41-43; don't you just love the childishness of Ahab's reaction: "sullen and angry"?). Though his repentance seems to be only temporary (I Ki. 21:27) - he is, after all, the worst of Israel's kings (see vs. 25-26) - it is genuine. God is not fooled by false humility, so there must have been true contrition. What a merciful, forgiving, patient God.
(Jezebel, however, never indicates any remorse or conscience. She goes from bad to worse to deplorable. Her underhanded deception and murder of Naboth for the sake of a piece of land is, truly, appalling.)
There's an interesting contrast in today's reading. I Kings 20 is a dramatic battle scene, but it's almost entirely played between unnamed characters (Ben-Hadad is probably a title-name, like Pharaoh, not an individual name). Ahab is referred to almost exclusively as "the king of Israel" and the prophets are never named. The real actor in the situation is Yahweh himself (note that his personal name, written as LORD, is used repeatedly throughout the chapter), strategizing and encouraging and defeating. The lack of human names pushes us toward the Most High God.
And then in our New Testament reading, we're on the opposite end of the spectrum: inundated with specific names and places. We've got personal names for John, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, and Saul/Paul; actual physical locations like Antioch, Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos; more people in Bar-Jesus and Sergius Paulus; more locales in Perga, Jerusalem, and Pisidian Antioch. These were real people, in real places, doing real things. I love all the detail! The labor and travel and boldness and physicality of these men and places reveal their passion to see the world won for Christ. All this specificity also pushes us toward the Most High God.
How were you pushed toward this same mighty God today?
- Sarah Marsh
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