You’re fired…..You’re hired

29 07 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE : 1 Kings 12 v. 25 – 14 v. 20; Acts 16 v. 1 – 15; Psalm 78 v. 1 – 8


1 KINGS

Golden Calves at Bethel and Dan – Jeroboam chooses Shechem as his capital city, fortifies it and makes his home there, and he builds up Peniel, also.
Jeroboam is fearful of Israel returning to the ‘house of David’, especially if people keep going to Jerusalem for the religious festivals etc., so he seeks advice and creates two golden calves, presenting them to the people as alternative gods, and setting them up in Bethel (in the south) and Dan (in the north).
‘And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.’
Jeroboam sets up his own shrines, appoints his own (non-Levitical) priests, and establishes his own festivals (some to coincide with the ones in Jerusalem), and he, himself, leads the sacrificing (in place of a high-priest).

The Man of God From Judah – a strange story about a ‘man of God’ who comes from Judah to Bethel, and proclaims aloud, as Jeroboam is leading the sacrificing, that devastation will come – partly immediately, in the altar being split in two, and its ashes poured out, and partly in the future, when a son called Josiah will be born to the house of David (some 300 years later), and will see the burning of human bones.
This was not welcome news for Jeroboam, who stretches out his hand to shriek, ‘Sieze him’, and his hand shrivels in front of him. The altar is split in two and the ashes are poured out (‘the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord’). Jeroboam asks the man to pray for his shrivelled hand to be healed. The man prays, and Jeroboam’s hand is instantly healed.
When Jeroboam invites the man to stay for a meal, and to receive a gift, the man refuses, keen to get on his way. He needs to be obedient to God who called him to return immediately and not to accept a meal there, and to return by a different route.
In Bethel, there is an old prophet (as opposed, here to a ‘man of God’), who hears of the visit of the ‘man of God’, and arranges to meet him – ‘Saddle the donkey for me’ – and they find the man of God on his way back to Judah, sitting under an oak tree.
The prophet invites the man of God home for some food. Again, the man refuses, seeking to be obedient to all God has told him.
The prophet urges him even more, and falsely claims he, too, has had instruction from an angel-messanger – the ‘man of God’ decides to go with him.
Oops !!
During supper, God speaks to the man through the old prophet, telling him he has disobeyed the Lord’s commands, and forth-telling his destruction – ‘your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers’.
So, on his way home, back on his donkey, the man encounters a lion who kills him. There’s an image of the lion and the donkey stood side by side over the body of the man. The donkey was untouched.
(oh another story starring a donkey – one to add to the collection, and to add to the tracing of the role donkeys play throughout the bible)
People see this and report it back in the city. The prophet goes out to see for himself, and retrieves the body, bringing it back with him to bury him – laying him in his own tomb and mourning over him.
The old prophet recognises the message the man of God brought, that it will ‘certainly come true’, and asks his sons to bury him alongside the man of God, when his time comes.
Jeroboam, however, does not heed the warning in the message the man of God had brought – he continued appointing his own priests – ‘this was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth’.

Ahijah’s Prophecy Against Jeroboam – Jeroboam’s son Abijah becomes very poorly, and Jeroboam sends his wife in disguise to see the ageing  prophet, Ahijah, in Shiloh (‘The one who told me that I would be king over this people’).
Ahijah, whose eyes are failing him, had already been told by God that Jeroboam’s wife was coming, and the news he shares with her is not good :
~ God is angry with Jeroboam, who He had given the kingdom to – he has not kept the commandments
~ ‘You have done more evil than all who lived before you’ – making false gods, metal idols
~ God will bring disaster on Jeroboam’s house – every last male in Israel will be cut off 
~ the house of Jeroboam will be burned up, like dung – the bodies will be eaten by wild dogs and birds
~ their son Abijah will die as soon as she gets home – he will be mourned and will get a decent burial, because he is ‘the only one..in whom the Lord has found anything good.’
~ there will be a new king, and God will strike Israel – the people will be scattered beyond the River
~ God is angry because of the Asherah poles which have been set up
As Jeroboam’s wife returned home, her son Abijah, died, and was buried, as the prophet had said.

Jeroboam’s deeds are written in the ‘Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel’.
He rules for 22 years and then died (‘rested with his fathers’); then his son, Nadab, became king.

Lydia dealt in purple cloth from Thyatira

ACTS
Timothy Joins Paul and Silas – Timothy enters the scene – a young man whose mother was a believing Jew (and his father a  Greek), from Lystra. He was well thought of in Lystra and Iconium. Despite the previous decisions about circumcision, Paul has Timothy circumcised ‘because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek’.
They travelled together, sharing the letter / decision the apostles had made – the churches grew in number and in strength of faith.

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia – Whilst travelling throughout the region, Paul is ‘kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word of God in the province of Asia’. The Spirit of Jesus prevents them from entering Bithynia, so they pass through Mysia to Troas. That night Paul has a vision, seeing a Macedonian man begging Paul to come and help them there.
‘After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia…God had called us to preach the gospel to them.’

It is striking how Paul, Silas and Timothy learnt to read the promptings of the Spirit – opening some doors and closing others – a willingness to go wherever God led.
Lord, may we know the guidance of Your Spirit today, in everything.

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi – So, now the journey is from Troas to Samothrace and Neapolis, and then Philippi, the leading city in that area of Macedonia, where they stay for several days.
They take a walk down to the river on the Sabbath, to find a place to pray. They get into conversation with some women who were there. One, Lydia, was a business-woman / entrepreneur (Lord Sugar would be proud of her ?!?!), who dealt in fine purple cloth, a God-worshipper.
‘The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message’.
Lydia and her household are baptised, and she invites them to stay at her home – offering them good hospitality!

Note to self….no matter how diligent and determined our evangelism, it is ‘the Lord’ who opens people’s hearts to the message.
Lord, open hearts and minds today.
Set people free today.

PSALM
a few years ago now, I found myself putting the psalms into my own words, for my own devotions; for the second half of this ‘through the Bible in a year’ experience, I want to share the psalm passages I’ve crafted for psalms 78 – 150.
Here goes….

One of Asaph’s songs

O my people, my people!
Listen to me. Hear me out.
I’ve got something to say to you. Something to teach.
I will tell you deep truths in stories. Parables.
I will reveal ancient wisdom to you,
things which were passed down to us,
from one generation to another.
So we will pass them on, too;
tell our children, and grandchildren, and on, and on.

We will let them know all that the Lord has done for us –
His might, His amazing acts –
the reason He is to be praised.
It was the Lord, our God, who gave us (Jacob) the commandments.
It was the Lord, our God, who gave us (Israel) our governance, our law.
And He told us to pass it on, and on, and on,
that every future generation, even those yet to be, may know it all.
Then, everyone would offer their lives in trust to God,
remembering forever His acts,
abiding my His commands.
Not like the previous generations,
who dug their heels in, stubborn and unruly,
who broke God’s heart because theirs were unfaithful,
who bruised God’s Spirit because theirs were disloyal.

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