April 10 — Wise and Rich — 1 Kings 3-5. Who wouldn’t want to be wise and rich?! Solomon was, and it is important to note how he got there. When God offered to give him one wish, Solomon chose wisdom to govern his people. God was pleased with Solomon’s choice and said, “because … you have not asked for yourself” (3:11), he was granted not only the wisdom he requested but also the riches he had not asked for. Although Jesus promised us that, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (Jn. 15:7), it is good to remember that He seems to place a higher priority on unselfish prayers. We naturally think to ask for ourselves but it takes wisdom to ask for others.
April 11 — Architecture — 1 Kings 6-7. If any architects read our passage for today, they were probably very interested and stimulated. For the rest of us, however, we might review Stephen Altrogge’s reasons for continuing to read when it doesn’t seem to move us spiritually. We should keep reading because 1) It reminds us of our dependence on God, 2) We are anticipating the promised rewards for those who seek Him, 3) We are planting trees that will bear fruit later, 4) God is speaking to us whether we realize it or not. Today we will add the fifth and final reason: God’s Word protects us. Jesus used God’s Word against Satan when He was attacked spiritually. It was protective. Our exposure to it also protects us against temptations, false teachings, worldly thinking, lack of purpose, harboring sin, and many other threats. When it seems boring, just keep reading! It is good for us and it is changing us.
April 12 — Dedication — 1 Kings 8-9. Similar to what happened at the completion of the wilderness tabernacle (Ex. 40:34), the glory of the Lord filled the new temple in the form of a dark cloud (8:11). Solomon said that God dwells “in thick darkness” (8:12), yet “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1Jn. 1:5) and in heaven, “the Lord God will be their light” (Rev. 22:5). It seems that although darkness can represent the domain of Satan (Acts 26:18), God used it in the OT to shield people from His glory. Then in the NT, God lets “the light of the gospel … shine out of darkness … to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:4-6). What a privilege it is to live on this side of the cross! Nothing dramatic happened at the end of Solomon’s long, powerful prayer of dedication for the temple; instead, God quietly appeared to him privately after he had built his own house 13 years later (9:1), telling him that He had consecrated the temple “by putting my name there forever” (9:3). Sometimes God demonstrates His presence and work in dramatic ways, and sometimes in quiet, personal ways.
April 13 — Disobedience — 1 Kings 10-12. In spite of the advantage of Solomon’s great wisdom, he disobeyed every command God gave in Deut. 17:16-17 regarding Israel’s future kings. He accumulated many horses from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28), many wives (11:3), and excessive silver and gold (10:14). Then, although Jeroboam was told that God was pulling part of the kingdom away from Solomon because of his drift away from obedience to God (11:33), Jeroboam doubly repeated the sin of Aaron by making two golden calves to worship (12:28). Jeroboam was promised “a sure house” if he obeyed God (11:38) but he refused to obey. Disobedience has long-lasting consequences. Why go there?! By the way, although it is tempting to think that Rehoboam and Jeroboam were brothers or even twins, they were not related.
April 14 — Punishment — 1 Kings 13-14. The unnamed man of God prophesied to Jeroboam 190 years in advance, that King Josiah would rule in David’s kingdom (13:3). God performed two miracles by paralyzing Jeroboam’s arm when he tried to destroy the man of God, and by divinely destroying Jeroboam’s altar (:4). Revealing his spiritual condition, when Jeroboam asked the man of God to pray for him, he referred to God as “the LORD your God” (:6). One would think that a divine demonstration of that magnitude would turn Jeroboam to God but “Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way” (:33). As an additional punishment for sin, God took the life of Jeroboam’s son, Abijah. There are two similar names here: Abijah [“Yahweh is father”] (14:1) and Ahijah [“Yahweh is brother”] (14:2). The almost-blind prophet Ahijah (:4) called out the deception of Jeroboam’s wife before she even got to his door and gave her the “unbearable news” (:6) that her son would die when she re-entered the city (:12). The NT statement that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) is demonstrated repeatedly in these OT stories.
April 15 — My Mother’s Son — 1 Kings 15-17. The mother of Judah’s King Abijam was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom (15:2). She was also the mother of King Asa, who followed him three years later and reigned for 41 years (:10). So, they were brothers, the first one being sinful (:3) but the second “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD,” even destroying his own mother’s Asherah image (:13). Two very different sons from the same mother. Abijam might have blamed his mother’s poor influence but King Asa overcame his mother’s impact. We are responsible for our own direction in life regardless of the influences of our past. Good and bad children develop from both good and bad parents. Nevertheless, we ought to do all we can to guide our children and grandchildren in the right path of knowing and serving God alone.
April 16 — He is risen, indeed! — 1 Kings 18-19. I thought it was unfortunate that we didn’t read yesterday’s story today. Elijah’s bringing back to life the son of the widow would have fit so well with this year’s [written in 2017] Easter’s celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! But there is also a connection in today’s reading. The demonstration on Mt. Carmel with Ahab and the prophets of Baal gave dramatic evidence of the reality and power of God when He burned up the sacrifice along with the altar stones. That is also what happened on Resurrection Day. The resurrection of Jesus was a dramatic demonstration that Jesus was truly God and that the death He had died was truly effective in providing forgiveness for the world of people who would turn to Him. Even Elijah’s name (“the LORD, he is God”) emphasizes the focus of who God is. The meaning of Elisha’s name (“God saves”) climaxes the importance of Passion Week, showing what God has done.