April 17 — Wicked and Weak but Humble — 1 Kings 20-21. Israel’s King Ahab was a pretty pitiful man. He was both wicked and weak. He was probably the most wicked king in Israel’s history (21:25-26) and in his weakness, was led into evil by his wife Jezebel (21:7). In spite of that, he provided one of my favorite quotes in the Bible when he replied to Ben-hadad’s threat: “Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off!” (20:11 NASB). In other words, save your bragging for what you have done, not for what you plan to do. Our dreams often exceed our deeds. Ahab did later humble himself before God, however (21:29), which brought a postponement of a predicted punishment. Actually, our own sinful nature reminds us that we are also pretty wicked and weak people, but God is always pleased when we humble ourselves before Him, confessing what we have done and expressing gratitude for what He has done for us.
April 18 — Pleasing People — 1 Kings 22. The prophet Micaiah was not a people-pleaser, but a God-pleaser (22:14), refusing to prophesy with the majority, who happened to be false prophets. The fact that there were 400 of these “prophets” makes it tempting to think they were the same 400 prophets of Asherah (18:19) who did not participate in the showdown on Mt. Carmel with Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. The falseness of these “prophets” of Ahab was confirmed when their prophecy of victory did not come true. There are some preachers today who seem to prefer to tell people what they want to hear rather than what God has said. That is one reason why it is so good that you are reading through the Bible this year. You are reading what is true, which will make it easier to recognize things you hear from people, like some college professors or TV preachers, who may teach things that are contradictory.
April 19 — Baldy — 2 Kings 1-3. There are some interesting tidbits in these chapters. First, Baal-zebub (1:4) means “lord of the flies,” the meaningful title of the book by William Golding and two subsequent films. Secondly, at one point in time, the king of Judah and the king of Israel shared the name, Jehoram (1:17). Thirdly, we have repeatedly seen references to “the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” (1:18) regarding the kings of Judah and Israel, but this is not the same as our 1 & 2 Chronicles because those OT books cover only the reigns of Judah’s kings, not Israel’s. Fourthly, and this is important to me, “Don’t mess with a bald man!” (2:23). Finally, to fill a streambed with water without rain “is a light thing in the sight of the LORD” (3:18). The One who can part, “heal,” and produce water, call fire down from heaven, and send she-bears out of the woods after snotty boys is an all-powerful God. Any feat is a “light thing” to Him.
April 20 — Doors of Opportunity — 2 Kings 4-5. There were two doors mentioned in this passage: the door Elisha told the widow to shut while the miracle of multiplying the oil was performed (4:4), and the door Elisha shut while he prayed to bring the boy back to life (4:35). Both kept a miracle private. There was also the figurative door of opportunity offered by Naaman for his healing: silver and gold, worth over $210,000 and $3 million, respectively by today’s value (5:5). Elisha refused to deflect any credit away from God by taking a gift (5:16) but Gehazi saw it as a door of opportunity and ran to open it (5:20). In the last of the seven miracles in these two chapters, Gehazi received his “reward” of perpetual family leprosy. What doors will be presented to you today? Will you see them as opportunities to give credit to God or to satisfy your personal desires?
April 21 — Lepers — 2 Kings 6-8. Going from yesterday’s stories of the leprosy of Naaman, the Syrian commander, and Gehazi, Elisha’s servant; we now see how four lepers (7:3) were used to mark the end of the starving condition of the Samaritans caused by the siege of their city. Going to “surrender” themselves to the Syrian army, the lepers found the camp abandoned with plenty of food available. What was their first response? Selfishness. They started eating and hiding valuables for themselves (7:8). How ironic——lepers with a death sentence storing for the future! Thankfully, they woke up to their selfish perspective and decided to bring the good news to the starving city (7:9). Too often we also are focused on ourselves at the expense of the needs of others and should “wake up” and tell them the Good News.
April 22 — Zeal for the Lord — 2 Kings 9-10. Although the leaders of Israel and many of the people had become wicked and served other gods, at God’s direction, Elisha had Jehu anointed as “king over the people of the LORD” (9:6). God still claimed them as His chosen people. Jehu declared that he had “zeal for the LORD” (10:16), which was shown in his campaign to kill all worshipers of Baal in his realm (10:25). He was probably the closest thing the northern kingdom had to a “good” king but he was soundly criticized for not removing the idolatry of the two golden calves that Jeroboam and set up in Bethel and Dan (10:29). He had a zeal for the Lord but it was empty. May that not be said about any of us! Our loyalty and devotion to God must be wholehearted and must extend to every aspect of our lives.
April 23 — Leadership — 2 Kings 11-13. I was impressed with the leadership of Jehoiada the priest (11:4) in today’s reading. He was so effective in protecting the child Joash (11:2; a short form of Jehoash [11:21]) for 7 years that even the temple guards didn’t know he was hidden in the temple. He arranged for the crowning of Joash (11:12) and the death of the murderous queen Athaliah (11:15). He made a covenant with the Lord that aligned the people to serve Him, leading to the destruction of the leadership of Baal worshipers (:18). His instruction of young Joash was the basis for his godly reign (12:2) of 40 years. That reminds me of Prov. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”