Bible in a Year – Day 108: A Method to the Madness
The book of 1 Kings (and 2 Kings) reads like a daytime soap opera. Not only do we have good and evil, deceit and treachery, but we also skip from scene to scene, transported through time and space at a dizzying speed. Within a few sentences, we’re told about a king of Isreal, then a king of Judah, then another king of Israel. All the while, we’re being told that the details of each king’s reign are written in some other book. But, rest assured, even if you lost track of which king was in power when another king took power (I’ve always been horrible at remembering things like that), there is much to gain from this book.
In today’s reading, there are a few things that jump out to me that point to God’s nature – universal themes that we see repeated over and over in the Bible and in our own lives. First, we see good and evil rising at the same time. You see, for the most part, I think people see good and evil on a scale (and, to be sure, personally and locally, that is the case). As evil increases, good decreases. But as true as that may be on a micro level, it doesn’t have to be true on a large scale.
In today’s reading, we see the roles of good and evil both rising within the narrative of God’s people. These people, now divided into two kingdoms – Israel and Judah – are having two very different experiences. While Asa reigns over Judah and follows God faithfully, that kingdom lives largely in prosperity and peace. Good increases in Judah, the idols are destroyed and God is honored.
Meanwhile, in Israel, there is much turmoil as kings rise and fall, families are destroyed, God is angered and, eventually, the kingdom is engaged in a civil war between the supporters of Omri and the supporters of Tibni. Evil increases in Israel and begets its own problems.
As these things play out, along comes a prophet named Elijah. And Elijah’s story has its own way of showing God’s nature. In this episode,we see a few things play out in the life of Elijah. Skipping past Elijah’s primary message for a moment, let’s take a look at his interaction with the widow. Here is a woman who is suffering greatly from the drought in the land. In fact, the Bible tells us that she is gathering sticks to prepare a kind of “last meal” for herself and her son before they die. She has run out of supplies.
So what is God’s plan for this woman? Well, it’s a ridiculous one in that it flies in the face of human logic. God’s plan, as relayed through Elijah, is for this woman to take the last of her supplies and feed the prophet before feeding herself and her son. That may have been a good idea to Elijah, but it had to have sounded preposterous to this woman. And yet, desperate people tend to be a little more willing to follow God’s plans. This woman does so and, as Elijah predicted, she ends up with the necessary provision for not only Elijah, but also for herself and her son.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Scripture says that even though this woman obeyed and did exactly as she was told, her son became ill. I think it’s good for us to remember that God doesn’t promise us that if we follow him, our lives will be free of pain or trouble. Here is a woman who followed God to the letter and yet, her son is dying. Even the great prophet Elijah questions God on this one. It doesn’t make sense. But then what happens?
Elijah, in his faith, asks God to heal the boy and God does. The result is that the woman tells Elijah, “Now I know you are a man of God.” You see, God’s plan may not always make sense to us, but when we follow it, we see that the results are exactly what God intended to happen. God wanted this lady and her son to be fed and he wanted her to grow in her faith. The methods he used to get there may have been unconventional, but God had the end in mind.
- Leaning In – The Positive Power of Opposition
- Bible in a Year – Day 358: Cheaters
- Bible in a Year – Day 345: Trust and Obey
- Bible in a Year – Day 329: Slaves of Righteousness
- Bible in a Year – Day 293: Jesus in Awe
- Bible in a Year – Day 284: Jesus’ Cleaning Service
- Bible in a Year – Day 272: Keeping Up Appearances
- Bible in a Year – Day 271: Sticky Sin
- Bible in a Year – Day 259: Brown-Nosing
- Bible in a Year – Day 258: Power Up