Day 347 (Dec. 13): Jealousy prevents close relationship with God, God has power to judge not humans, boasting is a sin, luxury is gained through suffering of others, patience in suffering, earnest prayer of a righteous person has power, believers should save wandering believers by bringing them back to the cross, Paul writes Timothy, Law of Moses teachers are good for teaching the lawless, Paul is thankful for God’s mercy after he blasphemed Jesus, Paul tells Timothy to cling to his faith, pray for everyone, Jesus is only one who can reconcile God and man

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

James 4-5:20

1 Timothy 1-2:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (James 4:2b-3): I must be guilty of this passage.  I do pray for God to bless us with more work.  He has but we could use more.  I want that so we don’t struggle to pay the bills and buy groceries.  I want it so I can buy a new computer and start another phase of this BibleBum journey which I am so looking forward to.  I want to not have to dip into our savings.  OK, that’s enough of that, you get the picture.  But, I also want to have some money to make repairs to the house and afford a nice, reasonable vacation.  Although spending quality time together with my family would give me “pleasure,” I think it’s also nice to strengthen our bond.  Families are so important!  Does pleasure here mean a mansion, a nice sports car, lavish trips, etc.?

A. I believe that James is talking about people who are not truly seeking God in the midst of their desire for riches and pleasure.  The standard is 10% to the church, be generous with what you have beyond the 10%, and you should be in good shape.  God is aware of obligations and the difficulty of certain seasons — we’ve been going through one at my house as well — but if you withhold from generosity for the purpose of gathering money above what you need, then that is when I feel we have slipped into greed, which is what James is speaking of.  We should always be listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to let us know when we have slipped away from what God desires — and remember that God WANTS us to repent and come back to Him, not to feel guilt for our failures.

Q. (4:9b): Can you explain, “Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy”?

A. He’s talking about repentance in this passage, not just in this verse.  Having a spirit of repentance for one’s sin makes one humble before God, and that is a spirit that God can use ­— or as James puts it, to “lift up in due time.”

Q. (4:11-12): What law are they talking about here?  I’m confused if it’s the NT or the OT.

A. James is referring to the OT law, but saying that Christians should not scorn it by slandering each other and violating what it instructs about loving each other.

Q. (4:17): This is so eye-opening.  Whenever I doubt what I believe God is directing me to, I get a bad feeling — one of self-doubt, weakness, etc.  But, when I talk about it with confidence, I get fulfilled like God is saying “yes!” and “you go, girl!”  I told my husband that our pastor, Zack, had said that it was a sin to worry too.  Is that right?  To me, that goes along the lines with me worrying about my salvation.  It certainly doesn’t do any good to worry about it and takes up brain time that could be used to serve God.

A. James is talking here about one category of sins — that of omission — knowing the right thing to do and NOT doing it is just as sinful as doing the wrong thing you know you shouldn’t.  Worry is one of those things, as we have discussed: it shows a lack of faith in a God who has proclaimed loud and clear that He will provide for our needs.  Just remember that removing sin of that sort is a process, and won’t happen overnight.

Q. (5:12): What does James mean by “never take an oath?”  Is it the same thing that we talked about way back when the Scripture said to not make promises?

A. It is very similar to what James’ half brother, Jesus, said in Matthew 5:33-37 about oaths: don’t flippantly use God’s name to get what you want.  Just speak the truth, and don’t swear by anything to do so.

Q. (1 Timothy 1:3-11): So these teachers are spending time preaching the Law of Moses when, although that’s good for the lawless to help set them straight, it does no good for those believers who should be hearing that Jesus will save them, not obeying laws.

A. My notes indicate that these false teachers were going well beyond the Law of Moses into endless speculation around things like obscure genealogies of the OT.  That’s what he means by endless speculation and talk, which was taking them away from being active servants of God.  They were missing the “boat,” so to speak.

Q. (1:20): I just wondered how the guy downstairs got two different names — the devil and Satan.  And, then there’s his given name of Lucifer, right?

A. Part of the issue is the difference of language between the OT and NT.  The words “Satan” (accuser) and “Lucifer” (light bringer, which occurs ONLY in Isaiah 14:12) are both OT/Hebrew words.  The word “devil” (slanderer) is a NT word, first used in Matthew 4 to refer to Jesus’ tempter, but it means the same thing as “Satan,” simply in Greek instead of Hebrew.

Q. (2:9-10): This Scripture has it’s roots in a situation Paul dealt with where women were distracting a worship service by having revealing clothes, right?  But, I would think this would apply today also.  I would say it would apply to men, but I never see them dressed inappropriately at church.  And, I have seen plenty of Christian women today who are not modest.

A. I agree: modesty and humility are often forsaken Christian values that it would do us a great deal of good to rediscover.

Q. (2:11-15): Here we go with the women’s rights questions.  Does this still apply today that women should not teach men?  And, would this be for anything, including business matters, or just matters of the Bible?  Also, Adam allowed himself was deceived by Eve.  What does “women will be saved through childbearing” mean?

A. Your answer to “does this apply today?” question is in the eye of the beholder: some modern denominations — Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and Southern Baptist are among them — see this verse as still being applicable today, but ONLY when in reference to preaching from the Word and specifically leading a congregation: this is why these groups do not ordain women.  Other denominations — United Methodists, Episcopalians, and the more frankly liberal denominations, argue that this is a relic verse that can be ignored.  I’ve heard good arguments for both, with the limits on women’s role in the church being traced back to different, God-given roles, but some of the best ministers I have personally heard preach were women, so I don’t have a strong opinion either way.  As to the “saved by childbearing” verse, I don’t really know what Paul is after here, but there is a lot of speculation that is not worth going into.  I wouldn’t sweat that verse too much.

Day 168 (June 17): Judgment for Judah during Jehoram’s reign, Ahaziah takes over Judah, Jehu anointed king of Israel, Jehu kills Joram and Ahaziah, Jezebel dies!, Jehu kills Ahab’s family, Jehu kills priests of Baal

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Chronicles 21:8-20

2 Kings 8:23-10:17

2 Chronicles 22:1-7

2 Kings 10:18-31

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Chronicles 21:8): The Edomites were not a part of Israel or Judah, right?  Were they a vassal state also, like Moab?  They wanted freedom from paying tributes to Judah?

A. Yes.  Israel/Judah became powerful during David and Solomon’s reigns, and took on several vassal states.  But as the power decreased down the line, these servant peoples began to revolt against their ruling nation.

Q. (21:16): It seems ironic that God is waging a war against His Own people.  But, if we want to think deeper, He is actually trying to rid them of evil and reestablish himself.  He needs to show them who is king and who will provide for them.  Are the wicked kings too proud to admit someone is more powerful than them?  They shouldn’t, they are worshipping other idols.  I don’t understand if they are going to worship something, which they do, why deny God?  They know of His power, yet they belittle it.

A. In Israel, this whole mess began, as the end of the reading told us, with Jeroboam building the golden calves in order to prevent the people from worshipping God Himself.  Every king since then has followed suit, either by doing evil, or like Jehu, not correcting the original error of having set up idols.  Essentially, this is really an issue of control and power.  These kings are capable of controlling these other “gods” and using their “power” for their own purposes, but God will not be so easily manipulated.  The unwillingness to submit to the true God’s demands is at the heart of the corruption you have been seeing.

Q. (2 Kings 9:3): Why should this prophet have to run after anointing Jehu as king of Israel?  This scene is humorous.

A. He was telling the commander of a king’s army to commit treason against that king, and could not know for sure how he would react.  If the commander refused the order, he likely would have killed the prophet.

O. (9:13): We don’t see any deliberation here from Jehu about being anointed.  He took the task by the horns and ran with it.

Q. (9:19): Jehu is saying, “Follow me and you’ll see peace?”

A. He is stalling for time and not lying about his intent by saying he comes in peace when he really does not.

O. (9:30-37): The witch is dead!  And the people said, “AMEN!”

Q. (2 Chronicles 22:9): Jehu was Ahaziah’s uncle?

A. Nope.  Jehu was unrelated to Ahaziah.

O. (2 Kings 10:27): A toilet?  Now that’s some humor!

Q. (10:31): What, after all of that work for God he is going to follow Jeroboam?  I thought Jehu was going to be a really good king.

A. Relative to the other kings of Israel at the time, he was.  That’s why his family got to rule for the next three generations.

Day 166 (June 15): Whirlwind takes Elijah to heaven, Elisha gives double spirit of Elijah, Elisha starts miracles right away, Elisha saves widow’s sons, Elisha helps Shunem woman’s son, Elisha feeds thousands with little flour

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 2:1-25

2 Kings 4:1-44

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 2:1-6): How far is it from Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan River?  Could Elijah and Elisha made it to all three places in one day?

A. Don’t forget where they started, at Gilgal, so they didn’t even start in Bethel.  The notes that I have say that this is a total journey of between 25 and 30 miles.  That’s a long way, but not outside the realm of possibility.  My notes also say that we tend to assume, but it doesn’t say, that they walked the entire distance.  They might have had transportation for some portion of the trip.

Q. (2:9-10): Is Elisha being greedy here, asking for a double share of Elijah’s spirit?  Elijah said it would be a difficult thing to get.

A. Apparently God didn’t think so, because He granted the request, as confirmed with the cloak parting the Jordan.

Q. (2:17): Is Elisha showing weakness here by allowing the men to go search for Elijah?  Apparently Elisha was the only one that witnessed Elijah going up in the chariot?

A. I think he just wanted to stop hearing about it, he knew Elijah was gone, but couldn’t convince his companions until they couldn’t find him on their own.  The story implies Elisha was the only one to see Elijah being taken.

Q. (2:24): I would think that a more proper response for this situation would be for Elisha to influence the youth in a positive way without having them killed.  They are youth and kind of expected to make unwise choices, but instruction could set them straight.  But I am not a prophet.

A. The cultural gist of the insult — calling him bald — that the boys/young men use (these aren’t children we’re talking about here!) is that Elisha is diseased and unclean.  That is most likely why he cursed them.  I’m not really clear on why he reacts the way he does either, but, as you said, he is a man of God.

O. (4:8-37): The faith of the woman from Shunem is strong and true!

Q. (4:42-44): This story mirrors Jesus feeding the 5,000 with fish and bread.  The olive oil story (4:1-7) is also used at least one more time.  Is there some message the authors intended for readers today with the repetition of these stories, like “God WILL provide?”

A. While the idea of God’s provision is a major theme of scripture — think of the manna and water in the Exodus — these texts were not written with “modern” audiences in mind at all.  They were written to tell the history of the Jewish people, including the fact that God was indeed faithful, to future generations of Jews.  We are “eavesdropping,” if you will, on that conversation.  One of the ways that this occurs, however, is that the Spirit of God works in the hearts of people today to remind them of things that we can learn by studying books like Kings.  So there can be great benefit to us, even if it wasn’t “for” us.

As to the stories matching with things in the gospels, that is not a coincidence.  One of the things that Jesus taught his followers is that He was, and is, the fulfillment of the Law, associated with Moses, and the Prophets — including Elijah and Elisha, see Matthew 11:13 and Luke 16:16.  So it is no surprise to me that the gospel writers would share with their audience places where they saw Jesus doing things that Moses (trials in the wilderness, Matthew 4), or the Prophets did (like feeding people where there didn’t seem to be enough food, Mark 6).  Part of that is emphasis, but part of it also is that understanding of the NT that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the best of old way, the OT, while establishing the NEW one.

Day 165 (June 14): Elijah challenges Ahaziah, Joram continues Ahab’s wickedness, Joram and Jehoshaphat face Moab, God gives them easy victory, Jehoram sits on Judah’s throne after Jehoshaphat

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Kings 1:1-18

2 Kings 3:1-27

1 Kings 22:41-50

2 Chronicles 20:31-37

1 Kings 22:50

2 Chronicles 21:1-4

2 Kings 8:16-22

2 Chronicles 21:5-7

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 1:2): Is Baal-zebub the same as Baal?

A. That is a complicated question, though it doesn’t seem like it.  For some reason, the writer of 2 Kings uses a title for some form of deity in this section (verses 2,3,6, and 16) and then never uses the term again, returning to the usage of Baal as we have seen.  So, it is difficult to explain why.  One possibility is that it is referring to a different deity (the word “baal” just means lord).  The word “Baal-zebub” means “lord of the flies,” which many scholars suspect is a Jewish wordplay slight at the worship of Baal.  The implication of this mocking name is that Baal is a pile of dung, and his followers are the “flies” drawn to it.  It is my suspicion that the name is referring to the Baal that we have been reading about, but there is no consensus as to why this particular name is used here and then never again (until the NT, you’ll see).

Q. (1:17): I notice the authors continuously let us know who is the king of both Israelite groups — Israel and Judah.

A. It’s not called the Book of Kings for nothing.

Q. (3:3): I have noticed that the author frequently refers to “the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat.”  He started all of the sinning.  I don’t remember how bad he was.

A. It was Jeroboam who led the revolt of the Northern kingdoms, and originally set up places of worship of pagan gods in order to prevent the people from going back to Judah in order to worship God in Jerusalem.  Check 1 Kings 12-14 for the record.

Q. (3:4-5): Why would King Mesha consider Israel an enemy after Ahab’s death?  Joram was Ahab’s son.  Mesha used to give Ahab gifts.

A. The wool that they were providing each year was tribute (a required offering, like a tax), not a gift, for its’ vassal state (Israel).  This was a heavy burden for Moab to pay, and it appears that Mesha thought it was a good time to try and break free from Israel while they were in transition.

Q. (3:12-13): It is strange that when the kings are really scared or stressed out, they will fall back on seeking God’s advice.

A. Strange?  That sounds like human nature to me.  Try to make it on our own for as long as possible, and only seek out God when that doesn’t work.  I’m pretty convinced you would find that a pattern for many people.

Q. (3:27): I really didn’t need to read that.  King Mesha sounds like a monster.  Why would he sacrifice his own son?  Somehow I don’t think this battle is over.  That last sentence sounds like the last scene of a movie sequel.

A. Ha!  It’s never over with Moab.  Mesha sacrifices his son in an attempt to bring the Moabite deity, called Chemosh, to his aid (we’ve seen Chemosh referred to in 1 Kings 11:7 and 33, and also back in Numbers 21:29 and Judges 11:24).  He is almost always referred to as “detestable” for his requirement of child sacrifice, as we see here.  This was particularly repugnant for the Israelites, who saw children as a gift of God, not to be sacrificed to the gods.

Q. (2 Chronicles 20:33): The author sounds as if not destroying all of the pagan shrines will come back to haunt Jehoshaphat.

A. Only in his standing among the great kings of the nation (from the author’s perspective anyway).

Q. (21:4): Another surprise.  Why would Jehoram kill all of his brothers?  He sounds crazed.  I hope he didn’t just kill them for the possessions that Jehoshophat gave them.  I am surprised the people would put up with him.

A. It’s a Game of Thrones style attempt to remove rivals, including what appears to be rivals in the other kingdom, who likely tried to gain power because of his marriage to Ahab’s daughter.  Not only did Jehoram kill his own family, but likely in-laws as well.  I doubt the people liked what he did, but he was the king, so he could.  Yuck.

Day 162 (June 11): God Elijah and widow save one another, King Ahab and Elijah face off, Elijah flees to Mount Sinai, God isn’t done with Elijah, Ben-Hadad attacks Ahab, Ahab defeats Ben-Hadad

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Kings 17:8-20:22

Questions & Observations

O. (1 Kings 17:8-24): I have heard this story many times.  It’s a classic.  Through God bringing the boy back to life, God shows his love for man, his devotion and that man can trust in him and lean on him.  The way God weaved Elijah’s life into the widow and her boy’s life is very neat.  I was on a walk with my girls the other day.  Six or seven houses down we saw an elderly man using a walker and taking his trash out — not an easy task.  We stopped and helped him.  He told us about the medical issues he’s had lately, which have caused him to lose 20 pounds that he didn’t have to lose.  My daughter was wearing a shirt that says “God loves you a lot.”  He read it and affirmed the saying.  He said he was looking to God — I think for the first time — with all of his medical issues.  In the last couple days I have read Bible stories to both of my daughters: the good Samaritan and one where Jesus says that by helping others, we help Him.  So, my daughters and I agreed that we should knock on our elderly neighbor’s door and ask if he needs help.  We’ll give him our phone number and maybe even ask if we can knock every day to see if he’s all right and give him something.  There are those who need served everywhere!  Our church has a great prison ministry that I plan to help with soon.

Q. (1 Kings 18:1-40): The Bible is going through the kings so fast that it’s hard to keep them straight in my head.  Our last reading talked about Jehoshaphat.  He was king of Judah.  Now we have King Ahab.  He was king in Samaria?  Samaria was a part of Israel?

A. Samaria is where the kings of Israel established their throne and “base of operations,” since Jerusalem was in Judah and they needed somewhere else to be located.  Samaria will figure prominently in the rest of our story, including the NT (think Good Samaritan).  The location is in a hilly region in what is today known as the West Bank, near the edge of the border between Israel and Syria.

Q. (18:16): Did Ahab greet Elijah so coldly because he blamed God — and Elijah was a prophet of God — for the drought?

A. Yes, especially since at the beginning of 1 Kings 17, Elijah told Ahab that God was not going to allow any rain.  Ahab surely held Elijah responsible for what had happened.

Q. I would like to discuss prophets.  How did prophets get chosen?  We learn in this reading where Elijah was the only prophet left in his time.   Did there used to be lots of prophets?  We read in June 9th reading where one prophet sought out another.  And in 1 Kings 18:19, we read about the idol Baal’s prophets, who were a prophet by name alone, right?  There God was false, so they have to be false too?

A. Ok, let’s clear a few things up: this era of Israel’s history corresponds with a large number of prophets chosen by God to bring His message.  There’s good reason: the people need to repent of their sins, especially idolatry as in this story, which is the job of a prophet (of God anyway, more on Baal’s prophets in a second).  If you speak to a Rabbi about “the prophets,” he will likely mention the Jewish thinking that this era is the so-called era of the prophets: figures such as Elijah and Elisha (our next prophet), as well as many other important figures such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel (Jews are divided on whether Daniel is a prophet, but we’ll ignore that for now).  There is no rhyme or reason to “how” they are selected other than to say God chose them — there is no selection process that we are privy too.  God speaks to the prophet Jeremiah (in Jer 1) of the man being set apart from birth for God’s purposes.  It’s a really cool passage.  Prophets come from all walks of life: Isaiah is a royal official, Ezekiel and Jeremiah are priests, Amos is a shepherd, we have no idea about Elijah (there’s an element of mystery about him that resonates with people), and as far as we can tell, Elisha worked the land as a farmer.  Remember our saying: God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.  As to the “other” prophets in this story, we don’t know exactly what they did, but the suspicion is that they could have just as easily been called priests.  They were likely the facilitators of the pagan worship of Baal.

O. (18:26): This is proof that Baal is nonexistent!

O. (18:27): I like to see humor in the Bible!

Q. (18:46): Wow, Elijah got super powers from God.  Why would Elijah run ahead of Ahab’s chariot?

A. To be in the city when Ahab got to tell his wife, Jezebel, the bad news about her prophets.

Q. (19:1): I didn’t think we read anything about Elijah killing the prophets of Baal.  And, I always thought Jezebel was a big character in the Bible.  Will we read more about her?  Why did she have authority?

A. 18:40 tells the tale: Elijah has the prophets of Baal, and presumably Asherah, killed.  Jezebel will be around for a few more chapters, and it appears she has authority by controlling her husband.

Q. (19:6): It seems that a lot of folks in the Bible got by on bread and water.  Here, Elijah did twice: once with the widow and here when he is fleeing Jezebel.  How can they get by on bread and water?  I am concerned about my girls getting all four food groups to keep their mind and body properly fed … according to today’s standards.  I know in the Bible it says not to worry about what you eat because God will provide. I don’t think he would provide French fries and ice cream though.  Does the Bible say anything about eating nutritiously or are we really supposed to not worry about it?  I think this verse just means that God will give us food.  We won’t go hungry.  But I am curious about the nutrition aspect.

A. The Bible writers would have had almost no concept of “overeating” because almost everyone, except the uber rich, lived from day to day on whatever they could find to survive.  The Bible is not a dietary book — in the sense that we understand dieting anyway — it has bigger fish to fry.  Nutritional information and intelligent eating are modern concepts that wouldn’t have made any sense in that day, so God doesn’t bother including that information.

You surely can survive on bread and water — though surviving might be the right word for it!  As it relates to Elijah’s two adventures: in the first one, they probably traded bread for other things to eat or drink — like meat or wine, which was safer to drink than water in that day — and in the other, the bread and water were for ensuring that he survived the long journey, it said nothing about being his “every meal”.

Q. (19:8): Why did Elijah think he needed to go to Mount Sinai?  He traveled for 40 days and nights.  How is the number representing completion here — something that we’ve talked about?

A. Apparently the reputation of Sinai as being the mountain of God carried down the generations.  It appeared to be a place where Elijah felt he would be safe, and frankly, where he could hide.  God, of course, still had work to do with Elijah, so He sent him back to work.

Q. (20:3-4): Why did Ahab agree to give up the silver, gold, women and children?

A. Probably he was attempting to appease the king of Aram by giving in to his demands.  It is only when the King got greedy that Ahab showed some spine and fought back.

Hope you are having a great summer!  We’ll keep blogging throughout.  

Day 161 (June 10): Baasha and Asa at war, Israel’s King Nadab assassinated, God to destroy Baasha and his family because of sins, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab rule in Israel, Ahab, Asa ruled over Judah for 41 years, Jehoshaphat rules in Judah, Elijah fed by ravens and drank from Kerith Brook

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Kings 15:16-22

2 Chronicles 16:1-10

1 Kings 16:1-7

 

1 Kings 15:23-24/870 B.C.

2 Chronicles 16:11-14

2 Chronicles 17:1-19

1 Kings 17:1-7

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Chronicles 16:7-10): So, Asa lost site of who could really help his kingdom?  He just got nervous about King Baasha’s influence on Judah and asked an outsider for help?  Then, Hanani called him on it and he didn’t want to admit Hanani was right — his pride took over — so he punished Hanani for accusing him of ignoring God?

A. Yes, you’ve got it right.  Asa was doing a good job for most of his life, but he ignored God at a crucial moment and then basically “shot the messenger” God sent.

Q. (1 Kings 16:1-7): So, God still considers both Judah and Israel His people?  Why was Elah made king when God was infuriated with his father, Baasha?

A. I don’t exactly have an answer.  But he certainly didn’t stay king for long, and after that his family was wiped out by a traitor.  God can do as He pleases, and in this case as we’ve seen a few times before, the wrath for the father’s sins is poured out on the children.

Q. (1 Kings 16:8-14): So, you could say that God made this happen … or that Baasha had it coming to him and it was revenge.

A. You could argue both.  But do note that Baasha got his throne in a very similar manner (by killing Nadab in 15:28), and you could argue that what goes around comes around.

Q.  It seems that aspiring to be king was a very dangerous desire.  So many of them were killed.  Was life viewed differently than as it is today?

A. No, I would say that most of us still have the roughly the same value of life, but the men who participated in these actions valued power and control more.  I think trying to separate ourselves from such a world (i.e. we value life so much more than they did) is dangerous thinking.  There are places in the world today where the desire for power causes people to kill: some of which are a lot closer to home than we might like to think.  As our wise king Solomon noted, there is nothing new under the sun, even the value of human life.

Q. (1 Kings 16:34): This seemed to come out of nowhere.  Can you tell us more about Hiel and Jericho and what Joshua predicted long ago about this happening?

A. Sure.  In Joshua 6:26, God proclaims that anyone who rebuilt the city with new foundations and a new gate — the mark of a true city in the ancient worl — would pay with the life of his oldest and youngest son.  Jericho, which was unlikely to have been uninhabited all those years, but simply not as a walled city, was to stand as a permanent reminder to Israel of what God did to provide the Promised Land to them.  He did not take lightly the effort of someone to defy that order.  In addition, this is just one more example of the deterioration of the Northern Kingdom, Israel, that will bring about its downfall.

Q. (1 Kings 17:1-7): Elijah is a prophet, right?  We’ll see more of him?  Should we talk about Elijah now a bit or just wait?

A. Yes and yes.  He will become the centerpiece of the next few chapters.  In regards to his background, there is literally NOTHING to tell: he comes from nowhere and might as well have appeared out of thin air.  So let’s watch what God will do with him in the next few sections.  He is certainly memorable!