Tag Archives: 1 Kings 16

Peace and Stability in Volatile Times

source: eastcentralillinoiswxphotography93 via Flickr
source: eastcentralillinoiswxphotography93 via Flickr

 

In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah…
In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah…
In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah…
In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah…
1 Kings 16:8, 15, 23, 29 (NIV)

 

After the reign of Solomon, the nation of Israel was split in two. Ten of Israel’s tribes comprise the northern kingdom of Israel with the capital in Samaria. A “Game of Thrones” is a good way to describe the political situation in the northern kingdom as the throne is occupied by a string of strongmen who largely ascended by power, violence and force. Nineteen kings occupy the throne over a period of about 200 years before being conquered by the Assyrians.

 

The tribes of Judah and Benjamin comprise the southern kingdom of Judah with the capital in Jerusalem. Judah remains loyal to the house of David and clings to God’s promises to David. The throne is occupied by nineteen kings and one queen from the line of David over a period of about 350 years before Judah is conquered by the Babylonians.

 

I found it interesting that King Asa of Judah was described as being faithful to God and he reigned over 40 years. It struck me while reading today’s chapter that during Asa’s reign the political situation in the northern kingdom is extremely volatile with a series of military leaders and strong men claiming the throne. Every one of them is described as being committed to the local pagan idols and gods rather than the God of Israel. In the case of Zimri, he held the throne for an entire week before committing suicide by burning the palace down around him. Yikes.

 

This morning I’m pondering the contrast in the two nations during Asa’s reign. It’s an apt word picture for how I think of my life with and without my faith. Despite the ebb and flow of blessing and tragedy along life’s road, I find a high degree of peace and stability from my faith in Jesus – much like Judah seemed to experience during Asa’s reign. I think back to what I remember life being like before my decision to follow Jesus and it feels a lot like the political situation in Israel with life swaying aimlessly with each shift in the power of emotions or circumstances.

 

Today, I’m thankful for peace and stability even in the midst of volatile life changes.

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Chapter-a-Day 1 Kings 16

Jesus owns a breadmaker. It was under Ahab's rule that Hiel of Bethel refortified Jericho, but at a terrible cost: He ritually sacrificed his firstborn son Abiram at the laying of the foundation, and his youngest son Segub at the setting up of the gates. This is exactly what Joshua son of Nun said would happen1 Kings 16:34 (MSG)

"If there is any purpose or value in this whole thing, it's completely lost on me," my wife said to me in the car yesterday. Behind her dark sunglasses, I knew her eyes were filled with tears. I understood. I feel the same confusion. Her statement echoed in my spirit the rest of the day and I've been chewing on it.

The purpose and value of difficult circumstances do not usually show themselves in the moment because they are not momentary in nature. We call them "lessons learned in time" because, for us, time is a required ingredient. We have a wonderful, state-of-the-art breadmaker in our kitchen. As good as it is, it still takes 3-4 hours to bake a loaf of bread. It can't speed up the time necessary for the yeast to perform its chemical reactions and make the dough rise.

God has all sorts of time because, unlike me, he exists outside of time's boundaries. It's likely that Hiel of Bethel and the people gathered at the dedication ceremonies at Jericho had no idea that the terrible sacrifice of his own sons had been spoken of 600 years earlier by Joshua. That's like Cristopher Columbus talking about the recent earthquake in Haiti. It seems an eternity to us, but not to God. He exists concurrently in both moments.

The difficult stretch of the journey I'm experiencing today is frustrating, agonizing, and confusing. I don't get it in the moment. I can only trust that someday I, or my children, or my grandchildren, or my great grandchildren will be on another difficult stretch and I will look back in time to find that the lessons learned through this time will profit me for that time.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and solidstate76