+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Opening – (Northumbria Community)
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
Reading: 1 Kings 14-18 (NLT)
Ahijah’s Prophecy against Jeroboam
1 Kings 14 (NLT) – At that time Jeroboam’s son Abijah became very sick. So Jeroboam told his wife, “Disguise yourself so that no one will recognize you as my wife. Then go to the prophet Ahijah at Shiloh—the man who told me I would become king. Take him a gift of ten loaves of bread, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and ask him what will happen to the boy.”
So Jeroboam’s wife went to Ahijah’s home at Shiloh. He was an old man now and could no longer see. But the Lord had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife will come here, pretending to be someone else. She will ask you about her son, for he is very sick. Give her the answer I give you.”
So when Ahijah heard her footsteps at the door, he called out, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you pretending to be someone else?” Then he told her, “I have bad news for you. Give your husband, Jeroboam, this message from the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel. I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will burn up your royal dynasty as one burns up trash until it is all gone. The members of Jeroboam’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures. I, the Lord, have spoken.’”
Then Ahijah said to Jeroboam’s wife, “Go on home, and when you enter the city, the child will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only member of your family who will have a proper burial, for this child is the only good thing that the Lord, the God of Israel, sees in the entire family of Jeroboam.
“In addition, the Lord will raise up a king over Israel who will destroy the family of Jeroboam. This will happen today, even now! Then the Lord will shake Israel like a reed whipped about in a stream. He will uproot the people of Israel from this good land that he gave their ancestors and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, for they have angered the Lord with the Asherah poles they have set up for worship. He will abandon Israel because Jeroboam sinned and made Israel sin along with him.”
So Jeroboam’s wife returned to Tirzah, and the child died just as she walked through the door of her home. And all Israel buried him and mourned for him, as the Lord had promised through the prophet Ahijah.
The rest of the events in Jeroboam’s reign, including all his wars and how he ruled, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel. Jeroboam reigned in Israel twenty-two years. When Jeroboam died, his son Nadab became the next king.
Rehoboam Rules in Judah
Meanwhile, Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen from among all the tribes of Israel as the place to honor his name. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammonite woman.
During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, provoking his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors. For they also built for themselves pagan shrines and set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. There were even male and female shrine prostitutes throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
In the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to the Temple of the Lord, the guards would also take the shields and then return them to the guardroom.
The rest of the events in Rehoboam’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. There was constant war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. When Rehoboam died, he was buried among his ancestors in the City of David. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonite woman. Then his son Abijam became the next king.
Abijam Rules in Judah
1 Kings 15 (NLT) – Abijam began to rule over Judah in the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.
He committed the same sins as his father before him, and he was not faithful to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been. But for David’s sake, the Lord his God allowed his descendants to continue ruling, shining like a lamp, and he gave Abijam a son to rule after him in Jerusalem. For David had done what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and had obeyed the Lord’s commands throughout his life, except in the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite.
There was war between Abijam and Jeroboam throughout Abijam’s reign. The rest of the events in Abijam’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. There was constant war between Abijam and Jeroboam. When Abijam died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king.
Asa Rules in Judah
Asa began to rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother was Maacah, the granddaughter of Absalom.
Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. He banished the male and female shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although the pagan shrines were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life. He brought into the Temple of the Lord the silver and gold and the various items that he and his father had dedicated.
There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah.
Asa responded by removing all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it with some of his officials to Ben-hadad son of Tabrimmon, son of Hezion, the king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message:
“Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Kinnereth, and all the land of Naphtali. As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and withdrew to Tirzah. Then King Asa sent an order throughout Judah, requiring that everyone, without exception, help to carry away the building stones and timbers that Baasha had been using to fortify Ramah. Asa used these materials to fortify the town of Geba in Benjamin and the town of Mizpah.
The rest of the events in Asa’s reign—the extent of his power, everything he did, and the names of the cities he built—are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. In his old age his feet became diseased. When Asa died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.
Then Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, became the next king.
Nadab Rules in Israel
Nadab son of Jeroboam began to rule over Israel in the second year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Israel two years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.
Then Baasha son of Ahijah, from the tribe of Issachar, plotted against Nadab and assassinated him while he and the Israelite army were laying siege to the Philistine town of Gibbethon. Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of King Asa’s reign in Judah, and he became the next king of Israel.
He immediately slaughtered all the descendants of King Jeroboam, so that not one of the royal family was left, just as the Lord had promised concerning Jeroboam by the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh. This was done because Jeroboam had provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, by the sins he had committed and the sins he had led Israel to commit.
The rest of the events in Nadab’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.
Baasha Rules in Israel
There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. Baasha son of Ahijah began to rule over all Israel in the third year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. Baasha reigned in Tirzah twenty-four years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.
1 Kings 16 (NLT) – This message from the Lord was delivered to King Baasha by the prophet Jehu son of Hanani: “I lifted you out of the dust to make you ruler of my people Israel, but you have followed the evil example of Jeroboam. You have provoked my anger by causing my people Israel to sin. So now I will destroy you and your family, just as I destroyed the descendants of Jeroboam son of Nebat. The members of Baasha’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures.”
The rest of the events in Baasha’s reign and the extent of his power are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel. When Baasha died, he was buried in Tirzah. Then his son Elah became the next king.
The message from the Lord against Baasha and his family came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani. It was delivered because Baasha had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight (just as the family of Jeroboam had done), and also because Baasha had destroyed the family of Jeroboam. The Lord’s anger was provoked by Baasha’s sins.
Elah Rules in Israel
Elah son of Baasha began to rule over Israel in the twenty-sixth year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in the city of Tirzah for two years.
Then Zimri, who commanded half of the royal chariots, made plans to kill him. One day in Tirzah, Elah was getting drunk at the home of Arza, the supervisor of the palace. Zimri walked in and struck him down and killed him. This happened in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. Then Zimri became the next king.
Zimri immediately killed the entire royal family of Baasha, leaving him not even a single male child. He even destroyed distant relatives and friends. So Zimri destroyed the dynasty of Baasha as the Lord had promised through the prophet Jehu. This happened because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed, and because of the sins they led Israel to commit. They provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.
The rest of the events in Elah’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.
Zimri Rules in Israel
Zimri began to rule over Israel in the twenty-seventh year of King Asa’s reign in Judah, but his reign in Tirzah lasted only seven days. The army of Israel was then attacking the Philistine town of Gibbethon. When they heard that Zimri had committed treason and had assassinated the king, that very day they chose Omri, commander of the army, as the new king of Israel. So Omri led the entire army of Israel up from Gibbethon to attack Tirzah, Israel’s capital. When Zimri saw that the city had been taken, he went into the citadel of the palace and burned it down over himself and died in the flames. For he, too, had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit.
The rest of the events in Zimri’s reign and his conspiracy are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.
Omri Rules in Israel
But now the people of Israel were split into two factions. Half the people tried to make Tibni son of Ginath their king, while the other half supported Omri. But Omri’s supporters defeated the supporters of Tibni. So Tibni was killed, and Omri became the next king.
Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-first year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned twelve years in all, six of them in Tirzah. Then Omri bought the hill now known as Samaria from its owner, Shemer, for 150 pounds of silver. He built a city on it and called the city Samaria in honor of Shemer.
But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. He followed the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.
The rest of the events in Omri’s reign, the extent of his power, and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel. When Omri died, he was buried in Samaria. Then his son Ahab became the next king.
Ahab Rules in Israel
Ahab son of Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty-two years. But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. And as though it were not enough to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.
It was during his reign that Hiel, a man from Bethel, rebuilt Jericho. When he laid its foundations, it cost him the life of his oldest son, Abiram. And when he completed it and set up its gates, it cost him the life of his youngest son, Segub. This all happened according to the message from the Lord concerning Jericho spoken by Joshua son of Nun.
Elijah Fed by Ravens
1 Kings 17 (NLT) – Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”
So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook. But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land.
The Widow at Zarephath
Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”
So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”
But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”
But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”
So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.
Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died. Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”
But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed. Then Elijah cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”
And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the Lord, “O Lord my God, please let this child’s life return to him.” The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived! Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”
Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”
The Contest on Mount Carmel
1 Kings 18 (NLT) – Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!” So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.
Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria. So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.) Ahab said to Obadiah, “We must check every spring and valley in the land to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules.” So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
As Obadiah was walking along, he suddenly saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and bowed low to the ground before him. “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” he asked.
“Yes, it is,” Elijah replied. “Now go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
“Oh, sir,” Obadiah protested, “what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab? For I swear by the Lord your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time he was told, ‘Elijah isn’t here,’ King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim. And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the Lord all my life. Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water. And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me.”
So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
“I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.”
So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed.
Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood.”
So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.
About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”
So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response.
Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel, and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons. He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.
Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”
After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”
Then Elijah commanded, “Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there.
Elijah Prays for Rain
Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!”
So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.
Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.”
The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.”
Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”
And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.
“Show Your Power” – Vineyard Worship UK & Ireland
Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!