I Kings 15:25-17:24; Acts 10;24-48;
Psalm 134:1-3; Proverbs 17:9-11
Let them eat cake!
Before we discuss these two people, we have a series of bad kings who are ruling the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Here is the list:
- Omri (who built Samaria)
Ahab sets up the infamous Asherah poles and builds an altar and temple to Baal. The Bible says that Ahab did more to anger the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him. We should note that prior to Ahab, Jeroboam was the gold standard for evil. He is known as the father of massive idolatry in Israel.
It should not surprise us that when God allows great evil, He counters that evil with great righteousness. This is why we are now introduced to one of the greatest prophets of all time- Elijah. The first thing we see Elijah do is boldly go before this royal couple to announce that as surely as the God of Israel lives, there will be no rain in the region until Elijah says there will be rain. Remember, these people are having immoral sex and sacrificing to the idol god Baal and the goddess Asherah in order to have rain and good crops. Elijah is hitting them where it hurts.
What can we learn from this story? Here are some things I have thought:
- God trains those He loves through wilderness experiences. Tough times make for tough people.
- God fills up empty vessels. He used the empty brook, the empty flour barrel and the empty oil flask, the empty body of Elijah (who had learned to rely on God, rather than himself), and the empty body of the widow's son.
- God is our bread of life, eternal fountain of water, and our anointing oil.
- The symbols of water, bread and oil represent God. Water is His Word (which is His essence, logic, mind, personality). Bread is the Lord Jesus Christ (thru Jesus we are sustained and fed). Oil is the Holy Spirit.
- God uses people to bless each other and provide for one another. God combines the faith and willingness of the widow with His sovereign power to produce the miracle. We are part of God's work on earth. We must act and He must act to make His miraculous story unfold.
We see Peter's humility as he entreats Cornelius to get up off of the floor and not worship him. Peter states that he is just a man like Cornelius. Peter confesses that he was hesitant to come because it is against Jewish law for an Israelite to come into a Gentile home. God has taught Peter that he is not to think of any other person as impure. Cornelius relates his vision to Peter. Peter states,
"I see very clearly that God doesn't show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right." NLTThis is huge. This is a revolutionary concept for the early Jewish converts to Christianity to understand. Their role of bringing the Messiah to earth is complete. It is now time for the Gentiles to be grafted into the body of believers. God's purposes for history unfold as He sees fit. Peter is a willing student of God. He is humble as the Lord reveals His will on earth. Peter is the key instrument in bringing the message to the people groups. The rock (Peter) presents the Rock (gospel of Jesus Christ) to the earth. The foundation for the Church is laid by Peter's testimony.
Cornelius and his family listen to Peter's testimony about Jesus sacrificial death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit falls on this group of Gentiles. After receiving the Holy Spirit, the group is publicly baptized in the name of Jesus. Please note that they receive the Holy Spirit prior to baptism, not during their baptisms.
Have you been baptized after receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming a follower of Christ? Baptism is a public testament to a spiritual reality.
I can imagine the new converts to Christ in Cornelius' house reciting the words of this psalm.
"He who covers another person's faults/sins promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Very true.
What did you notice today?