I Kings 14:1-15:24; Acts 10:1-23;
Psalms 133:1-3; Proverbs 17:7-8
I intended to have gone to Africa in cognito. But the fact that a white man, even an American, was about to enter Africa was soon know all over Zanzibar.
~Henry Morton Stanley
~Henry Morton Stanley
Many Hollywood stars try to go out in public in cognito in order to not be noticed. I think of Michael Jackson and his scarves, hats, sunglasses and masks designed to hide his real appearance. The hopes that he could go unrecognized were futile. Today, Jeroboam's wife tries to go in cognito to a prophet of God named Ahijah to learn the fate of her ailing child.
As our story begins, this queen of the Northern Kingdom does not want to be recognized when she goes publicly to a man of God. The rumor mills were probably in full force as the kingdom was aware that the king's good child was deathly ill. Although the prophet Ahijah is old and practically blind, God tells him who has come to see him. Even in our disguises, God sees us. Ahijah has a message from the Lord for Jeroboam. God declares that although he ripped the kingdom from David and gave it to Jeroboam, Jeroboam has done more evil than all who have lived before him. Whoa! That is a huge statement.
Jeroboam has really led Israel astray. God pronounces that He will kill all of Jeroboam's sons and burn his dynasty like one burns garbage. His family will have disrespectful deaths that include being eaten by wild dogs and vultures. Jeroboam's one good son, who the queen has come to inquire about, will be the only son to die and be buried respectfully. God prophesies about the Northern Kingdom's eventual captivity. This occurs in the future. Jeroboams sin and rebellion against God has not gone unnoticed. God's judgment against this sin is just and inevitable.
Now, we look at what is going on in the Southern Kingdom. Rehoboam is doing evil in the sight of the Lord. He has built pagan shrines and set up Asherah poles, where people come to have sex and try to get the agricultural gods to provide rain and good crops. It is also a good excuse to have immoral sex. We see that the peace that Solomon experienced is over. An Egyptian king comes and attacks Jerusalem and steals the riches in the Temple.
The next king in the Southern Kingdom is Abijam. His mother was Absalom's daughter and her name is Maacah. You should begin to notice that we are told the names of the king's mothers. God is showing us the important and vital role that a mother plays in the spiritual life of her children. It may not surprise you to know that this king's heart was not right with the Lord. Bad King. This king fights against the Northern Kingdom constantly. Jeroboam of the North will fight continually with the kings of the South during his reign.
After Abijam in the South comes Asa. Asa is a good king of the Southern Kingdom. He is the grandson of Maacah, who was Absalom's daughter. He dethrones Maacah as the queen mother because she has set up an obscene Asherah pole. He banishes the shrine prostitutes and cleans up the smut. We would call him an anti-pornography, anti-idolatry king. Good for him. Although he cuts down many Asherah poles, not all of the pagan shrines are demolished. Asa is faithful to God throughout his lifetime. He fights with the Northern Kingdom and secures alliances with Damascus to attack Israel in the north. He may have had diabetes that contributed to his death, as the Bible describes him having seriously diseased feet when he died.
The lives of these kings and their mothers do not go unnoticed by God. Your actions and the events that represent your faith in God or lack thereof, do no go unnoticed by God. Does this cause you to pause and think? Is your life a life of faith? What is God noticing about you?
Do you follow strict eating rules that you feel God has mandated? How do you square your rules with this passage in Scripture? Do you experience freedom in Christ? Are you bound by man-made traditions?
This psalm speaks of the blessings of harmony and unity of brothers. Our readings today show Israel in disharmony apart from true faith in God. The New Testament reading shows us God breaking down differences in order to create unity and harmony in His Church. Remember that harmony is achieved by different notes being played at the same time to blend together. That is what creates the best tune. Diversity in unison.
A ruler who lies is a despicable thing. Bribes really work, especially in a corrupt system.
What did you notice today?