Saturday, March 5, 2016

1 Kings 19

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Kings 19. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • When Jezebel says "one of them" in verse 2, she's referring to the dead prophets of Baal. She is telling Elijah she will have him killed that day.
  • Elijah just experienced an incredible victory, but apparently he assumed it would result in everything immediately getting better. When it doesn't, he feels like giving up, and tells God he wants to die (verse 4).
  • God mercifully provides sustenance (verse 7-8) for the journey Elijah is about to take.
  • Mount Horeb (verse 8) was the mountain where God had given Moses the Ten Commandments.
  • Back in Moses' time the people had rejected God. Moses' response was to intercede for them, pleading with God to spare the people. Here, all Elijah can do is judge and complain about the people (verse 10).
  • God reveals himself to Elijah, not as he might have assumed (with great power), but in a gentle whisper (verses 11-13). Then God asks Elijah the same question again (verse 13). You would think that experiencing God's presence in a supernatural way would change Elijah's answer, but it does not (verse 14).
  • God's answer (verses 15-17) shows Elijah that God is still in charge, still has a plan, and that Elijah is not the only one who has remained faithful to Him.
  • Throwing the cloak around Elisha (verse 19) symbolized that Elisha was chosen as Elijah's successor.
  • Elijah slaughtered all his oxen and burned his equipment, thereby making a total break from his old occupation. He now had nothing to go back to. This showed his complete commitment to God's plan for his life.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Isn't it ironic that in the battle between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah it was conclusively proven that Elijah's God was the real God, and Jezebel's was not, yet immediately after Jezebel is totally undaunted and Elijah is totally dejected?
    • Discouragement can come after an amazing spiritual experience (baptism, a mission trip, etc.). Things don't change as completely as we assumed they would, and it can confuse us about the future.
    • The thing Elijah did right was to take his discouragement to God. God cares for Elijah and shows him that there is still more for him to do.
    • When we feel discouraged, the answer is not to stop praying, or stop reading the Bible, or stop showing up at church. The answer is to pray more, read more, go to church more. We need to bring our discouragement to God and let Him lead us out of it and into the future He (still) has for us.
  • Elisha apparently was wealthy (having a team of oxen was a lot back then) and so maybe it would have been tempting for him to leave God's plan for him (to be Elijah's successor as prophet) and go back to his old life. But he removes that future temptation by killing his oxen and burning all his equipment. Now he has nothing to go back to. Similarly, when we choose to follow God and His plan, we need to make sure we don't go back

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What do you do when you're discouraged? Is it really helpful? And how would bringing your discouragement to God be a better path?
    • What could you put in place today so that in the future when you're discouraged you won't handle it in your old way, but instead will bring your feelings to God? Who could keep you accountable to that?
  • Is there anything from your "old life" that you're still hanging onto? Perhaps in the back of your mind you know it's there and it's still an option. Is there anything you need to get rid of, so going back to it is no longer an option?