King Ahaz 2 Kings 16

2 Kings 16:1-4 NLTse Ahaz son of Jotham began to rule over Judah in the seventeenth year of King Pekah’s reign in Israel. (2) Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the LORD his God, as his ancestor David had done. (3) Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel, even sacrificing his own son in the fire. In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. (4) He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.

As you can see, I skipped over a number of chapters to get to the next one mentioning anything about the temple. I’m sure we will have opportunities to go back and review some of the highlights in those chapters. This book is not a Bible commentary. It is supposed to focus in the Tabernacle, temple, and Sanctuary.

I wonder what happened to the Tabernacle. Remember that tent filled with items God designed. Each of those items was filled with a story. I love listening to good stories. Don’t you? That really makes me wonder what happened to the Tabernacle and everything in it. What really makes me wonder is, why did Israel discard the Tabernacle before learning about those symbols?

That about explains the Bible and how it is treated in this world today. If the Bible was a woman, or I should say a spouse, how many Christians would be in jail for abuse? That is the way some people handle God’s Word. They use it for little more than to prove their own concepts. On the level of a marriage, they use the Bible to satisfy their own needs. On a minor level, people open the Bible to comfort themselves. On the radical level, people only open the Bible to prove a point they are stuck on. They use the Bible to prove a point, to show off to other people what they know. On the relationship level, the Bible is a neglected trophy wife. Someone dressed up and taken out to exemplify power and success. Is that what God wrote the Bible for? Let’s get serious. God had to send His own Son here to die so the last chapters of the Bible could get recorded. Authors suffered and lost their lives to write portions of the Bible. And what do people do with it? They find a way to use it as a tool to increase fame, fortune, or use it to comfort themselves when they need it. All other times, their Bibles sit neglected.

Look at the intimate part of a marriage. I mean the really intimate part. Men especially have an objective. Not all men, but enough to make a point. Some women are in this category also. Intimacy becomes an objective of self gratification. People are intimate only to reach that objective. People with that mentality have little or no thought of exploring all the other parts of the body God formed with His own hands. No desire to find other parts of the body that feel sensations. Parts sensitive to touch. A touch that says, I care. Touches that comfort and sooth.

Depending on the mood, stress, work of that day, temperature, and a host of other factors, different parts of the human body react differently to touch. What may have been a passing touch one day, suddenly becomes an unexpected sensation a week or month later. People intimate with the Bible know how that works with God’s Word. Stories that had little bearing on life one day, come alive when situations change. And like all of us, we often forget those moments. But they can be rediscovered. The Bible is like that, so are we. God formed Adam by hand. Then He took out a rib, the missing bone, and formed Eve by hand. Both were formed in God’s image. The Bible is one of the greatest views and links we have to learning who God really is. We can look at God creating the Bible with His Word, or we can see how God put in time to form each word in scripture with His hands.

When given the chance, the Bible is a collection of intimate stories about people’s lives, spanning generations of time. Prayer is the only way to see those personal stories. When scripture is studied with prayer, bringing the presence of God’s Spirit into the written word, stories come alive with the people and lives recorded in the Bible. God was present for each and every event. Stories have to be read together, and compared. Back ground is recorded in one story, while another story recorded events. Some stories describe landscape, others jobs people had, some describe structural features, and still others the political and religious make up of the culture. That is why the type of study we see today, often referred to as proof text does not work. Proof text can be compared to the intimacy of a half minute quicky, where your in and out in record time with no emotions involved.

I’ve often asked why Judah had that tendency to jump from one religion to another in record time. One king loved God, and tried to serve Him to the best of his ability. The next king, which most often was one of his sons, turned the country over to a host of pagan worshipers. Why were there so many sudden changes?

There were of course a lot of reasons for those sudden changes. In most cases, it is nearly impossible to change people’s religions. They want to stick to what they’ve been taught and more often than not, fiercely defend what they know. But Judah didn’t fit that mold. They must have had reasons, or motives to switch religions at the drop of a hat.

It isn’t a secret, many people in Judah and Jerusalem owned slaves. Some of those slaves were women. When people think of Jerusalem and Judah, the tend to rely on descriptions of little more than a nation of shepherds. In fact, Jerusalem was at the center of some of the most important trade routes in the Middle East. People build warehouses and store fronts to take advantage of trading goods. Many men were business men buying and selling products. It would be nice to think people in Jerusalem always offered fair prices on both the buying and selling side, and were happy with a fair profit. But some of those merchants were human. They never had enough. They always wanted more, at any cost.

Shepherds depended on their wives to cook, clean, raise children, and help with tending the flock, watering sheep and cattle, and for the most part, work like a man. Women were involved in the structure of the community, as well as the business end. In the city, things were different. Businessmen for the most part wanted wives to cook, clean, raise children, and the most successful businessmen wanted the perfect trophy wife. A wife to be seen and not heard. Businessmen often did behind closed door deals they didn’t want anyone to find out about. For the most part, not even their wives. The last thing those men needed was a wife playing the part of a conscience. Slaves were part of that image of success businessmen wanted to exhibit.

It wasn’t uncommon for businessmen to share a little wine. Then after a few flasks of wine, return home. Slaves were no more than property. When the urge came up, men wanted a sense of relief, and wanted it quick. Sexual relationships without commitment. A live in slave often satisfied that desire. But God had something to say about that.

“If a man who has married a slave wife takes another wife for himself, he must not neglect the rights of the first wife to food, clothing, and sexual intimacy. If he fails in any of these three obligations, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:10-11 NLTse).

“If a man has sex with a slave girl whose freedom has never been purchased but who is committed to become another man’s wife, he must pay full compensation to her master. But since she is not a free woman, neither the man nor the woman will be put to death. The man, however, must bring a ram as a guilt offering and present it to the LORD at the entrance of the Tabernacle. The priest will then purify him before the LORD with the ram of the guilt offering, and the man’s sin will be forgiven. (Leviticus 19:20-22 NLTse).

Men wanted sex for free with no strings attached. But God had a set of rules and regulation, and a price to be paid. Strange as it may seem, we have to consider what the previous law had to do with this law.

“You must obey all my decrees. “Do not mate two different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread. (Leviticus 19:19 NLTse).

If nothing else, slaves were viewed as a different class of people compared to the successful class of businessmen. God arranged His laws in a specific order to make a point, and to get the conscience in high gear. To get people to think beyond what was recorded. The last thing successful businessmen wanted was a conscience, or a God who knew how to work on that conscience. They preferred those gods of wood, stone, and better yet, the gods of bronze, silver, and gold. Those gods not only left the conscience alone, kept their mouths shut, but opened another outlet to show off success. False gods became the perfect trophy wife.

Since the subject of marriage was brought up and compared to scripture, let’s look at how scripture described marriage. Nothing is recorded about specific details for a wedding ceremony. Those details are more or less man made traditions. Scripture says little about marriage.

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. (Genesis 4:1 KJV)

And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. (Genesis 4:17 KJV)

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. (Genesis 4:25 KJV)

And they rose up in the morning early, and worshiped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her. (1 Samuel 1:19 KJV)

Although this subject is only mentioned in a few locations in scripture, we should be able to figure out what it means. Most people think the term knew, only relates to sexual relationships. That is sort of a test from God to see if we are paying attention.

People may not think the part about Adam knowing Eve has anything to do with marriage. People cling onto the concepts they’ve been taught about a marriage in Heaven, and Adam didn’t know Eve in an intimate way until after they were ejected from Eden. People read all kinds of things into that without thinking about what it is to know a person, or in this case a spouse. When we look at this story and what happened before this story, what do we get out of it? Adam accepted Eve with all her faults. Adam saw the sinful side of Eve, and accepted her the way she was. As a matter of fact, Adam for some reason joined her. That is another subject all together.

Of course the term knew refers to a sexual relationship. But knowing a person goes much deeper than the physical attraction and attachment. What does it mean to know a person? There are three major levels, emotional, spiritual, and of course, the physical. Is one more important than the other? Is knowing someone on the physical level going to lead to the other levels? Interesting enough, scripture contains a few stories explaining how the physical level led to some sever negative results.

And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Genesis 16:4 KJV)

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. (Genesis 19:34 KJV)

I shouldn’t have to explain how those physical relationships led to problems this world is still dealing with. When we examine the way the author phrased those encounters, we see a major difference. Abraham only went in on Hagar. Abraham didn’t know that slave in his household. The same is true with Lot and his daughters. Those are some deep spiritual lessons you can examine on your own. We are hitting subjects books could be based on. The fact of the matter is, each of us will get a different, personal answer from God based on where we are on our spiritual walk.

God used the symbol of a marriage to describe His relationship with His people. Now let’s put that word KNEW in place of the world marriage. Of course God knows us. We shouldn’t question that fact. But how many people really know God? What should come first in any relationship, the emotional, spiritual, or physical? Let’s take a look at what we know about Adam and Eve.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25 KJV)

God created them naked. But Adam was given information he had to share with Eve. The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden– except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” (Genesis 2:15-18 NLTse). God gave information to Adam he had to share with Eve.

God also showed Adam every animal, bird, and insect in the world, and let Adam name all of them. God gave Adam a lot to share with Eve. God also took something out of Adam to make Eve. That gave Eve something on a deep spiritual level to share with Adam. Man could not be complete until he found that missing rib. God set up Adam and Eve with reasons to know each other. But it took a while before thy were ready for the physical level.

The same is true with God. Everyone has questions about God. Or they should. Those animals, birds, fish, and insects – who better to explain every question about them then the original Creator? We don’t have Adam to talk to. Where else are we going to go for that part of the knowing process?

Those of us who have met God can tell you, you have to know God on the spiritual and emotional levels before you can hope to see God on any type of physical level. Some people search for God on the spiritual level, but without knowing the emotional level of God, they run the risk of using the spiritual level much like a physical encounter for self gratification. There is a certain mixture of the spiritual and emotional levels that is personal and very intimate before it transforms to a physical touch. That combination is different for everyone, as personal and intimate as the physical touch, exploration of a spouse. Needs for that touch in one spot or another change from day to day. Each have to share times to touch and be touched. God is the same when it comes to communicating through His Word. Believe it or not, there are times God needs to be touched by us. We usually refer to that as a break through moment when we share with God what His written word means to us. That is like verbal communication telling your spouse when they hit the right and wrong spots. There are times we have to tell God, we don’t understand. That is a break through moment when we admit, we don’t have the answers, and are relying on God to be patient with us. That is one of the ways the relationship grows and transforms. If verbal communication is important in a worldly marriage, then why wouldn’t it be important with God? And we should know, at times the deepest communication comes without words at certain times. And we have to remember, Adam accepted Eve after he saw how she sinned, and knew her. That is part of the theme in the New Testament.

So why did Jerusalem flip flop religions so quickly? They didn’t have to face their conscience with those made up god’s. They didn’t have to work on a relationship with idols. They could pull them out when they needed them, and put them away when they had no use for them. Unfortunately, that is the image of a perfect marriage for some people, especially successful men.

The introduction of 2 Kings chapter 16 shows us, Ahaz had no love in his heart. He may have had a dozen forms of worldly love in his heart, but sacrificing his children to idols who freed him from his conscience, responsibilities, and need to communicate on emotional and spiritual levels showed what direction Ahaz wanted to take in life. The fact Judah accepted the things Ahaz did showed how worldly success and self gratification ruled their lives. The nation became slaves to idols with no emotions or conscience.

Joash Repaired the Temple

2 Kings 12:4-8 NLTse One day King Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money brought as a sacred offering to the LORD’s Temple, whether it is a regular assessment, a payment of vows, or a voluntary gift. (5) Let the priests take some of that money to pay for whatever repairs are needed at the Temple.” (6) But by the twenty-third year of Joash’s reign, the priests still had not repaired the Temple. (7) So King Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, “Why haven’t you repaired the Temple? Don’t use any more money for your own needs. From now on, it must all be spent on Temple repairs.” (8) So the priests agreed not to accept any more money from the people, and they also agreed to let others take responsibility for repairing the Temple.

We see a number of movements here. Joash is taking control. In a few years, he’s learned to give orders. One of those projects is centered on rebuilding the temple. It seems the people were great at taking down what they viewed as a threat, but not so great at rebuilding what they thought was good.

Here we see another detail Joash and Jehoiada feel short on. The king had to tell the high priest not to spend anymore money on their own needs until the temple project was finished. We see Joash is growing because the priests agreed with his plan, which included handing the rebuilding project over to other people.

That is usually a difficult step for anyone in control. When we look at complications churches have whenever any project involving the church building creeps up, we often see competitive spirits take over. The easiest projects turn into a war of interests and battles for control. Common sense seems to go out the window.

Joash seemed to avoid that situation. He took control and gave that control to qualified individuals more concerned with finishing the project than trying to gain control. That may have been one step God wanted Joash to take. It may have been part of the learning process Joash had to go through. We all have a learning process to go through, no matter where we are on our walk with God. If we ever get to a point where we think we know it all, we are telling the Infinite God, we don’t need Him anymore. Do we ever want to place God in that position?

Think of God as a real person with real emotions, able to feel real pain, heartache, and rejection. What does God feel when we make decisions on our own? Worse yet. What does God feel when He sees us make mistakes? God knows He still has to be there with us when we face the consequences of our mistakes. God has to go through the pain with us. The long sleepless nights, days full of uncertainty and worry. God has to watch His creation wear itself down, break down, and wait until we are ready to be rebuilt. How many times a day does God have to say, “when will they listen?”

Joash Rebuilt the Temple 2 King’s 12

2 Kings 12:1-3 NLTse Joash began to rule over Judah in the seventh year of King Jehu’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother was Zibiah from Beersheba. (2) All his life Joash did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. (3) Yet even so, he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there.

Can you imagine the scene of a seven year old child sitting on Solomon’s throne? A very young boy less than half the size of a man sitting on a throne build for a king. The size of the throne making Joash appear even smaller. When they placed the crown on his head, it covered his eyes. Joash had trouble keeping his head straight, and was afraid it would fall off. To complete the scene, the large flowing robe worn by kings before him draped behind the young boy, and along side of him, down along one side of the throne, and over the steps, almost hiding Joash from sight.

Jehoiada stood to the right of Joash barking out orders. People followed Jehoiada’s orders as if they were given by the king himself. Joash felt glad someone took over for him. He didn’t know what to do or say, and was afraid that if he spoke, that crown would fall off his head.

The introduction to this chapter sends us back to another story about Jehu. This is not some kind of secret code people look for in the Bible, it is the way God constantly sends us back to review scripture to look at what we missed. When we review scripture, we look for parallels and contracts between two or more stories.

This is what I’ve come to know as God’s timeline. We look at a timeline in a linear fashion. Timelines in this world are a straight line with vital dates on them. Dates of important events in history. God takes that linear timeline and adds related events to points along that line. Related events cross historical points at different angles. Sometimes we see one or two related events. Other times we may see a number of related stories. The point shows related features scripture points out. In this example, scripture defined a relationship between Joash and Jehu. When we review Jehu’s story, we see details the two stories share.

2 Kings 9:6-10 NLTse So Jehu left the others and went into the house. Then the young prophet poured the oil over Jehu’s head and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I anoint you king over the LORD’s people, Israel. (7) You are to destroy the family of Ahab, your master. In this way, I will avenge the murder of my prophets and all the LORD’s servants who were killed by Jezebel. (8) The entire family of Ahab must be wiped out. I will destroy every one of his male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. (9) I will destroy the family of Ahab as I destroyed the families of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah. (10) Dogs will eat Ahab’s wife Jezebel at the plot of land in Jezreel, and no one will bury her.” Then the young prophet opened the door and ran.

2 Kings 11:1-3 NLTse When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family. (2) But Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah, so the child was not murdered. (3) Joash remained hidden in the Temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.

When we compare the two stories, we see they shared details about entire families being wiped out. We can see how this is a major point in both stories by the way those details have been repeated. That is the method authors use to draw attention to details and as we see here, draw attention to parallels in stories. Once we see related events, we can learn a spiritual message by looking at other features the stories share, and differences they have.

One major difference we see is, Jehu destroyed Ahab’s family at God’s direction. Athaliah didn’t receive any such orders from God. Athaliah acted on her own. Since Athaliah’s actions are listed in the introduction of 2 Kings 11, which is also the introduction to a series of stories, acting without God’s direction is the main theme throughout the chapter, story, and related stories. Scripture tells us what details to pay attention to.

Once we understand what to look for in scripture, we see details many people miss. Looking at the introduction of 2 Kings chapter 12, we see how the lack of communication with God is still a concern, “All his life Joash did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. Yet even so, he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there.”

We see the detail, Jehoiada instructed Joash, but the clear, concise connection from God is missing. The author didn’t record the same details showing how God communicated with Jehu in the story about Joash. Instead, we see Joash receiving instructions from Jehoiada. We are not shown any direct communication between Jehoiada and God. Now we see why the author included another important detail in the introduction. “Yet even so, he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there.”

How can anyone expect to perform a complete job without God’s involvement? Joash shows what we can expect to accomplish when we act on our own, or in this case, at the direction of people without sure and valid evidence showing their relationship with God, and how they received orders from God.

Knowing this information, we can look back to see additional evidence in scripture showing plans are incomplete without God. Athaliah tried to destroy the entire royal family, but missed one baby. That mistake eventually cost her life. That is an object lesson no one should miss, but we see how important that lesson is when we look at scripture with the timeline, and related stories God uses to reveal spiritual lessons.

When we see those stories about destroying families, we should consider the children that were slain. When we look at the sacrifices offered to pagan gods, that should remind us, those people sacrificed their children to gods.

“Give the people of Israel these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living in Israel. “If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. I myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled my sanctuary and brought shame on my holy name by offering their children to Molech. (Leviticus 20:2-3 NLTse).

We have to consider other forms of child sacrifice in those stories. Ahab sacrificed his children by leading them to worship Baal. Athaliah showed us a different form of child sacrifice, coups, takeovers, and wars. Many wars are fought over land, minerals in that land, power, wealth, fame, and fortune. Those have become modern gods and idols people sacrifice children to.

A Covenant was Made

2 Kings 11:17-21 NLTse Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people that they would be the LORD’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. (18) And all the people of the land went over to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They demolished the altars and smashed the idols to pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. Jehoiada the priest stationed guards at the Temple of the LORD. (19) Then the commanders, the Carite mercenaries, the palace guards, and all the people of the land escorted the king from the Temple of the LORD. They went through the gate of the guards and into the palace, and the king took his seat on the royal throne. (20) So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was peaceful because Athaliah had been killed at the king’s palace. (21) Joash was seven years old when he became king.

Joash was very young when he was crowned king of Judah. He didn’t have any experience to be king. Scripture didn’t tell us anything about God being involved in the decision to crown Joash king. But scripture does tell us some rather interesting and unusual facts about how Joash was raised.

One of the most interesting rules of context tells us, when we see something unusual, there has to be a deep spiritual lesson involved. We find that spiritual lesson after examining the physical aspects of the story. What do we know about Joash?

We know Joash was hidden in the temple as a baby. The queen killed all of Joash’s family in order to seize power. That turned out to be a parallel to stories in previous chapters about Israel’s history. Joash was raised in secrecy, total isolation, having contact with very few people. We can look at that as part of God’s plan, a sort of blessing, or in a different light.

What story in the Bible does growing up in isolation remind you of? We looked at how God reached David and taught him in the open fields when he watched over his father’s flocks. John the Baptist was also taught by God in the solitude, peace and quite of the open field. Looking at the confines of the stone temple, do we see a parallel, or a contrast?

If we looked for a parallel, we would see a good example of spiritual growth in Joash, like scripture explains about David and John. As we progress through this story, we can look for that spiritual growth and compare it to the other stories to see what scripture reveals. We also have to keep contrasts in mind when we compare the three stories.

In the story about Joash, we see the author repeated the military presence a number of times. The military presence didn’t show up in David’s life until later. David’s earliest experiences taught total reliance on God. John the Baptist had no military experience, and very little military presence. In the story about Joash, the high priest had full control of the military presence.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people that they would be the LORD’s people. He also made a covenant between the king and the people. We see Jehoiada making a list of covenants, but where is God? Usually, God is present, and personally makes a covenant between Himself and His people. A review of covenants between God and his people will show how God was present and physically spoke to the people about His covenant. When we cover God’s list of covenants from beginning to end, we see a progression where previous covenants are explained by later covenants. When we put them all together, we find one long covenant explained over generations. How and where would the covenant Jehoiada made fit in? He killed the queen, then sent people out to tear down pagan temples. It may sound like a good idea, and a sound interpretation of God’s covenant, but is it really part of God’s plan of salvation?

I see people going overboard on one aspect of scripture, making one little part of scripture their ministry. They get stuck on it like an old vinyl record stuck in a scratch. The same thing over and over again.

In this story, we can see an isolated baby raised to be a king, with little contact with the outside world. We see Joash was raised inside the temple. Most people would consider that a good thing. But how can isolation be a good thing? We see one man, a high priest giving all the orders, and a mixture of military personal. Is it safe to follow one man with a one track mind, unless they show a clear and precise, “thus sayest the LORD?” A prophet owes it to the people they instruct to clearly identify when they talked to God, how they received the message, and why they received the message. If we see only a why, but the how and when are missing, we should begin asking questions. We are instructed by God to test the prophets. Those instructions are found in the Old and New Testaments.

Order is one of the most important details to look at in scripture. God doesn’t make mistakes, and often teaches some of the most profound spiritual lessons in the order He had details recorded. In this story we see something out of order. The author tells us, the people went out killing Baal’s priest, smashed altars, and destroyed pagan temples before Joash took the throne. What does that tell us? Whose orders were the following? Scripture tells us, the people followed Jehoiada’s orders. What does that tell us about Joash? He was too young to make decisions, and too young to give orders. Joash may have been sitting on the throne, but the high priest was giving orders.

Elisha’s First Miracle

2 Kings 2:19-25 NLTse One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem, my lord,” they told him. “This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive.” (20) Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.” So they brought it to him. (21) Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, “This is what the LORD says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility.” (22) And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said. (23) Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!” (24) Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. (25) From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel and finally returned to Samaria.

This was the beginning of Elijah’s ministry. It began at Jericho, the first city conquered by Joshua in the promised land. God brought down its walls after Israel marched around the city for seven days. There were a number of other delays before that walk around Jericho. So many delays, we can see how God gave people inside Jericho time to leave.

Rahab, the prostitute who hid Israel’s two spies, and her family were the only people spared. She told the spies what Jericho knew about Israel, God, what happened in Egypt, and how frightened the city was. But those people inside Jericho decided to trust in their leaders, who shut the gates, to keep Israel out, and their subjects and wealth inside.

Now God sent Elisha to Jericho to heal it. What a change. What a blessing. What a way to share Elijah’s double portion of Spirit. What a lesson for us. God healed the land and water around the first city conquered in the promised land.

The story about those two bears mauling forty-two children is a little difficult to understand. Why would Elisha heal a city, then suddenly kill forty-two children using two bears? Somehow the stories have to be linked.

Who was in Jericho at the time? Israel was. One of the most important things Israel was supposed to do in the promised land was teach their children. One of those things was to understand what a prophet from God was, what they stood for, and how to tell a good prophet from a false prophet. Those children had to die to show how their parents failed. You know those parents anguished over the death of their children, but many of them asked why, or took responsibility for their deaths.

One of the most important things we’re supposed to be teaching today is that power of Elijah. A power men, women, and children are supposed to experience. But how many people know what that power is, where it comes from, and how to use it? How many people care? Elisha was disrespected, and look how many lives that cost. What price do we have to pay to disrespect God in the last days? How many children have to die because parents are too lazy to teach their children?

Elijah 1 Kings 19

1 Kings 19:1-7 NLTse When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. (2) So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” (3) Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. (4) Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (5) Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” (6) He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. (7) Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

After looking at the relationship Solomon’s temple had with money, and the lack of relationship Jerusalem had with God, I think this is a good chapter to look at. Elijah fled Samaria as soon as Ahab told Jezebel, Elijah killed all her prophets. It seemed like a good thing to do at the time. Was that what God wanted? If we take an honest look at what Elijah did, we have to admit, God’s plans usually don’t include the measure of fear Elijah experienced. Let’s face it, Elijah displayed superhuman faith and courage to face about none hundred of Jezebel’s prophets alone. It took an awful lot of faith to stand in front of a huge crowd waiting for God to set fire to a pile of wet wood. What changed Elijah so quickly? Did Elijah experience some type of separation from God when he arrived at Samaria? Did the sites and sounds of the city distract Elijah long enough to take his mind off God?

All we know is, Elijah had to get out of town and back in touch with God as soon as he could. Was one little threat from a queen enough to shake Elijah? Or is there more behind this story we’re not seeing yet?

For some reason Elijah left his servant behind and continued his journey alone. Since Elijah was a prophet, we can see, he knew he needed time alone with God. When Elijah felt that fear, he knew something was wrong, and he knew where to go for answers.

When we compare what Elijah did with what we saw kings in Jerusalem doing in the previous chapter, we can see a good point God is making. Jerusalem’s kings were a few steps away from God’s throne in earth, but couldn’t make the journey. Elijah had to get out of town and go on a journey lasting days. God was there to feed Elijah. An angel told Elijah to eat, because there was a long journey ahead. “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” Why such a long journey for one of God’s most faithful servants, while people who chose to ignore God had only a few steps?

There is a relationship between what we know about God, how far we have to go, and what we need to do to get to the next step. Finding God has never seemed easy to do. Most of the time, that first meeting is only a step away, but people build huge walls that need to be crossed, or traveled around. After what Elijah experienced, he shouldn’t have allowed fear to guide him. Fear was a long wall Elijah had to get around. God used a long journey to illustrate that long, spiritual, and emotional journey.

Asa Faced Wars

1 Kings 15:16-24 NLTse There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. (17) King Baasha of Israel invaded Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from entering or leaving King Asa’s territory in Judah. (18) 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: (19) “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.” (20) 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. (21) As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah and withdrew to Tirzah. (22) 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. (23) 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. (24) When Asa died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, became the next king.

It seems like Kings and Chronicles wrote about two different kings. Chronicles tells about a great victory God gave Asa and his army. On the other hand, the author of Kings tells us about how Israel laid siege to Jerusalem. Doesn’t that always seem to happen? As soon as the LORD does miraculous things to set your mind on Him, without a doubt, the enemy sets a thousand distractions in order. At times it seems like this spiritual war is like a spoiled child doing everything he can to get your attention? For what? Nothing really. He is just spoiled and wants all the attention. But in this spiritual warfare, Satan’s tantrums cost lives. Millions of lives.

We also see how those distractions effected Asa. Where did Asa go for help? There may be something spiritual about going to Damascus for help. If we were to redirect our study to follow the story about Damascus, and how that nation fit in with Israel’s and Judah’s history, we would learn a lot. But we want to concentrate on the temple, and how it effected people and the nation of Judah.

When we look at how the temple was constructed, we see the gold and silver was stored in special rooms Solomon had constructed on three sides of the temple. Those rooms were for storing treasures and conducting meetings. Those rooms were not part of God’s original design for the Tabernacle, which was an image of the Sanctuary in Heaven. There is no money in Heaven, so no use for storerooms. All the meetings mentioned in Heaven are at God’s throne, represented by the Most Holy room and the Ark.

Why did Solomon add those rooms? What was their original intention? Why don’t we see those rooms in the Tabernacle or Heavenly Sanctuary? And what lesson are they teaching us?

Solomon called his temple, a place for God to live forever. Solomon designed and built what he felt was a permanent, man made structure. Solomon made mistakes, but he would have known, his temple needed God’s blessing and protection to last forever. Then why did his structure need treasury rooms?

Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple. He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 feet wide. The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves. The stones used in the construction of the Temple were finished at the quarry, so there was no sound of hammer, ax, or any other iron tool at the building site. The entrance to the bottom floor was on the south side of the Temple. There were winding stairs going up to the second floor, and another flight of stairs between the second and third floors. After completing the Temple structure, Solomon put in a ceiling made of cedar beams and planks. As already stated, he built a complex of rooms on three sides of the building, attached to the Temple walls by cedar timbers. Each story of the complex was 7 feet high. Then the LORD gave this message to Solomon: “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.” So Solomon finished building the Temple. (1 Kings 6:4-14 NLTse).

When we go back to review the description of those rooms and the temple, we see how that chapter was divided into two major portions. The first part described the physical aspects of the temple, followed by a brief talk God had with Solomon. The short talk centered on keeping God’s laws and commandments. The end of the chapter described the Most Holy Place inside the temple.

When we apply a the simple rule of context telling us, symbols are interpreted within the story, and most often in the chapter, we find there is no spiritual interpretation for those rooms, or the gold and silver they contained. But we do see God made a direct connection between the protection Solomon knew the temple needed, and the Most Holy Place containing the Ark, which contained the Ten Commandments. Is God telling us, that set of stones is worth more than the gold and silver surrounding it, as well as offering more protection and security those treasures could ever offer? What about that connection with God’s throne? What was more important, those meeting rooms on the outside, or the meeting room at God’s throne?

I’ve studied the history of Damascus before, and know how that story turned out.

King Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria with this message: “I am your servant and your vassal. Come up and rescue me from the attacking armies of Aram and Israel.” Then Ahaz took the silver and gold from the Temple of the LORD and the palace treasury and sent it as a payment to the Assyrian king. So the king of Assyria attacked the Aramean capital of Damascus and led its population away as captives, resettling them in Kir. He also killed King Rezin. King Ahaz then went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. While he was there, he took special note of the altar. Then he sent a model of the altar to Uriah the priest, along with its design in full detail. Uriah followed the king’s instructions and built an altar just like it, and it was ready before the king returned from Damascus. When the king returned, he inspected the altar and made offerings on it. (2 Kings 16:7-12 NLTse).

Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him. King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute and conspired against the king of Assyria by asking King So of Egypt to help him shake free of Assyria’s power. When the king of Assyria discovered this treachery, he seized Hoshea and put him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. (2 Kings 17:1-8 NLTse).

During the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked the city of Samaria and began a siege against it. Three years later, during the sixth year of King Hezekiah’s reign and the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign in Israel, Samaria fell. At that time the king of Assyria exiled the Israelites to Assyria and placed them in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For they refused to listen to the LORD their God and obey him. Instead, they violated his covenant–all the laws that Moses the LORD’s servant had commanded them to obey. In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold. To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the LORD and in the palace treasury. Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the LORD’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king. Nevertheless, the king of Assyria sent his commander in chief, his field commander, and his chief of staff from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed. (2 Kings 18:9-17 NLTse).

Taking gold and silver from those storage rooms surrounding the Ark turned into a sort of tradition Judah’s kings followed. It seemed easier to go into the storage rooms than to approach God’s throne for help. Is that what Solomon had in mind when he built those rooms around the temple?

To think Jerusalem had that temple standing in the middle of the city, but had no idea who that temple was built for. The gold and silver surrounding their temple became their security blanket. Somehow Jerusalem placed more emphasis on the treasures outside the temple than the God it was built to honor. How did that happen?

Who did they give those treasures to? Pagan nations. First it was given to Damascus. When that didn’t work out as planned, more money went to Assyria. For what? First to overthrow Damascus, Jerusalem’s first choice for protection. In those stories, we see Egypt thrown in as a minor point of interest. In this short explanation, we see something strange.

Jerusalem was doing nothing more than using money to talk to pagan nations in a language they understood, money, power, and glory. In other words, scripture just showed us the language of this world. How difficult is that to see and understand. But the strange thing is how Ahaz walked into a conquered city, and copied the pagan alter there, and had the copy installed in front of the temple in Jerusalem. Usually kings and nations give credit to their gods for victories, and desecrate gods and temples in the conquered nation. King Ahaz did the opposite. What did he hope to gain from that?

I think the main point of that story is how scripture shows us how reliable that gold and silver was. Jerusalem gave gold and silver to Damascus. That didn’t work out, so they gave more to Assyria to overthrow Damascus. Then more money to Assyria to overthrow Samaria. The Assyrians took so much money out of Damascus and Samaria, they hired a bigger army and camped outside Jerusalem. That lesson spans how many chapters? The length of that story shows how difficult it is for God to explain how useless all that gold and silver is. What spiritual lesson do we take away from that?

Part of the spiritual lesson is found when we apply what we’ve learned to our present time. Today every nation is suffering from high taxes, and officials basking in the same power and glory, speaking the same language those pagan nations understood, money. I don’t think there is a nation in this world without multi million dollar retirement accounts for government officials. That problem is compounded by the need to build up the military, not to protect against outside threats, but to protect those political thieves from the people they extracted those high taxes from. To complicate matters further, almost every country faces threats and attacks from a number of radical factions. Every country has so many security branches, and military branches, I doubt if anyone can name them all.

On top of all that, this world is led by the master at using all those deceptions, and he is an expert at directing greed. It is a simple and highly effective formula. So simple, God allowed Solomon to add that man made security system to the exterior walls of that temple to see how blind people are. They can be a few feet from God and His law, and never give it a single thought. People can be a few steps away from the most reliable security in the universe, but still choose to do things on their own.

The Face of ISIS

No one will argue the fact, ISIS is a type of religious organization, and the world for the most part is at war with ISIS. Is there a better way of fighting a religious war than with religion? I wondered if anyone prayed about exposing the real people behind ISIS. I took it upon myself to pray about the situation for a number of weeks. I don’t really follow the news. Most of what I write centers on real life experiences, and to tell you the truth, I don’t trust the news any further than I could throw a television station. After a few weeks of prayer and the little I heard on the news about ISIS, I could put all the facts together in what seems to be a perfect order. You tell me if it makes any sense.

ISIS uses the most radical form of any type of religion in this world in our present time. It is almost primitive. Did I say almost? I don’t want to criticize any religion, but the media has already placed a name on their religion, and ISIS doesn’t want to cover it up, but uses their religion as a recruiting tool. The thing that gets me is, whenever we see some offshoot Christian leader make a major mistake, take things past the limit, and advocate any type of hatred or violence against another group of people, Christian leaders stumble over one another to make it to the news microphones. I wish we would see that from Muslim leaders. But then again, is that lack of criticism from Muslim leaders, or the media fueling their own fires? In other words, filtering news to sell more advertising.

What we know about ISIS. We know they use the Internet to recruit members. How can a 13 year old boy contact ISIS leaders, but not one government agency anywhere in the world can locate a single laptop, phone, computer, or server? That seems rather odd. We know ISIS is in the oil business, the slave trade, and the sex slave industry. Quite a strange combination for a religious group. On the surface we can see their leaders use religion, or certain aspects of it to serve their ideals, and that is about it. That doesn’t seem strange at all. Christian leaders do that all the time. The most popular Christian movements today are prosperity churches using a tiny part of the Bible to tell people, real Christians were meant to be wealthy. If they really had the power of the spirit they claim they have, then why aren’t they doing something useful like ending poverty?

Oil is the big question mark I have. Any kid in a high school chemistry class could take an oil sample, test it, and with a basic back ground in geology, tell you just about where it came from. Governments spend billions, and have no clue. Oil is a solvent, and takes molecules from whatever it touches, limestone, granite, or whatever. Based on trace molecules in the oil, a good geologist can tell just about what well that oil came from. But governments all over the world claim they can’t tell where oil came from once it is extracted from the ground.

There isn’t a drop of oil that isn’t covered by an insurance policy. Insurance companies are very good at keeping records, and know what oil they are insuring, and what oil they aren’t going to payoff on if something happens. Insurance companies and pipelines us radioactive signatures to track oil. But governments insist, they have no way of telling where oil comes from. In the real world, you don’t go buying goods and giving your allies enemy funds to build their war machine. But that;s what is happening in the pursuit of cheap oil these days. I wonder how that slave trade and sex trade works its way in. If we dug deep enough, I bet we’d find slaves sold all over the world. What is being done about that?

The Internet is another interesting fact concerning ISIS. We live in a world that tracks everyone in multiple ways using cell phones and all types of computers. Governments and businesses use computers to track people through the origin of emails, websites, search engines, and who knows what else. For the most part, this world has learned to live with that fact. But when it comes to ISIS, all the intelligence, know how, technology and money in the world hasn’t been able to track ISIS leaders. Power houses like Google have been hired and paid who knows how much money to track ISIS to no avail. What do we know about ISIS leaders from those basic facts? They have to be computer geniuses to stay one step ahead of a world hunting them. Where did they learn those skills? From some university of course. That narrowed down the search quite a bit.

ISIS has to be a collection of some of the best computer minds in the world. So advanced, companies were afraid to hire them. Education is not cheap in this world. Imagine yourself a newly graduated student with the weight of an advanced degree debt on your shoulders. You’re the best in the world, but can’t get a job. That would burn in most people. So you use your skills to make money outside the system, below the radar.

Computer nerds to the nth degree usually aren’t very good with the women. They actually become outcasts, shut ins, and isolate themselves. They pour their time and resources into their work, but can’t shake the feeling of being lonely. ISIS leaders may not have had anything to do with the Muslim religion, but took bits and pieces of it to create their own brand of religion. A hatred of women fueled that plan. Hence, that is why we see ISIS radicals completely against giving women any shred of respect.

Based on basic profiling, it shouldn’t be difficult to have a computer scan university records, student loan records, make a few contacts, and track those people down. But for some reason, common sense seems to have flown out the window. With all the resources and funds available to government agencies all over the world, nothing seems to be getting anywhere. We have to ask why.

Some say, “money is the root of all evil.” That may be true to an extent. What is true is, money is the root of all fear. Give people money and the fear of loosing it sets in. The fear of running out of money sets on every heart in this world. Money fuels this world, and its fears. I have to wonder how much governments need wars to gain a form of control. Sometimes the world doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But then again, it makes all the sense in the world.

Ahijah’s Message to Jeroboam’s Wife

1 Kings 14:12-16 NLTse Then Ahijah said to Jeroboam’s wife, “Go on home, and when you enter the city, the child will die. (13) 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. (14) “In addition, the LORD will raise up a king over Israel who will destroy the family of Jeroboam. This will happen today, even now! (15) 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. (16) He will abandon Israel because Jeroboam sinned and made Israel sin along with him.”

Image walking home knowing the moment you enter your house, your child will die. Do you walk in to hold your child, or remain outside to extend his life? That had to be a gut wrenching experience. What went through that woman’s mind as she walked home?

That may have been a test to see if the woman trusted the message she went to receive from God. That may have been a message for us. Let’s be honest here, we all have questions. We ask people questions. If they agree with the answer we want to hear, we chalk it up as good advice, and label that person wise. If we don’t agree, we label that person a fool, then proceed to ask more people the same question until the popular vote sways in our favor. Obviously, the woman didn’t receive the answer she was looking for. So did she label Ahijah a wise man of God, a fool, and maybe an impostor?

1 Kings chapter 14 shows us how, Jeroboam and his wife were testing God in their own way. Okay Lord, grant me a favor and I’ll believe. We see that in churches all the time. Churches plan rebuilding and remodeling projects. Committees plan out every detail. Once plans are set and voted on, they present them to the congregation, and tell them to pray. The committee just did what Jeroboam and his wife did. God, we have plans, and want you to do everything in your power to bless them and make them a reality. They forget the fact, God created this world and the universe with zero intervention, suggestions, or instruction from man. But men turn that upside down, claim it is some kind of New Testament, whatever, and go about their marry way. Then they impose their own brand of taxation, call it a tithe, and holy, and tell people, that’s how you serve God. In fact, the congregation is doing nothing more than serving a committee of people who claim to know how to lead.

We see those details when we look at Jeroboam’s entire story. God made him Israel’s king. God took him from a common supervisor and made him a king. Instead of talking with God, or learning to consult God on every issue, Jeroboam appointed a committee that made plans the way Jeroboam wanted them. Jeroboam ignored God, instituted his own religion, built his own temples and alters, then expected God to bless them. The story is so simple, how can people miss it? How can people not see the same mistake being repeated over and over today. Now it is so popular, we call it tradition. Committees have other committees to blame when things don’t go right. Or they claim the congregation is not praying hard enough, and not sacrificing like they should. Taxation on every level is a wicked devise to control and manipulate people.

God had His solution to the problem, and Jeroboam didn’t agree with it. Ahijah delivered a prophecy, but I’ve never seen anyone give this a serious look. The prophecy was personal. It mentioned the fate of Jeroboam and his family. The prophecy also included Israel, the ten northern tribes. Ahijah didn’t provide any details telling exactly how Jeroboam’s family would die out, or how Israel would end. In a way, this prophecy is a blessing, a way to show people how little information a prophet is given, and how little is actually revealed by God at the time, without entering into a long drawn out debate about what the prophecy actually means. Who knows anything about Ahijah? Hardly anyone. That’s what makes this a relatively good ground to teach on.

We see how God destroys the source of the problem as well as all the effects caused by the problem. That tells us how God deals with the problem. Hint, hint. When we compare this story to the other stories like Josiah, who tired to reform Judah. His plans were incomplete, but headed in the right direction. We could cover scripture from one end to the other to find examples of people working at God’s direction, and in their own directions. All we need to keep in mind is that God is always there, or shall I say, here to ask advice.

Dinner with the Old Prophet

1 Kings 13:20-34 NLTse Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the LORD came to the old prophet. (21) He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: You have defied the word of the LORD and have disobeyed the command the LORD your God gave you. (22) You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.” (23) After the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the old prophet saddled his own donkey for him, (24) and the man of God started off again. But as he was traveling along, a lion came out and killed him. His body lay there on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. (25) People who passed by saw the body lying in the road and the lion standing beside it, and they went and reported it in Bethel, where the old prophet lived. (26) When the prophet heard the report, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the LORD’s command. The LORD has fulfilled his word by causing the lion to attack and kill him.” (27) Then the prophet said to his sons, “Saddle a donkey for me.” So they saddled a donkey, (28) and he went out and found the body lying in the road. The donkey and lion were still standing there beside it, for the lion had not eaten the body nor attacked the donkey. (29) So the prophet laid the body of the man of God on the donkey and took it back to the town to mourn over him and bury him. (30) He laid the body in his own grave, crying out in grief, “Oh, my brother!” (31) Afterward the prophet said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried. Lay my bones beside his bones. (32) For the message the LORD told him to proclaim against the altar in Bethel and against the pagan shrines in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.” (33) But even after this, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. He continued to choose priests from the common people. He appointed anyone who wanted to become a priest for the pagan shrines. (34) This became a great sin and resulted in the utter destruction of Jeroboam’s dynasty from the face of the earth.

I guess that answered that question. God did speak to the old prophet. He knew how God communicates with prophets. So why did the old prophet trick the man of God? It must have been a strange message to deliver to the man of God, a guest in his own house. The message was designed to teach both of them a lesson, as well as us.

God does not play games with His Word. It doesn’t matter how great or small the message is. God does not want people playing games with it. The old prophet should have known that. God created this world one step at a time with a single word. That should have told those prophets, as well as us something. Let’s look at the details in this story to see if we can find out why God placed such a sever judgment on the misguided prophet.

It all began with Jeroboam. God sent a prophet to speak to Jeroboam, and told him, his kingdom was secure as long as he obeyed all of God’s laws. Not a few, not what the king decided was important, all of them. God sent a prophet to talk to Jeroboam. That was the beginning of a new relationship with God, who had no choice but to meet Jeroboam where he was. Jeroboam wasn’t ready for a conversation directly with God, so God had to begin somewhere.

Jeroboam must have missed something in the message. God gave Jeroboam the majority of Israel to rule. It was like going back to Eden. God created this new world, then trusted Adam with all of it. God didn’t hold anything back from Adam. God made a promise to David, and couldn’t give everything to Jeroboam. You would think Jeroboam would have shown some appreciation, or at least caught onto the fact, God was trying to establish a relationship with him.

Let’s face the facts. Kings, and other leaders are important people. They have a major influence on people. Stories about kings are common in scripture. That doesn’t mean God wasn’t busy reaching out to individual people all that time. Let’s face it, God was busy all the time reaching out to people. Take the time to look. God sent prophets to everyday people as well as kings. Jeroboam was an everyday person before God gave him the majority of Israel to lead. God made Jeroboam what he was at this point in the story. That was one way of God showing his love, giving people more than they ever expected.

I’ve been up rather early for the past week, being reminded about past relationships, and how they have been unfaithful. After reviewing dozens of details about how former wives and girl friends decided to write their own rules on a relationship, I had to ask God why. The answer was simple. At the beginning of this chapter, we see Jeroboam standing over an animal ready to sacrifice it to his own made up idol. The connection was obvious, after God told me.

People get into relationships. They meet, set up a few rules and guidelines, often times unspoken. They like to think their relationship is founded on an understanding of mutual trust that neither one of them will have wandering eyes, or a wandering heart. In other words, the relationship is based on both people being true to one another. Simple enough right? One day, one of them sees someone who catches their eye. Maybe an old friend or lover. Or in my case, maybe they had another set of rules. Standards they wrote themselves that included a hidden agenda. Hidden agendas are always based on greed. At any rate, those examples represent an unfaithful partner that usually ends up in adultery. Yes in the physical sense.

That’s what Jeroboam did. He was unfaithful to God. Jeroboam took that trust God gave him, and decided to use it to his advantage. Let’s look at this story. A prophet had to die to draw our attention to this lesson. God sent that prophet to Jeroboam at the stone alter he designed and made. Most of Israel wasn’t enough. Jeroboam wanted to be worshiped like a god, so he made his own religion. Jeroboam committed spiritual adultery. Jeroboam broke God’s heart, so God broke his altar.

What is it going to take for this world to wake up to the fact, every time they form some committee to study the Bible, to find some hidden truth, all they are doing is searching for proof text to support some cockeyed idea. All they are doing is copying Jeroboam’s faults.

Let’s face it, Egypt is an important symbol in this story. Everyone knows, Egypt had a lot of gods, and not one of them was real. They were all a fabrication of man’s imagination. Someone made them up. They never existed. Men have a need to make up their own religions. Why? They think they gain some type of immortality when people worship the gods they made up. In God’s book, that is spiritual adultery when people make up their own religions.

I’m not just talking about non-christian religions. I am referring to the hundreds of Christian denominations all over this world who wrote their own rules on a relationship with God. When we look back a few chapters, we saw how God personally spoke to Solomon. He was David’s son. One of the few people who had a great relationship with God. I would like to think David had some long discussions with Solomon, and his hundreds of other sons about his personal relationship with God. But did anyone have such a talk with Jeroboam? If we don’t have a talk with people about our personal relationship with God, how are they supposed to know, God can and will have a personal conversation with them?

We can look at those prophets two different ways. We can sit back and claim, that’s the way God talked to people back then. People with that attitude wrote their own rules on a relationship with God. They can sit back and claim, God doesn’t talk to this world anymore. Well how long does a relationship last without daily communication? Who wants to get involved with a God who doesn’t have time to talk to them? People turn God into the image of all those dumb gods in Egypt. Why? For the same reasons Jeroboam made up his own religion. Eliminate God and where can people turn? To the priests and leaders appointed by the top religious guy, or committee who wrote their own rules on the simple relationship with God.

Prophets were sent by God to fill a void. Prophets were sent to people who didn’t know how to listen to God. Did David need a prophet after he figured out how to communicate with God? Yes, at times David decided not to talk to God. So God sent in the prophet to fill that void.

We have to stop rewriting rules on how to find answers in scripture, who to go to, how to measure or test what you read, what books and people to turn to when questions arise. What is wrong with having a healthy one on one conversation with God? Why do people look at that as something strange, even undesirable?

Let’s face it, the priests and Pharisees did everything they could to make Jesus and what He taught unattractive. They went as far as disfiguring His face and body. We’re often told, that was to fulfill prophecy. No it wasn’t. Prophecy was God’s way of telling us, He knew it was going to happen. Our job is to ask God why. Those priests and Pharisees didn’t want anyone to accept what Jesus was teaching, a one on one love affair with Himself and His Father, which included a large amount of one on one communication. Those priests feared that. If people talked to God, what were they supposed to do for a living? So they beat the stuffing out of Jesus and hung Him on a cross to show people what happens when you claim to talk to God. That is the plain and simple truth. And it is still happening today. So called Christians all over this world are forming committees to figure out how to beat up Jesus, make Him attractive enough to use, but unattractive to talk to and love. Why? For the same reason the priests beat Jesus. Christian leaders are afraid they will loose income and their jobs if people every figured out, Jesus does listen, and will answer.

Look at John’s book. He wrote a whole book about how God’s Spirit worked throughout Jesus’ ministry and with Jesus during His entire life, and continues to work with Jesus, to bridge that gap between this world and Heaven. John recorded three chapters on the subject.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:12-17 NLTse).

Come on now, that whole lesson Jesus taught was about communicating with God’s Spirit. Look at the word, ask. Well how do you think we’re going to get the answers, through some priest, prophet, or committee? Did someone write the answer to a question you’ll ask tomorrow in a book written a few years ago? Get real. Jesus taught about one on one communication with God’s Spirit, and His Spirit. Just because we can’t see the Spirit, or explain every detail about an eternal, infinite God, doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist, or won’t talk to us. Jesus made that promise, because He was certain it was true.

That prophet, that man of God had to die to make that point. God not only spoke to that prophet, but the old prophet in 1 Kings chapter 13. The story also tells us about Jeroboam, another king who never learned to listen to God. We also see how a lie from the old prophet cost the man of God his life. Then people try to place all kinds of symbolism into the story to hide the main point. The man died delivering a message from God. We can talk to God. We can listen to God. We can deliver messages for God. We can do almost everything right. That makes our lives more dangerous to live in this world. Jeroboam heard the message and wanted to arrest the prophet. Then Jeroboam wanted to invite him over for dinner. Did Jeroboam instantly change his heart, or did his own religion have too much control over him? Oh, that is one point to consider. How much do we make our own religions, write our own book on communicating with God, what a relationship with God is supposed to be like, refuse to talk to God, then go about our lives like we have everything figured out? We are all guilty of that to one degree or another. That’s why we have to be thankful Jesus is so forgiving, and waiting for us to listen. Jesus is also a very good teacher. And we have to learn to be patient with other people. We have to learn to avoid appearing as a custom made religion where people should go for answers. The last thing we should want is people worshiping us like the type of worship Jeroboam created.