Welcome to Palmerston EMC!

Palmerston EMC is made up of people from various walks of life.  A somewhat traditional church, we reflect a small town personality with strong family ties.  Agriculture and agricultural related business employ a large portion of our congregation, while some of our people are self-employed or work in industry, service or government.  We are a practical, service oriented congregation with a heart to see God’s work in Palmerston move ahead. We have a strong desire to worship and serve God, to reach out to our community, to grow spiritually and to see new people come to faith in Jesus Christ.

You are welcome to join us!

PLEASE NOTE:  The church office will be open during the week of July 28-Aug. 1 from 9:00am – 12:00pm.  During the week of Aug. 4-8, the church office will be closed.

Canadian Bible Engagement Study

read bibleIn 2013, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, in partnership with the Bible League of Canada, the Canadian Bible Society, The Gideons, Open Doors, Wycliffe and a few others, released the results of a survey that asked Canadians about their engagement with and belief in the Bible.

It is important for Canadian Christians to understand the results of this survey as it applies to our culture. But the results of this survey are also a wake-up call for Canadian Christians.

One line stood out above all of the others in the report of the survey. It is this line: “The Bible engagement of self-identified Christians as a whole is not very different from Bible engagement of Canadians generally.”

Brothers and sisters, this should not be so!

There are positives. People who read the Bible regularly are 6 times more likely to attend church regularly, and 10 times more likely to consider the Bible God’s Word.

13% of Canadians and 23% of Canadian Christians agree that the Bible is relevant to daily life.  That is encouraging! Those who believe that the Bible is relevant to daily life are over 10 times more likely to read the Bible frequently and are four times more likely to attend church weekly.

The Bible engages and changes lives! But we as Canadian Christians need to be setting the example and leading the conversation.

For more information about the survey, please go to: http://www.bibleengagementstudy.ca/

Here are the survey result files:
CBES Executive Summary
CBES Full Report

Let me encourage you my friends: be engaged with the Living and Active Word of God!

Isaiah 23-27: Judgement

Have you ever looked at our world and thought: “How much worse can it get?” If you have, let me admonish you a bit and remind you that we can expect nothing but sin from sinners. That is why God employs us to tell the world that there is another way to live, with Jesus as Lord and guide. Let me also remind you that some of you reading this blog were just as eagerly participating in the nature of your sinful flesh before you found Jesus (or Jesus found you).

These chapters from Isaiah also tell us the truth about the worlds refusal to ignore God’s teachings and walk in it’s own way: it cannot and will not go on forever and in the end the entire world will be judged by God. None will escape his scrutiny. Isaiah talks about this as the day of the Lord, a day that will be terrible and frightening to behold.

But even in the midst of this judgement, Isaiah proclaims some hope that we should be paying attention to, especially if we are tempted to mourn over the way that our world is walking.

1) Isaiah 24 reminds us that God’s enemies will be judged. People who are doing wrong and seem to be getting away with it will be brought short.
2) Isaiah 25 tells us that God’s people will be preserved
3) Isaiah 26-27 paint a picture for us of God’s plan to restore the nation, ending in a massive celebratory feast.

So while we may be tempted to grouse a bit about world going to “hell in a hand-basket”, let’s remember that God is working out his plan for the nations. Rebellion will end.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

Isaiah 18-22: Swear loyalty

We are still considering the “letters” that God is sending to various nations through Isaiah.  I want to focus on one particular part of chapter 19 this morning, namely verse 18: “On that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear loyalty to the Lord of Hosts.”

To me, this seems to indicate that through God’s punishment, Egypt will learn to fear and honour God. Of course, this lines up with what God declares in Isaiah 45:23 “By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.”

One of the tenants of end times theology is that God’s supreme sovereignty will be acknowledged by all persons, pauper to King.

But these incredible verse that finish off chapter 19 in Isaiah proclaim more than just Egypt’s loyalty to God. These verses proclaim that Egypt and Assyria will not just be conquered nations, but that indeed they are valuable in God’s sight, much the same as Israel is. There is incredible truth in these verses about God’s care for and plan for all of the nations (which I mentioned yesterday), but there is also a good reminder in these verses that God’s plans will come to completion.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 23-27

 

Isaiah 13-17: At Work

Have you ever stopped to consider just how much of the Old Testament is NOT aimed at or about the nation of Israel? I don’t know about you, but I was taught throughout my early church career, that the Old Testament is the story of the nation of Israel and their fall from grace.

I don’t mean to step on the toes of the wonderful men and women who taught me through my formative years (and trust me when I say I had some incredible spiritual mentors along the way), but it is just not true that the Old Testament is the story of the nation of Israel.

The Old Testament is God’s story, first, foremost and always. The Old Testament is the story of God’s work in the world, the whole world not just the nation of Israel. The 10 chapters that we have begun reading today, from Isaiah 13-23 are a wonderful example of that.These 11 chapters are letter from God to Judah and ten foreign nations; letters that reveal God’s plans for each of them. Now, granted those plans aren’t particularly pleasant, but if you will notice the judgement levied against that nations comes as a result of their disobedience and refusal to turn to God.

These letters kind of remind me of the letters from Jesus to the 7 churches of Asia Minor in the New Testament book of Revelation. They are letters of warning, but like in the story of Ninevah in Jonah, if the nations had turned from their ways and repented before God, their destruction may have been averted. Unfortunately history tells us that the nations refused these warning and continued on their own path to destruction.

These chapters remind us that history is “HIS story” as missionary leader Arthur T. Pierson put it. These chapters remind us that God’s sovereignty supersedes all earthly kingdoms, rulers or authorities. Daniel 4:25 says: “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” That’s a powerful description of God’s sovereign right to give and take away earthly reign.

Pay attention in these letters to the Kingdoms. Although there is certainly judgement and destruction, there are also moments of assurance, promise of redemption (like 14:1-2) and assurances of God’s power and authority to work within the nations to accomplish his will. Our God is not impotent, then or now. He has power and authority to act in the nations, through the nations, and against the nations.

We would do well to remember that.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 18-22

2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17: Fall

We have reached a sad point in our reading schedule my friends, and I hope you have taken time to recognize it. Israel, the northern Jewish Kingdom, falls to the Assyrians. Evil Kings, military failure, social corruption, injustice, oppression of the poor, idolatry and complete disregard for God’s ways all add up to a Kingdom that God hands over to foreign invaders for destruction. For me, the section of our reading today that is more important is 2 Kings 17:7-20. This section gives us a complete explanation of why Israel fell, and serves as a warning to everyone who reads it, including us. It is not hard to imagine many of the causes listed for Israel’s downfall existing today. It is not hard to imagine those same reasons being levied against our country by God.

Do we have idols that we serve? Sure we do. Success, power, sex, “freedom”, tolerance,
Do we tolerate social injustice? Sure we do.
Do we reject God’s statues and ordinances? Yep. Just look at abortion laws
Do we live according to the customs of the nations surrounding us? Yep, and even worse we are the ones influencing other countries to live outside of God’s will.

The list could go on. The point is that those types of things can only go on so long before God has enough of our foolishness. I heard a preacher not that long ago talk about how we as Christians do not even consider or talk about God’s exercising judgement on the nations today, as if the actions of God in the Old Testament are outside of the realm of possibility today. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, invading armies, drought…we consider all of these things as merely natural occurrences or the result of socio-economic factors. We don’t ever stop to consider that God is at work in these things. But how often does God use exactly those methods to punish, rebuke and call nations to repentance in the Bible.

Israel falls, Judah remains, at least for a short time. So say goodbye to the Israelite kings, we will read only of the Judean Kingdom from now on, a story that will ultimately end in destruction.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 13-17

Micah 1-7: Social Justice

If you are paying attention while doing your readings, you will notice that there is a couple of recurring themes that run through many of the prophets. One of the largest of those themes is what we would call social justice. Special treatment of the poor, fair justice for those oppressed, establishment of social systems to help those who cannot care for themselves (orphans and widows), etc. These things show up in scripture as very important to God and much of the judgement levied against Israel and Judah through the prophets occurs because they refused to follow these principles that God has laid out for them.

When God gave Moses the law, one of the things that was very important was that the inherited land was to remain within a family unit, even if there were no sons alive in that family.  Numbers 27 tells us of the daughters of Zelophehad who were granted their father’s inheritance in the absence of a male heir. One of the major issues that Micah talks about is large land owners buying up land from family units and developing huge land holdings, something the Law of Moses was very clear was not good.

Micah prophesied during the same time period as Isaiah, Amos and Hosea, so similar themes and thoughts appear in much of their writing. What I find interesting is that both Kingdoms successfully ignored warnings from multiple sources, despite the incredible negative outcomes predicted if they failed to pay attention. Micah is one of the prophets who proclaims the destruction of Israel before the Assyrians (which occurred in 722 B.C.) and the eventual destruction of Judah to the Babylonians (which occurred in 596 B.C.)

But Micah is not all gloom and doom. The second part of the book (chapters 4-7) give incredible hope for the future, in spite of the impending disasters that were to occur to the divided Kingdom. Micah predicts a future King who would usher in the Kingdom of God. It speaks of trusting in God even in the face of the impending judgement.

One thing is made very clear by Micah: people are accountable for how they live in God’s eyes. This applies to us too. Don’t get me wrong, we are covered by the blood of Jesus and freedom from sin and guilt is ours at no cost. But God does expect us to live out our faith in tangible ways and according to his principles. Those principles don’t change between the Old Testament and the New Testament. So these books of the prophets are wonderful opportunities for us to learn about God’s heart and how our desires can and should line up with his.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Amos 1-9: Religiosity

I know that today’s reading is not in Amos, but I wanted to put together a post for the days that I missed last week in Amos. I want to make sure that there is at least one post for each of the minor prophets.

Amos’ name means “burden bearer”, and this is a pretty accurate description of the task that God had given to Amos; and is a pretty accurate description of what most of the prophets felt I am sure. Amos was no one special. A herdsman, and cultivator of sycamore trees (like the one that Zacchaeus climbed in order to see Jesus). Most importantly, Amos had absolutely no connection to the religious or political systems in play during this period of time (about 793-740 B.C.)

Amos primarily declares judgement on the Gentile nations as well as on Israel and Judah.

Here’s the thing about Amos: his warnings and pronouncements come during a time when both of the Jewish Kingdoms were experiencing prosperity and security. They were not in distress, they had stabilized themselves militarily and economically. The people were well fed and content, even bordering on living in luxury. On top of that, religion was on an upswing during this time. The chapel at Bethel was being well used by the Kingdom of Israel and the religious festivals were in full swing in Jerusalem (see Amos 5:21-22). Unfortunately, all of this religious fervor was not very pleasing to God because it masked a people who were not very interested in living out the principles that God had established for his people to follow.

Amos 8 tells us that people were eager for the religious festivals to get out of the way so they could go back to selling grain; and in fact were interested in selling it dishonestly (“We can reduce the measure while increasing the price and cheat with dishonest scales”).

There is also some major issues with dishonesty in the justice system and abuse of the poor was rampant (5:11-15 and 8:4-6). In fact, you will hopefully notice that most of the warning in Amos are aimed at the aristocrats.

So although things looked pretty good and the people were “religious’, the moral and ethical state of the nation was dismal and very displeasing to God.

As modern day Christians, we must be careful that we do not fall into similar patterns of empty religiosity and ritual that simply add a nice veneer to moral, ethical and spiritual decay. Attending church on a regular basis does not a Christian make. God wants and expects our lives to reflect his heart. That we be increasingly transformed into his likeness. Religiosity does not accomplish this, only a committed relationship with God does that.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Isaiah 5-8: Call and mission

In Isaiah chapter 6 we read about Isaiah’s call to prophetic ministry for God. Notice that this call is crystal clear: “Go! Say to these people…” Isaiah is called to go and tell people what God is saying.

But before that call is made clear, before Isaiah even knows the job, he decides to obey. Like Abraham, Isaiah is asked if he is willing to respond even before he is told what he is responding to. “Who should I send? Who will go for us?” God doesn’t mention a destination or a reason for the sending; and yet Isaiah replies: “I’ll go! Send me!”

I wonder how many of us would respond that quickly to a blank call today? Don’t get me wrong, I know people who have packed up and moved because God directed them to do so. But there is a burning desire in us to know the details, to be able to asses and minimize the risks. In this regard, we are very much products of our culture my friends. Minimize risk, lower the potential for hurt/injury, relegate the chance for a lawsuit.

For instance, the school my girls attend has a play structure in the playground. The kids are not allowed to use it from the time the first snowflake hits the ground (even if it is in October) until the snow completely melts. All because someone might slip and might get hurt. Makes me mad! We’ve minimized childhood right out of our kids lives. Sorry, a little rant there…I’m ok now.

But no where does God promise to reduce risk and minimize the potential for hurt for those who follow him. In fact, I’ve been doing a bit of reading lately on the Biblical concept of suffering and the value it produces in our spiritual lives. For instance, C.S. Lewis writes:

The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.

That thirst for security that Lewis talks about is often what holds us back from wholeheartedly submitting to God, especially in those moments when following him looks uncomfortable or potentially dangerous. Of course, Lewis’ response to such hesitancy would be that we hesitate to follow God because we do not truly believe him and rest in his ability to carry out his plans. If we truly believed that, we would have no problem following Jesus literally to hell and back.

These thoughts remind me of this scripture from Luke 9:
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
5Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”  But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

I have often thought that Jesus’ words here are kind of harsh…but the more time I spend thinking about what following Jesus means, the more I realize that Jesus is just being truthful here. There is truthfully nothing that should get in the way or come before our obedience in following Jesus. That’s the picture painted here. “Jesus I want to follow you.”  “OK, but know that following me means leaving comfort behind”

“Jesus I will follow you, but first I have to…”

It is so critical for us to understand these truths as Christ-followers in today’s Canadian culture, because the time is soon coming when holding to our faith is going to be risky, unpredictable and probably dangerous. We must have the immediate response to God’s call that Isaiah displays, regardless of where that call take us.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Amos 1-5

Isaiah 1-4: Plead the widow’s cause

We begin a new chapter in our readings today. Another set of characters begins to emerge in the Biblical narrative at this point, a class of godly servants known as the prophets. Right off the bat, let me point out tow things:

1) Prophets were active in Israel’s history before this point. Moses was a prophet and so was his sister Miriam. There are other personalities in the scriptures who are gifted prophetically all through the story of Israel.

2) There are two kinds of prophets active in this portion of Israel’s history. There are prophets of action (like Elijah and Elisha) and there are writing prophets (like Amos and Hosea). That’s not to say that the writing prophets didn’t take action (in fact we read about Jonah actively participating in Jereboam II reign in 2 Kings 14). But we read about the active prophets and we read the words of the writing ones.

Perhaps it would also be helpful to clarify what prophesy is. We tend to mystify prophesy and limit it to the idea of foretelling – predicting future events, like Daniel and John do. But the truth of the matter is that for most of the Bible, prophesy is not so much foretelling as it is forth-telling: the idea of proclaiming the Word of God as lead by the Holy Spirit. That is not to say that the writing of the major and minor prophets do not hold elements of foretelling, the certainly do. But they do so in the context of proclaiming God’s words (often of warning or rebuke) to the nations (Israel and other wise).

We begin our walk through Isaiah today, whose ministry focused mainly on the kingdom of Israel and extended through the reigns of  more kings than any of the other prophets. He ministered through the Judean reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and into the rign of Manasseh. He ministered between 762 and 670 B.C.

Isaiah is a book that have a vast mixture of themes in it. Calls to repentance and return to obedience are a major theme along with the prediction of punishment for ignoring these calls. But Isaiah gives us a wonderful picture of what God expects from those who follow him; calls to justice, calls to protect the powerless and the oppressed, calls to faith of the heart and not empty religious ceremony.

There are also some wonderful pictures of the salvation story that God is crafting in Isaiah. Most of the major pictures of what the Messiah will accomplish come from Isaiah. Even in a book that proclaims judgement for disobedience and ignoring relationship with God, there are these beautiful pictures of God’s plan to restore and bring salvation to the world. Isaiah 1:25-26 is a good first example of this.

Take time as you read these prophetic chapters to allow the Holy Spirit to show you both any warnings that God may have for you, but also what encouragements he has for your to revel in.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 5-8

2 Kings 15; 2 Chronicles 26: Pride before a fall!

Hello my friends! It is so good to be back in my own neck of the woods. While vacation time is valued, it is always nice to be return to your own bed and enjoy your own kitchen (and coffee). I have to be honest, I also enjoyed the break from blogging. I really enjoy researching and sharing thoughts, but I decided when we left that I was going to take a break and enjoy the time away.

That does not mean that I stopped my reading, and I hope that you are keeping up as well. I really want to encourage you to keep with it over the summer months. I know that our summer schedules can be even more full than during the rest of the year, and if not fuller than more unpredictable. But our time in God’s presence is even more important when our schedules are full and our time is a bit more unsettled. We need that spot in the day to anchor us, to relax in the scriptures and to petition God to be present in our day and directing our activities.

I have, unfortunately, witnessed many good Christians who seem to take the summer “off”. They go away on vacation and don’t spend time in prayer, don’t keep their regular devotional schedule, don’t even go to church. Vacation time is a wonderful time to reconnect with God as we are away from our regular stresses and strains (unless your children are vacationing with you…I’m kidding…mostly). In all seriousness, don’t take the summer off, God has just as much to show you and teach you during the summer as he does the rest of the year; and, from a theological standpoint, God’s sovereignty in your life doesn’t end June 31st and start again September 1st.

Back to our reading.  We are moving right along through the stories of the Kings of Israel and Judah and each day brings new stories of new kings. Admittedly, the timeline during this period of reading can get a bit challenging to follow, especially when some of the Kings had two names. Trust me, I know how challenging this is because I’m trying to figure out how to properly show all of this on the timeline in the sanctuary of the church!

It can be helpful to go online and look at a timeline, or even print one off and have it in your Bible to use during your reading time. I will admit, however, that even the timetables and graphs can be confusing to follow. The blessing is that there are LOTS of them out there, so look until you find one that makes sense to you.

Today our reading focuses on Azariah/Uzziah (same guy), a man who started out ruling in a manner that was pleasing to God, but who ended up being ruined in the end. This is a great example of why it is so important to read Kings and Chronicles together. If you had read only the account from 2 Kings 15 (I hope you haven’t been doing that by the way, because you’re missing stuff if you do!), you might be left wondering about the skin disease that God struck him with (2 Kings 15:5). There is no explanation given by the author of Kings as to the cause. But the Chronicler give us a much clearer understanding of the situation.

Uzziah starts off hearing God clearly and obeying fully and because of his obedience, God blesses him with much success. But verse 16 gives a telling detail: “But when he became strong, he grew arrogant and it led to his destruction…” He got too big for his britches as the old adage goes. He even went so far as to burn incense in the temple, something that two of Aaron’s sons died doing way back in Exodus. I think it is interesting that it was not his act in burning incense that caused his skin disease, it was his rage when the priests tried to correct and stop him. Had he listened and corrected his behaviour, he probably would have not be afflicted the way he was.

But that is one of the primary problems with arrogance; it makes you completely deaf to correction or rebuke. It assures you of your “rightness”, even if you have not basis to be right in the first place.

There is one glimmer in this story that I must point out. Uzziah had a son named Jotham who ran the kingdom after his father’s disease forced him into hiding. We’re not told if Uzziah repented of his pride and sin or not, but it is obvious that Uzziah had a definite positive influence on his son, becaut Jotham “did what was right in the Lord’s sight as his father Uzziah had done, except that he didn’t enter the Lord’er sanctuary.”

Jotham picks up the positive attributes of his father’s reign, and even shows wisdom in learning from his father’s mistakes enough to not copy them. That is the real crux in all of these stories of the kings. The patterns established by fathers are passed down to their sons, both positive and negative. The Judean kings  that are listed as reformers (there are no Israelite reformers) are the ones who learn from their father’s mistakes and choose to walk a different path.

Lots to think about and mediate on from this story… and there’s much more to come.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Isaiah 1-4

1 Kings 20-21: Resentful and angry

I find chapter 20 of 1 Kings kind of confusing, at least on the surface. Ahab, the new standard of evil in God’s sight, is attacked by the king of Aram, an attack that he has no hope of repelling on his own. So God sends a prophet to Ahab and tells him to go a head and engage in battle because God will give him victory.

Why help Ahab? First off, let’s be clear that God is not helping Ahab because Ahab asked for help. The prophet makes it clear that God is giving Ahab a chance to repent of his ways and acknowledge God as the sovereign I AM. 1 Kings 20:13 “I am handing it [Aram's horde] over to you today so that you wil know that I am the Lord.” Ahab has a chance here to change his path and the path of Israel moving forward. The king of Aram adds fuel to the fire by declaring that God is only God in the mountains, that if they fight in the valley God will have no power. Not only does God have a chance to display his power to Ahab, he has the opportunity to declare his power to the king of Aram.

We have to understand that the mindset of people in that time was pretty different than ours. Each nation had different gods because no one god was seen as having power in all areas of life. To cover their bases, the nations adopted many gods who had power over many different areas of life. But there were gods who were seen as regionally based, so their power was limited to a geographic area. The king of Aram is applying this thinking to Israel’s God, not understanding that God was not limited to the regulations they had placed on their own deities and idols. The interesting thing to consider is that Ahab’s religious understanding was the same as the king of Aram’s. Remember Ahab was an idol worshipper, and an adopter of many gods. In his mind, the king of Aram was probably correct in his thinking.

God takes this opportunity to declare the foolishness of this way of thinking and give evidence that he alone is the Sovereign God.

All he asks of Ahab is obedience in destroying Aram and their king. Unfortunately, Ahab ignores this command and ends up letting the king of Aram go after making a treaty with him.

Of course God is not pleased with this behaviour and punishes Ahab accordingly (using another prophet telling another parable by the way, a pattern that shows up more than I realized).

But look carefully at Ahab’s response to this whole situation. God shows up to give him a victory he does not deserve or earn, a victory God is using to try and show Ahab who he should be worshipping. Then when the king of Aram taunts God futher, God gives Ahab a second victory, with clear instructions to kill the king of Aram for his impudence. Ahab refuses to obey and God proclaims punishment for Ahab’s disobedience. Ahab’s response to all of this? He goes back to Samaria resentful and angry: short form, he goes and pouts.

Here is a chance for him to recognize once and for all that God is sovereign and worth obeying, and instead, Ahab walks his own way and pouts when he gets called on it. His lack of obedience displays his disbelief that God is in fact the great I AM, and his response to God’s discipline shows just how insensitive he is to God’s direction.

There are a ton of applicable things for us to consider in connection to our own lives from this chapter. Take time asking the Holy Spirit which ones apply to you and what he would like to you to do in response to his leading.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18

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