Through the Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 13-17

This Week’s Readings

Monday, June 4: 1 Kings 1-4
Tuesday, June 5: 1 Kings 5-8
Wednesday, June 6: 1 Kings 9-12
Thursday, June 7: 1 Kings 13-17
Friday, June 8: 1 Kings 18-22

The overall year’s plan is here.

1 Kings 13

When we left Jeroboam yesterday he had set up two golden calves, one in the far north in Dan, and the other in the south near the border with Judah in Bethel. He had made a new priesthood and new temples. All this to prevent his people from going to Jerusalem to properly worship Yahweh, the God who had given Jeroboam his kingdom in the first place.

Chapter 12 ends with Jeroboam burning incense at the altar in Bethel during his new feast that took place in the eighth month. (The main feasts prescribed in the Law of Moses take place in the 1st, 7th, and 10th months of the year. The new year for the Jews begins in March or April depending on cycles of the moon and when the first crop grows.)

1 Kings 13 begins with the appearance of the man of God, who is never named, at the altar in Bethel while Jeroboam was by the altar.

The man of God’s prophecy came to pass (2 Kings 23:16) about 300 years later, during the reign of Josiah, which began c. 641 B.C. Jeroboam’s reign began approximately 925 B.C.

The story of the man of God and the prophet is a strange story, indeed. Why did the prophet lie to the man of God? Why would God speak through the prophet after he lied?

We can speculate about those questions, but the lesson I give to my kids when I tell them this story (which is another favorite story of theirs) is that they need to stick to what God has told them no matter what others tell them. I’m a big believer in the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), and I’m a big believer in getting advice so that you are not deceived by your own heart (Jer. 17:9; Heb. 3:13) in imagining that you heard God when you did not, but if you are convinced that God has spoken to you (whether in your heart, through circumstances, through the Scriptures, or through the church), you must follow through and obey no matter who opposes.

The man of God had no reason to doubt that it was God who spoke to him, as his words had been backed up by miraculous power. Nonetheless, he trusted the prophet when the prophet gave him words that eased God’s demands on him, which turned out to be a big mistake.

1 Kings 14

Ahijah prophesies not only the death of Jeroboam’s son, but the captivity and scattering of the northern kingdom of Israel. Israel only lasted about 200 years as a separate kingdom, and all its kings were evil. Not one is declared by the Scriptures to be good. Only Judah had good kings, and they had only a few.

The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel is mentioned in verse 19, but we don’t have that book. We do have the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (v. 29), which we know as 1 and 2 Chronicles.

1 Kings 15

Verse 6 says there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of Abijam’s life. A few Hebrew manuscripts say "Abijam and Jeroboam," which is obviously what is meant. The LXX, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, leaves that line completely out.

Asa was a good king, and his history illustrates the difference between Chronicles and Kings. Chronicles covers only the kings of Judah, not the kings of Israel, but Chronicles is also a more spiritual book. The historians who wrote Chronicles let us know that God was not happy with Asa’s reliance on Ben-hadad, nor that Asa didn’t seek the Lord when he became diseased in his feet (2 Chr. 16:7-12).

Jeroboam’s line comes to an end after his son Nadab reigns two years. Baasha is a completely different family, coming from the tribe of Issachar. Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim (1 Kings 11:26).

1 Kings 16

This chapter describes the awful state Israel was in, with the throne being turned over regularly. Zimri only reigned a week!

It also describes the founding of Samaria, which would be Israel’s capital for the next two centuries. The city would also give its name to the Samaritans, the Assyrian-Israelite mixed race that was despised by the Jews in Jesus’ time.

I finally found a decent, clickable map of the cities we’re looking at. They have Tirzah, where Omri was reigning, and Samaria highlighted so they’re easy to see.

We are introduced to Ahab, the son of Omri here, and 1 Kings spends some time on him because it was during his reign that Elijah the prophet arose.

This chapter ends with by mentioning the rebuilding of Jericho at the cost of two sons, which had been prophesied by Joshua (Joshua 6:26).

1 Kings 17

The Brook Cherith can be found on the map I linked above. If you go north from Tirzah, you’ll see Bezek. Go due east across the Jordan, and you’ll see the Brook Cherith. One of the towns on the brook was Tishbe, which is Elijah’s home town. He went somewhere familiar to hide out from Ahab.

Zarephath, where Elijah stayed with the widow, is also on the map, in the far north on the Mediterranean coast just south of Sidon. That was a long trip for Elijah, 60 or 70 miles from Tishbe.

We see a couple of Elijah’s miracles in this chapter. Elijah has to pray three times to raise the widow’s son. Later, when he prays for the rain to return, he prays seven times. Elijah was a persistent man of God, and perhaps this is what James means when he mentions Elijah and says that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (Jam. 5:16-18).

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