Read 1 Kings 16:15-20
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” )John 4:23 NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 64: Kings of Israel. Thus far, just in case you haven’t noticed, we have covered the major (and some minor) characters in the Bible, from Adam through King Solomon, and kings Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Wow, right? In the last two devotions we discussed the major split that took place in the United Kingdom of Israel. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, held on to power in the South; however, Jereboam was able to usurp authority from 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel and formed his own kingdom in the north. Thus, there ended up being two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
It would take a considerable amount of time to go through all of the Kings mentioned in 1 & 2 Kings as well as 1 & 2 Chronicles. Thus, I will sum up those Kings leading up to our next major character. With that said, I would strongly encourage you to read the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles as they really paint a picture for you of the history of ancient Israel in its shortlived “heyday”. In fact, these Kingdoms can be viewed, in a way, as characters unto themselves. FYI, I will be referring to the Northern Kingdom of Israel simply as“Israel” and the Sothern Kingdom of Judah simply as “Judah”.
The Kings of Israel, according to the Bible, all followed (somehow or way) in the footsteps of Jeroboam I. As far as I can tell, this seems to indicate that the Kings continued Jeroboam’s religious policies and practices of worshiping the golden calfs and other gods aside from the imageless God of Israel. It should be taken into account that the authors of 1 and 2 Kings are, no doubt, from Judah and that their bent is certainly toward Judah and not the Kingdom of Israel; however, despite that, it is clear that the religious practices of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were unorthodox at best.
What is also clear, is that Jeroboam’s precedent of violently weeding out anyone who might pose a threat to his rule continued on in his successors. Jeroboam was succeeded by Nadab who was assassinated by one of his own military captains along with the rest of his family. That captain, Baasha ruled corruptly and was succeeded by his son Elah, who was later assassinated along with the rest of his family. The one who had him murdered, Zimri, succeeded him and only reigned seven days before his palace was beseiged. He set fire to the palace, with himself in it, and perished.
He was succeeded by Omri, who constructed the city of Samaria and made that city his captial. Later, the entire region would be known by the name of this infamous city, and it is from this region that Jesus of Nazareth would later converse with a Samaritan woman at the well, and it is of this region that Jesus would base his parable about the Good Samaritan on.
Needless to say, the kings of Israel were corrupt, we will be discussing one of them later on when we discuss the prophet Elijah. Each King brought the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom further and further away from a relationship with LORD their God, who is LOVE and JUSTICE. As such, each King brought the kingdom closer and closer to destruction, as that is the wages of corruption, greed and injustice.
As such, let us question ourselves? Do we lead a life that is in close relationship with God. Or have we mad an idol of God and become idolators. Yes, I know that most (if not all) of you are not physically bowing down to golden calfs; however, think about the things we might put first above and beyond God. Next, think about the ways we justify those things. Then you will begin to see the full picture of what true idolatry is. It isn’t merely about statues or about the names we use to call God by; rather, it is about our own hearts and who or what we put first. If God is not first, then we are on a path that leads to a dead end. I pray we all may truly reflect.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” – Anne Lamott
Lord, help me to be a person that steers clear of idolatry and remains loyal to you, who created me and loves beyond measure. Amen