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1st KINGS 16:29-34

THE SAD BIBLE ACCOUNT OF THREE PEOPLE ... AND FOUR CITIES! THEN ONE GREAT PROPHET!

"And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said ..."

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

Charles Dickens wrote a classic piece of literature and named it "A Tale Of Two Cities." The Bible has an amazing Text, 1st Kings 16:29-34, that in reality tells the story of four cities! They are Samaria, Zidon, and Bethel and then Jericho!

Take a few seconds and read these verses, plus a half of one more subsequent and telling verse. "And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said ...." Again, this is 1st Kings 16:29 through 1st Kings 17:1 inclusively.

Each of these cities presents us with an amazing story, an amazing but true story! Ahab became King in Samaria, King of Israel. Jezebel was a citizen of Zidon, often spelled Sidon, key city of the Phoenicians. And Hiel was a businessman who lived in Bethel, "sin city" at that time! Of course one can't help but notice one more metropolis, Jericho.

A king, a queen and a businessman!

Each of whom wrecked his or her life!

Why?

How?

Is there anything in this ancient paragraph for you?

For me?

Surely!

Paul wrote, speaking of such old Testament accounts, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1st Corinthians 10:11

The Lord willing, tomorrow morning we shall begin the sad journey.

Join us, please.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 29:

Today's Verse is pure Bible history. But it's necessary to our Text for background purposes. Here we first meet Ahab, King of Israel. "And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years." 1st Kings 16:29

King Asa was a good King and reigned forty-one years. See 2nd Chronicles 16:13. He is mentioned here in our verse only as a point of reference.

King Ahab, monarch at Samaria, King of Israel, began his reign upon the death of his Father, King Omri. Both were evil in the sight of the Lord. 1st Kings 16:25 tells us: "But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities." Then, concerning Ahab, 1st Kings 16:30 records: "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him."

King Omri establish the city of Samaria as the capital of Israel, as opposed to Jerusalem being the capital of Judah. He reigned a total of twelve years, establishing a short dynasty, four consecutive administrations. They include Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah and Jehoram, also known as Joram.

King Ahab, our focus for a few days, reigned twenty-two years. Our verse specifically reminds us that Ahab reigned "in Samaria." A mountainous city, King Omri actually bought the land and built his own capital! "And Omri bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria." 1st Kings 16:24

Samaria was a lovely location. Isaiah 28:1 alludes to its natural beauty, but so often tainted with sin. "Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!"

The city, due to her wickedness, was destroyed again and again through the years. Here's the Bible description of her fall to the Assyrians. "And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them." 2nd Kings 18:9-12 gives ample proof that God judges geographical locations, cities included, for the sins of their inhabitants!

Yet Jesus, during His earthly ministry, had a burden for the people of Samaria! In John chapter four we see a woman of that land saved by the Grace of God! We still call her the Samaritan woman, the woman at the well, a trophy of Grace!

Later yet, Acts 8:5 mentions: "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." More souls were then saved!

But Samaria succumbed to the power of Bible prophecy! Listen to Hosea: "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up." Then Micah: "Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof." Today in Israel, Samaria, the city, no longer exists! Oh, the wages of sin!

Why all this history and geography?

To help us meet the first of our three characters in this current Bible Text, 1st Kings 16:29-34. Yes. Ahab was a King, a politician, a leader for nearly two dozen years! But all he did was simply the outflow of his wicked heart!

Jesus said this would be the case. See Matthew 12:34. "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Indeed!

And what was true of Israel in the ninth century BC, is equally true of the United States in the twenty-first century AD.

Wicked leaders pursue wicked policies!

And godly men follow holiness!

Pray for America!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 30:

It's a sad verse, 1st Kings 16:30. "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him." The whole dynasty of Omri was evil! Four different Kings, three generations of them!

Omri himself reigned for twelve years. Here is God's "report card" for the dynasty founder: "But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him." 1st Kings 16:25

His son Ahab, whose very name means "father's brother," reigned twenty-two years. Truly it's "like Father, like Son" here! An upcoming verse summarizes Ahab's administration: "And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." 1st Kings 16:33

Then a son of Ahab, Ahaziah reigned in Israel. His name means "held of Jehovah!" In 2nd Chronicles 20:35 we read this description of the young King, "Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly ...." Very wickedly!

Next reigned Jehoram, Jehoram King of Israel as opposed to Jehoram King of Judah. With a name meaning "exalted by Jehovah," this second son of Ahab ruled for eleven years. Here's the report from God: "And he wrought evil in the sight of the LORD; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom." 2nd Kings 3:2-3

So now we see! Ahab had a Father who sat on Israel's throne, plus two of his own sons! He might have learned a great amount of wickedness from his Dad, and seems to have consequently passed it on to his two monarchial sons. A bad dynasty indeed!

The verb "did" in our verse for today, "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him," is "asah" as an imperfect, expressing incomplete action. It means "to do or make or accomplish," but here in a constant fashion, habitually! The noun "evil" is "ra" and means "wickedness" in this sense, "malignant and spreading and hurtful," the worst kind!

The noun "sight" is just spelled "ayin," the common Hebrew noun for one's "eyes!" In God's eyes Ahab is exceedingly depraved. Scripture reminds us again and again, "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth." Then, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." And, "For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings."

The adverb "above" expresses "separation" from all other kings thus far, Kings of Israel anyway. Ahab was different in this way, much more evil! "Above" is spelled "min" in Hebrew.

And the prepositional phrase "before him" expresses "le paniym," that is, "towards his face!" God is pictured as "facing" Israel! And He is not pleased with what He saw!

Is He any less grieved at America today?

But what did Ahab, and for that matter his Father Omri, do so wrongly? The answer to that question will develop more fully as we continue through the verses of our Text, 1st Kings 16:29-34.

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 31:

King Ahab was a wicked man. But things are about to get worse! "And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." 1st Kings 16:31

So far the events of our Text have occurred in the city of Samaria. Today a new place is mentioned. Zidon, also know as Sidon, was a Phoenician city situated on the Mediterranean Sea. Biblically it is known for its extreme wickedness.

The opening clause, "and it came to pass," incorporates the basic Hebrew verb "hayah." It's the verb "to be" in reality. It is also the central component in God's Name "Jehovah." God is defined by Name as "The God Who is!" He eternally is! There never has been in the past, nor will there ever be in the future a time when God is not!

And "as if it had been a light thing" carries this kind of idea; "things happened swiftly" or even, "things were being easily or slightly treated!" Bad things were transpiring, but no one cared! Here exists no sense of the gravity of sin, of its terrible wages!

The verb "walk" is "halak" and suggest Ahab's whole manner of life. His behavior or deportment or conduct. Paul in the New Testament often uses the same word picture. "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God," Colossians 1:10 here being an example.

The little word "sins" is interesting. "Chattaah" is a noun taken from the verb "chata," which literally means "to miss or forfeit" something. Again here's a hint at the cost of wickedness!

"Jeroboam the son of Nebat" was the first King of the "Divided Kingdom" on Israel's side. He was so ungodly that, purely for convenience and political expediency, he instituted idol worship in the northern cities of Bethel and Dan! Golden calves again in Israel!

So, Ahab was an idolater!

But there's more!

Far more!

Continuing with today's verse, "He took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." 1st Kings 16:31

How one marries is so critical!

Again, Paul, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" Wrong marriages, the godly with the ungodly, are not the only type unions that 2nd Corinthians 6:14 condemns. Partnerships, close friendships, memberships and the like must surely be included.

The euphemism "took to wife" just means he got married. But, interestingly, the verb is an imperfect, grammatically insinuating "on-going" action! Apparently, every time he "loved" Jezebel, he was "taking her to wife." That might not seem important at first , but it addresses a key issue of moral purity. One had better marry right, right in God's eyes! The husband-wife union is perpetual!

The name "Jezebel" means "Baal exalts," or something quite close to that. Her very name seems to incorporate the title of a heathen god! "Baal" is often said to mean "husband" too! Other Bible study sources say "Jezebel" means "chaste!" Well, if so, she's the biggest hypocrite who ever lived!

Her Father's name is "Ethbaal," one who is "near Baal!" With this kind of heritage, I'm sticking with that first definition for "Jezebel" too!

Ahab married into a family of heathen fanatics, obsessed with the worship of a cruel, sensual so-called deity!

And, undoubtedly, a wife impacts her husband greatly. Therefore, "Ahab went and served Baal, and worshipped him." What would one expect?

Perhaps the marriage was based on some kind of business deal rather than love. Those kinds of alliances happened in ancient days. But, still, to worship her gods?

The verb "served" is "abad" and means "to labor as a slave!" He "sold out" to heathenism!

To "worship" here is to "bow down" to something! "To prostrate oneself" before an idol! It's spelled "shachah." This kind of obeisance became a habit with Ahab too!

In direct violation of God's Commandments, Ahab has apostatized, departed from the Faith! "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain." Exodus 20:3-7

Here's what God really wanted his Kings to be doing. "Thou shalt in any wise set him King over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel." Deuteronomy 17:14-20

Godly leaders are a necessity!

Without them, trouble is coming!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 32:

Our God is a jealous God!

Sinlessly jealous, mind you, but still jealous!

Jealous for our own good, matter of fact!

He says so a number of times. "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Exodus 34:14

Therefore, when King Ahab of Israel did what 1st Kings 16:32 describes, God takes note! "And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria."

The beautiful old-fashioned verb "reared up" translates "qum" in Hebrew, "to establish" something. At least that's one of its main definitions. We are not merely being told here that Ahab hired carpenters and masons and other workers to construct these wicked things. He dedicated his very life to the vitality and growth of Baal worship in Israel!

Here is God's promise to those who do such. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 here purposely capitalizes the startling words of God!

Such hideous sins carry specific consequences. These involve one's very children too!

Amazingly, King Ahab had two sons who sat on the Throne of Israel, subsequent to his own reign of course. Both their administrations ended in disaster! Ahaziah only reigned two years, unlike his Father, twenty-two years. He died a very non-heroic death, having fallen through a roof! More specifically, according to 2nd Kings chapter one, God killed him because of his idol worship! "And Elijah said unto King Ahaziah, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken.  2nd Kings 1:16-17

Immediately thereafter, a second son of Ahab assumed the Throne, Jehoram, sometimes called Joram. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son." This boy reigned twelve years, twelve wicked years! He nearly died from wounds sustained in battle with the Syrians, but lived long enough for Jehu, at God's command, to slay him for his vile apostasy. "And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many? And Joram turned his hands, and fled. And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot." Wow! Idolatry does not pay, if one loves his or her sons anyway!

Now, back to Ahab, 1st Kings 16:32. Even the noun "altar" is interesting. "Mizbeach" is built upon the verb stem "zabach," meaning "to slaughter or to kill," hence, "to sacrifice." It suggests, rightly so, a bloody scene!

The name "Baal," as we noticed earlier, means "lord." However, remember that it's also translated as "husband and master and owner" about thirty times in the Bible. Still, it is rendered "Baal" eighty times.

He was a filthy sensual god of the heathen of that day. The Canaanites generally, the Phoenicians specifically, worshipped this so-called deity. Keep in mind that Ahab's wife Jezebel was a Phoenician!

The "house" of Baal suggests some sort of religious temple! "Bayith" is likely derived from "banah," meaning "to build." Every god or goddess of that day needed a "house," of course. But of Jehovah God, and only of Jehovah God, King Solomon asks: "And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?" 2nd Chronicles 2:5-6

Again, back to today's verse. "And Ahab reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria."

The verb "had built" is literally "banah" again, here obviously meaning some sort of construction project. Land, money, time, devotion, all being poured into this ungodly plan!

For a Nation to turn from Almighty God to some other falsely assumed deity ... is a big mistake! Psalm 9:17 boldly promises: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."

As in America today, we not only have forgotten the real God, Creator and Redeemer, we have taken pride in such a despicable act!

We "brag" about being so "pluralistic" nowadays!

Many gods!

And postmodernism dares us to say one is better than the Other!

Well, here goes!

There is only One True God!

Listen to John 14:6 please. Jesus is preaching. "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Peter, in Acts 4:12, adds: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." That Name is Jesus!

To which every Christian true heartily says, Amen!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 33:

We already have been given part of this information. "And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." 1st Kings 16:33

Remember verse 30 please. "And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him." 1st Kings 16:30

The fact is so important God repeated it!

The most wicked King yet, that's Ahab of Israel. At least so far, that's the case!

But verse 30 merely says he "did" evil, using the verb "asah," literally "to fashion or accomplish or make!" Almost as if Ahab "invented" certain types of evil! Yes! Some men are that ungodly! They "manufacture" or "devise" sinful things! Proverbs 16:30 presents an example of such. "He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass." Here "devise" is "chashab," that is, "plan, calculate, imagine or invent!" While the godly man meditates on God, even while resting in bed, the unrighteous: "He deviseth mischief upon his bed." Psalm 36:4

But things with Ahab worsened, quickly! He "provoked" God! He "provoked Him to anger!" Now "to provoke to anger" translates "kaas." This Hebrew verb means "to be wroth, vexed, grieved," or even "sorrowed." But here in our verse "provoked to anger" is made to be passive in voice. Then it means "made angry, forced into wrath!" Or, as we have it, "provoked!"

Some sins frankly upset God, perhaps even more than others!

"The Lord knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Psalm 103:14 explains carefully. God is gracious! Paul even suggested this: "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness ...." Acts 17:30-31

But, on the other hand, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." Proverbs 6:16-19 more than hints that these specific sins carry greater weight with God!

And of adultery, grievously we are cautioned: "But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away." Proverbs 6:32-33

And, ultimately, "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Jesus preached this in Matthew 12:31-32.

Maybe God "weighs" sins ... as well as "counts" them! Some are just more serious than others! This line of reasoning does not belittle sin in any way, of course! Still, we are commanded: "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1st Thessalonians 5:22

Yes, King Ahab "upset" God!

He forced God into anger; holy anger, but anger nonetheless!

But ... what made God so perturbed?

Ahab the King of Israel made a "grove!"

Using "asah" again, the Monarch "constructed or manufactured or built" a place of heathen worship!

The noun "grove" translates "asherah." Each of the forty times it appears in the Bible, "asherah" is defined exactly as here; "grove," or in the plural, "groves."

But what are "groves?"

Here's the textbook definition. "Trees planted or poles erected near the locations of idols, for purposes of worship!" That's false worship too, in God's Eyes!

And it provokes Him to anger!

Often it seems in the Old Testament, instead of just planting such trees, idol worship centers were purposely located where such trees already existed. And, for some reason, often on high hills too!

For example, listen to Jeremiah rebuke Judah for her sins! "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills." Jeremiah 17:1-2 talks about those hills and groves and trees, places of unspeakable idolatry.

In fact, and get this please, it seems that always Baal worship was conducted near some tree!

An altar by a tree!

An idol in a whole grove of trees!

Where did that kind of thought originate?

I think, from the Garden of Eden!

There, God Himself came down and fellowshipped with Adam and Eve in "the cool" of every day! "And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." Genesis 3:8

This is the very basis of worship, communion with God!

And in the center of that Garden, that original Place of Worship, was ... a tree! "And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Genesis 2:9 mentions the tree of life!

That's where God is!

He is The Life! He is Life Eternal! "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" John 11:25-26, Jesus to Martha.

Then John 17:3. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

The tree in the midst of the Garden!

And wait until we get to Heaven! There, too, will it be!

God, Jesus really, promised the Ephesians saints: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:7

That tree again, in the place of worship!

Now, later, here's John in Glory! "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." Revelation 22:2

And even more so, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14

It's a Bible precedent!

A tree, the Tree of Life, where God is!

Of course, spiritually speaking, we Christians today worship near a Tree too! New Testament style, a Tree called Calvary!

A now empty Tree, as is the Tomb, uninhabited today!

But still, a vitally important Tree!

No one can ever be saved without it, the precious Blood shed there, the darling Saviour Who died there!

So ... when the devil devised his forms of false worship, naturally, he wanted a place near some trees!

He always mimics God!

He has no original thoughts!

He's merely a corrupter of good things!

And that's what upset God so very much!

That grove did!

"And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." 1st Kings 16:33

A substitute for Calvary!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 34:

Today's verse is astounding!

It illustrates the utter stupidity of sin!

Look for a man who is a Father, a Daddy to his two sons. Then watch him put his business above his boys! Not just once mind you, but twice!

His greed led to the deaths of his most precious heritage, his very offspring!

"In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun." 1st Kings 16:34

At first glance one might wonder, "So what? The man was a builder. His most recent project was a city, a whole city! Jericho!"

But just a minute!

Back in the days of Joshua, immediately after the destruction of the wicked city of Jericho, God commanded: "Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it." Joshua 6:26

Ignoring God's "curse," Hiel rebuilt the city anyway!

Money?

Reputation?

Determination?

We do not know why!

But God was disobeyed, defied really, and the city was built!

Rebuilt actually.

But look what happened!

At the beginning of this vast project Hiel, whose name means "God lives," had to bury his firstborn son! Even Pharaoh hesitated there! But not Hiel! He kept building anyway, still in rebellion to God!

Disobedience costs!

Sin has wages!

But the economy must be foremost!

Right?

Hiel kept building.

But by the time the gates of the city had been completed, one of the "finishing touches" of the job, another son had died! This time it was his youngest!

Which was most important?

Boys or buildings?

Sons or security?

The Hebrew word for sons, "ben," comes from a root verb that means "to build!" But Hiel either did not know that or did not care! He chose rather to build a city ... than to build a family!

And, according to Psalm 127, one's sons or daughters are "arrows" in Dad's hands. Now that's real security! "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." Here it is, Psalm 127:4-5.

Someone reading here today is perhaps on the verge of financial success, at the cost of his very own family!

Be careful!

Jesus taught that "gaining the whole world" is not worth loss in the spiritual realm!

A sad commentary today, sad indeed!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

The name "Abiram" means something about being "exalted." It also includes the word "father" or "ab." In Hebrew "rum" means "to rise up, to be lofty, to be placed on high." But, instead, he may have literally been buried in the city's very foundation!

The name "Segub" is derived from yet another word, "sagab, meaning "to be inaccessibly high." Too high for capture! Too elevated for danger to be a threat!

Oh, the folly of sin!

 

 

LESSON 8, THE BEST FOR LAST:

We have here, in 1st Kings chapter 16, our Text for the week, noticed Ahab, the wicked King of Israel.

Then, consequently, we met Jezebel, the idolatrous Queen.

And after that Hiel, an ungodly citizen.

Those were indeed dark days, days of declension and apostasy from the Lord God of Israel.

Such times demand one more verse! Yes, 1st Kings 16:29-24 cry out for 1st Kings 17:1.

Our initial Text: "And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun." Again, this is 1st Kings 16:29-34.

And now the sequel, a necessity in the eyes of God: "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there ...." 1st Kings 17:1

When things were going well in Israel, with at least some semblance of order and righteousness anyway, God directed things spiritually by means of men called Priests.

God, in Deuteronomy 24:8, told the people: "Do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do."

But when times deteriorated, spiritually I mean, the Priests no longer taught the Truth.

Then God raised up the Prophets!

And their job?

Right from the mouth of God, here's the Prophet's commission! "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." Isaiah 58:1

Dark days call for hard preachers!

Bad as times had become, Ahab on the Throne and Jezebel promoting Baal worship and Hiel making money, even to the detriment of his sons ... God was compelled to raise up a Prophet!

A what a Prophet he was!

The Name "Elijah" means "My God is Jehovah!" That's a whole sermon within itself!

A "Tishbite" is an inhabitant or at least a native of a little village in upper Galilee. The name just means "captivity," which could have been a sermon to such a disobedient people, unrepentant folks on their way to Babylonian servitude themselves! Due to their multi-faceted sins, of course.

Next 1st Kings 17:1 virtually "thunders" with the voice of the Prophet!

He said ... and whatever is about to come out of his mouth is fearful and certain and guaranteed ... judgment related!

Here's the rest of the verse. "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." 1st Kings 17:1

Great men of God often grow in the adverse climate of apostasy!

Then, get ready!

A bumper crop is coming!

Maybe in a strange sort of way, wicked rulers and ungodly women and money grabbing merchants have one good point!

The great Prophets they will demand!

Thank God for the "Elijahs" of days past!

Will there be more?

Here are the last two verses of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:5-6: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

God give us men with strength of character and boldness of spirit who will fearlessly preach and teach thy precious Word!

Yes!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, CONCLUSION:

We need one more Lesson, a conclusion for the past eight segments. We've met four interesting people; King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, Businessman Hiel and the Prophet Elijah.

Each person's personality demanded the other! Sequentially, I mean!

In an effort to remain consistent, let's mention something practical then theological then personal about each of our subjects.

King Ahab was a wicked man indeed. But, he had never known anything but ungodliness! Both his father and his wife, matter-of-fact his sons too, were all imbued in iniquity and rebellion! He did not have the blessing of godly parents or a Christian education. As a result of his ignoring Almighty God, spurning the Law of Moses and Israel's religious heritage, Ahab never learned to say "no" to sin! He did not develop the discipline of abstaining from evil! We see this in his choice of a wife and his being so easily led by sinister influences. Finally, he was personally a "spoiled" individual. No doubt given all he ever wanted as a child, a royal Prince mind you, Ahab was still petty and sulking and "pouted" often as a King! Once when he did not get what he wanted, a vineyard belonging to another man, he acted this way, "And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread." 1st Kings 21:4 is telling us the truth! A man like this is just a big baby!

Queen Jezebel is no better, maybe even worse! She was raised in a culture, Phoenician, where one god prevailed, Baal, but others were tolerated. Pluralistic to the core! Naturally, when she moved to Israel as the Queen, she brought her gods and goddesses with her! Along with her perverted religion came sexuality! Baal worship involved, really demanded, loose morals and so-called "religious" rituals that dealt with prostitutes and orgies! She caused others to commit fornication, likely both physically and spiritually! And her personality was aggressive, assertive, even manipulative too! After Ahab's pouting spell above, Jezebel "fixed" the problem! She rigged a crooked trial and saw that Naboth, the vineyard owner, was executed so that Ahab could "get exactly what he wanted!" Her religious persuasions were pursued that way too, like a missionary for heathenism! For that reason she is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation. To the Church at Thyatira, Jesus says: "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.  And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." Revelation 2:20-23 was written by the Apostle John on the little Greek island of Patmos.  One more thing, 2nd Kings 9:22 associates Jezebel with "witchcrafts!" This is a dangerous woman. I fear many churches today are yet infested with the spirit she promulgated. Sometimes from a man, other times from a woman, bossy and controlling and anything but Christ centered!

Such a corrupt political administration will naturally allow anything in the world of business! Enter Heil the Bethelite. "In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun." This is 1st Kings 16:34, part of our Text. Hiel was a lover of money! Loose theology always allows loose commercial practices! He, irreverently ignoring, even flaunting, a Bible command to the contrary, rebuilt the wicked city of Jericho. It had previously been destroyed by God in the days of Joshua. Remember, the walls fell down! Rahab's former home town! The two spies! When God is dethroned, something or someone usurps that empty thing! Here dollars, "filthy lucre" according to Paul, took control. Here's how God describes money gone wild, "Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven." This was said of Nineveh in the days of Micah the Prophet, just before its destruction. Hiel was so money-driven that as he reconstructed Jericho, defiantly in the Face of God I again remind you, he ignored two warnings! The death of his oldest son at the beginning of the project and the death of his youngest boy near the end of the job! Forget family! Money rules! So, as to his personality, I say Hiel is amoral! Maybe not immoral, just "no" morals at all! Anything goes! Everybody be happy! Nothing's "right" or "wrong" anymore! To each his or her own desires!

And such lifestyles, all the way from from the nation's capital down to local construction sites, demand an answer from God! Enter Elijah! Here's his first mention in the Bible: "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." Trouble! That's what Ahab nick-named the Prophet! "And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" The Prophet was driven by one strong desire, a concern for the reputation of God! So are all the Prophets! Here, in prayer to God, the exasperated Elijah bares his heart, "I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 1st Kings 19:10 is so revealing! And just as Jezebel was bold in wickedness, Elijah was bold in godliness! Even more so! Except for one bout of depression, he was fearless! Listen to him confront the false prophets of the day: Here's Elijah challenging Ahab, face to face: "Ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table." Let's see Who is really God! "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." Then thundered the Prophet, "Call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken." So, after the prophets of Baal miserably failed, "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." 1st Kings 18 supplies these verses. The fire fell! Suffice it to say again, special times of wickedness require special men of God!

Oh, how we need such Preachers today!

Plus many other godly people, men and women, who are sold out completely to Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour!

Next time you hear "hard" preaching, thank God for it. That is, if the Bible is being proclaimed, truthfully, as it really is!

One more time, our whole Text for the week. "And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab ...." Such pertinent words yet today!

And what preaching Elijah did!

Not this kind. "Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart." Jeremiah 14:14

But this kind. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." 2nd Timothy 4:2

Lord, help us!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

I NEVER KNOW HOW A SERIES OF BIBLE STUDIES WILL "PREACH" UNTIL THEY HAVE BEEN PULPIT TESTED! BUT, GUESSING ONLY, THESE VERSES LOOK PRETTY GOOD! THEY CERTAINLY SPEAK TO THE WICKED TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE!

 

 

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