Not every passage is going to be uplifting, but God’s word will speak to you. It’s important for us to understand the history of God’s people so we can learn from their mistakes. We may not want to think about all the wars and defeats they endured, but it gives us insight.
When we look at the patterns we’ve seen on our journey through the history books of the Bible, we soon see that no victories were won when Israel’s or Judah’s leaders were not following God. But when these rulers would reach out, even with a single prayer like Jehoahaz did in this reading, God acknowledged them. God loves his people. Any glimmer of obedience was rewarded.
Paul is challenging us to “have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” That might seem a bit daunting, but Paul shows us a bit about what that means. Having this knowledge gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ character as well. Humble. Compassionate. Loving.
You may be thinking, it’s easy to have a good attitude when you’re God. You’re in control. Yet, while Jesus is God, he is also man. We can’t forget Jesus “gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave.” Jesus knows firsthand how difficult being a human can be.
We’re starting a new theme in our Discovering the Bible Challenge called “Listening to God’s Word.” You are precisely in the right place as we’ll walk through some great Bible texts giving us insights to the importance of listening to God rather than the mumblings of the world.
I especially like this first passage as it tells the story of Samuel hearing God’s voice. We have the Bible as God’s word to us, but Samuel heard God’s message first-hand. Whether you’ve audibly heard God’s voice or not doesn’t matter. It’s important that we be listening!
It will be helpful to know that Elijah is the first of several important prophets that God will use to bring messages to his people in both Israel and Judah (northern and southern kingdoms). Elijah is from Gilead (Israel) so he reports to his king, Ahab.
We’ve already seen how the kings of the north have all been evil and corrupt. For years, there were some in Israel who remained faithful to the God of Abraham who had brought them out of bondage in Egypt. They have lived under leaders who flaunt an entirely different spirituality, totally ignoring the God of their inheritance.
We are walking through some very dark days in the history of Israelite leadership. Each new king seems to be worse than the one before. How is that even possible?
Meanwhile, we must assume that because Judah’s king, Asa, is following God, everything is going well over there. The remnant of the Israelite people living in Judah and Benjamin are living lives that are more pleasing to God, honoring him with their obedience.