Sunday, February 28, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 28. Ahijah The Prophet

Prophets And Kings
Day 28
Ahijah The Prophet

Todays passage involves two characters wif very similar names. The son of Jeroboam, named Abijah, is deathly ill. Jeroboam sends for help from the prophet Ahijah, the man who predicted Jeroboam woulds become king over the ten northern tribes. This is the only godly man him knows who might help, for Jeroboam haves alienated all the godly men, prophets, and priests in Israel because of his state-sanctioned idolatry. Also, because Jeroboam haves instituted a pagan religion for the nation, him doesnt want it known that hims wife is going to see a man of God. It wouldnts do for the people to know that even the king doesnt trust in the gods him mades. 

1 KINGS 14:1-20
"At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, and Jeroboam said to his wife, 'Go, disguise yourself, so you won't be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there---the one who told me I would be king over this people. Take ten loaves of bread with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.' So Jeroboam's wife did what he said and went to Ahijah's house in Shiloh." (1 Kings 14:1-4a) Jeroboam has had no use for the Lord up until now, when he's facing trouble. He's not a godly man or a praying man, but in this time of worry he appeals to someone who is a godly praying man. From the text it's hard to tell whether he's sending his wife to make an appeal for the boy's life or whether he simply wants to know the outcome, as some scholars think, but I feel he hopes the prophet will intercede in prayer for the boy. If all he wanted to know is whether his son will live or die, time will soon tell. There's no need to send anybody off to Shiloh just to ask. I think he hopes the prophet will perform a miracle, just like the man of God from Judah performed a miracle on Jeroboam's hand in Chapter 13. 

Ahijah is warned by the Lord that a deception is afoot. "Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age. But the Lord had told Ahijah, 'Jeroboam's wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.'" (1 Kings 14:4b-5) 

"So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, 'Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news. Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over My people Israel. I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like My servant David, who kept My commands and followed Me with all his heart, doing only what was right in My eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused My anger and turned your back on Me.'" (1 Kings 14:6-9) Imagine the shock Jeroboam's wife feels when she was still outside the door and the prophet calls to her, knowing her identity. This man is a true prophet and Jeroboam should have known better than to try and fool him. But more than this, Jeroboam should have known better than to try and fool the living God, who knows all things and who sees into every heart. He previously commanded Jeroboam through this same prophet to obey the Lord and keep his laws and the Lord would make a great dynasty for him. But Jeroboam failed to obey the Lord and caused the people to rebel against God. The dynasty will not come to pass. Today it will begin to fall apart.

"Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel---slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has spoken!'" (1 Kings 14:10-11) The family line of Jeroboam will die out and the males of his family won't even have proper burials, something that's very important to their culture. 

"As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found anything good." (1 Kings 14:12-13) The only good person in Jeroboam's family will perish at a young age. This seems unfair to us. Our culture considers death a punishment and life a reward, but I think in this particular case the Lord takes this child on to heaven before he can be corrupted by the abominable idolatry of the nation, before the household of Jeroboam falls and life for this family becomes miserable. The Lord honors the child by making certain he is mourned and respectfully entombed, an honor no other male of Jeroboam's line will be awarded. Unfair as this boy's early death seems, our text today reminds me of something a woman in my church said about the unexpected death of her teenage son. Her son went off to school that morning looking like he was in perfect health and by nightfall a sudden viral illness had rendered him brain dead. I can't even imagine the pain that family has experienced, but she stood up one day in church and said she found her comfort and her answer in this passage of Scripture, "The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death." (Isaiah 57:1-2) When the prophet Isaiah spoke the words she quoted, he was assuring the people that the reason the good people were dying in the nation was because terrible trouble was coming. The great nation Babylon was coming to conquer them and the godly people who died before it happened were the lucky ones. When the Lord takes Jeroboam's son on to heaven at a young age, He takes him away to be spared from evil. This child enters into the peace of the Lord and finds rest in His presence.

Ahijah goes on to say, "The Lord will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen. And the Lord will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the wind. He will uproot Israel from this good land that He gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the Lord's anger by making Asherah poles. And He will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit." (1 Kings 14:14-17) In Chapter 15 we will see a man come against the house of Jeroboam, fulfilling this prophecy, and 300 years later we will see a nation come against the house of Israel, fulfilling this prophecy.

"Then Jeroboam's wife got up and left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the boy died. They buried him, and all Israel mourned for him, as the Lord had said through His servant the prophet Ahijah." (1 Kings 14:17-18) I feel sorry for Jeroboam's wife because she may just be a victim of her husband's bad decisions. Her feet must have felt heavy as she trudged home, knowing her son would die. The only comfort she has is knowing he will be spared the troubles the prophet foretold. 

"The other events of Jeroboam's reign, his wars and how he ruled, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. He reigned for twenty-two years and then rested with his ancestors. And Nadab his son succeeded him as king." (1 Kings 14:19-20) In 2 Chronicles 13 we find an account of Jeroboam going to war with a future king of Judah, coincidentally named Abijah, the same name as Jeroboam's late son. Abijah's troops defeated Jeroboam's troops so thoroughly that, "Jeroboam did not regain power during the time of Abijah. And the Lord struck him down and he died." (2 Chronicles 13:20) This king with the same name of Jeroboam's son renders him virtually powerless in the final years of his reign. Jeroboam goes out with a whimper, as a weak king. Apparently he does not die a natural death of old age but is taken from life by the hand of the Lord. It seems like poetic justice that the man who brings Jeroboam down shares the name of his dead son, the son who died young to be spared from spiritual corruption and national defeat. Jeroboam's wickedness is responsible for the death of his child and the name of the king of Judah reminds him of that. His sinfulness boomerangs on him, He reaps what he has sown.

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