Monday, March 7, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 36. Zimri King Of Israel

Prophets And Kings
Day 36
Zimri King Of Israel

Yesterday Zimri assassinated Elah and took the throne but him werent the peoples choice and him only manages to hold onto the throne for a week.

1 KINGS 16:15-20
Zimri was one of King Elah's officials and he had command over half his chariots. But he wasn't the popular choice of the people and his will be one of the shortest reigns. "In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days. The army was camped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp." (1 Kings 16:15-16) The army hears Zimri has declared himself king and they say, "Oh no, we won't have this man to rule over us!" And they declared their army commander king, who was probably a well-liked and respected man. We will learn tomorrow that Omri isn't a godly man, but he was a popular man, and he will reign far longer than Zimri.

Imagine declaring yourself king and then finding out the trumpets are blowing in the army camp with all the soldiers shouting, "Long live King Omri!" Zimri would have done well to secure the support of influential people for himself long before he ever decided to kill Elah. He should have shaken some hands and kissed some babies and sought the favor of the citizens.

"Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah." (1 Kings 16:17) The men decide that war with the Philistines can wait while they attend to the urgent national business of deposing Zimri. After all, they've been at war with the Philistines for what seems like forever, what's a few days of delay?

"When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit." (1 Kings 16:18-19) Seeing his defeat is at hand, Zimri chooses to go out in what seems to him a blaze of glory. I think it takes a certain kind of madness or misdirected zeal to commit a painful suicide by fire. We can understand a person taking their life because of unbearable physical or mental anguish, but suicide by fire is uncommon in those cases. 

In general, suicide by fire accounts for less than 1% of the methods used in wealthy nations like the United States and here it's more likely to be attempted by people with severe psychiatric illness or by those under the influence of hallucinogenic substances. Suicide by fire is more common in countries undergoing extreme political unrest or religious persecution. It is employed in those nations not so much for the purpose of killing oneself but as a public religious or political statement. In my research I learned that even in cases where the victim is making a statement of protest, there is often a history of underlying mental illness or previous suicide attempts using other methods. So I think we can conclude that Zimri's chief motive for self-immolation was probably to make a political statement but he may have had secondary mental illness. We've already seen him commit first degree murder by plotting against the man who had given him a good position in the kingdom. We've already seen that he saw himself in a different light than everyone else saw him, which can sometimes indicate a psychiatric issue. He seems to have believed he was a political figure the people would rally behind, that he could unite the nation, that the people would automatically fall in with him, but he misjudged this situation so horribly that we have to consider the possibility he was delusional. In addition, the author tells us he's an idolator like those before him, and we don't know what Satanic influence this had on his mind. The Scripture tells us he died "because of the sins he had committed", so we know his wickedness somehow led to the madness of setting himself on fire. While it's likely Omri and his troops would have killed Zimri upon reaching the citadel, their execution by sword would have been more merciful than the death he chose for himself.

"As for the other events of Zimri's reign, and the rebellion he carried out, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?" (1 Kings 16:20) The books of the annals of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah are lost to us. Some of the information that corresponds to the books of 1st and 2nd Kings is found in 1st and 2nd Chronicles, but evidently there were other books at one time that gave more detailed accounts of the deeds of the kings. They probably didn't survive to become Scripture because they weren't inspired by the Holy Spirit but were common records of the kings such as most nations kept. Egyptian kings, for example, kept highly detailed accounts of all their exploits and building projects and wars. Kings kept records of all they bought and sold, even down to how much wheat they bought for daily use in their households, but this isn't inspired Scripture. It's interesting but it's not Scripture and it's not helpful to us in the faith. Since the Lord is more than capable of making certain anything that belongs in the holy Bible is there. we can safely assume that possessing the books of the annals of the kings wouldn't be of use in our walk with Christ, although they would hold some historical value,

This Zimri was evidently so wicked that even a nation fallen headlong into idolatry couldn't tolerate him. He couldn't hold onto the throne for more than a week. Omri will reign twelve years and his son Ahab will succeed him, one of the most well-known wicked kings of the Bible, the king who married the idolatrous harlot Jezebel who persecuted the prophets of God and wanted Elijah dead. But there's something very interesting we will notice. We have already discussed how that, during times of wicked kings the Lord still has His faithful ones in the land, the prophets who stand firm in His word. The power of the prophets seems to match up well with the power of the wicked kings. Ahab will be one of the worst but during his reign the Lord raises up the prophet Elijah, one of the most powerful and famous prophets of all. According to how wicked and powerful a king is, the Lord raises up a prophet that is more than their match. As always, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

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