Advent Series - December 16
The reign of Kings Saul, David and Solomon lasted just 120 years. Each ruled for 40 years.
The reign of King David was the golden time of Israel’s history. Jerusalem was the capital of the kingdom, and it prefigured our final home with God; the “Heavenly Jerusalem”.
The climax of this time came when David’s son, Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem; a fitting place to house God’s Ark of the Covenant. Solomon’s Temple was magnificent, but the good times were not to last.
Solomon grew proud and disobeyed God’s commands. He gathered money and power, taxing his people heavily. He made agreements with pagan nations, and the women they sent to live at the palace as wives brought idolatry into Israel.
When Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam became king. Rehoboam was even harsher with his people.
In disgust, 10 tribes of Israel broke away and formed their own kingdom in the north. They called their kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel. (This happened around the year 930 B.C.)
Only 2 tribes stayed united to the king; the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. They called their kingdom in the south the Kingdom of Judah. Those who belonged to the Kingdom of Judah were called “Jews”.
So now there was a divided kingdom; the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.
The Kingdom of Israel had a problem, though. Jerusalem was the only place where God allowed sacrifices to be offered, and Jerusalem was south in the Kingdom of Judah.
The king of Israel, King Jeroboam, did not want his people to go back to Jerusalem, so he set up idols for them to worship instead; golden calves which he set up at the places of Bethel and Dan. (3 Kings 12:26-28)
This is how the people of Israel were separated from the true worship of God.
Of all the kings of Israel, Achab was the worst. He, “did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (3 Kings 16:33)
King Achab (Ahab) married a pagan woman named Jezebel, who worshiped the idol Baal. He built an altar to Baal and Jezebel killed the prophets of the One True God.
For this, God punished Israel by sending them no rain for 3 years. Then around the year 870 B.C., God told the prophet Elias (Elijah) to go to Israel. Elias said to the people, “How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him…I only remain a prophet of the Lord: but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men.” (3 Kings 18:21-22)
Then the prophets of Baal set up an altar and called upon their god to send fire to consume their offering.
All morning, they called and called. Elias told them to call louder, since their god didn’t hear them. “Maybe Baal was talking with someone else,” Elias said to them, “or maybe he was at an inn, or on a journey!…Maybe he is asleep!”
The prophets yelled louder and jumped over the altar. They cut themselves with knives but no fire came to burn their offering.
Then it was Elias’ turn. Elias built an altar and put the offering upon it. Then to show that nothing is hard or impossible to God, Elias had lots of water poured over the altar.
Then Elias prayed, “O Lord God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Israel, shew this day that Thou art the God of Israel…and that according to thy commandment I have done all these things. Hear me, O Lord, hear me: that this people may learn, that thou art the Lord God.” (3 Kings 18:36-37)
“Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”
And the people returned to the true God and God caused the rain to fall again.
But Queen Jezebel was angry. She wanted to kill Elias, but Elias escaped.
Elias was on the run for a long time. He got tired and discouraged, but God sent an angel to give him food. After he had eaten, Elias walked 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb.
When he reached Mount Horeb, God showed Elias that His voice was not to be found in the mighty wind, or in the earthquake, but rather in the gentle breeze. This is a good thing to remember: God does not speak in noise and confusion, but in silence. Someone once said that friends talk to one another and also listen to one another. If we want to be God’s friends, we must learn to listen to His voice.
Elias was a prophet for many years. Then one day, God told Elias to go to Jericho. When he got to the river Jordan, Elias took his mantle and struck the waters and the waters parted, so that Elias crossed on dry land. And God sent a fiery chariot and took Elias away.
As he was going up, Elias dropped his cloak to his helper, Eliseus. Eliseus would continue to lead the people to God.
Like Henoch (Mathusala’s father), Elias did not die.
The Apocalypse says that Elias and Henoch will come back at the end of the world to oppose the anti-Christ.