GOD IS NOT FOOLED; THE GOSPEL FOR ALL PEOPLE; THE BLESSING OF UNITY
The prophet Ahijah was held in special regard by King Jeroboam. It was Ahijah who first brought word to Jeroboam of his God-given opportunity to reign over Israel. If he proved to be faithful to walk in the ways of the Lord, he would be blessed and the head of a blessed dynasty.
Jeroboam’s unrepentant self-directed worship and the illness of his son and apparent heir, Abijah, put all promised blessings in jeopardy. Jeroboam’s own conscience witnessed to the fact that he was not right with God. Fear provoked him to inquire about the future of his sick son by the deceitful means of disguising his wife and appeasing the prophet with ten loaves of bread. But the prophet Ahijah, although now old and blind, would not be fooled. He was blind. Therefore, her disguises were of no use. Through the exercise of his spiritual faculties, he discerned her true identity from the moment of her arrival and announced that the son of Jeroboam would die.
Concerning Jeroboam, the Lord said:
You also have done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back (1 Kings 14:9).
Notice that in the written accounts of the Kings of Israel and Judah, David is held up as a benchmark of one whose worship was devoted exclusively to the true God, Yahweh. Jeroboam is held up as a benchmark of sin, a man devoted to self-directed worship and oblivious to the revelation of God. Both men had hearts of worship; one to the self-revealed God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the other to his self-centered religion catering to his own understanding and lusts.
Ahijah gives a prophecy pertaining to the house of Jacob that will prove true. Jeroboam’s son Abijah will die as soon as Jeroboam’s wife returns to Tirzah and crosses the threshold of her house. He will be the only one in the household of Jeroboam who will be given a decent burial. According to the word of the prophet, Abijah will be the only one in the house of Jeroboam, in whom the Lord, the God of Israel, has found any good.
In this case, the death of the child is seen as the child’s reward and the parents’ punishment.
The story of the Kings of Israel and Judah continues. We learn from their examples. Kings from both the north and the south do evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet a few in Judah, like Asa, “do what is right in the eyes of the Lord” (15:11).
Don’t be confused by the two Abijahs. Abijah, the son of Jeroboam of the northern kingdom of Israel, died as prophesied before coming to the throne of Israel. Abijah, son of Rehoboam of the southern kingdom of Judah, became Rehoboam’s successor.
What do we know about Abijah?
“He committed all the sins his father (Rehoboam) had done before him.” (What kind of example are we setting before our children?) He did not have the heart of his greater ancestor, David.
Abijah’s son, Asa, breaks the family pattern of apostasy and purges Judah from the sins of his forefathers, Rehoboam and Abijah, expelling idols and the male shrine prostitutes from the land.
Asa did not let family sentiment get in the way of his fidelity to the Lord. He not only confronted his mother but deposed her from her royal position of influence:
“He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned it at the brook Kidron. (1 Kings 15:13)
These passages remind us of the importance of having our minds renewed and our hearts right with God. Instead of doing what is right in our own eyes or the eyes of others, our supreme concern should be to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. We must be ready to do the hard thing without the interference of sentimentality.
God is mindful of what He wants us to accomplish in our lives. Therefore, let us not leave anything undone. Exceptions to otherwise faithful kings are recorded in God’s book- David’s failure with Bathsheba and Uriah and Asa’s failure to remove the high places.
Cornelius was a God-fearing Gentile stationed at Caesarea, a centurion supervising an Italian battalion. About 3 PM, he had a vision of an angel of the Lord, who gave orders for him to send men to Joppa and bring to him Peter who is staying at the house of a tanner near the sea.
Meanwhile, Peter has a vision during his noon-day prayer time on the rooftop in Joppa. He is hungry and thinking about food, and to his surprise, he sees what appears to be a great sheet with unclean animals on it and a voice saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”
According to the Mosaic laws of separation (Leviticus 11), certain foods were considered unclean and were not to be eaten. These laws made it difficult for Jews to be with Gentiles without being defiled.
Peter protests the invitation, claiming to be a good Jew who would only eat kosher foods. The vision is repeated, and on the second time, the voice adds, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider ‘unholy.'” The vision is repeated a third time. Peter’s taboo-conscious scruples cause him to be resistant at first. God was making it clear that he was changing the rules, and Peter was struggling with this.
Peter’s repeated vision made it clear that the middle wall of partition of the ceremonial law that separated the Gentiles from the Jews had come down with the finished work of Christ. The Holy Spirit used this vision to show Peter that the gospel was the good news of salvation to all people, Gentiles, and Jews. His heart was prepared to do what God would call him to do next- preach the gospel to a God-fearing Gentile Roman officer.
As Peter is questioning what the vision meant, the two men and the soldier deployed from Cornelius are knocking on the door of the house where Peter had been staying.
The Holy Spirit speaks to Peter and tells him to accompany the three men to Caesarea.
Normally a Jew would not let a Gentile into his house, as they would defile it. Peter had three heaven-sent visions calling him to partake of what was once unclean but is now cleansed. Now three men, normally considered unclean, whom God now sees as clean, were to do what was formerly ‘taboo’. They entered the home where he was staying.
Psalm 133:1 (NASB) 1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
Notice that the unity is all based on and found in ONE PERSON. This Psalm focuses on Aaron, the Great High Priest. Our Unity starts with submission to God, as His Life and Will are communicated through the person of the Great High Priest, the Greater Aaron, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Anointed Head of the Body, the Great High Priest, who, on the basis of His perfect once and for all sacrifice, has been exalted and now sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). As a result of His finished work, He is exalted and given a Name that is above every other Name (Philippians 2:8-11). “His Name is as ointment poured forth” (Song of Solomon 1:3). The Holy Spirit who communicates all the glorious attributes of Christ’s (His Name) is given now to the church, which is the body of Christ. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which commenced at Pentecost, is a result of Christ’s glorification. (John 7:38-39)
John 7:38-39 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Psalm 133:2 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
The beard speaks of all that is rooted in the head. The anointing of the Holy Spirit communicates Christ and mediates His life to every member of the body of Christ. Jesus told Saul of Tarsus that when he was persecuting the church, he was persecuting Christ. Just as the woman touched the hem of Christ’s garment and was healed, so people can come to know Christ and His saving power as members of His body are filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaim the gospel.
Psalm 133:3 3 It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever.
The Holy Spirit brings the freshness of the heavenly places down to earth. Christ fulfilled all the demands of the Mosaic covenant on our behalf, fulfilling every demand of the Law on our behalf, so we could share in what He rightfully earned: A COMMANDED BLESSING. And what is that blessing? That we might know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. This is life eternal!
John 17:3 3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
How do we know God? We know God by believing Who Jesus is and what He has done. He is the Word of God. He is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. He died taking the wrathful punishment that our sins deserved. When we trust Him for our salvation, receiving Him as He is- The Risen Lord of All, we will be willing to turn from our sins and follow Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The unity of the Christian church is found in the ONE LIFE that we share– the Risen Life of our Lord who dwells within us by the Holy Spirit.
A Christian is someone who has come alive with Christ’s life and now belongs to Christ.
Romans 8:9 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
That life is given as a free gift to the repentant sinner who turns from their sins and trusts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
We are not called to strive to achieve or attain unity. If we have His life, we are to strive to preserve THIS that we have in common. Get rid of anything that is not rooted in His life. If you are to PRESERVE the unity of the Spirit, you must endeavor to not let anything else dominate your life.
Ephesians 4:3 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Proverbs 17:7-8 (NASB) 7 Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool; much less are lying lips to a prince. 8 A bribe is a charm in the sight of its owner; Wherever he turns, he prospers.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS:
Vatican City State
The world’s smallest state; an enclave in the heart of the city of Rome, the last remaining vestige of the once-considerable papal domains in central Italy.
Population: 785 Annual Growth: 0.05%
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
The loss of credibility through numerous scandals, aggressive papal doctrinal positions, and sustained decline in vocations (of priests, monks, and nuns) will force many changes on Catholicism; pray for wisdom in adapting the Church to 21st Century realities.
Pray for spiritual renewal. Catholic charismatic renewal has an impact far beyond the 235 countries and 120 million involved. Pray for them to be a bridge to believers in other denominations and to not be absorbed or rendered ineffective by the system. A large proportion of the Catholic missionary force is charismatic. At the same time, the Roman Catholic Church is expanding in many spiritual directions – theological conservatism, charismatic renewal, Marian devotion, folk religious practices, and others. Pray for nominal Catholics – many millions strong – to experience the radical conversion and cultural transformation that their pontiff insists is essential to faith.
Pray for a rediscovery and adherence to the pure gospel of grace!
PRAYER: Father, thank You for the free gift of eternal life. Thank You for the good news of salvation- that Jesus has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has satisfied the demands of Your perfect justice on our behalf. On the ground of our own righteousness, we all stand condemned. But because You baptize us by the Spirit, instantly positioning us into Christ the moment we believe, we stand on the ground of His righteousness, free from condemnation and blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). Teach us to stay clear of lies and false religious systems that advocate salvation by our works, achievements, or merit. May we be bold communicators of Your Word of Grace! In Jesus’ Name!
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
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