9/12/23 Devotional from Ed
September 12, 2023
Scripture: 1 Kings 16:23-34
23In the thirty-first year of King Asa of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel; he reigned for twelve years, six of them in Tirzah.
24He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; he fortified the hill, and called the city that he built, Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.
25Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; he did more evil than all who were before him. 26For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and in the sins that he caused Israel to commit, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols. 27Now the rest of the acts of Omri that he did, and the power that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel? 28Omri slept with his ancestors, and was buried in Samaria; his son Ahab succeeded him.
29In the thirty-eighth year of King Asa of Judah, Ahab son of Omri began to reign over Israel; Ahab son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him.
31And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. 32He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33Ahab also made a sacred pole. Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua son of Nun.
Devotional: Did anyone do anything right? After all, we see several people mentioned who were not pleasing in God’s eyes, including Omri (evil), Ahab (more evil), and Jezebel (read in 2 Kings about her actions).
Can’t the 1 Kings writer mention some of the good people? Those who did right in the eyes of God?
And how are we supposed to feel good after reading this Scripture? Where’s the comfort? The hope?
While there may not be much hope in this specific text, there is a bunch of theology. This specific writer wants us to realize that God watches, God can be disappointed, and God can be angry. There is not much interest in our comfort.
I believe this is more evidence why we need to continue to discuss the connection(s) between the Old Testament and New Testament. It is difficult to fully grasp the theology of the New Testament without reading about the worshiping of false idols, worshiping other gods, and prevalence of pride, ego, and jealousy we see in the Old Testament. Human nature has not changed. Humans have provided God with consistent reminders that we are imperfect creatures, and the Old Testament is loaded with references to God being disappointed, angry, and jealous.
However, there is hope. There is good news.
Despite human beings consistently disappointing, God stepped into our history and fulfilled a promise. And by moving into the neighborhood and suffering on the cross, we are now part of the new creation. God’s promise to the house of David was fulfilled. As one Christian writer notes, “The will of a jealous and angry God to punish sin with suffering and tragedy finds its ultimate focus in the cross upon which this ‘King of the Jews’ was killed.”
Each time we serve Communion, we lift up Jesus’ words from that infamous night with his disciples: “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he took the cup, saying: This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me."
This leads me to offer a prayer. Consider saying this aloud some point this week:
God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, keep us mindful of the cross when our minds begin to drift. Keep us mindful of the cross when we fail to live up to your expectations, when we fail to put loving and serving you first, and when we act out of jealousy or pride. Thank you, Lord, for loving us despite our imperfections. Amen.
See you soon at FLPC.
Work Cited: Nelson, Richard. “First and Second Kings.” Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Ed. James Mays. Louisville: John Knox Press, 105.