1 Kings 20: 1—21: 29
There are so many believers in the world who have no idea what the point of the OT is. They have to try to reconcile a God in the OT that appears to condone murder and Jesus who they meet in the NT. Many discount the OT and say it is just stories we should not take literally to reconcile these two versions of God. However, they do it without understanding that the Bible is one story. OT and NT= Holy Bible. You cannot understand one without the other. There is only one God and He gave us the Bible so we could learn about Him.
Our reading today reminds us why we are toiling to understand these stories. “Then you will know that I am the LORD.” These stories teach us who God is and that He is our LORD because He is the creator of all things. They also teach us about God’s character. We see a God that shows up to prove He is real amongst people enslaved to idol worship. The Armenian’s think that the Israel won because their “gods” are the gods of the hills. Our Real God hears that and is actually saddened by the fact that they are lost in false worship, degrading themselves by paying homage to man-made objects. In the story about Ahab He poured out angry judgement because Ahab was leading His chosen people into sin. But then He also poured out redeeming love when Ahab repented. He uses both these stories to reveal Himself to us. He uses His Creation as a classroom for the world. He is always teaching the world that He is the One True God. Creator. Sustainer. Savior. Judge. And another thing. If you don’t try to understand the God of the OT you have no hope of understanding why on earth God would send His One and Only Son to die on the cross.
Acts 12: 24—13: 15
Barnabas and Paul (who officially becomes Paul today) are commissioned to go out and spread the message. They met Bar-Jesus or Elymas in the story today. Remember how we talked about how dangerous it is to syncretize the message of God with other beliefs. Well this sorcerer is a perfect example of this. A Jewish Sorcerer is an oxymoron. You cannot be Jewish and practice sorcery. This is what Paul will be up against. It seems as humans we are so power hungry, we don’t want to just put our faith in God we want a little of that power and glory for ourselves. We want to weld it to our demands. I mean, so I have heard, I am so very “anti-glory-for-myself” that it’s hard for me to understand this. (And everyone laughed and laughed because we all know what a glory hog I am.)
The problem is when God’s message gets syncretized people miss out on the actual saving faith of God. They end up putting their faith in something besides Jesus. That is why Paul stares this dude down and CALLS HIM OUT! Because this dude is making people spiritually blind, he receives blindness. Imagine how terrible it would be to go to church your whole life and put your faith in all the rituals and prayers you pray only to stand before the Lord and find out you never put your faith in Jesus so will not spend Eternity with God? It is of most importance that the Gospel stays pure. Faith in Jesus=Eternal Life
Psalm 137: 1-9
This is poetry. God does not want us to take babies and smash them on rocks. In context, Babylon has taken Israel captive. The Psalmist is being honest about how he will love exacting judgement back on them. He probably witnessed his children being killed. It is a cry of the heart. Think of it this way. Eminem is going to express himself differently than Celine Dion would when in exile under God’s judgement. God is not afraid of our deep sadness and feeling of wanting revenge.