Right now, in the midst of something none of us expected…social distancing due to a virus we’d never heard of until this year…we are hungry for what was and, prayerfully, what will be again…physical connection with people we care about, life before the virus, recovered income, and plenty of toilet paper! But until God chooses to release us from our isolation, what do we do? Is He teaching us anything? Am I listening well? Are you?
Seems like everything I am reading and studying right now has to do with kings! Normally, 1 and 2 Kings in the Old Testament is NOT my go to for Bible study. But, it’s where God has me (except for my chronological reading which is currently in the book of John). When I see something in numerous places, I begin to ask God what He is wanting to make sure I learn.
Here are 3 of my recent and current reads:
So, what am I learning from kings? Much more than I anticipated. As I write this post, I’m in the middle of the study by Lysa on 1 and 2 Kings, so, no doubt I will continue getting deeper in my understanding as I walk through this study. But already, I am learning many new things..
Here were how these 3 books above converged in one week, as I finished one, began another, and was in the middle of the third:
1. In Robert Morgan’s book, The Strength You Need, his premise is based on Deuteronomy 33:25, “May the bolts of your gate be iron and bronze, and your strength last as long as you live.” This is part of the blessing Moses gives to the tribe of Asher, basically saying, according to Morgan, “we’ll have sufficient God-given strength for all of our God-assigned tasks through each of our God-appointed days.” But then he takes us to King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14-16, to whom God said through the prophet Hanani, “For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him. You have been foolish in this matter. Therefore, you will have wars from now on.” King Asa started out following God but ended up doing evil.
2. In Cyndi Grace’s book, In Whose Presence I Stand, we read about Elijah and his confrontation with one of the kings, the most evil, King Ahab. She focuses on Elijah’s life, his depression and the passing of his mantle to Elisha who would take over for Elijah when God “took him” (1 Kings 17-19, 2 Kings 2). Elijah is an example of a prophet who struggled and doubted, and yet finished well and was “taken” (2 Kings 2:11).
3. In Lysa TerKeurst’s study, Trustworthy, the entire study is based on 1-2 Kings, so daily I’m getting a dose of this subject! This day’s study focused on the drought that came during evil King Ahab’s reign, 1 Kings 15-18. The people had turned their worship toward “other gods”, Baal being one of the most famous. So, God sent a drought. When a showdown between the God and the other gods took place, we see how the only real God won while Baal was silent. (1 Kings 18)
So, what are some things I am learning?
1. In scripture we see monuments being built when God provided for His people through His faithfulness. You can read a post here I wrote earlier on this. Or just take a look at Joshua 4 to see a description of memorial stones. The reason they were used was not just for the ones who actually saw God do these acts, but for future generations to know who God is and how He provides for His people. In 1 Kings 18:31, we see Elijah building an altar using 12 stones representing the 12 tribes, like we see in the Joshua passage. But the difference is that Elijah stood on God’s promise for Israel BEFORE he saw God act in this showdown, not AFTER as we see in Joshua’s case as the Jordan River.
The new revelation for me was this: we can build our monuments as we stand on God’s promises, and claim the victory before we see Him work in our current hard situation, not just after! We can claim the strength we need for isolation, job loss, and health concerns, due to COVID-19, now! And how we walk through this season speaks volumes about how we trust God and His sovereignty. If we show off these memorial stones now, it will strengthen us, and very possibly, others as well. Coronavirus will become a memorial stone picture of God’s faithfulness as a part of our life’s journey.
2. The reason for this showdown between Elijah and Ahab was the famine caused by a terrible drought in the land. The Baal worshipers were calling out to their “god” to send rain and nothing was happening. In Trustworthy, Lysa mentions a connection to the woman at the well. She came to the well and was given “living water” (John 4). Here was her point: “The people wanted rain. The woman wanted water. We want a solution to our problems. God wants to be the ultimate Provider of things we ask for and for the deeper spiritual needs we may not even be aware of. Our trust in Him grows when we look to His solution being both what we want and what He sees we need.”
We want a solution from this pandemic problem, but God wants to show us what we really need THROUGH this pandemic problem. Earlier in life I desperately wanted a baby but faced infertility. God showed me what I needed was to get off the fence of faith and seek HIS purpose and plan in my life. He used that difficult life crisis to take me to a deeper place of commitment than I’d ever had before. Perhaps isolation can drive us to walk more deeply with Christ than ever before. Perhaps He will make our faith stronger than ever before. Perhaps our isolation will show us how desperately we need community with other believers and we will become a more unified body of Christ, locally and globally.
3. I am learning in this pandemic about the cycle of following God, then turning to other gods and how that just doesn’t end well. So many kings started out strong and then it went south…all because of the “other gods” they had not removed from the nation. Today I studied about good king Jehoash (Joash) who did so much right, but he failed to remove the high places where other gods were worshiped. His end was not like his beginning. He had a heart of devotion for God, but he failed to do all God has commanded. (2 Kings12, 2 Chronicles 24:20-27, more on him next week)
My desire is to finish well. Daily I must seek His face, repent of sin, and get rid of the other “gods” in my life as I lay a new memorial stone on the monument of faith Jesus is building in my life. Today, I want to lay the memorial stone of this current crisis, knowing God will work good from it, He will provide, and He will make me even stronger because of it.
Watch next week for another lesson from the Kings regarding their HOWEVER!