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Today's thought

“Did more to provoke God to anger …”

(August 21)

We like to read of good things and we are tempted to gloss over reading about bad things. For this reason Bible readers sometimes skip over parts of the Old Testament and fail to pick up the lessons they teach us. A couple of days ago we read of “the unbearable news” a prophet brought and now we read of the absolute chaos that followed. The kings of the northern kingdom were not descended from David; they also had no proper place where they could worship the Lord. In today’s chapter (1 Kings 16) the rulership descended into chaos and civil war with seven different kings in quick succession. One of them, Zimri, only reigning for seven days! The seventh was Ahab who “did more to provoke the LORD to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (verse 33).

In the meantime the southern kingdom of Judah, after the folly of Solomon’s son Rehoboam and then the brief but bad three-year reign of his son Abijam, had Asa, Solomon’s great grandson on the throne. He was a good king but one needs to read the parallel record in 2 Chronicles (14 & 15) to get the full story.

One particular thing we noticed was that, at the start of his reign, Asa “removed Maacah his mother from being Queen Mother because she had made an abominable image …” (1 Kings 15:13). Who was Maacah? The text says (verse 10) she was “the daughter of Abishalom” which the parallel 2 Chronicles account (11:21) renders more correctly as Absalom. So this bad mother was the daughter of the vain and ambitious Absalom! The outworking of David’s sin and frequent lack of parental control was only now being completed. As we read on we pick up many clues as to the good and bad influence of the principle women – and isn’t that often the case?

Another thing that Asa did was to “put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land” (15:12) and “the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days” (verse 14). When the Lord Jesus returns to reign for a 1,000 years, not just forty-one years as Asa did, he will do far more than Asa did. He will cleanse the whole world of its fleshly ways of living, and rid the world of those who delight in them! And those whose hearts have become “wholly true to the LORD” will also be there.

The wicked kings of those days “did much to provoke God to anger”, but how much greater is his anger today! We will read next week in Jeremiah about God’s anger against the latter day Babylon, that is, this world now: “Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let everyone save his life from the fierce anger of the LORD” (51:45).

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