Check back every Wednesday for the weekly devotional. For those of you that are new, I write the devotional for my church’s webpage. There is a group of people reading through the Bible in a year. The scriptures are posted on the church webpage and devotionals are written to go with some of the days. I write for Wednesdays and also post them here. My husband writes for Saturdays and those are often posted here as well.
This section of scripture is a continuation of the same patterns we’ve been reading about for the last few days. It is said of king after king, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” And king after king not only lost his kingdom, but his life as well. God is a God of love, but he is also holy and just. There is a limit to his patience. Each king was warned of his impending doom, and one by one they refused to heed God’s warning. Their lives were stripped away and often their families’ lives along with them. And, in the case of Baasha, scripture tells us that even distant relatives and friends were wiped out.
I am thankful that God’s gift of grace is available to all who will accept it, but that does not mean we can just forget the wrathful side of him. We must remember that God hates sin and he takes it very seriously. When he warns us to stop sinning and repent, we must heed and obey. God’s word tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). That truth is just as true today as it was thousands of years ago when the kings of Israel fell one by one.
In chapter 17 hope comes on the scene in the form of Elijah. He was God’s prophet and we will soon see his mighty witness. Elijah went to King Ahab and told him that God would send a drought. He delivered the message and then, at God’s direction, went to hide by Kerith Brook. God provided for Elijah’s needs there. Water was in the brook and ravens brought him food.
When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to a poor widow in Zarephath. Here, God performed another miracle and provided oil and flour to feed Elijah, the widow, and her son, but he asked the widow to take a step of faith first. When she met Elijah, she was collecting wood to prepare a last meal for her and her son. She only had enough flour and oil for one last meal of meager proportions. Elijah asked her to prepare a little bread for him first, and then to make some for her and her son with what was left. He assured her that God would provide for her until the drought ended. She took that step of faith and fed Elijah first and day after day, there was always just enough oil and flour for one last meal. God didn’t bless them with over-abundance, but gave exactly what they needed each day.
A friend of mine recently shared a story of God’s provision. She moved to Visalia last fall. Before she came, she was on her face before God pouring out her heart to him. Leaving her circumstances at that time meant stepping out in faith, as she would have no income. God told her, “I will be your provider.” She recently finished her final student teaching and started the job search. God opened the door for a teaching position just last week. When teachers all across the state have lost jobs, God provided one for her. We can trust that God will meet our needs.
We learn from this passage that God does not show favoritism. He does not judge based on race, color, nationality, or station in life. As we seek to live as Christ, we also should not judge based on these things. However, God does judge our character and our work as evidenced by the words of Peter in verse 34. “In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. God expects us to do what is right. He expects us to fear him; not as one fears the deeds of someone who is out to harm them, but as one who fears their dad when they’ve done something wrong. They can rest secure knowing that their dad loves them, but they also know that he will call them to account for their actions. It’s what kept most of us in line at school. We knew that if we got in trouble at school, then we were also going to face the music with Dad when we got home.
I think that many in the modern-day church lack a reverent fear of God. Some claim to be Christians but live no differently than the secular world around them. If we fear God, it will show in our actions and the way we live on a day-to-day basis. Are we Sunday morning Christians who put on a holy face on Sunday, but live carnal lives throughout the remainder of the week, or do we have an awe-inspired respect for God that influences the way we live our lives every day?