Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Ki 16
"Next [in the line of Israel's kings] came Elah, a drunkard,
who in turn was a murderer (1Ki 16:8,9). His successor, Zimri, was guilty of
'treason' (1Ki 16:20). He was followed by a military adventurer of the name of
Omri, and of him we are told, 'but Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord,
and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to
provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities' (1Ki 16:25,26).
"The evil cycle was completed by Omri's son, for he was even
more vile than those who had preceded him. 'And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in
the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if
it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of
Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the
Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him' (1Ki 16:30,31).
"This marriage of Ahab to a heathen princess was, as might
fully be expected (for we cannot trample God's Law beneath our feet with
impunity), fraught with the most frightful consequences. In a short time all
trace of the pure worship of [Yahweh] vanished from the land and gross idolatry
became rampant. The golden calves were worshipped at Dan and Bethel, a temple
had been erected to Baal in Samaria, the 'groves' of Baal appeared on every
side, and the priests of Baal took full charge of the religious life of Israel.
"It was openly declared that Baal lived and that [Yahweh]
ceased to be. What a shocking state of things had come to pass is clear from,
'And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to
anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him' (1Ki 16:33).
"Defiance of the Lord God and blatant wickedness had now
reached their culminating point. This is made still further evident by this: 'in
his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho' (v 34). Awful effrontery was
this, for of old it had been recorded, 'Joshua adjured them at that time,
saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city
Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn and in his
youngest son shall be set up the gates of it' (Josh 6:26). The rebuilding of the
accursed Jericho was open defiance of God.
"Now it was in the midst of this spiritual darkness and
degradation that there appeared on the stage of public action, with dramatic
suddenness, a solitary but striking witness to and for the living God" (AW Pink,
"The Life of Elijah").
Reading 2 - Jer 42
In Jer 42, the remnant of Judah posed the question to
Jeremiah: "Should we go down into Egypt?" Despite an apparent profession of
faith, we may detect in the people's inquiry of God through Jeremiah the signs
of neglect of God and His laws. First of all, we see that they "approached" (v
1) Jeremiah -- which suggests a habitual distance from Yahweh. Secondly, they
appear to be "buttering up" the prophet, as though this might gain them a better
message from Yahweh. Thirdly, they make no confession of sin. (Notice also the
revealing phrase: "the Lord YOUR God": v 2.)
Their subsequent behavior showed also that they were
hypocritical in their whole attitude: whatever God might tell them, they had
already decided to go to Egypt. They had made up their mind as to what was best
for them to do, as their previous flight to this point had already proved. With
one foot in Canaan, as it were, and another out of it, they now pretended -- at
this late date -- to inquire of God. This is a very common practice, but it is
one which not only robs prayer of its meaning and power, but also brings upon
the head of those who are guilty of it a grievous curse. And so it happened
Reading 3 - Mar 16:15
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all
creation" (Mar 16:15).
"The two great challenges which face the body of Christ today
are not from rationalism, science, orthodox religion or ecumenism -- even though
all these have brought problems to us as they have to previous generations. They
are materialism and the unfinished work of witness which lies upon us.
Materialism implies that the present span of mortal existence is the supreme
goal of human effort. In this connection, perhaps the Bible School movement may
be viewed as one of the most important in our generation -- offering a reminder
that man does not live by bread alone, and providing an all too rare haven from
a world seeking wealth, status, power and fame. And in relation to the second
challenge, of worldwide witness, in the formation of the several Bible Mission
committees and the work of those who voluntarily assist them, we may hopefully
see a new determination to discharge our present responsibilities to a world
adrift" (Alan Eyre, "Protestors" 189).