1 Corinthians 14:6-12

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 27, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
- 1 Corinthians 14:6-12

In the previous section, Paul addressed how both prophecy and speaking in tongues should be done in ways that edify and build up the church. Paul builds on that point in this section, giving additional instruction to the first-century Corinthian church.

In verse 6, he therefore concludes that it would do no good for even him to speak to them in tongues if they didn’t understand it. He specifically mentions revelation, knowledge, prophecy, and instruction as types of messages he could bring. Revelation and prophecy are both supernatural, while knowledge and instruction are more natural. All of these would be helpful for the Corinthians if they were understandable, whereas a message in tongues would be pointless if they could not understand him. Note that Paul is not saying that he will speak to them in tongues, but rather he’s giving a hypothetical situation.

To further illustrate this point, Paul gives illustrations with everyday objects in verses 7-8. He first uses musical instruments. If someone is playing them but there is no melody, what good is that? It doesn’t give the hearer the same sense of enjoyment if there are just random unintelligible notes as hearing a beautiful melody played on a pipe or a harp. While it could still be considered music without some kind of system for the notes, it would not be beneficial for the listener.

Paul’s audience would have been familiar with the association of the trumpet sound with going to battle, as that was common for both Greeks and Jews. We see the trumpet used for a battle call in Numbers 10:9 and Joshua 6:4-9. But if the trumpet sound is not clear, no one would recognize it as a battle call, and it would not fulfill its purpose.

Paul further makes the connection with these analogies in verse 9: “So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” It is not simply making sounds or even words that are important, but rather that those words and sounds can be understood by those hearing them. What good are words spoken if no one understands them?

There are many languages in the world, even in Paul’s day, but none of them are valuable if no one understands what the people are saying (verse 10). When I was in 7th grade, I made up my own language. It was based on English, but I changed out sounds for other sounds. While I thought it was pretty cool, I soon realized that it was rather pointless when no one else knew the language! There was no opportunity for conversation when I was the only person who was fluent in this language.

All languages that are actually spoken among multiple people have meaning; that is how we communicate as human beings. Words need to have meaning, and both the speaker and the hearer need to agree on what those particular sounds mean when placed together in a word if they are to have effective communication. If the two people speaking do not understand each other, then they are like foreigners to each other (verse 11). If you have ever tried to have a conversation with someone when you do not have a common language, you understand how difficult that can be.

Paul brings his point home for the Corinthians in verse 12 by saying, “So it is with you.” He recognizes that they are eager to receive and practice the various gifts from the Holy Spirit, but he cautions them to focus on only the gifts that build up the church as a whole. While tongues may be a gift that is helpful, it is only really beneficial if people understand what is being said. Other gifts that truly do build up the church are where they should put their energy.

How does this apply to us today? Just as with the first-century Corinthians, we should strive to build up the church. There are many things that we can focus on that do not actually build up the church and strengthen our faith and the faith of our fellow believers. We easily get caught up in church politics, gossip, the drama that can come with dealing with broken people, the mechanics of a worship service, building concerns, etc. – the list goes on and on.

Instead of those things, we need to focus on how the Holy Spirit has gifted us and how we are to use those gifts to build up the body of Christ rather than focusing on distractions. Sure, some of those things are necessary so that the church functions, but our focus should be on how the Spirit has gifted us and building up the body of Christ.

What gifts has the Holy Spirit given you? How are you using them to build up your fellow believers?

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Backstory of the Kings 10: Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omri

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 24, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Today, I am going to examine the backstories of four kings all in one go. All four of these kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel ruled for a grand total of 14 years, most of which were Omri, and about half of that he split with Tibni. Elah lasted two years, Zimri for seven days, and then Tibni and Omri split the reign for four years before Omri took full control for another eight years. All four of these men were full adults during their reigns. The only indication of Elah’s age is his tendency to get drunk, which is what Zimri used to assassinate him. Zimri and Omri were high-ranked military officials, so they were not spring chickens. Tibni is one we know the least about, but he had to have enough clout to draw half the northern kingdom to follow him as well.

All four of them would have at the very least spent a large part of their younger years under Baasha’s reign and had time with their rivals in Judah, under King Asa. Most likely lived long enough to be under Jeroboam’s reign as well. Zimri was a commander of half of Elah’s chariots, and Omri was the overall commander of the army. We don’t know who Tibni was other than half the northern kingdom followed him after Zimri’s coup. But the fact that both Tibni and Omri only reigned a few years before they died indicates they were not young men. Katie Erickson summarizes the rules of these four kings here, but let’s take a look at what set up this chaos.

Elah was Baasha’s son, and Zimri and Omri were military captains and generals for the kingdom. Omri would have led several of the battles against Asa under Baasha’s rule, and Zimri would have also led some of the charioteers in those battles. Elah only lasted about a year and a half, and he was marked for drunkenness. It was in such a drunken stupor that Zimri came in and assassinated him and then went to wipe out the entire line of Baasha, just as Baasha had done to Jeroboam: to leave no heirs to the throne. I will point out that of all the dynasty purging, only Jehu did it in obedience to the Lord. All the other purges were purely for political security, even though God had prophesied it would happen. Zimri did not kill Elah with the intention of being obedient to God. Zimri simply went in and killed Elah and slaughtered Baasha’s family.

But Omri was not in favor of this move and considered it treason. He was the army commander and moved to reclaim Tirzah from Zimri and in just seven days, Zimri set the palace on fire and died within it. As commander of the army, Omri was made king, but a number of people supported Tibni, who we do not know any ranking or influence. But when Tibni died, Omri took full reign over Israel and moved the capital from Tirzah to Samaria; Samaria would be known throughout the Bible as either a center of idolatry or compromise.

Omri had something marked to him that the other kings had not: he was more wicked than the five kings before him. There were less than 50 years between Solomon’s death and Omri’s reign, and Omri was more wicked than all the others. It was not enough that Omri walked in Jeroboam’s sins and worshiped the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. He engaged in other idolatrous worship as well. We don’t know much about the wives of the kings between Jeroboam and Omri, but we do know that Omri’s son, Ahab, married the worst possible woman he could have – Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon, who was also a chief priest for Baal. In those days, marriages were arranged by the parents if they were still alive, and especially for royalty, they would be for political or economic reasons. Omri arranged for Ahab to marry Jezebel, and it only went from bad to worse.

There really isn’t much else to say because so little information is given about these four kings. But one theme that keeps showing up is that idolatry leads to unstable positions. Each of these kings were idolators, and none of them had security for the throne. They all had someone vying for the throne. The only dynasty that remained safe for some time was Jehu’s, and that was because Jehu was the only king who at least partly walked in God’s ways. These four kings each had the throne as their idol, and they always had to be watching their backs for someone to assassinate them. Don’t we do the same when we have idols in our lives? Are we always watching our backs because someone might come in and steal it? If we worship God and God alone, we know that no one can steal God from us, but if we grip too tightly the things of this world, they can be ripped from us in an instant. And sometimes, it might be our very lives ripped from us.

These four kings showcase a sequence of power-hungry thugs who want total dominion, and God is not going to let that slide for long. The reign of Omri to Ahab is marked among the worst of all the kings of Israel and Judah combined. Even though Ahab was the worst of them all, Ahab is the only one of the wicked kings whom God still reached out to for salvation. We’ll look at his reign next week.

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1 Corinthians 14:1-5

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 20, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
- 1 Corinthians 14:1-5

As we transition out of the “love chapter” that we discussed the last two weeks (here and here), we move into a chapter that has become somewhat controversial for the modern church. This chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 deals with prophecy, speaking in tongues, and order in worship.

Just before this, Paul explained that all spiritual gifts, including prophecy and tongues, must be used in love. This is emphasized again in verse 1, where Paul begins by saying, “Follow the way of love.” The Greek verb translated as follow is actually a stronger verb than that; it has the idea of actively pursuing something, almost like chasing it. We are not just to simply follow the way of love but we are to actively chase after it and pursue it in our lives.

The next verb, “eagerly desire,” is not as strong, so the emphasis is on pursuing love. While desiring spiritual gifts is important, it is even more important that we actively pursue the way of love that Paul had just described for his readers. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, we could do great spiritual things but if we don’t have love, none of that is worth anything.

Paul then explains that prophecy is a gift that is to be desired, and he shares why in verse 2. Compared to the gift of speaking in tongues, prophecy is more valuable to the church as a whole. A person who speaks in a tongue is only talking to God, and no one else can understand what they are saying. While that is spiritually valuable to that person, it does not build up the church as a whole.

Paul says that the person speaking in tongues utters mysteries by the Spirit. The phrase “by the Spirit” in this verse is an interesting one. In this NIV quoted above, the word Spirit is capitalized, thus implying that it is the Holy Spirit. However, the original Greek was written in all capital letters, and our more readable manuscripts today are written in mostly lowercase, so the fact that it is capitalized has been added in by a translator at some point. So, some commentators say that this refers to the person’s own spirit, referencing verses 14-15 where Paul talks about his own spirit. Often, the Greek word for “holy” will also accompany the word for spirit for clarity, but here it just says spirit, so that is left to interpretation.

In contrast to a person speaking in a tongue, a person who prophesies speaks to the people and helps them (verse 3). While no one else may understand the person speaking in a tongue, the gift of prophecy is more widely understood and is beneficial to all believers present, not just the one who spoke in the tongue. Prophecy can strengthen the faith of believers, it can encourage believers to keep fighting the good fight of faith, and it can provide comfort in times of distress.

Paul makes this distinction clearer in verse 4: “Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.” The word translated as “edifies” means building up or strengthening. While it literally can refer to building a house or a structure, here it has the figurative meaning of building up one’s faith. It is related to the verbs for encouragement and comfort in the previous verse, which are ways that our faith is built up or strengthened.

Paul summarizes his points in verse 5: “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.” He is instructing them to speak in tongues, but it is even more important that they focus on the gift of prophesying. It is of greater importance to build up the church as a whole than for one believer to speak in a tongue to God. Paul doesn’t dismiss the spiritual gift of tongues entirely, of course, noting that it’s different if someone interprets the tongue. If someone interprets, then that, too, can build up and strengthen the church as a whole.

Today, there is much debate on whether these gifts of prophesying and speaking in tongues still occur. Many say they do and still experience these gifts, while many say those gifts ended when the Scriptures were completed. But Paul’s point is not to spark debate on these; Paul’s point is that the church as a whole must be edified and strengthened when we come together to worship. When we come together as a body of believers, we should not simply be seeking that our own faith is strengthened but that the faith of all those gathered is strengthened.

For Paul, it’s all about the community, not the individual. Our modern individualistic world has twisted that around and focuses on the individual person. It’s all about our individual tastes and preferences – what we like and are comfortable with, not what is best for the body of Christ as a whole. Going back to the start of this passage, we need to actively pursue that self-sacrificial love that God has for us. We do that by building up the body and glorifying God when we come together, not focusing on our personal preferences and what will help only ourselves.

While this passage does provide instruction for the first-century Corinthian church on the use of the gifts of speaking in a tongue and prophecy, it should also help us refocus our worship time. We are to focus on whatever builds up the body of Christ over our own personal preferences and experiences. The next time you gather together with other believers, seek to glorify God and build up the church through all that you say and do.

Check out this new book by Katie Erickson, available today!

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Backstory of the Kings 9: Nadab and Baasha

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 17, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Nadab and Baasha are consecutive kings whose reigns in the Northern Kingdom of Israel began just two years apart. Nadab is the son of Jeroboam, and Baasha assassinated Nadab and all of Jeroboam’s family, taking the throne for himself. I am not seeing enough content in Scripture to justify giving Nadab a separate post because there is virtually nothing said about him. Here is what we know about the reigns, and then we’ll examine the backstory.

Nadab was Jeroboam’s son, and we do not know how old he was when he became king. This is the case for most of the kings of Israel, partly due to how many dynasties there were. There were 19 kings of Israel and 10 dynasties; some kings never had their own children on the throne and all but only two dynasties (Omri to Ahab to Ahaziah and Jehoram, and Jehu through Zechariah) lasted more than two generations where the son made it more than a couple years. Asa, who we covered last week, would rule long enough to overlap seven of Israel’s kings, from the end of Jeroboam’s reign to the start of Ahab’s reign. Nadab was one whose line ended violently due to his father Jeroboam’s sin and due to his own sin. A little fun fact: Nadab shares the same name as Aaron’s son who offered profane fire before the Lord and was killed on the spot for it.

Baasha was some kind of official or military officer. Scripture is not clear on his role, but he was high enough ranking to take over the throne after wiping out Jeroboam’s line just as Ahijah the prophet said he would do. The only things Baasha was known for were his assassination of Jeroboam’s line, his continuation in the idolatry of Jeroboam, and his wars with Asa and the nation of Judah. Because of Baasha’s sins, God sent a prophet named Jehu to give the same judgment upon him as Ahijah gave to Jeroboam, that his line would be wiped out violently. Those who died in the city would be eaten by the dogs, and those outside would be eaten by the birds of the fields. This would be fulfilled during Baasha’s son Elah’s lifetime. So, what set this up?

The backstory here is Jeroboam, and you can read about him in Katie Erickson’s post here. Jeroboam initiated the rebellion against Rehoboam and took the leadership of the ten northern tribes. Jeroboam set up two golden calves, calling them “Jehovah,” expelled the priests, and set up his own religious cult. Both Nadab and Baasha followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps and either engaged in the worship of these calves or did not hinder the worship thereof. For some kings of Israel, the king either did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam or walked in the sins of Jeroboam (with the exception of three of these 19 kings, mostly whose reigns were too short to be worth noting). We also see a comparison between the kings, either being equal or worse than the predecessors. Few were better. Neither Nadab nor Baasha are not given markers for being worse than Jeroboam, just for walking on the same path. They worshiped the golden calf idols but were not any worse. We’ll see next week that Omri, the father of Ahab, would be a worse king than all those before him.

Nadab had no known children identified during his short reign, which may mean he was a rather young man when he became king. I suspect he wasn’t still a child as Jeroboam had multiple children during his reign, but he either never married (unlikely due to political alliances and Jeroboam’s desire to keep his line going), he could not have kids, had not had any yet (possible), or they simply were not worth mentioning by name because Baasha wiped them all out anyway. I suspect the latter case. If so, Nadab would have been old enough to know and understand the political wars between Jeroboam and Rehoboam and Abijam. Nadab likely spent most of his life in the idolatrous practices of the golden calves, presumably not knowing any better. And when he became king, he only lasted about a year and a half before Baasha came and killed him and his entire family.

Baasha had to be a relatively young man when he assassinated Jeroboam’s family because he ruled for 24 years. He did die peacefully as opposed to violently, but there is no telling if it was a natural death, a disease, or something else. His son Elah was old enough to reign for just two years and be in a drunken stupor when he would be killed, so Baasha had to be at least in his early 20s and I suspect older. There is just no evidence given. Baasha is only known as being of the tribe of Issachar, and not an official or officer. He did have to be in a position to take the throne, so we can only presume his former position had enough clout to get the people behind him. Regardless of his age, he lived in a time of idolatry, whether it be Solomon’s or Jeroboam’s or both. Baasha wiped out all of Jeroboam’s line but did nothing to touch the idols Jeroboam set up. So Baasha was only interested in protecting his coup by removing all heirs to the throne, and he actively followed in Jeroboam’s idolatrous practices.

What can we learn from Nadab’s and Basha’s backstories? Honestly, there isn’t much to tell other than they continued the worship of the golden calves and any other idols that had been brought into the mix. Nadab was gone before he had much say in how things ran, and Baasha merely supplanted Jeroboam as king and continued his sins in idolatry and the wars against Asa and Judah. Baasha was allowed to take the throne, but because he followed the same idolatrous route that Jeroboam started, he ended up with the same curse on his line. We’ll see next week a series of four kings whose total reigns lasted less than 14 years.

If there is one thing we can learn from Nadab and Baasha, it is this: if our predecessors are cursed by God, we have a simple choice: keep with the curse and walk in that predecessor’s footsteps, or depart from them. And we see in the Northern Kingdom of Israel’s history that not one king actually departed from Jeroboam’s sin. Neither of these kings were responsible for setting up the golden calves, but they were responsible for seeing if anything was done about it. And they were not neutral in the matter; they were active participants in the idolatry. We will see over the next few kings that just maintaining the level of evil won’t stem the tide because the next generation will take the evil to the next level. Next week, we will look at what set up the reigns of Elah, Zimri, and the co-regencies of Tibini and Omri, all of whom set up the reign of the most infamous of the all the kings of either kingdom: Ahab.

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1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 13, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Today, we’re looking at the second half of what’s commonly known as the “love chapter” – 1 Corinthians 13. Take a look at last week’s post to read about the first half of this chapter. Paul has talked about how none of the gifts of the Spirit from 1 Corinthians 12 matter if the person does not have love. Then he went on to define that love, which can be summarized as matching up with the character of God.

The first phrase in verse 8 is that “love never fails.” While this statement can stand alone, it is also important to consider what it means in its surrounding context. Paul goes on to explain how prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will all go away; in contrast to those, love is permanent. But, you may be wondering, if prophecies, tongues, and knowledge are gifts from the Holy Spirit, who is part of the eternal and unchanging God, why would they cease?

The answer to that question lies in verses 9-10. Knowledge and prophecy are “in part” and incomplete while we are on this earth. Anything on this earth just does not compare to the perfect knowledge and understanding that we will receive when we spend eternity in heaven. When we reach that point of completion then anything that is incomplete will become fulfilled and complete. The root word of the Greek word translated as “completeness” is teleios, which I wrote an entire blog post about here because it’s difficult to translate into English.

Some people use this passage to support the cessation of certain supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, that they no longer continue today – specifically, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and inspired revelation. They say that because the canon of the Bible has been closed, that has caused these gifts to stop being poured out on people. Because we are no longer receiving special revelation of the inspired Scriptures from the Holy Spirit, we are also no longer receiving these gifts. However, there is no indication in the text that the word teleios here refers to the completion of the Bible specifically; it is left to the reader to determine what is being completed in this context.

The point Paul is making here is that while other things that are more of this world may pass away and stop, love never will because God is love and God will never pass away.

Paul acknowledges that this is difficult for our finite, earthly minds to comprehend these concepts in verse 11. Our present understanding of all of these things is compared to how a child thinks and reasons versus how an adult thinks and reasons. An adult can understand things much more clearly than a child can. In the same way, when we have perfect understanding in heaven, we will be able to understand all the things that we cannot understand now.

Once we grow up into men and women, we no longer think like children. We have to put those childish ways of thinking and processing behind us. When we get to the perfect and sinless world of heaven, we will have to put our imperfect ways of thinking in this world behind us. Everything will be made clear to us then!

In verse 12, Paul continues this comparison using the metaphor of a mirror. Seeing our reflection is a good representation of ourselves, but it is not the same as seeing face-to-face. A modern version of this may be comparing a Zoom meeting to having an in-person meeting. We can still have interaction and communication and we can still see each other’s faces, but there is something better about meeting with people face-to-face. We experience being in the same room and seeing the whole person, rather than just their face in a small box on a screen.

But even when we get to heaven and have that full understanding, we will not have the same mind as God. We will have a clearer understanding and much greater knowledge, but we are still God’s creation. God fully knows us, but we can never fully know Him. The creation can never fully know its creator, as the creator is always greater and more knowledgeable than the creation.

Verse 13 closes out this section with a summary thought: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Faith, hope, and love will remain forever. Paul has already established that love never fails and will exist forever, as God will exist forever, but now he adds faith and hope to that list. Our faith and hope in God will be ongoing and eternal as we continue on into that next eternal life of perfection. However, our faith and hope will be different then, just as our love will be. Our love will be mature, complete, and perfect, and our hope and faith will be fully realized. Our hope and faith will no longer look toward the future but they will be realized in the present.

The main point to take away from this entire chapter is that God is love, and we are called to love as God does, to the best of our abilities. If we need some guidance on what that love looks like, Paul gives a list of its characteristics. However, we must also realize that we cannot understand fully what that perfect love looks like, at least not this side of heaven.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Backstory of the Kings 8: Asa

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 10, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Asa was the last king of Judah to possibly have been born under the united kingdom of Israel under Solomon’s rule. Asa is Solomon’s great-grandson and yet only twenty years had passed between Solomon’s death and Asa’s ascension. As we do not know Asa’s age when he became king, nor do we know when he was born, it does make it more challenging to know when to place Asa’s upbringing and under whom. We do know some facts, though. We know Jehoshaphat was 35 years old when he became king and Asa reigned for 41 years, which means Jehoshaphat was born six years into Asa’s reign. If Asa became king at age 20, that would mean he lived into his sixties before dying of his foot disease. But that foot disease could have hit at any age.

Due to Rehoboam being 41 when he became king, likely fathering Abijam twenty years earlier, Asa could have been born early enough to know Solomon as a toddler. I have bounced around the idea that maybe Asa could be the “son” that Solomon spoke to with the warnings against bad peers and the adulteress, but I have a hard time picturing Asa being old enough to receive such instruction. But for some reason, Asa was the first king after the nation split to follow the ways of the Lord. He was the first to actively tear down high places. Even David was not recorded to tear down high places, and neither was Saul. But that may be due to the lack of them. David never married foreign wives, and Solomon was the first recorded to build them. So, all these places where there was idol worship at hilltops, under great trees, in caves, etc. were built in Solomon’s time or later. Solomon was the one who introduced them, and this would be an issue that would mark every king that followed.

Besides tearing down high places, removing his own mother from the throne due to her idolatry, and walking in the ways of David, Asa dealt with two major battles: one against an army of one million Ethiopians and another against Basha of Israel. In the first battle, Asa trusted in the Lord. In the second, he didn’t and was rebuked for it. In the end, Asa got a foot disease, and it would take his life because he did not seek the Lord. See Katie Erickson’s post about Asa’s life with all Scriptural references here.

Asa grew up under the administration of Rehoboam. While he may have been too young to truly understand the politics of Jeroboam’s rebellion, by the time the battles started, he clearly saw them. Asa would have been a teenager or young adult during his father’s reign, and he would have seen the moment that Abijam trusted the Lord. I do not believe this was the only catalyst that would have turned Asa to the Lord, but it may have been one of them. There were a few prophets during this time such as Ahijah, Hanani, Azariah, and Jehu (not the king of Israel), but few were active in Judah during Asa’s youth.

As the Temple was less than 50 years from its inauguration, the reading of the Law was still going on. We do know that through some wicked kings, this practice ceased (such as prior to Josiah’s time when the Book of the Law was found), but while Rehoboam and Abijam were marked as evil kings, they merely allowed the idolatry that was going on to continue and to our knowledge did not bring in new idols. Yet somehow, Asa learned how to love and trust God even to the point of choosing God over blood as he removed his own mother from her position as queen mother for her idolatrous practices. Asa getting into position to have the courage to tear down the high places and sources of idolatry would take someone giving him a good upbringing.

But Asa’s walk of faith faded, and I don’t believe any of the setup in Asa’s life led to his downfall to any significant degree. He had a 41-year rule and was very likely king for more of his life than he was not. When God gave Asa a victory over a million soldiers, somehow a much smaller army needed the help of another, and that character trait had to come from during his time as king – pride, laziness, or something. When David refused to go to battle, that was outside his character. Yet here for Asa, his refusal to trust God not only led him to being rebuked, but it sparked a downward trend where he died without seeking the Lord.

Asa is a warning that if you start strong and end badly, often it’s the ending that is most remembered. The 2007 Patriots had the best team in the NFL and went 16-0 in the regular season only to lose the Super Bowl. Asa started out great and strong, but he finished weak. Asa was given a strong foundation to be able to take the strong stance he took against the idolatry going on in his nation, but he did not stand on that foundation for long. Asa did not repent of his unbelief as he died, at least by the records we are given. He wasn’t the worst to do this. When I get to King Joash, we will have the penultimate example of a solid, strong foundation only to completely jump off board. Yet King Asa and Joash are examples that Proverbs 22:6 is not talking about teaching Biblical principles and morals, but rather teaching the child via his strengths and characters for God’s purposes. Asa and Joash departed the faith, but Asa was still given a king’s burial. Joash, however, was not. Asa teaches us never to take our faith for granted and to not get comfortable with it. It is subtle and quick, but we can depart that faith and never know it until it is too late.

Next week, we’ll shift to Israel and spend three weeks looking at seven kings, all of which began during Asa’s reign and concluded into Jehoshaphat’s reign.

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1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 6, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

This chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most commonly quoted passages of the Bible, especially in the context of weddings. But it is very important to look at the context of this passage; it comes right after the section on spiritual gifts and unity yet diversity in the body of Christ. In addition, the verse immediately before this says, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). What is the most excellent way to desire and then use the greater gifts from the spirit? In a word: love.

We’ll look at the first half of this chapter today, and next week we’ll look at the rest. In verses 1-3, we see that the gifts mean nothing if we do not have love.

In verse 1, Paul talks about speaking “in the tongues of men or of angels.” While we have records in Scripture of angels speaking to people using human language (such as Luke 1:13-20 and 26-38), it is believed that there is also a separate language that the angels use that humans cannot understand – what many refer to as speaking in tongues. Paul brings this gift of the Spirit up first because it is believed that the Corinthians were placing too much emphasis on the gift of tongues. Paul also refers to a resounding gong and a clanging cymbal in this verse; these items were used in the worship of God and at the temple (see 2 Samuel 6:5 and Psalm 150:5).

Paul then mentions the gift of prophecy in verse 2. Being able to prophecy, understanding mysteries, and having knowledge are all pointless without love. These mysteries and knowledge are not just worldly but refer to what God is revealing about Himself to us as His people. Even if we have faith that can move mountains (referencing the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:21), it is pointless without love. This faith does not refer to the saving faith we have in Jesus Christ but rather having faith in the ability to perform miracles like moving mountains.

In verse 3, Paul talks about giving all that he has to the poor and experiencing physical hardships. These things can be done without love, but then they, too, are pointless. He would not do these things so that he can boast, but rather out of true Christian love.

In verses 4-7, we see the descriptions of love that are so commonly referenced. Love is described with positive characteristics and negative characteristics. Positively, it is patient, it is kind, it delights in the truth, and it has an attitude that is protective, trusting, hopeful, and persevering. Negatively, we see that love does not envy, boast, be proud, dishonor others, seek self, be easily angered, or keep a record of wrongs.

We know from 1 John 4:7-12 that God is love, so God must embody all of these characteristics of love. We see support for each of these elsewhere in Scripture.

  • God is patient for us to come to repentance and faith in 2 Peter 3:9.
  • We see God’s kindness in Romans 2:4, which again has a goal of leading us to repentance.
  • In Hebrews 11:3, we see that God formed the entire universe out of nothing at His command. This is who God is, and He doesn’t need to boast about it or be prideful. God does not need to envy since there is no one who even comes close to comparing to Him.
  • God does not dishonor others because He is holy and perfect, as we see in 1 Peter 1:15-16.
  • God shows with His actions that He is not self-seeking; giving His Son to come to earth and die on the cross for the entire world (John 3:16) is the opposite of self-seeking.
  • While God does get angry with righteous anger when needed, He is very slow to anger, as we see in Joel 2:13.
  • God does not keep a record of our wrongs. We see in Isaiah 43:25 that He remembers our sins no more. Our sins are wiped away because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • John writes that he has joy when his children walk in the truth (3 John 1:4), which applies to God as well. God delights in truth because He is the truth (John 14:6).
  • Psalm 92:15 tells us that there is no wickedness or evil in God, so He cannot delight in evil.
  • God always protects us and delivers us, as we see in Psalm 91:14.
  • Psalm 71:5 shows us that God is always our hope.
  • God’s unfailing love is always with us, so He never fails, as we see in Psalm 33:22.

Not only are these characteristics of God, but we should strive to imitate them as we strive to imitate God. But that is definitely easier said than done! How can we possibly live out this love? The only way is through knowing Jesus Christ. We cannot know what true, Godly love is unless we have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

None of us can live out all these things (or perhaps even one of these things) perfectly, but Christ still loves us in this way so we can attempt to love others like this. Jesus' work of love was one that restores love and restores relationships when our sin breaks them – with God, with each other, and with ourselves. Christ is restoring all of those through the perfect love that we see here.

We are called to lean on the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives to have this kind of love in our lives. It is only through the gifts of the Spirit and His presence in us through faith in Jesus Christ that we can even hope to attempt to live out this perfect type of love.

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Backstory of the Kings 7: Abijam

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 3, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Abijam, son of Rehoboam, was the first of the short-lived kings of either kingdom. His reign only lasted three years. We do not know how old he was when he became king but based on the surrounding contexts, we can surmise a range, which helps us understand how he grew up. His father Rehoboam grew up his entire life in the palace. Rehoboam was 41 when he became king and only 20 years passed between Rehoboam’s ascension to his grandson Asa’s ascension to the throne. Asa ruled for six years when his son Jehoshaphat was born, thus giving a 26-year difference between Rehoboam becoming king and the birth of Jehoshaphat. Abijam was in the middle of this and had to be old enough to father Asa, so Asa could be old enough to have children early in his reign. I am going to speculate that Abijam was born about halfway into Solomon’s 40-year reign (when Rehoboam was in his early 20s) and that Asa was born near the end of Solomon’s reign. As Abijam and Asa are the only two kings of Judah where the age of the king is not listed upon coronation, such speculation is required, as long as we stay within the framework that is given.

Abijam’s three-year reign is known for two things: his lack of departure from idolatry and his war with Jeroboam where at least for a moment, he expressed some faith in God. We do not know how Abijam died, whether it be by natural causes, an illness, an injury, or whatever; we just know he passed away after only three years on the throne. You can get the details from Katie Erickson’s post about Abijam here. So, what is Abijam’s backstory?

I will presume that Abijam lived his childhood in Solomon’s court. He needed to be nearing his 40s during his reign, if not being a bit older, so Asa would be old enough to father Jehoshaphat early in his own reign. This has led me to wonder if Abijam or Asa was the intended recipient of Proverbs 1-9. I am hesitant on Asa being the one because he would not be old enough to understand the dangers of false peers or adultery while Solomon was alive. Abijam would be of age to receive it if Solomon gave it late in life. If Rehoboam was the recipient, we can tell he didn’t do a very good job at listening because he didn’t make it a year before going directly against such warnings. Abijam was an adult when that happened, and he directly witnessed Jeroboam’s rebellion and would have been directly involved in fortifying the cities of Judah. There was war between Jeroboam and Rehoboam through most of their respective reigns, though not immediately because God revealed that the split was God’s will.

Abijam knew all the political context, and when it was his turn to go to battle with Jeroboam, he was outnumbered 2-1: 400k for Abijam and 800k for Jeroboam. Abijam knew his history. He knew the promises made to David and Solomon. He was alive to witness Jeroboam’s rebellion. He also knew his father Rehoboam’s weaknesses as a young ruler, even though Rehoboam was 41 years old. Despite his age, Rehoboam was still a child in many ways and Abijam noticed this, having seen both his father and grandfather rule. He could clearly see a difference in the maturity of Solomon with his God-given wisdom and Rehoboam who lived his entire life in the palace with spoiled peers.

Abijam knew that as king, he would need to be much stronger than his father was. To be stronger, he needed to rely on the Lord. For this battle, Abijam did trust in the Lord, despite doing evil by engaging in idolatry and allowing the high places for idol worship to continue. Because he trusted in the Lord and because he remembered his training in the days of his grandfather Solomon, even just that one time, Abijam won a victory slaying 500k of the 800k-man army of Jeroboam. It was a loss Jeroboam never recovered from, and it bought Abijam’s successor, Asa, ten years of peace to establish his throne.

Abijam was known for idolatry, and this can be traced easily to his wife Maacah, daughter of Absalom. She built an Asherah pole, an idol explicitly known for its sexual activity rituals. Maacah was one of many wives of Abijam but the one who gave birth to Asa, who would be the next ruler. Maacah plays a bigger role in Asa’s life.

There really isn’t a whole lot to say about Abijam’s reign. It was extremely short and the only notable thing he did was win a battle against Jeroboam. However, behind the scenes, we can see that Solomon still left some impression on his grandson. We can learn something here. There are times when someone raised in the faith departs the faith as an adult, but in a moment of crisis, that childhood faith can come back and blossom. Now we do not know if this was a one-time event or if Abijam walked faithfully with God for the rest of his life, which was not very long after this battle. The Bible does not say. What we do know is that he was marked for wickedness and had one moment of faith and trust in the Lord.

We can see that a deeply planted seed can still sprout, but one thing we will see later on is that not all the kings would have their seed blossom. Just because a seed is planted does not mean it will produce salvation-bearing fruit. Don’t forget the Parable of the Sower, where of the four types of soil, three took root but only one bore fruit. There is no evidence that Abijam eventually became good soil as Samson did, though our hearts would like to think he did. There is hope and a warning here. There is hope that a seed can still sprout, but there is a warning that it may get choked out in the end. Which is the case for Abijam? We don’t know.

Next week, we will look at Asa who came to the throne at the end of Jeroboam’s reign and ruled all the way into Ahab’s reign, seven kings of Israel later.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.