Welcome back to part 15 of our Story Series - this chronological look at the Bible.
Up to this point, the Creator God, whose creation chose to rebel and sin in the Garden, has graciously chosen a group of people to represent him.
They have proven over and over again that they can’t live up to God’s standard, yet He has remained faithful to His promises.
That phone interruption is much like the Story today. God is trying to reach his people with a message.
Will they respond or send him to voicemail?
Because the Bible is arranged topically and not chronologically, many people will enter “the black hole” of their Bibles at this point.
The Old Testament books are arranged as history, poetry and prophecy.
The story seems to get jumbled up and confusing.
With the division of God’s people into two kingdoms—10 tribes called Israel in the north and two tribes in the south called Judah—and the fall of the north to Assyria and the south to Babylon, many people give up reading their Bibles.
You will notice in your bulletins the timeline insert.
Explain - Timeline of the Southern and Northern overlap
1. God divided the nation because His people were sending a wrong message
A. God wanted his people to be blessed by him so that others would be drawn to their God.
Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
B. The nation rebelled from God, becoming complacent in devotion, disobedient to God’s commands, and worshipers of pagan gods.
Quite frankly, this is the cycle of God’s people from the beginning
“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.
God’s grace has always been given despite the goodness of mankind. But:
C. In disobedience, God’s people were sending a wrong message to themselves and to the surrounding nations.
Think about it for a moment. If Chuck and I robbed a bank last night and our mugshots were posted all over the town and on the internet, yet we came this morning and worshipped together with you all and stood to teach and preach - we’d be sending a mixed message, right?
That’s what is happening with God’s people. They were called by God, to God, for God - yet they started living for self and pursued false gods.
But God in His gracious sovereignty allowed the kingdom to divide.
2. God divided the nation so that He could purify the message regarding God’s character.
A. God does not need all 12 tribes to fulfill his promises to Abraham and David.
Covenant with Abraham
I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Covenant with David
And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” ’ ”
B. From the offspring of David from the tribe of Judah God will bring the Messiah. This promise is fulfilled in Jesus.
In the lower story, mankind’s experiences, it gets pretty messy at this point. But in the upper story, God’s perspective, He is preserving His promises.
As we narrow in on 1 Kings 17 - page # ___
3. God sent prophets to the Northern Kingdom to call His people back to obedience.
We understand through scripture that:
A. God sent 9 prophets to the 19 kings in Israel over a period of 208 years.
B. Two of the nine prophets were Elijah and Hosea.
1. Elijah and his encounter with the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Caramel is well-known. Israel’s God answered by fire.
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
Elijah goes to Ahab and tells him to gather all of the Northern Kingdom to Mount Carmel
So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
So the people responded - but imagine what it took for them to do that...
3 years of famine with no water
Miraculous pillar of fire from heaven
But sadly their obedience doesn’t last long.
With the 5 kings after Ahab, the people pursue idols again and find themselves in more trouble.
which brings us to:
2. Hosea (prophesies from 753-715 BC), while Jeroboam the Second is king, was commanded by God to marry, Gomer, a prostitute and to love her.
The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord.”
C. God through Hosea is demonstrating by life and by word that he deeply loves Israel and he wants Israel to turn from idols and come back to him.
1. Hosea 1 – 3 shows the life message to God’s people.
Gomer leaves her husband to go live as a prostitute, and Hosea searches and finds her and buys her out of prostitution to be his wife. Again, and again, he shows through the pain of obedience to the love God has for His people.
2. Hosea 4 – 14 reports the prophetic message to God’s people.
Hosea both proved through his life, and preached through God’s message that God continually loved his people.
His love for the wayward prefigures his love for sinners in Christ
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
The truth of the matter is that God still communicates today through His word and by His Spirit.
Perhaps he is communicating to your heart
about your need for His saving grace extended through the finished work of Jesus
God had a plan, from the beginning
to christians - about your pursuit after other things
over and over again - God’s people wondered from God
you and I are no better.
God is communicating...
Will you take the call, or let it go to voicemail?