Bible Reading for: April 24
Iron sharpens iron. You are not only to be sharpened by another godly man, but to sharpen others as well. In God’s economy, there are no dull blades.
Okay, so after reading today’s passages you’re probably thinking, “didn’t Bill say yesterday that Ahab had been forgiven because he humbled himself before the Lord? Now today we read that Ahab ended up dying as God prescribed prior to his humble attitude. At first glance this looks like I missed the mark about Ahab being forgiven. Believe it or not, I believe what I said yesterday was true, not because I said it was true, but because the Bible specifically said that Ahab would not suffer the death earlier declared by God through Elijah.
The problem here is that Ahab went back to his old ways. He continued to sin against God. He had a moment of humility before God, and then fell back into sinful behavior. Ahab’s humble change was only momentary, and thus his on-going behavior earned him the end he deserved. That’s tragic, but why does God make sure you and I know this story today by including it in His Word? Ahab was a sinner just like you and me. Ahab had a moment of remorse for his behavior and humbled himself before the Lord, just like we did when we accepted Christ. That, however, is where our paths diverge. We have Christ; Ahab didn’t. We have the Holy Spirit Jesus sent to guide us in righteousness; Ahab didn’t.
I remember discussing God with a co-worker years ago and he said more than once “I just can’t believe in a God that would condemn to hell anyone who didn’t or doesn’t know about Jesus”. I’m a former salesman, and this kind of statement is something I used to refer to as a “false objection”. How God chooses to reveal Himself to others and call others to Him is His business, and has nothing to do with you and me. We could get into this, but it is really beside my point. That co-worker was hearing about God there and then. God was revealing Himself to that guy and calling that guy to Him. The issue wasn’t “what about everybody else”. The issue was, “what about you”; would he respond or not.
The issue for you and me, and those to whom we take the Gospel is, what are you going to do with God’s call today? As Christians, we do have the Holy Spirit to guide us in righteousness. Are you responding to His guidance?
Today’s reading also gave us a glimpse at godly mentoring. We don’t actually see the mentoring, but we do see the results. Elijah had mentored Elisha. Elisha was faithful to Elijah and God. He faithfully followed his mentor and when the time came for Elijah to be taken up, Elisha was ready. Elisha duplicated Elijah’s miracle of parting the Jordan. Elisha was immediately seen to have assumed Elijah’s mantel.
In my walk, I have come to realize that each of us needs to mentor and be mentored. Each of us is further along in our spiritual maturity than some, and a bit behind others. Do you look for the opportunity to mentor? Do you look for those who might mentor you? You know, when Jesus sent his disciples out for a little missionary work without Him, he sent them, not alone, but two by two. We are fools if we think we can walk this road all alone. There may be times when we have to walk a short distance with no human companionship, but it really should be the exception rather than the rule. We are made for fellowship brothers. There is no getting around it.
I’m reminded of the following verse, as I’m sure you are as well.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Realize that you are not only to be sharpened by another godly man, but to sharpen others as well. I think that a lot of what is wrong today in the Church is a lack of mentoring. Too few of our brothers in Christ are being raised up to spiritual maturity. This is about discipling, and being discipled. Don’t be a dull blade my friend.
Finally, we read the story about Elisha and the bears today. Let’s clear up some misunderstandings. The young people were not little children as the King James Version renders it but young adults. They were not taunting Elisha’s follicly challenged head. They were ridiculing the story that God caught Elijah up in the air. They were scoffing at the idea that a god has the power to do such a thing. “Go up” is a challenge to duplicate the miracle. They are saying prove it. Realize that they are not really mocking the prophet, they are mocking God.
Elisha pronounced his curse “in the name of the Lord”. Some have claimed that Elisha acted with malice and anger toward the “youths”. To do something in the name of someone in the Old Testament, however, is to do it in the character of that person. It is to do something at the behest of, or at least in harmony with, the person named. Remember earlier on in our readings how God would burn, or swallow up, or otherwise destroy those that treated Him with a lack of godly respect?
I remember an old margarine commercial that had “Mother Nature” tasting what she thought was butter, and when she was told that it was margarine, thunder cracked and her face turned stern and she said, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” Well you can’t fool God, but it’s not nice to ridicule him either. Is that thunder I hear? Grab hold of your fire extinguishers guys; it’s going to get a little hot.
God showed Israel, at a critical point in their history, that they must respect God if they expect to receive His blessing. This was a tough lesson, but these young men had it coming. What was that old Jim Croce song? “You don’t tug on Super Man’s cape, you don’t spit in the wind, you don’t pull on the mask of the ole Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with God!” I may have misquoted that a bit.
Brothers, let’s start, or keep, sharpening each other. We have work to do, and we can’t do it with dull blades!
Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!