So I never mentioned the details of what happened to the land of Israel in yesterday's reading. Israel was divided into two parts, Israel and Judah. Judah was ruled by Solomon's son Rehoboam, and Israel was ruled by some random dude, Jeroboam.
Today, we see that Jeroboam is not going to last long. He fears that the people will turn back to Rehoboam if they go to Jerusalem to worship. To prevent this he has two golden calves created and placed in the kingdom of Israel. He and the people worship and sacrifice at these idols and at restored pagan temples.
This, of course, displeased God, so he sent a man to utter a prophecy against Jeroboam. The prophecy itself is very specific, and if someone in the modern age could pull out such a specific prophecy, it would be a great boon to the whole idea of prophets and prophecy:
O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.The altar then splits apart as a sign that the prophecy truly was from God.
Sadly for this prophet things come to a bad end. God had instructed him not to eat or drink until he returned to the land of Judah. However, another prophet wanted to meet him, so the second prophet lied to the first prophet and said that God had sent him a message telling him to invite the first prophet to eat.
The first prophet believes the second prophet, and they eat together. God then uses the second prophet to convey his annoyance:
Then while they were sitting at the table, a command from the Lord came to the old prophet. He cried out to the man of God from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: You have defied the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors.”The first prophet then departs for home and is eaten by a lion. The second prophet buries his body and seems truly grieved. I am not quite sure what the purpose of this story is. Is it to show that these times were so ungodly that even the prophets were not in tune with God? Was the point to encourage people not to listen to others if they thought they had a mission from God? I don't know!
The Christians in Jerusalem are suspicious of Saul's conversion. Barnabas brought him to the apostles, and they seem to have accepted his conversion. With approval from the apostles, Saul seems to have gained the reputation necessary to preach to the people of Jerusalem. However, his old allies, the Jews in Jerusalem, threatened to kill him after he argued with them, so the rest of the community of believers sent Saul back to his home town.
The line at the end of that section caught my attention.
The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.The early history of the Christian church is often portrayed as a time of relentless persecution. However, this shows that there were, in fact, times of peace and growth.
Oh yeah, and Peter performs a couple more miracles, including raising a woman from the dead.
Psalms and Proverbs
Today's psalm is interesting in light of our current Old Testament readings. The poet asks the Lord to remember David and the promises made to him. I wonder when this was written.