« PreviousContinue »
He was buried with great pomp in the sepulchre he had prepared in Jerusalem ; and his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him.
KINGS OF ISRAEL.
There were several kings of Israel during the long reign of Asa over Judah.
Baasha was so evil in the sight of the LORD, that he received sentence of the entire destruction of himself and his family, as Jeroboam had done. He reigned twenty-three years, and was followed by his son Elah, who in the second year of his reign was murdered by his own captain, Zimri, while drinking himself drunk at his steward's house.
Zimri made himself king, and the first thing he did was utterly to destroy every one belonging to the family of Baasha and Elah. Zimri's reign was very short. The people would not have him for their king, and they went up, under Omri, captain of the host, to Tirzah, and took the city. When Zimri saw that he was beaten, he shut himself up in the palace, and burnt it over his own head. Then the people were divided, some wishing to have
Omri for their king, and others wishing for one Tibni, But Omri had the strongest party, and he became king for between six and seven years. He“ wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him." Yet his son and successor Ahab was still more sinful than himself, and, together with his wicked wife Jezebel, who was a daughter of the king of the Zidonians, “ did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him."
THE PROPHET ELIJAH.
God sends warnings and opportunities for repentance to every sinner, and if Ahab would have heeded them, he might have turned and sought the LORD. The holy Prophet Elijah lived in his reign, and was sent by God with a message to Ahab, telling him that for three years neither dew nor rain should fall upon the land of Israel, so that there should be a sore famine in it.
When Elijah's message had been given, the LORD desired him to go and hide himself by a certain brook called Cherith, saying that He had commanded the ravens to feed him. The Prophet obeyed, nothing doubting; and the ravens brought him bread and flesh every morning and evening, and he drank of the brook. But after awhile, the brook dried up, as no rain ever fell to feed it, and then Elijah was desired by God to go to a city named Zarephath, (or Sarepta,) where he should be supported by a widow dwelling there. So he arose and went to Zarephath. As Elijah came to the city gate he saw the widow gathering sticks, and he called to her and asked her to give him a little water to drink. The poor woman hastened to fetch the water, which was a proof of great obedience and charity in such a time of dearth: and when Elijah saw how obedient she was to the Lord's Word speaking through him, he further asked her for a morsel of bread. But this was not in her power to give. The poor widow told him that she had not a cake of bread left, and that nothing remained to her but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse. She was now gathering sticks that she might dress this as a last meal for her and her son, and after that nothing was left for them but to die. Then Elijah said to her, “ Fear not; go and do as thou hast said, but make me
thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son : for thus saith the LORD God of Israel : The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.”
The poor woman went and did as the Prophet bade her, never stopping to question how that which seemed insufficient to support herself and her child, could be so wonderfully increased as to supply a third person. She is another of those striking instances we find in Holy Scripture, like the Queen of Sheba, and Rahab of Jericho, of persons to whom, although heathen by birth, a saving grace and strong faith seems to have been given, so that they should both be saved themselves, and set forth a powerful lesson of salvation to others. Our blessed LORD Himself mentioned this Zidonian widow in teaching His disciples, thus confirming the belief that she in her simple faith, has an important teaching for us. It is also remarkable that this poor, pious widow was of the same country with the wicked Queen Jezebel, whose sins (with those of her husband) were being punished by this very famine. Truly the blessing promised by Christ on a cup of cold
water given in His Name seems to have been anticipated in this case, for when the widow took Elijah to her home, relying on his promise, the barrel of meal did not waste, or the cruse of oil fail, during the many days which he spent with her.
But the widow's faith was to be yet more searchingly tried. She found favour in the Lord's sight, and He would lead her on by the paths of trial and suffering in which He ever leads His own. Much of the mystery of the One True Faith had been made known to her; --how the LORD provides for His own; how man doth not live by bread alone, and how there is a Bread of Life, they who eat of which are indeed fed to everlasting life. She was now to learn a further lesson concerning one of the greatest mysteries of the Faith, which had as yet only been shadowed forth dimly to God's faithful servants, and should not be made fully plain until CHRIST Himself should burst the bonds of death and the grave. She was to learn in a figure the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead.
“ After these things,” Holy Scripture tells us, “the son of the woman fell sick, and his sick. ness was so sore, that there was no breath