From a sermon series on 1 Kings by See Huang Lim, a missionary at IBF.
In Japan, many people wear masks. It’s to prevent us from spreading sickness or catching it. But there is another reason for masks, according to a Japanese friend of mine. One day she told me:
Some people wear masks because they want to hide something. Maybe they don’t want people to notice or recognize them. Or maybe, they want to hide something dishonest. I thought my friend’s comment was interesting.
In today’s story from 1 Kings, we will hear about a king who wanted to hide his identity. 1 Kings Chapter 14 is actually about two kings, Jeroboam and Rehoboam, whom we have read about before. I found 3 main ideas from Chapter 14: (1) God sees through our masks. (2) God desires a faithful relationship. (3) God seeks faithfulness, not performance.
[Read 1 Kings 14:1-21]
God sees through our masks
First, who is this blind old prophet called Abijah? We met him in chapter 11. He was the prophet who delivered God’s word to Jeroboam. Through Abijah, God said he would give Jeroboam 10 tribe of Israel to govern as king. God would maintain Jeroboam’s kingdom if he was faithful in following God’s ways. Unfortunately, Jeroboam soon turned away from God and creating his own cult.
In chapter 14, we see that Jeroboam’s son got sick. He decided to seek help from Yahweh, the God of Israel, through Abijah the prophet. Why did he send his wife instead of going himself?
If I had to guess, I think Jeroboam knew that his idol worship was unacceptable to Abijah. So he was afraid of facing the old man. He also asked his wife not to reveal her identity.
However, God sees everything. Abijah was blind, but God whispered in his ear, as we read in verse 5: “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.”
Verse 6: So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news.”
We cannot hide from God. God’s word exposes our motives and true character. We may come to church wearing our most beautiful clothes and our best behavior. But God sees what is in our hearts.
Sometimes we don’t want to talk to God or listen to Him because we are afraid of what He might say. But the truth is, God invites us to remove our masks and be honest with him. If we do that, we will find that God is compassionate and merciful.
No matter our situation – whether happy or sad, anxious, guilty, angry, or anything – God invites us to share it with Him. The book of James encourages us to bring anything to God.
James 5:13-16: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Unfortunately, Jeroboam was not willing to face his sins. He only came to Abijah to look for a miracle. He wants the benefits of God’s power without honoring God’s values.
Are we ever like Jeroboam, only seeking God during a crisis? Do we seek God’s help and yet hide our lives from him, saying, “I will live the way I want?”
God desires a faithful relationship
That is why Abijah had bad news for Jeroboam. This leads to our 2nd main idea: God desires a faithful relationship with us.
Going back to 1 Kings 14, verse 7-9 says, “I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.”
God’s anger was provoked by Jeroboam’s worship of other gods. It’s worth mentioning that most gods and goddesses in the Ancient Middle East did not require their followers to worship them exclusively.
Only Yahweh, the God of Israel, desired exclusive devotion. In both Old Testament, God uses the imagery of a marriage to describe his relationship with Israel. In the New Testament, God uses marriage as a metaphor to describe his relationship with the Church. In marriage, two people promise to be faithful to each other. If one spouse is unfaithful, naturally the other spouse will be jealous and angry.
That is the kind of promise that God offered us, that He would love us forever. But as humans, we did not fulfil our part. Our sin broke the relationship with God. That is why God sent Jesus to restore the relationship and remind us of how life is supposed to be. Life with God means growing deeper in our relationship with Him and knowing how good He is.
God seeks faithfulness, not performance
That leads to our 3rd main idea: God seeks faithfulness rather than performance or achievement.
Like Jeroboam, King Rehoboam also failed to faithfully follow God’s ways.
Both their stories end in a similar way. Verse 19 says, The other events of Jeroboam’s reign, his wars and how he ruled, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. And verse 29 says, As for the other events of Rehoboam’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
Their stories record very little about their achievements, even though they both reigned for many years.
The writer of 1 Kings is mainly interested in one thing: Were they faithful to follow God’s commands and honor Him as the only God?
Likewise, when we read about God’s values in the Bible, we find that God doesn’t ask us to achieve the things that the world is pursuing.
The world pursues money, status, stability, achievements, and fulfilment through human relationships. Rather, God desires us to pursue knowledge of Him; to seek His kingdom; to believe in His Son, Jesus; to love our neighbors and our enemies; to do what is right and just.
So what are we pursuing these days? Are we pursuing what is most important?
As Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
In conclusion, God calls us to bring lives into his light rather than hide from him. When we confess our sins, our relationship with God is restored. There is so much more to life, and God wants to reveal that to us.