Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
1 Kings 15 – In Judah, Abijah (also called Abijam) takes over and reigns for three years. “He committed all the sins that his father did before him; his heart was not true to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David” (15:3). It is for David’s sake (memory of his devotion) that the monarchy is permitted to continue. The writer speaks of how David pleased the Lord in everything except the “matter of Uriah the Hittite” (15:5). This last “gloss,” the Jerusalem Bible note says is absent from the Greek.
The war with Rehoboam continues through his reign, and when he dies, his son Asa becomes king. One thing to note here is the similarity between the way the moral failures who follow David are carried along “in him” because of the great love God had for David and the great commitment David made to God in his own name and in the name of his people. The gospel truth here is that we are all lifted up by the holiness of the few. It is an example of the kind of salvation that will be offered to man through Christ.
Asa reigns for 41 years—though the text says he is Abijah’s son, he actually seems to be his brother. They have the same mother—Maacah, the daughter of Absalom. “Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord, as his father David had done” (15:11). He got rid of the male prostitutes, removed the idols and he removed his own mother from being queen mother because she had made “an abominable image for Asherah” (15:13). But the high places are not removed.
War continues with Israel (now under Baasha). Asa sends great treasure to the king (Ben-hadad) in Damascus to get him to break his alliance with Israel and form one with Judah. This turns the tide—causes Baasha to cease the building of Ramah. The stones of that town were carried away by Asa to build Geba. When Asa dies, his son Jehoshaphat succeeds him.
In Israel, Nadab, Jeroboam’s son rules for two years. “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (15:26). Baasha, son of Ahijah (Issachar’s tribe) “struck him down” when they were laying siege to a Philistine town. He takes over as king and kills all the house of Jeroboam. It is confusing that Baasha’s father is Ahijah and the prophet of Shiloh, who foretold of the death of Jeroboam’s family (1 Kings 14:10) is also Ahijah. Sounds like they might have been the same person, but it isn’t clear and it seems unlikely that a prophecy would come true out of a worldly desire of the prophet’s son to make it happen. Baasha moves the capital of the northern kingdom from Shechem to Tirzah (slightly to the north). He reigns at Tirzah for 24 years and “sinned against the Lord and led Israel into sin” (15:34).
Introduction to the Gospel of Luke: According to Raymond E. Brown (An Introduction to the New Testament, 1997), Luke is believed to have been a physician and traveling companion of Paul; from the content, it appears he was an educated Greek-speaker and writer who knew the OT in Greek but who was NOT an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry. He was probably not raised a Jew (Brown, 226), and was not a Palestinian. He might have been a convert to Judaism first. The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles were part of one long compilation of information, which Luke assembled from different sources. The two books were separated in the 2nd century, but most scholars continue to believe they were from the hand of the same writer. A good many of the descriptions I wrote on Luke’s gospel relate to what sets it apart from Mark.
Luke 1:1-38 – The first part of the Luke's gospel are completely new. Mark's gospel has none of the birth or early childhood stories. It begins with the ministry of an adult John the Baptist. Luke undertakes to set down “an orderly account of events that have taken place among us” (1:1) “as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word” (1:2). Luke has the most thorough account of the pre-birth events of the gospel. First we see the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. They have never had any children and now they are very old. One day, in the Temple, Zechariah hears a prophecy from an angel (Gabriel), that his wife Elizabeth will have a son; he is to name the boy John and this boy will “be filled with the Holy Spirit (1:16). He “will go ahead of the Lord, strong and mighty like the prophet Elijah. Brown points out that the very last prophetic book of the OT, Malachi, says that Elijah “will be sent before the coming Day of the Lord” (229). He will bring fathers and children together again; he will turn disobedient people back to the way of thinking of the righteous; he will get the Lord’s people ready for him” (1:17). Because Zechariah has trouble believing this will happen, he is rendered unable to speak “until the day [the] promise to [him] comes true” (1:20).
Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sends the angel Gabriel toa town in Galilee name Nazareth, to a “young woman promised in marriage to man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Her name was Mary” (1:27). “Blessed are you among women” Gabriel says to her. She will become pregnant and give birth to a son, whom she will name Jesus. Mary is “deeply troubled” (1:29). Gabriel tells her that Jesus “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God” (1:31). He will be called “the Son of God” (1:35). Troubling as all this may seem to her, she responds, “I am the Lord’s servant . . .may it happen to me as you have said’” (1:38).
Mary’s submission to God’s will for her is a model for us to follow so that in us, as in her, Christ’s life may be formed. This doesn’t mean Mary wasn’t “troubled” by the burden laid upon her, but her obedience was not less perfect on that account. Mary is the preeminent model of the Church as well since it is the corporate calling of the Church to bear Christ into the world. She and Jesus represent the “male and female [God] created” – mankind – made in His image and likeness, God’s “helpmate” in this creation of His. That’s what I think anyway. It is interesting in Luke that the prophecy concerning Jesus refers to him as Son of the Most High. The title of Most High God is first used in connection with Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God.