Praying for Humility in Our Leaders

Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ”
Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
1 Kings 21:1-7

I have wondered about this passage occasionally. Why didn’t Ahab just take the vineyard? As king, he could have done it and no one would have questioned it. At the very least, he could have thrown a reasonable amount of money at Naboth, then taken the land. Instead he asked for it and Naboth refused to hand it over. Then Ahab went home and poured out his woes to Jezebel at her insistence. It’s no surprise that she took charge of the situation. To the unethical, conniving Jezebel, it wasn’t a problem.

A number of years ago, I heard a journalist refer to a President like this: “good man, wrong job.” In other words, the man is good.but the job doesn’t fit the man. That’s seems to be what’s happening here. A little later in the passage, God praises Ahab for humbling himself before the Lord. Ahab clearly seems out of place as King. On the other hand, Jezebel seems out of place too but for different reasons. They say that the best leaders are those who don’t seek the position. They’re reluctant to assume power and responsibility, mainly because they know that power can corrupt quickly.

Pray for the leaders of your nation. Pray, that they, like Ahab, will humble themselves before the Lord. Pray also that the Lord will burden you to pray regularly for that person.

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Power of God

There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.” 1 Kings 21:25-29

In verse 25, the Lord describes Ahab as an evil man, urged on by his wife Jezebel. A few verses later, Ahab had repented and humbled himself before God. Ahab had heard the world of God and, like Beh-Hadad, was fearful, but it was a healthy fear.

God saw the sincerity in Ahab and delayed the disaster that would all on him. Always remember that a changed life is evidence that God is still moving. God moved on Ahab back then, and He still moves today. Sometimes it’s as obvious a change as what happened to Ahab, but often it is not. Ahab, as King of Israel, was influential and important. When he snapped his fingers, a small army of men and women would cater to his needs.

Most often the change comes about in the life of a “nobody,” an unknown. But those unknowns can still change the world. Don’t pray that the influential and risk and famous come to Christ, but pray that men and women seeking after God will come to Christ. Never underestimate the power of God in the life of any of His believers.

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For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them. And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room. 1 Kings 20:29-30

Ben-Hadad was the King of Aram, and he had assembled 32 other kings to take on Ahab, the King of Israel. Ben-Hadad was a powerful man. He engaged Ahab and wanted to fight him. He demanded a great deal from Ahab, then demanded more. Ahab balked at handing over more power. Then Ben-Hadad did a strange thing: he went and hid in a corner, much like Elijah did earlier. The King of Aram cowered when the Israelites had inflicted over 100,000 casualties. His power and influence were rapidly fading. He feared for his life.

This is coming another time, another day when rulers and leaders will hide and cower: “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” Revelations 6:15-16

The world as we see it is not what it seems. It will be a time like no other. You know it must be bad when pompous rulers cower in fear inside caves and openly call on the mountains and rocks to fall on them!

Until then we are to occupy this land. We are to pray and work and seek and love and praise and smile and study and pray some more. We are to enjoy the blessing God has given us and help others experience that blessing wherever and whenever possible.

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So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant. 1 Kings 19:19-21

A lot is implied in this story. Presumably when a cloak is thrown around you by Elijah the prophet, it means “you’re next!” Elisha the farmer knew what to do. He gave it all up for a prophet he met just that day.

I love it when God chooses someone who is unassuming. What do I mean by that? Unassuming means that don’t assume that the person is anybody. A farmer. A fisherman. A tax collector. A boy with a slingshot. Your expectations are low. After all, how could a mere farmer or a boy with a slingshot change the world? And yet, that is so much like God! Certainly he could use the wealthy and famous and important politician, and he does. But who gets the glory when that happens?

God uses ordinary, unassuming people every day to change the world. Think of your own life. Look how he’s changed your life and used you. In the world’s eyes, you’re probably nothing special. Yet, in God’s eyes, you’re one of a kind and priceless. Your worth is infinite.

You’re an heir of the King of Kings.

Nothing can take that away from you.

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Not Alone

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:13-18

What Elijah told God is a very common thing: I’m alone and fighting this battle alone. But, as God’s reply suggests: Elijah, you’re not alone. In fact there are 7,000 prophets waiting in the wings. You are definitely not alone.

The implications of this are straightforward and we need to be reminded often: in this world, we are not alone. It couldn’t be clearer. We may think it, sense, feel it, and even believe it, but it’s not true. Not for a minute. People are going through the same kinds of struggles you’re going through. They’re crying out to God louder because of their sorrow. People are trying, as the Scriptures say, “to grasp the hem of his garment,” to get a glimpse at His glory. But we are not alone.

When you feel your loneliest, is the precise time to reach out to some of those others that you know have been through those dark times. Yes, we should pursue God with all we have, but we have our Brothers and Sisters in Christ to reach out to. Think of this: if you approached another Believer you know well and asked that person to pray for you, would they turn you away?

Again, we are not alone. We can’t say it enough.

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