The Kishon

The River in the Bible - Fourth in a series

The Kishon was a seasonable river for ancient Israel: it gave at opportune moments, just when needed. What did it give? Assistance in battle and victory.

Pronounced "key SHONE", it is today one of Israel's largest and most important rivers, flowing through the Jezreel Valley and Carmel hills on its way to Haifa Bay. Its name, "bent like a bow" or "tortuous," describes a winding route. In commentaries we read that a portion of it is perennial but some of its path can dry up and then swell very suddenly and dangerously to overflow its banks in early spring, after rain or the melting of snow.

Around the turn of the 12th century BC in the days of the Judges, the Kishon gave help to Israel to reestablish their claim to the Promised Land. Again, in the mid-eighth century BC, it assisted Elijah in his quest to restore the faith of God's people in the Northern Kingdom. Perhaps it helped the people at other times since it was near the Esdraelon, a great battlefield of Israel (ref)

We first read of Kishon as a town of Issachar given to the Levites by Joshua as their portion in serving the people as priests. (Joshua 21:28) The town and river are associated. If we reflect on this, the Kishon reminds us of the importance of — and command to — worship God.

Next we read of the Kishon River in Deborah's prophecy shared with Barak, "And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand." (Jdg 4:7)

The Lord planned to use the river to confound the enemy even though they had 900 iron chariots and Israel had none. Barak agreed to go and fight, but only if Deborah would accompany him. He had lost confidence in his own capacity to hear from the Lord and in God's promise: When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Deut 20:1)

At Deborah's word, Barak followed the Lord, pursuing the enemy down the mountain toward the Kishon (Jdg 4:14-16), and Jabin's army could not ford the raging torrent. Deborah saw the triumph and later sang, "The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength." (Jdg 5:21) Her "thou" was the river, and the Lord.

Deborah's song ended with this prayer: "So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might." It is then noted, And the land had rest forty years. (Jdg 5:31)

Again, in Elijah's day when he challenged the Israelites to make a decision to serve God (1 Kings 18:21), after defeating the 450 prophets of Baal in a contest that proved God's power, he and the people brought them to the Kishon and Elijah killed them there.

Though it was dried up after three years of drought, as Elijah prophesied, a small cloud on the horizon portended a great rain (1 Ki 18:44, 45). Thus did the Kishon once again wash away corpses to the sea, ridding the land of the enemies who bowed to idols and persecuted the children of God.

Any in Elijah's time who knew God's Word would have recalled Barak's triumph at the Kishon, but if they did not, they could not glorify God as exuberantly as those who did. The faithful are to remember all of God's works over history, and to thank him (Ps 105:1, 2).

The Kishon was a river of God's help to warriors. How greatly we need that help in times of overpowering discouragement and defeat! Let us look to the River for a surge of power from on high — seasonable lifting to replenish grace and mercy in our hearts — all that we need to accomplish his purposes.

Note: For an explanation of how there was water to drench the sacrifice on Mt. Carmel but no water in the Kishon until the rain came, see here.

Give us this day our daily bread

Eighth in The Lord's Prayer Series, "The best prayer to pray in times of stress"

Let's envision a scenario where we may need food and have none. It will be a comfort then to recall the Lord's encouragement to pray for daily bread. Yes "…it is permissible and lawful to supplicate God for temporal mercies." (-A. W. Pink).

In this request we will remember the widow of Zarephath to whom the prophet Elijah was sent during a famine to seal his survival with hers. We will look at this story for a few insights in addition to the Lord’s Prayer petition that we are studying in this post. Man does not live by bread alone…!

Israel was in a drought. The Lord had commanded Elijah, to proclaim: As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word. (1Ki 17:1) Then he removed himself to an area with a brook and was fed by ravens, but the brook dried up. This part of Scripture has comforted me over the years. Yes, God does provide brooks in our lives, and yes, at times they dry up and we must move on.

Then, God told him: Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you. (1Ki 17:9)

The widow lived in Phoenicia, an area just north of Israel also affected by the drought. When Elijah arrived, he asked her for water. She went to get it.

When Elijah asked her for bread, her reply was: "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die." (1Ki 17:12)

This woman who was outside the nation which God had elected to enlighten the world, had been enlightened by Israel despite their current plight. She understood that their omniscient God knew she had only a handful of meal and a little oil. Understanding that God knows us personally is the wonderful underpinning of a simple faith, even when we feel very discouraged.

Elijah then said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’" (1Ki 17:13-14)

The LORD watches over widows and has pity on fatherless children. (Jer 49:11)

She did what he asked her to do. We must hear and do. If you only hear God's word and do not put it into practice, you are deceived. (James 1:22-24)

They had bread for many days, but a different challenge came: ...the son of the woman… became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. (1Ki 17:17)

This is a reminder that our daily bread is not more precious than the people we love, but the event occurred to introduce the widow to the God of Israel.

When her son died she cried, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!" (1Ki 17:18) Her tiny faith collapsed.

Then Elijah revived the boy and she said, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth." (1Ki 17:24)

This story provides an Old Testament glimpse into God’s power to resurrect the dead, along with the verity that He is able to provide our daily bread. As we share our daily bread with others, God is at work to save the lost and strengthen the fainthearted.

Thy Kingdom come

Thy Kingdom come brings to mind truths that help us rest and relax from anxiety. We recall the Beatitudes and Christ's promises, and think about the world to come where there are no more tears... And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Rev 21:4)

God has so arranged our experience of life that we can enjoy a foretaste of his kingdom now. We read of that pleasure in the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Mat 13:45-46) This, figuratively, is what each of Christ’s disciples had done, and must do.

Yet at times we, as they, might wonder if we chose wisely. Even Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist, asked through his own disciples: Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (Mat 11:3-5)

We do not always see the mighty works of God in our walk with the LORD, but we can know we do live in his kingdom now: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… and Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3, 10)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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