Orientation for the Next Part of the Journey
I like maps, and over the years, I have learned how the right map and compass can help us understand where we are and how what we see around us fits into the bigger picture. Through this article, I’d like to offer some words that I hope will serve as a map and compass for 1st and 2nd Kings.
If you are following the schedule, thne you know that this Sunday our path enters into a potentially very confusing section of historical narrative. Unlike our Western approach to history, the guiding framework for 1 and 2 Kings is not chronological, it is Deuteronomical. In other words, the author’s primary concern is in showing how God’s promised blessings and curses played out in the lives of His people.
Several years ago, our Walk Thru the Bible experience taught us that Solomon had a half-heart for God and his son, Rehoboam, had no heart for God. The once united kingdom split in two under Rehoboam: the Northern 10 tribes were called Israel and the Southern two tribes (Benjamin and Judah) were called Judah. Israel had 19 kings before their exile; none of their kings followed the LORD. Judah had 20 kings before their exile; eight of their kings followed the LORD. (Some may remember—“North, South, Israel, Judah, 19, 20, 0, 8”?)
As you read, keep the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy in mind and look for clues that point to a king’s willingness to compromise on their faithfulness to God. For instance, it is interesting to note how Solomon took seven years to build the temple but 13 to build his own palace. Did he just assign more laborers to God’s house first or was there something more to this? Notice in chapter 10 how Solomon broke all three commandments for a king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and connect that with the number of times the word “heart” is used in the opening verses of chapter 11. What does the Lord have to say to us, about us, in this? And how about Solomon’s adversaries? In his later years, he had opposition from inside his administration and from outside his kingdom. These “irritations” were sent to get his attention. What “irritations” could God be using in my life to choose life and draw me back to Him today? There is a lot here, so I encourage you to take the time to listen to the Spirit’s message for you.
We will soon read about Jeroboam and his effort to honor the Lord in a way that made perfect political sense but, in its disobedience, actually set the stage for Israel’s demise. In the weeks ahead, we will witness the arrival of the Samaritans and see why they were despised even to Jesus’ day and culture. I’ll be popping in and out of the Gospels, as well. This is going to be interesting and I look forward to growing with you along the way.
May the Lord meet each of us in this season of busyness and, through His Word, bring into our lives the refreshing wind of His Spirit.