Thursday, June 21, 2018

spiritual battle, Gullibility of People (1 Kings.12-14)

Because of Solomon's sin, after his death, his kingdom would be split into two.  It was also because of Rehoboam's sin that this happened.  Solomon's son, Rehoboam, began his reign as king over all Israel.  He had wise counsel given to him, but instead he sought out "wisdom" that he wanted to hear...

(1 Kings 12:6-11)  King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you counsel me to answer this people?” Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him. So he said to them, “What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! 11 Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

People are not that stupid.  People want to hear what they want to hear.  So ten of the twelve Israelite tribes rebelled against Rehoboam.  He escaped to Jerusalem where he remained king over the territory of Judah (and the two smallest tribes).

Meanwhile, Israel (the rest of the territories with the ten bigger tribes) turned to Jeroboam who had been acting as their spokesperson.  Jeroboam had once been a servant of king Solomon's, but had fled to Egypt at some point.  When he had heard that Solomon was dead, he returned to find the people needing, first a spokesperson, and then leadership.  After Rehooam had fled, they made Jeroboam their king, thinking that he understood their needs (or rather, they "wants").

Jeroboam knew that if the people went to worship the Lord (in Jerusalem) as they should, their hearts would be changed and they would want their rightful king back.  Jeroboam didn't want that, so he manipulated the situation to his favor, while still appeasing the people.  So Jeroboam encouraged Israel to worship in their own territory and look to molten images that he had made - to remind them of their "gods"...

(1 Kings 25-29)  Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel. 26 Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. 27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28 So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.

Perhaps at first these molten images could have reminded the people of God and what He had all done for them, but the people started to worship the actual images.  And Jeroboam continued to create his own religious institution, infiltrating the priesthood with non-Levites and making up religious holidays and rituals, in order to continue gaining the people's trust and favor...

(1 Kings 12:33-33)  Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. 31 And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi. 32 Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense.

A man of God was sent to Jeroboam to warn him (and the people).  Part of the prophecy would happen 300 years later, but some of it happened right away...

(1 Kings 13:1-5)  Now behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. He cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” Then he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken, ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the ashes which are on it shall be poured out.’” Now when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar in Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” But his hand which he stretched out against him dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was split apart and the ashes were poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.

Jeroboam saw that this prophet had power from God.  And after asking the man of God to get the Lord to heal his hand, Jeroboam got the idea to buy off the prophet.  This would have been a great "source" to have and use in order to keep getting what he wanted. 

But this man of God remained obedient to the first...

(1 Kings 13:6-10)  The king said to the man of God, “Please entreat the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and it became as it was before. Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel.

Another prophet heard about what had happened and decided to trick the man of God.  Now, did this old prophet have true prophetic gifts>  We are not told.  But the old prophet was definitely guilty of self-promotion, which was demonstrated when he lied to the man of God in order to earn the king's favor....

(1 Kings 13:11-19)  Now an old prophet was living in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the deeds which the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king, these also they related to their father. 12 Their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” Now his sons had seen the way which the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he rode away on it. 14 So he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak; and he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” 15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16 He said, “I cannot return with you, nor go with you, nor will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 For a command came to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water there; do not return by going the way which you came.’” 18 He said to him, “I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. 19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house and drank water.

Because the man of God had disobeyed and listened to and believed the lie, he got word from God that he was going to die in this strange land.  Because of the lower case "h" in "he" - it looks like an actual angel came to deliver this message to the old prophet in order to then relay the message to the man of God...

(1 Kings 13:20-22)  Now it came about, as they were sitting down at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; 21 and he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the command of the Lord, and have not observed the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have returned and eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which He said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water”; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers.’”

From this we see:
- angels deliver messages
- messages from angels will support what God says, they will never go against what God says
- angels always support what God says
- demons and people lie

Personal experience:  so often people make relics in order to remind themselves about God and what He stands for or what He has done.  But it is so easy for these articles to become objects of worship.  Even with statues of Jesus, people can forget the actual Son of Man - who is God, and start to think of the statue as more of a good luck charm.  And thus the focus on the statue becomes an empty religion.

People can be also very easily and conveniently distracted.  They will latch onto things that they only WANT to believe.  I remember people were even questioning the Bible because of the Tom Hank's movie, "The Da Vinci Code."  Really?  Because a person made up something and wrote a movie, people are going to doubt what God wrote?

Recently I saw a TV special on a product called Jilly Juice.  An uneducated woman invented a cabbage juice with a dangerous level of sea salt - and without any experimentation - claimed that it could cure EVERYTHING.  It could even help a person grow back a severed limb.  And while the host was debunking this claim and this product, a man rushed the stage, desperate to try the juice.

Even in politics, people have to figure out whom to vote for based on campaign promises.  Many of these promises are only said in order to get your vote!  Fortunately our hope is not in our government, but in God.  And so we can ask God for guidance in order to figure out who is the best person for the job.

Today's takeaway:  king Rehoboam listened to counsel that he WANTED to hear and ignored the wise advice from the elders.  The consequence out of that (and his father's sins) was rebellion and the nation splitting into two.  Rehoboam only got to keep a tiny portion.

King Jeroboam did what he thought the people WANTED in order to gain and keep their support.  Ultimately, (in chapter 14) when Jeroboam didn't change his ways, he was told that his son would die, and after his own death, God would cut off his house from the throne and raise up another king.

The man of God had received word from the Lord, Himself.  But when someone said, "Oh, by the way, an angel just came to tell me that what God just told you - is no longer valid!" - he decided that the lie sounded better than what God, Himself had told him.  The man of God should have known better.  And if he had any doubts or questions, he should have consulted God!

Fortunately, we are able to consult God anytime by reading His word found in the Bible.  And we can consult Him at anytime by praying and waiting for an answer.  And we should know, God's answers will never contradict anything in the Bible...

(2 Peter 1:16-21)  For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

(Hebrews 6:16-20)  For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
(Psalm 86:1-17)  Incline Your ear, O Lordand answer me; for I am afflicted and needy.
Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You I cry all day long.
Make glad the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and give heed to the voice of my supplications!
In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You, for You will answer me.
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Yours.
All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great and do [b]wondrous deeds; You alone are God.
11 Teach me Your way, O LordI will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.
12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever.
13 For Your lovingkindness toward me is great, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, arrogant men have risen up against me, and a band of violent men have sought my life, and they have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
16 Turn to me, and be gracious to me; ogrant Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your handmaid.
17 Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, O Lordhave helped me and comforted me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

spiritual battle, Trends Continue (1 Kings 9-11)

The Lord met with Solomon to remind him of the (Davidic) covenant which He had made with Solomon's father.  This covenant (this promise of God's) applied and applies to all of Israel's kings...

(1 Kings 9:1-9)  Now it came about when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all that Solomon desired to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. As for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins; everyone who passes by will be astonished and hiss and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ And they will say, ‘Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore the Lord has brought all this adversity on them.’”

Solomon did well with this in the beginning, but just like his dad, Solomon's weakness was women.  Unlike his dad, Solomon did not confess his sins and keep pursuing God, but instead turned away from God and followed the gods of his wives...

(1 Kings 11:1-8)  Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

the consequences

(1 Kings 11:9-14)  Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. 11 So the Lord said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. 12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” 14 Then the Lord raised up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the [g]royal line in Edom.
From this we see:
- people who are not believers can persuade us to turn our backs on God

Personal experience:  back when I was single, I met a guy who said he was a Christian.  I only went met with him once in order to get to know him better.  While we were talking, I asked him about his walk with God.  This conversation only raised many more questions, since he came from a large Catholic family. 

NOW - I'm not saying that a Catholic cannot be a Christian.  Just like - not every person who goes to a protestant church is a Christian.  I've actually had many friends who are Catholic Christians.  There are several aspects to consider.  Some of these questions include - what are the doctrines of the church?  And - has the individual made a personal decision to follow Jesus (only)?  If a Catholic Christian meets up with a protestant Christian - there would be a common love and understanding of God and their fellow believers. 

Red flags appeared when this young man told me that one of his brothers had married a "Christian" woman (I'm not sure if that meant she was just from a protestant background or if she was a true believer), but his family had shunned the both of them.

When I told the young man that having the support of both families was very important to me, and that I was not ready to face that kind of testing (since marriage is difficult enough) - he pleaded for me to reconsider.  He even suggested that we could start our own church!

Huh?  I mean, what would THAT even look like?  This was not right - to make up our own "religious institution" to appease his family?  Either this young man was a believer or not.  And I'm sure if we started our own church and called it - WHATEVER - - - if it was not "Catholic" - it would never be good enough! 

Another question I had was - if this young man was actually a Christian, why wasn't his family shunning him already?  Or was he a closet-Christian?  And if so - that was not the bold, confident Christian man I was looking to date and marry!  I never did find out if he really was a true believer, because I never saw him again.

Today's takeaway:  Solomon chose to marry pagan wives, and chose to drift away from God in order to worship other gods to appease his wives and their families.  And because of this, God would cause the kingdom to be split into two. 

This began a trend where most of the kings (in both Israel and Judah)  did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the people would find themselves suffering the consequences.  Every so often, a king would come along and do away with the cult and occult practices so that the nation/s could experience peace.

The Israelites will only experience true peace and have their covenants completely fulfilled when they as a nation accept Jesus as their Messiah and King!  Since they rejected Him the first time, they have to wait until the end of the Tribulation when Jesus will come again and set up the Millennial kingdom (see the Bible-read-through-topic of eschatology).

Meanwhile, personal peace is available right now - for anyone who who believes and  accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  And this common bond should bring about an amazing unity among all believers...

(Galatians 3:27-29)  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

(Romans 10:11-13)  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

(Romans 15:13-21)  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. 15 But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me [f]from God, 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.17 Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not presume to speak of anything [g]except what Christ has accomplished through me, [h]resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, 19 in the power of [i]signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have [j]fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but as it is written,
They who had no news of Him shall see,
And they who have not heard shall understand.”