1 Kings 8 & 9 must have been exciting chapters for Jesus growing up. They tell of Solomon building the temple and give some intricate details of what all he put in the Temple. I can see Jesus' ears perked up as he listened to each word and detail. What an exciting time in Israels history. The long talked about Temple finally being completed. Years of gathering items for it by David, rumors of its grand design, finally opened up for all to see.
Solomon dedicates the temple with a well spoken prayer in 8:28-29
". . . Give attention to your servants prayer and plea for mercy o Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ' My Name shall be there. . ."
And then Jesus would have read on till he saw the answer of God to Solomon in 9:3
"I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me. I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting My Name there forever. My eyes and heart will always be there."
What glorious words to Jesus as he grew in his wisdom and understanding and favor with God and Man. As Jesus began to realize he was the sent Messiah, God in the flesh. Jesus would have joined Solomons prayer of asking his Father to put His Name on him and to set His eyes on him to always give attention to the prayers of Jesus. Jesus consecrated himself to His Father to love and obey him and to offer himself as a living sacrifice before his Father.
And God, just like he answered Solomon, answered the burning desire of Jesus' heart and verified His commitment to Jesus when He said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Effectively saying to Jesus, "I have heard your prayer and plea you have set before me Son, I have consecrated you by putting My Name on you forever, and My eyes and heart will always be upon you!"
What strength this gave Jesus as he pressed on toward his goal of the high calling of God on his life! To be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! To be the embodiment of God almighty in the flesh! To be the living temple of God.
I am so glad these historical writings were written to Impact Jesus so his life could impact me!
The stories written for Jesus to learn from are a constant balance of encouragement in the right path and warning of the pitfalls of turning away from God.
Solomon is the greatest king to have ever lived. His wisdom and wealth have been raved about around the world. In 1 Kings 10, the Queen of Sheba comes to see all this for herself, in her heart thinking all the stories were making a mountain out of a mole hill. However, once she lays eyes on Solomons kingdom and ask him tough questions for which he had an answer for all, she states: "Indeed, not even half was told me: in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I have heard!" 10:7
Solomon had it all plus more!!!
Then we run into the warning. Solomon loved many women and especially those from other nations. He took wives from nations that God had told Israel to never intermarry with. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Chapter 11 tells us that these women turned Solomons heart away from serving God alone. Solomon began to add worship of false gods to his daily practices in order to please his wives. Because of this, Solomon's family would live in a constant state of disunity and fighting. Had Solomon stayed true to his worship of God alone, his family would have continued to reign in Jerusalem forever. But now the house of Israel would divide and constant friction between the two would follow.
All his wisdom and wealth did not keep Solomon from falling prey to the enchantments of this world. Solomon chose to disobey God, using his own wisdom and logic and desire as justification.
In Solomon, Jesus saw both sides of human nature again. He saw a man ask God for discernment and receive wisdom beyond any man living before. He saw a man who's heart desired to build God a temple, and he was allowed to complete it and amass wealth beyond measure. He saw a man who was twice offered a presence with God himself. But he also saw a man who chose to pursue his own wisdom and own desires despite the fact they were in opposition to God. He saw a man place his own wisdom and knowledge above the commands of God, and Jesus saw the result of that choice.
Jesus too longed to live with discernment. He longed to have his temple filled with the presence of God himself. Jesus longed to please the Lord and have his life blessed. He also was faced with the temptations of this world. He was offered wealth, fame, power, and prestige. He was faced with the temptation of the love of women who might pull his heart away. Jesus faced everything that I do each day, that Solomon did, but because he was able to read and learn from the mistakes of the wisest man who ever lived, Jesus knew he could not rely on his own wisdom, logic, or desires to make his choices. He would have to remain obedient to the decrees and commands of God and 100% rely on the power of the Spirit to keep him from falling prey to the desires of pleasing others over pleasing God.
David fell prey to his laziness, lust of the eyes, and lies to protect his reputation.
Solomon was overtaken by the list of his flesh which gave way to serving other gods in order to please his many wives. (700 wives and 300 concubines)
Rehoboam, the chosen son of Solomon the Wise, fell prey to his pride and the foolish council of his peers.
Jeroboam, son of Nebat, chosen to lead the 10 tribes of Israel, gave way to idolatry because he feared losing his position of prominence with the people.
All these men were placed in their position by God, and told He would sustain them. However, some powerful words began to disappear from the text as time went by. Those words are "inquired of the Lord."
David, a man after Gods own heart, known as the friend of God, lost his way because he stopped inquiring of the Lord. What was his common practice as a young man waned as he grew older and obtained more power.
Solomon, the wisest man ever to live, given discernment to lead Israel by God himself, as well as, wealth and power beyond imagination, failed to continue asking God to lead once he was known as a wise king. This led to poor choices and idol worship.
Jeroboam was promised by God to lead 10 tribes of Israel, but his fear of people returning to Jerusalem to worship in the temple might cause them to again serve Rehoboam, led Jeroboam to set up two golden calves and declare, "Behold Israel, the gods who led you out of Egypt."
Rehoboam, the proud descendent of Solomon the wise, abandoned wise council from his father's advisers in favor of young "punks" and it cost him 5/6 of his kingdom.
What is missing from all this is that these men started leaning on their own understanding, and stop inquiring of God for His wisdom. Thus begins the "descent into madness" for both Israel and Judah as they continually turned their backs on the Lord.
As Jesus reads this, it is clear that he picked up on this detail in the history books as well. How do I know it is clear? Because Jesus continued his practice of "inquiring of the Lord." Even after his rise in popularity with the people, he would go to be alone and pray (inquire of the Lord). Even when all men were amazed by his wisdom, he continued to draw away to quiet places to be with his Father (inquiring of the Lord). No matter the wealth offered him (all the kingdoms of the world) Jesus counted it all as garbage compared to the unsurpassable glory of inquiring of His Dad!
Although Jesus cherished and respected David, Solomon, and others in the OT. Jesus noticed that true power, true wisdom, and true wealth was found only in inquiring of the Lord.
I pray today that although my heart longs to be known as a man after Gods own heart like David, and I desire to be wise, wealthy, and powerful in the eyes of men like Solomon, I pray I will be like Jesus and allow the impact of these stories to take hold in my life and I would forever cling to the heavenly riches and wisdom found only in "inquiring of the Lord."
Ahh. And the madness has begun. 1 Kings 14 and 15 start the deep dive into a history of deeper and deeper sin for the kings of Israel. One king after the other doing even more wicked sins than the one before. Betrayals. Murders. What a history to read as a young Jewish boy.
However, in 1 Kings 14:21, one name really jumped out at me. Naamah. This is the name of Rehoboams mother. The one wife out of 700 whose name is mentioned because she was the mother of the next king after Solomon. That means she is also directly a part of the family tree of Jesus. Why did her name jump out? Because she was an Ammonite.
Off all the women who Solomon married, Naamah is chosen to be the bearer of the family line of Jesus. Even though her son was not a righteous king, still her place in Jesus' family stands out. In Deuteronomy 23:3, the Moabite and Ammonite people are forbidden from entering the dwelling place of the Lord. They were a despised people. Yet here she is, now a part of Jesus' family heritage.
As Jesus reflects on this woman and also thinking of Ruth the Moabitess, how he must have seen the immense mercy of God. Two women, two forbidden nations, both directly a part of his lineage. Those who had been cast out, now redeemed and part of his family.
These acts of mercy deeply impacted Jesus as he lived his life. The mercy and compassion he showed all whom he met was learned by seeing the overwhelming love and grace of His Father.
May my heart be merciful and kind, always looking to redeem those who seemingly are cast aside. May my heart be like that of my Father's, like that of my Savior's, who looked at me, one forbidden to enter his dwelling place, now forever in His presence in His son, Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:6 "Now these things occurred (referring to the past) as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did."
Proverbs 3:33 "The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blessed the home of the righteous."
I wonder if Solomon's sons and the other Israelites who followed the wisest man to ever live just failed to read what he wrote, or ignored it. But even if they ignored the wise sayings that had been recorded ( and chapter 3 written specifically to "My son" 3:1) how did they moss or ignore history that had been written?
Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab were all successive kings over the ten tribes of Israel during Asa's reign in Judah. Each one of their stories has a common theme, they progressively did more evil than the one before them.
Baasha did so much evil that God sent the prophet Jehu to inform him that not only he would die, but so would every male in his family. His entire heritage would be erased from existence.
Elah, the son of Baasha reigned a mere two years and was killed by Zimri while he was drunk at a party. Zimri takes the throne for 7 days and in that one week found a way to kill every male in Baasha's family just as God said would happen.
Zimri falls quickly as he realizes Omri, leader of the army, has come to overthrow him. So he burns the palace down around him and he died "because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord . . . And causing Israel to sin" 1 Kings 16:19
Omri is king for 12 years and build Samaria. But he "did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him."
At some point you would think these guys would learn. But we come to Ahab and it is apparent they did not. The son of Omri, Ahab takes the throne and "did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him." 16:30
It's as if these men had no desire to learn. No matter the fate of the evil men before them, for some reason they continued their plunge into deeper sin and evil. Ahab introduces a temple to Baal in Israel and an Asherah pole and he "did more to provoke the Lord to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him." 16:33
Though Paul wrote Corinthians after Jesus, it is clear Jesus understood why these stories were written for him to learn from. From these stories Jesus saw how one sin, one idol, one little lie or lust of the flesh or thirst for power would turn into an avalanche of corruption and degradation. One spot of sin (yeast) would permeate the entire people (lump of dough). If he were to be the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus would have to learn from the mistakes made by these men. He would have to see to depths of the horror of sin so that he could set his eyes on the prize of being the yeast of Righteousness that would permeate the whole bride that had been given him. Without a history written showing him the wages of sin, how would he be warned to avoid even that one trespass, that one lustful look, that one selfish desire.
Though these stories of idolatry and sin are hard to read and harder to grasp why these men did not see the error of their ways, it is clear they were written so Jesus could see their example and the outcome of that way of life and could choose to be guided in the "paths of Righteousness."
I for one am thankful for these stories and the impact they had on the life of a young man named Jesus so that he would see their example, he would avoid their choices, he would submit himself to his Father, he would be led by the Spirit, and become the perfect Lamb of God, so he could take away my sin, clothe me in His righteousness, and present me as a spotless bride before His Father!
Praise be to God for writing these stories for Jesus to read.
Eyes lit up, Leaning forward in his chair, on the edge of his seat with ears wide open is how I see a young Jesus each time the story of Elijah come up for reading. How exciting this story must have been to him. I know when I told it to my kids in our study on God's Agents of Smash, they were everything mentioned above.
And why not. Birds feeding him in the desert. Flour and oil of the widow never running out until it rained again. Raising a boy from the dead. And this is just the start of the story.
We see Elijah declaring it would not rain until he said so, and it did not. We see him pursued but not found. We see him return and demand a showdown with 450 prophets of Baal. We see him taunt the prophets, wondering if maybe their god is asleep. Then we see Elijah pour tons of water over his offering and then cry out:
"O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." 1 Kings 18:36-37
And God answered. Fire fell from Heaven, consumed the sacrifice, water, and even the dirt. There was no doubt and the people bowed down and proclaimed God was God! All the Baal prophets were slaughtered and then Elijah prayed for rain and it came.
I personally could write in and on about this story and all the impacts in it. But it is clear to me one of the greatest was simply this: The point of everything Elijah did (even running faster than Ahabs chariots back to town) was for one purpose, "So that the people would know God is one and only God!"
Jesus surely enjoyed the stories. He surely got excited hearing of this Agent of Smash sent by God. But he learned a vital lesson for his life, that everything he was doing and was going to do was so that the people would see and that they would know that God is the One and Only True God. Jesus surely prayed this prayer many times, "Answer me O Lord, answer me, so that these people will know you are God and have sent me to do all these things you have commanded!"
May my life be impacted as Jesus' was. May my action be so that all may know God is God. May I pray, "Answer me O Lord so that my people may know you are God!"
1 Kings 20-21 is a very interesting story in the midst of the Chaos of Israel.
Ben-Hadad, a foreign Kings comes against Ahab, the most evil king in Israels history to date, and in the end, for the sake of the people of Israel, God allows Ahab to be victorious. However, because Ahab failed to kill this king, God sends a prophet to him and says since he failed to kill Ben-Hadad that Ahab would take his place in death. This upset Ahab.
Chapter 21 is the famed story of Ahab wanting another man's vineyard and Naboth refused to sell it or trade. Ahab sulks and then Jezebel his wife has Naboth murdered so Ahab could claim the field. Ahab goes to posses it and Elijah is sent to inform him that for his murderous actions Ahab and Jezebel would receive the same punishment as Jeroboam and Baasha, in essence, their entire family lineage would be wiped away from the earth and dogs and birds would eat them and they would not even receive a proper burial because "no one has done more evil in the sight of the Lord than Ahab." 21:25
Upon hearing this word from Elijah, a man Ahab hated but respected, Ahab tore his clothes and covered himself in sackcloth and walked around subdued. God noticed this and tells Elijah, "Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? I will not bring this disaster on him during his lifetime, but will bring it upon his son."
What jumped out at me, and I believe Jesus would have garnered from this story is Mercy and Grace. God showed great mercy and grace is His assisting Ahab in victory over his enemy. Ahab had done nothing deserving of the victory, but God was looking out for his flock (people) despite the actions of the ram (king).
Then, as Ahab and Jezebel are doing their worst, God pronounces a horrible judgement on their family, yet when Ahab humbled himself before God (not turning from his sin) and God chose to withhold his harsh judgement on Ahab until the next generation. Mercy. Grace.
As Jesus hears these stories and sees His Fathers act of kindness despite the horrendous evil of the man Ahab, he surely learned compassion, love, mercy, and grace for even the most vilest of people. It showed up in his life in his heart for the drunkards, prostitues, and demon possessed. Jesus saw mercy and grace pour out from his Father even upon those who did not deserve it and this impacted him to do the same.
May we look at our Savior and see his mercy, grace, and love for us and may we be impacted to love those in our lives and show mercy and grace to those who do not deserve such things.