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Sunday, May 29, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom"

“The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
May 29, 2016 :: 1 Kings 11:1-43  

Our sermon series is called “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings” and the main king of the nation of Israel for all of the messages so far has been King Solomon.

King Solomon has succeeded his father David, prayed for wisdom to rule, built and dedicated a magnificent temple, and reigned over a golden kingdom. A kingdom like Israel had never had before.

A breathtaking kingdom!  Last week, the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon’s kingdom and was overwhelmed by what she saw. It literally took her breath away.

Wow!

And I said that this was in many ways the high point of the Old Testament story. At long last, the promises that God had made to Abraham have appeared to be coming together in perfect fulfillment–land, offspring, blessing, king and kingdom!

But the question was: Will it last...or will it all fall apart?

I’m sorry to say that 1 Kings 11 has a very disappointing answer to that question.

1 Kings 11 tells a tragic tale.

A tale of a “golden kingdom” that did not stay golden.

A tale of an “ideal king” who did not stay ideal.

Our title for today’s message: “The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom.”

Today, we analyze the failure and fall of Solomon. Where did he go wrong?

Remember how breathtaking chapter 10 was. How glorious the kingdom of Solomon was.

Don’t forget that as we read verse 1 because it really highlights how tragic that word “however” is. V.1

“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter–  Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.”

That is so tragic!

Here’s what went wrong. Solomon allowed himself to love many women.

He was not a one-woman man like the Bible says that godly men ought to be.

In fact, he turned out to be a 1,000-woman man.

And while some randy males might think that that must have spelled sexual success, the Bible says, God says, that Solomon was a total failure in this area.

God had clearly said in Deuteronomy that the king of Israel was NOT to multiply wives.

In fact, every time there are multiple wives in the Bible, there is trouble. Every time.

This is saying that Solomon invited 1,000 times the trouble.

And the problem is not just that he married too often. It is that he married foreign women. Pagan women. Women who worshiped false gods!

The LORD had warned them about this. Look at verse 2 again.

“They were from nations [Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon] about which the LORD had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’[You see that word “turn?” That’s important.] Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.”

These women would seduce Solomon. Not just for pleasure and power (with the political alliances that they would bring as their dowries) but seduce him to worship the wrong gods.

And that’s exactly what happened verse 4.

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. [Here’s how bad it got.] He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.”

Really?

On hill east of Jerusalem from where you could probably see the golden temple? Solomon built idols for these false gods?

The author is so clear about what kind of gods these are, isn’t he?

They are not just false gods, they are “detestable” gods.

They are abominations. They are damnable.

And Solomon worshiped them?

V.9.

“The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice[!]. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command.”

That is the easily most tragic thing we have read so far in the book of 1 Kings.

This king who had reached so high has fallen so low.

And he has attracted the anger of God.

It’s no wonder that God is so angry in verse 9 because this is the God who said in the very first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Our Sunday School classes just looked at that this morning.

Idolatry is the most disastrous sin because it brings the most dis-glory to the Lord God.

Sometimes we get shocked that God gets angry.

We don’t like to think about our God being angry except when we are good and mad and want Him to be just like us.

But God does get angry at injustice and sin. And there is nothing more unjust than to take the glory of the deserving eternal God and give it to an undeserving idol.

And yet, that’s exactly what Solomon did.

He had just one job, and he failed at it.

Epic king failure. That was Solomon.

For so many years, he looked like a two-thumbs up king. And he was for those years!  I think that 1 Kings is clear on that.

But at this point in his life, near the end, when he got old, Solomon is two thumbs down.

The king has turned.

His heart has turned.

I have two points of application this morning. You could probably come up with more, but I just have two to press home today.

Here’s number one. It comes from the turned king.

#1. GUARD YOUR HEART.

I think there is a warning here.

To be careful what you allow yourself to love.

Did you catch all of the love words in those first 10 verses?

Did you see all of the “heart” words?

“King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women...Solomon held fast to them in love....his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God...”

Guard your heart.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

It all comes down to the heart. If you heart is where it should be, then good things will come out of it.

If you are heart is in the wrong place, then disaster can strike.

Guard it.

Your heart is the loving piece of your life. The thing your heart does is love.

It worships. It forms relationships. It wants things. It desires.

Your heart is active.

Watch it.

Be careful about what is going on in your heart.

Be careful what you allow yourself to love.

Be careful because this can be a very gradual thing.

Solomon didn’t wake up one morning after the temple dedication and say, “I think I’m going to marry another 999 girls today.”

It took time to get there.

And the compromises probably seemed pretty small at the time.

“I mean, yeah, my dad, David who was a ‘man after God’s own heart’” had several wives. So I could probably have a couple more.

And I won’t worship their gods.

But they do believe differently than I do, so now that we’re married, I probably ought to build them a little altar for their god.

It’s nothing like the altar of my God!

I’m not going to burn incense there. They will, but I won’t.

Of course, we are one flesh now, and she asked so nicely, and what would it really hurt?”

Is this logical?

No.

We can see it has a kind of logic to it because we have all made those kind of excuses for ourselves. We have all given in to little compromises that get easier with each one.

But idolatry is inherently illogical, irrational, and stupid!

The wisest man who ever lived allowed himself to become foolish.

Guard your heart.

Be careful what and whom you allow yourself to love.

Where is the danger in your life?

What are the potential idols that vie for your allegiance and threaten to turn you away?

It might be sex.  Men, you may not want to marry 1000 girls, but your roving eye or your internet viewing history might point to the same problem that Solomon had.

A real man, a godly man, finds one woman, preferably a godly woman, and pours all of his energies into holding fast to her. Anything else is idolatry.

Or it could be money. You can tell if you love money by what it makes you do. Does it make you steal? Does it make you anxious? Does it make you mean?

Anything could become an idol. Anything that you love that you shouldn’t or that you love more than you should.

Guard your heart.

Status. Popularity. Security. Comfort.

Where is the danger in your life?  They don’t have to all be named Ashtoreth,, Chemosh, and Molech.

They could be named Harley or Apple or come with abbreviations like GE, EFCA, PSU, DNC, GOP or even  US of A.

What are the potential idols that vie for your allegiance and threaten to turn you away?

Yes, you and I have more resources at our disposal than Solomon did. In the New Covenant, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us!

So we can say, “No” to idolatry much easier than Solomon could have.

But the apostle John said to a new covenant church (1 John 5:21), “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Guard your heart.

Solomon didn’t set out to anger God.

In chapter 8, it was his biggest fear!

But he still found himself there led astray by loving the wrong things.

You know our culture says that we should “follow our hearts.”

We should “listen our hearts” and we can’t help it if we fall in love.

Or whom we fall in love with.

But God says to guard your heart and makes it clear that Solomon is disastrously in the wrong when he falls in love with the wrong women.

What are the little compromises that you have made that need repented of?

To repent means to turn back.

That’s what Solomon needed to do.

And we don’t get a report here that he did.

He might have. I tend to think that Ecclesiastes gives us a glimpse of an aged Solomon who had wisely learned his lesson from this.

But here he had allowed himself to reach a place where the judgment of God would fall on both him and his people because of how he had allowed his heart to be turned away.

Turn back!

To repent means to turn back. And God’s children can do it.

It’s actually why David was a man after God’s own heart. Not because he never sinned, but because he really hated his sin and owned his sin and turned away from it. And turned back.

Where do you need to turn back? Maybe before the consequences of your little compromises begin to take their toll?

Be careful what you love.

In verse 11, the Lord announces his judgment on Solomon. The kingdom is going to be torn away. V.11

“So the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.’”

So that’s the consequence of Solomon’s failure as a king.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

That’s what he said back in Deuteronomy would happen.
That’s what David told Solomon in chapter 2.
That’s what Solomon prayed in chapter 8.
That’s what God warned would happen in chapter 9.

This just says that God is doing it.

What’s really interesting is the amount of grace that is mingled in with the judgment.

It won’t happen during Solomon’s lifetime.

And he’s going to leave David’s family one tribe.

It actually turns out to be two tribes, one is pretty small and the other pretty huge. So big that the little one, Benjamin, kind of gets swallowed up in the one that the Southern kingdom becomes named after, Judah.

And it’s not because of Solomon. It’s (v.12) “for the sake of David.” We’ll come back to that in a little bit.

But as much grace as there is here, it is mostly bad news for Solomon and his family.

The kingdom will be torn away.

The Lord begins that process of judgment by sending three adversaries. Two external and one internal. V.14

“Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary [literally “a satan”], Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom.

[Here’s where he came from.] Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom.

But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking men from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food.

Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. he sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh's own children.”

Do you get the picture?

Who does this guy sound like?  He sounds like Moses to me. He’s like an anti-Moses.

This guy grows up in what household?

The household of Solomon’s father-in-law?

How is that alliance working out for you, Solomon? V.21

“While he was in Egypt, Hadad heard that David rested with his fathers and that Joab the commander of the army was also dead. Then Hadad said to Pharaoh, ‘Let me go, that I may return to my own country.’

‘What have you lacked here that you want to go back to your own country?’ Pharaoh asked. ‘Nothing,’ Hadad replied, ‘but do let me go!’

[So that Hadad could raise trouble for Solomon. Who did that? The Lord did. V.23]

And God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada, who had fled from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah. He gathered men around him and became the leader of a band of rebels when David destroyed the forces of Zobah; the rebels went to Damascus, where they settled and took control.

Rezon was Israel's adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel.”

Do you remember when Solomon had peace on every side?

No enemies? Everybody around him a friend or a conquered foe?

No longer.

Hadad a perpetual thorn in the South.
Rezon a perpetual thorn in the North.

And then Jeroboam. The first mention of this guy but certainly not the last. Verse 26.

“Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon's officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah.

Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the supporting terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph [in the north].

[And God decided to use this man to tear the kingdom. V.29]

About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. [We’ve never heard of this guy before, but he’s got a message from Yahweh.]

The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces.

[Rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip!]

“Then he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe.

I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon's father, did.

‘'But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes. I will take the kingdom from his son's hands and give you ten tribes. I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.

However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.'’

The Lord has just told us what’s going to happen over the next several chapters of these two books of Kings.

He’s going to take most of the kingdom away from Solomon’s son after he dies and give ten tribes worth to this guy Jeroboam.

And it’ll be the same basic deal with him.

Jeroboam and his sons will have just one job. And if they do it, they will be blessed.

But if they fail royally like Solomon did, they will, too, will have the kingdom torn from them.

Now, we don’t know what Jeroboam was thinking at this point, but he obviously leads some kind of rebellion that Solomon stop by trying to take Jeroboam out. V.40

“Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon's death.”

Again, Egypt proves to not be Solomon’s true ally. They are not trustworthy even though Pharaoh’s own daughter is Solomon’s wife.

Jeroboam lives to fight another day, and we will see soon what fateful choices he will make for Israel.

But now we come to the end of Solomon’s life. V.41

“As for the other events of Solomon's reign–all he did and the wisdom he displayed–are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.”

What application can we derive from the announcement of the torn kingdom and the end of Solomon’s reign?

#2. WAIT FOR THE TRUE KING.

We’re going to get this lesson again and again in the books of Kings.

When the kings are at their best, they remind us of King Jesus.

But when they are at their worst, they remind us that we still need King Jesus.

Solomon was not the Messiah.

Solomon was not the ideal king.

He looked like it. He was about as close as it comes.

David or Solomon, take your pick. Those guys were model kings.

And Solomon’s kingdom was breathtakingly glorious.

And such wisdom!

Wisdom like never before!

But Solomon ultimately disappoints us.

And that ache that you feel when you read that “however” in verse 1 is the right thing to feel.

It makes you long for the true King who will bring the true Kingdom.

And make no mistake–that kingdom is still on the way.

God has made promises of an eternal kingdom that cannot be shaken. That cannot be torn away from great David’s greatest Son.

That’s why verse 12 and verse 34 bring up “for the sake of David.”

God’s not finished with the tribe of Judah or with David’s family.

They may reach incredible lows.

But not forever. V.39 again.

“I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.”

But not forever!

There is a King coming who will be all that Solomon promised to be and will only love what He should love.

This King’s heart will not turn.

This King’s heart will be fully devoted to the LORD His God.

And you know His name.

It’s the name that is above every name.

He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

He is King Jesus.

Long for Him.

King Jesus has come and He began His kingdom. We were just talking about this on Wednesday night at Prayer Meeting.

But His Kingdom has not yet come in its fullness.

We still long for that.
We still wait for that.

But we know that it’s coming.

And pray for it:

Your kingdom come!
Maranatha!
Come, Lord Jesus. Come! We are waiting for you!


***

Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "A Breathtaking King"

“A Breathtaking King”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
May 22, 2016 :: 1 Kings 9:1-10:29 

Our current sermon series is called “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings” and this is our fifth message in this series on the story of the kings of Israel.

We’ve been learning about King Solomon who succeeded his father David, prayed for wisdom, ruled a prosperous kingdom, and built an amazing temple.

Last time, we attended the astonishing dedication service for the new and glorious temple. An innumerable amount of sacrifices were made, and King Solomon prayed a magnificent prayer of dedication thanking the Lord for giving the temple to him and to Israel and asking the Lord to hear the prayers offered at and towards the temple, and then hearing those prayers from heaven to provide merciful divine answers.

Remember that? We only got through chapter 8.

In chapter 9, the LORD answers Solomon’s prayer! God shows up personally and gives him both a reassurance and a warning.

And then the rest of chapters 9 and 10 tell the story of the midpoint and the beginning of the second half of Solomon’s reign over Israel.

I’ve entitled this message, “A Breathtaking King” because in chapter 10 there is a royal visitor to Israel whose breath was taken away by what she saw in this kingdom and in this king.

Among other purposes, these two chapters of holy Scripture are here in our Bibles to give us a glimpse of the glory of God as He revealed it the rule of King Solomon.

And it’s breathtaking! At least it should be.

Now today, I want to do things a little differently than we normally do.

Normally, I read a little bit and then preach a little bit and then read a little bit more and then preach that little bit, right?

Today, I want to read and explain some things as we go along through both chapters, but I want to wait until the end to fully draw our life-lessons out of the text. Okay?

So there will be three points of application today, but we’ll wait until the end to draw them together. Okay? So stay with me.

So in chapter 9, the LORD Himself shows up and speaks to Solomon a second time. Chapter 9, verse 1.

“When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.”

Remember the first time? That was back in chapter 3. That was at the beginning of Solomon’s reign when God offered Solomon anything he wanted.

What did Solomon pick at that time?

W-I-S-D-O-M.

And that pleased the Lord. And so He promised to give the king that wisdom and to also give him the things he might have asked for. Like what?  Riches, and honor, and victory from his enemies, and a long life.

Well, now the LORD has appeared a second time, not to ask Solomon what he wants,  but to tell him that He has heard Solomon’s prayer at the temple.

Verse 3.

“The LORD said to him: ‘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 my heart will always be there.”

That’s a “yes” by the way. That’s a big “yes.” The Lord is saying “yes” to everything that Solomon prayed in chapter 8.

And that “yes” comes with some instructions. Verse 4.

“‘As for you [Solomon], if you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, 'You shall never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'”

Do you see what he’s saying there?  He’s saying that He is looking for another king with a heart for the heart of God. Another man who is a man after God’s own heart. Another David.

And if Solomon will be another David, he will experience the blessings promised to David.

Like we said before, “You’ve got one job.” The king of Israel has many duties, but just one job. To walk with God keeping His covenant and leading the people to do the same.

But.

But the Lord also has a warning for King Solomon. If he doesn’t do his one job, there will be consequences. V.6

“‘But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.

And though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?'

People will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them–that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.'’”

Those are ominous words. They are not new thoughts. This is the deal that they have had ever since Deuteronomy.

This is the same deal that Solomon just prayed from in the last chapter.

But this is the high point of the Old Testament. The apparent climax of the story that started back in Genesis! All of the promises of God seem to be coming together in one place!

And the question is: will it last?

Or will it all fall apart?

Will Solomon and his sons be thumbs up or thumbs down kings?

Because it matters.

What is in their heart matters. V.8

“And though this temple is now imposing...” It’s high. It’s tall. It stands out–it won’t matter if your hearts are not where they should be.

There is no substitute for a heart for God.

Even the past blessings of God are no substitute for a heart for God.

Yes, the temple is glorious. But where is your heart, Solomon?

That’s the question that confront him and the question that plays out over the next 3 chapters.

What has been the answer so far? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

It’s been thumbs up!  We’ve seen a few hints of a storm brewing, but by and large, Solomon has done very well.

And you know what, most of chapters 9 and 10 tell the same story.

But there are few more storm clouds gathering on the horizon here, and then chapter 11 will tell what Paul Harvey was call “the rest of the story.”

V.10 “At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built these two buildings–the temple of the LORD and the royal palace–King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and pine and gold he wanted.  But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. ‘What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?’ he asked. And he called them the Land of Cabul [good-for-nothing], a name they have to this day. Now Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents of gold.”

I think this story is a little mixed. Solomon ends up in a good place. He gets lots of gold. Like 4 whole tons of it.

And he seems to continue to have the upper hand with the neighboring kingdoms. He comes out on top in this deal.

But this is the first time there seems to be a crack in his relationship with Hiram. Before it was all hunkey-dorey. Now, not so much.

The thing that worries me the most is that Solomon seems to be selling off parts of Israel to another nation, and the king of Israel should never do that. This is the Promised Land. Not something that Solomon can rightfully sell.

And I’m not sure what to make of the next section dealing with forced labor. It seems both good and bad, too. V.15

“Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the LORD's temple, his own palace, the supporting terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. (Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon's wife. And Solomon rebuilt Gezer.) He built up Lower Beth Horon,  Baalath, and Tadmor in the desert, within his land, as well as all his store cities and the towns for his chariots and for his horses–whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.

All the people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites), that is, their descendants remaining in the land, whom the Israelites could not exterminate–these Solomon conscripted for his slave labor force, as it is to this day.

But Solomon did not make slaves of any of the Israelites; they were his fighting men, his government officials, his officers, his captains, and the commanders of his chariots and charioteers. They were also the chief officials in charge of Solomon's projects–550 officials supervising the men who did the work.

After Pharaoh's daughter had come up from the City of David to the palace Solomon had built for her, he constructed the supporting terraces.”

Again, this is a little ambiguous.

It shows that Solomon was wise and skillful in the use of a large work force and that the covenant people of God were not enslaved. Solomon wins again.

But it’s interesting that he also never completed the work of purifying Israel himself. Just like in Judges, Solomon didn’t completely drive out the Canaanites. Interestingly, Pharaoh seems to be able to do that in Gezer, but Solomon can’t.

I think that relationship with Pharaoh and his daughter is not really good for Solomon or for Israel.

And yet Solomon is walking with God at this time. And he’s faithfully fulfilling the worship obligations of the covenant. Verse 25.

“Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations.”

Solomon was doing his “one job.”

And he was being blessed. V.26

“King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Hiram [good old Hiram, they’re still friends] sent his men–sailors who knew the sea–to serve in the fleet with Solomon's men. They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.”

That’s at least 14 tons of gold.

And “gold” was not just a key word for the temple but for all of Solomon’s reign.

It was truly a golden age. And the rest of the nations took notice.

Chapter 10, verse 1.

“When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions.”

Do you know this story?

Some of us have heard of the Queen of Sheba, or the Queen of the South, but we don’t know that much about her.

While there is a diversity of opinion, most scholars today believe that the country of Sheba was located at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.  Where modern day Yemen is located.

She was the Yemeni Queen.

And she had heard about this King Solomon and was amazed at what she heard.

And perhaps Ophir from verse 28 of the previous chapter, Ophir was perhaps in or near her land. And she had gold there and Solomon and Hiram’s navy had been down the Red Sea to pick up some of her gold.

And she was amazed that the order was 14 tons of gold and wanted to see what kind of a king could need or want that much gold for his kingdom.

So she makes the more than 1000 mile trek from Sheba to Israel. Maybe as much as 1500 miles around 1000 BC. That’s one long trip for a head of state!

But she wants to take the tour herself.

And notice this. She wants to investigate Solomon not just because of his fame, but also because of the NAME of the LORD. She’s investigating God.

And she’s got some hard questions, some riddles, some puzzlers that she wants to run by Solomon because supposedly he’s wise. Do you see that? In verse 1?

Verse 2 tells us that she is an important person herself. A real big wig. V.2

“Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan–with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones–she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.”

Can you imagine what this was like?

Her procession and entourage pulling into town?

She takes the tour. She looks over everything that Solomon has built and she asks him her toughest questions. She gives Solomon the test. And he passed; with flying colors!  V.3

“Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.  When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.”

Is that what your version says?

The old King James says, “there was no more spirit in her.”

Some of the new versions say, “There was no more breath in her.” She was breathless.

In other words, she found this king and his kingdom absolutely breathtaking.

This wealthy powerful woman was speechless and amazed.

She was overwhelmed.

Wow!

I can just see her gulping for air.

And this is what she says. V.6

“She said to the king, ‘The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.

How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!

Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.’”

You are a breathtaking king!

What you have accomplished here is nothing short of miraculous!

You are so wise and your people must be so happy!

You answered my questions!

And this must come from your God.

Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t interesting that she drew the connection between all of thing blessing the LORD?

Solomon must have been doing his job right at that point.

Because this breathtaking king was pointing this pagan queen to his generous promise-keeping God.

She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. And she left a big gift. V.10

“And she gave the king 120 talents of gold (another 4 tons), large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”

And the author of our book kind of builds from there saying, in effect, you haven’t seen nothing yet. V.11

“(Hiram's ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood and precious stones. The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the LORD and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents [that’s like 23 tons every year v.15] not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land.

[What did he do with all that gold?]

King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred bekas of gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom.

All King Solomon's goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. [Do you hear a pattern?]  Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon's days.

The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons [for fun!].

King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.

The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. [Not just the Queen of Sheba but the whole world.] Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift–articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules. Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. Solomon's horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue–the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.”

No wonder the queen was overwhelmed!

Think about walking around seeing that temple, seeing those shields and those chariots and those horses and that throne. And all of that gold.

And on top of that, Solomon had answer to the toughest questions she had ever asked.

He was at that moment truly a breathtaking king.

So what?

How does story affect our lives today?

We know it does. It’s the Bible. So it’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

But how in this case?

Why are these two chapters in our Bibles?

Let’s close with three points of application.  Number one.

This story is in our Bibles as:

#1. A PROOF OF PROMISES KEPT AND PRAYERS ANSWERED.

What was the message that God had for Solomon when he showed up in chapter 9?

V.3 “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me.”

And verse 5, I’m doing what I “promised David your father.”

This breathtaking kingdom comes from the hand of a faithful and prayer-answering God.

Do you need to hear that this morning?

This breathtaking king and his kingdom show that God is faithful to all of His promises and that He listens when His people pray.

Do you need to hear that?

I do. Because it doesn’t always seems like God is keeping His promises or that He listens to prayer.

But think about this. This was a long time in coming.

Some of what you see in 1 Kings chapters 3 through 10 are the partial fulfillment of promises God made over a thousand years before this in the book of Genesis.

So, yeah, sometimes it seems like God’s never going to come through.

But He always does at the right time and the right way.

Guaranteed.

So keep on trusting. And keep on praying.

Here’s the second one.

This story is in our Bibles as:

#2. A WARNING OF THE DANGERS OF TURNING AWAY.

Even though it’s a glorious time in Israel, you can feel that there are storm clouds gathering.

Solomon prayed like that last week.

And God says it right out in chapter 9 verses 6 through 9.

There’s a warning.

Walk with God and lead the nation to do it, too, or there will be consequences. Bad consequences.

“Even though you have the temple and you have My love, if I don’t have your hearts, if you forsake Me and turn away from Me, it will not go well for you.”

And we saw a few of the fault lines where the cracks seem to be inching out.

The relationship with Pharaoh and his daughter.
The strained relationship with Hiram and selling him some of the Promised Land, worthless or not.

And what about all of this gold?

We already said that there was a problem with a king multiplying horses. Deuteronomy 17 said that Israel’s king was not to do that.

It also says that the king of Israel “must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold” (Deut. 17:17).

I think that means, for himself. It’s one thing to deck out the temple in it, but it’s another to stick it into your own personal bank account.

I’m not sure.

When I read this chapter, I think that, in the main, the author approves of all of this gold and sees it as a sign of God’s blessing (and the promise He made Solomon in chapter 3).

The Queen of Sheba certainly did, and I think that God did, too.

Because there is nothing sinful about money.

But the love of money, that’s another story.

There’s probably a warning in there somewhere. A caution.

Don’t worship it!

Don’t come to love the gold of the temple instead of the God of the temple!

We just heard about that in Sunday School this morning.

Don’t forsake the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.

Warning! Danger ahead. Don’t turn away!

Do you need to hear that today?

It’s sad. Because of what we’re going to read in the very next chapter.

Don’t turn away.

And don’t think that turning away is something you just do all of a sudden.

It can really creep in on you.

As the book of Hebrews says, “Hold firmly to the faith we profess.”

Don’t turn away.

As a pastor, the people I worry about the most are those who have made some kind of a start with the Lord, but then turned their back on Him.

That’s a scary place to be.

Do you know what happens to this temple and these people by the end of 2 Kings?

Do you know where this story is going?

This is a warning of the dangers of turning away.

And we need that warning when things are going well.

When we’ve got life by the toe, that’s often when we can mess the whole thing up.

We get our eyes off of the Lord and turn our own way.

Listen. Don’t.

Learn the lesson from the breathtaking king. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord.

And number three.

This story is in our Bibles as:

#3. A FORETASTE OF THE BREATHTAKING KINGDOM TO COME.

This is just a preview of coming attractions.

Queen of Sheba, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

You think that Solomon’s kingdom left you gasping for air?

Wait until you see the kingdom of King Jesus!

I mean it.  I believe that God has given us this story to make us long for the kingdom to come.

There are hints of that already in the Old Testament.

Read Psalm 72 this afternoon.

Do you know who wrote Psalm 72?

A King named Solomon.

And he might be praying about himself, but I think it’s clearly prophetic, as well.

If I had time, I’d read it to you. It’s a prayer for the ultimate king of Israel in terms that are partially fulfilled here in 1 Kings 10, but not fully.

Somebody else has to come and fill these prayers up.

Somebody breathtaking!

Or read Isaiah chapter 60 this afternoon. That’s written long after Solomon had died, but the language of the predictions of the kingdom to come are drawn right out of 1 Kings 10. Even Sheba bringing gold to the king! Read it.

The point is that this is just a foretaste of the kingdom to come.

It’s to make you hunger and thirst for that kingdom.

Like the gold.

Think about the streets in the New Jerusalem. What are they paved with?

That’s more gold than Solomon had!

Silver might not have had any value but gold was valuable.

But in the New Jerusalem, it will be so “worthless,” they’ll pave the streets with it.

Solomon was a king like no other, blessed by God.

But there is a King to come to whom Solomon does not hold a candle.

That King will be breathtaking on an unimaginable scale!

Do you want to see Him?

Do you want to be a part of His kingdom?

Oh how happy you’ll be!

Oh how happy we’ll be!

To belong to that kingdom!

There’s only one way to get into that kingdom.

It’s to know, trust, and love King Jesus.

You know Jesus didn’t look like Solomon when He walked the earth.

He didn’t look glorious. He wasn’t impressive.

Even to other Jews.

And many are not impressed with Him today.

But He’s the only way.

Jesus told the unimpressed Pharisees, “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation [of Israel] and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

Jesus is greater than Solomon.

Solomon was just a foretaste of the glory to come.

And those Israelites couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. So they rejected their Messiah.

Don’t you do that, too.

Put your faith and trust in King Jesus and prepare to be overwhelmed with the breathtaking beauty of His Kingdom forever.


***

Questions for Group Discussion:

1. Review. Last week’s message was about the incomparable King of the temple. What did you learn last week that was really encouraging or helpful to you?

2. Read 1 Kings 9:1-9. In today’s message, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time. What was His message(s) for Solomon?

3. Read 1 Kings 10:1-13. The other major visitor to Solomon’s king in today’s message was the Queen of Sheba. What did she experience on her tour of Israel?

4. Pastor Matt said that this set of stories is in our Bibles to be at least 3 things for us. What were they (hints: 1. Evidence 2. Peril 3. Future)?  Why do you think this story is in your Bible?

5. What was the application of each of these 3 items for our lives today?  How will you live differently because you have taken 1 Kings 9-10 to heart?


***

Messages in this Series:
01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

[Matt's Messages] “The Incomparable King of the Temple”

“The Incomparable King of the Temple”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
May 15, 2016 :: 1 Kings 8:1-66

And we’re back to our new sermon series that we’re calling “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings.”

We’ve had three message in this series so far.

In the first message, King David passed on the throne to his son King Solomon.

In the second message, King Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom and the Lord gave it to him in spades. In his wisdom, Solomon set up a kingdom in Israel like there never had been and never has been since.

And last time we were in this series, King Solomon built as the crowning achievement of his wisdom a glorious temple for the Lord.

Do you remember that? The temple of the king?

All of that gold and shining splendor?

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of 1 Kings were full of those details of this fantastic temple being built for the glory of God.

Now in chapter 8, this temple is going to be dedicated. It’s the grand ceremony to dedicate the temple. The grand opening ceremony of this unparalleled building.

I think that this event is the absolute highest point in the story of Solomon, and in many ways, the highest point in the history of the Old Testament!

If we had to decide at this moment if Solomon was a thumbs up or a thumbs down king, we would give him 3 thumbs up at this moment. He is at his all-time best.

The prayer that Solomon prays at the dedication of this temple is some of the wisest things he ever says. And that saying a lot.

You know how we said last time that the point of the temple of the king is not the temple of the king but the king of temple?

Well, Solomon understood that.

Solomon got it. He understood at this moment Who his God really was.

And it’s revealed in his prayer of dedication of the temple.

Solomon understands that his God, the LORD, is the incomparably great King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The temple has been completed. It has taken 7 years.

And now it’s time to open it for business. To dedicate it.

And if this building is like no other building, this ceremony of dedication is like no other ceremony of dedication.

Every college graduation commencement going on around the nation this week is nothing compared to this.

The inauguration of our new US president next January is nothing compared to this.

This is a phenomenal worship service attempting to be worthy of the King of Kings in dedicating His unique temple. Chapter 8, verse 1.

“Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the LORD's covenant from Zion, the City of David.”

Do you remember the ark? What did it stand for?

It was like a movable throne to symbolize the presence of God among His people.

And it contained the two stone tablets with the 10 commandments on it standing for the whole of the covenant that God had made with His people.

And it was going to come up and rest in the Holy of Holies.

Do you remember how David brought it up to Jerusalem and the trouble he had when he did it wrong?  Solomon learned from that. V.2

“All the men of Israel came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month. [A enormous number of people. Enough to be able to say that the whole country was there. “All the men of Israel”] When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the LORD and the Tent of Meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.

The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. [Remember those?] The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. [When this was written down for the first time. You can fact check it, the author is saying. This happened. This actually happened. V.9]

There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.”

Can you imagine this moment?

All of those sacrifices?

Leading up the ark to the temple and then placing it in the Most Holy Place.

All of those people crowded around?

And what does God think?

Is He pleased? Will He show it? Will He show up?

V.10

“When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.’”

God showed up!

Just like He did in Exodus chapter 40 when Moses built the tabernacle.

God shows up in this mysterious cloud.

I think it’s interesting that He is both present and still hidden.

Isn’t that interesting?

He shows up in a glory cloud, but you don’t see Him face to face.

He’s still mysterious even as He reveals Himself.

He’s holy, holy, holy.

And He’s come to dwell with His people.

Wow!

And Solomon knows that this a big moment and he makes a big speech. V.14

“While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. Then he said: ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, 'Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built for my Name to be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.'

‘My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, 'Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood–he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.'

‘The LORD has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the LORD promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD that he made with our fathers when he brought them out of Egypt.’”

That is all very true. Solomon has hit the nail on the head.

God has kept His promises. All of them.

Land, Offspring, Blessing, Temple. King.

And now Solomon’s prays the prayer of dedication. V.22

“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: ‘O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below...”

God is incomparable.

The LORD is unique. He stands alone.

He is in a class by Himself.

He doesn’t just break the mold. There is no mold for Him.

Solomon gets it exactly right when he says, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below...”

That’s not hyperbole. He’s not exaggerating.

God is stands in a category of His own.

There is no God like Yahweh!

And that comes out in the rest of Solomon’s prayer, big-time.

As we read it, I’ve got four major headings to place God’s incomparableness under.

#1. FAITHFUL.

The Lord is INCOMPARABLY faithful. V.23

“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below [why?]–you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it–as it is today.”

I love that. Do you see what he does with mouth and hand in verse 24?

“with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it...”

There is no disjunction between what God has said and what God does.

Mouth to hand.

There is no one as faithful as the Lord.

God always, always, always keeps His promises.

... And you know what? That’s unique!

The other so-called-gods of the ancient world could not be counted on in this way.

And neither are the gods of today so dependable.

And you and are certainly not, either.

How many have been let down by somebody this week?

How many have let somebody down this week?

Maybe in large ways and maybe in small ways, but none of us is completely faithful.

... But the Lord is.

With his mouth he promises and with His hand He fulfills it. Every time and right on time.

Do you need to hear that today?

The Lord is incomparably faithful. So trust Him.

That’s what Solomon does. Because the Lord has been faithful, He now prays for the Lord to be faithful. V.25

“‘Now LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, [2 Samuel 7] 'You shall never fail to have a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons are careful in all they do to walk before me as you have done.' And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.”

Do you see how he prays based on God’s word?

Do you we do that? Do we pray the promises of God?

Some people think that because God has promised something, there is no need to pray about it. But the opposite is actually true. God invites us to pray His promises back to Him.

“You said you would, Lord! So please do it!”

“I’m holding You to Your promises. I’m expecting You to act!”

God is faithful.

But He’s also uncontainable. V.27

#2. UNCONTAINABLE

Solomon asks, “‘But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

Do you see why I’m saying that Solomon is at his best?

Yes, God is going dwell on earth. He’s going to live in this temple.

But not really!

He doesn’t fit in this box. This beautiful golden box.

He doesn’t fit on earth.

He doesn’t fit in the heavens! With the clouds and the birds.

He doesn’t even fit in highest heavens with the sun, the moon, the stars!

Solomon gets it.

At this moment in Solomon’s life, he gets it.

He gets how big and free and uncontainable God is.

You can’t put God in a box.
You can’t put God on a leash.

God cannot be controlled.
God cannot be tamed.
God cannot be contained.

He is incomparably uncontainable.

God will not be used.
God will not be manipulated.

Even though God has condescended to take up residence in this temple, the people of Israel should not assume therefore that everything they do will be blessed no matter what or that God only loves them and not others in the world who don’t have the temple or that they now have God by the tail.

God is so much bigger than that!

Do you need that reminder today? That God is bigger than the highest heavens?

That means that God is bigger than any of your problems.

And we just learned that He’s faithful to all of His promises.

On Wednesday nights at Prayer Meeting, we’ve been learning to pray using the Lord’s Prayer as our guide.

And this last Wednesday, we thought about that phrase, “Our Father IN HEAVEN.”

And we read this verse. “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

That’s the God whom you are praying to when you pray rightly.

Not some genie in a bottle.

But a Father above the heavens!

Isn’t that encouraging?

This is a strange prayer for the dedication of a temple, isn’t it?

Because it’s not really about the temple of the King. It’s about the King of the temple.

And how inadequate this temple is!

As amazing and glorious as this temple was, like the first thing that Solomon prays is that, “I know it’s too small.”

And “I know that it doesn’t do You justice.”

And “I know that it does not control You.”

... And yet.

And yet the very next thing Solomon says is that He asks and expects that this uncontainable God will hear and answer prayer. V.28

“Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that 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,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.

Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.”

That’s amazing!

He goes from saying that God is too big to live here to saying this same God listens to pleas and prayers.

In other words, the Lord is incomparably:

#3. ACCESSIBLE.

You might think that because God is so big that He wouldn’t have time for little guys like you and me. Maybe Solomon but not you and me.

But Solomon thinks BECAUSE God is so big He can listen to us.

God is listening.
God is attentive.
God is personal and accessible.

Now, at this time in redemptive history, Solomon asks that his temple be a kind of focal point for focusing on God in prayer.

Almost like a earthly headquarters for God’s throne.

You can pray wherever you are, but Solomon says, “Use this temple as a focal point for those prayers.” Praying at or towards this temple will be like a direct line to the heavenly throne room.

Did anybody ever do that in the Bible? Sure. Daniel does, right? When Daniel prays with his windows open where he does he face? Towards Jerusalem.

Now, you can see how this temple might become a problem, right? How it might become an idol itself for the people?

It wouldn’t have to be, but they do fall into that problem from time to time.

The point, however, is that God is listening.

God isn’t just up there somewhere minding His own business.

He is accessible. He is listening to His people’s prayers.

Do you need to hear that this morning?

Even though there is no earthly temple to pray towards today, God is still listening. He still hears. His eyes are open to you.

Do you pray? Are you praying?

I think we talk about praying more than we pray. I know I do.

This God that Solomon is praying to is listening. His ears are open to you.

He’s accessible.

More now than ever because of the work of Christ on the Cross.

Ephesians 2:18 says that through Jesus we have access to the Father by one Spirit!

Prayer isn’t just for super kings at the dedication of the temple.

It’s for you and me.

Did you notice what Solomon asked God to do at the end of that prayer?

“And when you hear...what?”

“Forgive.”

Forgive. Solomon knows that God will have to be forgiving of His people because they are sinners. God may keep His promises, but His people will not always.

Forgiveness is the theme of the whole rest of the prayer. He’s just getting warmed up, but that’s what he asks for again and again from here to the end.

It’s because Solomon knows that God is incomparably:

#4. MERCIFUL. 

Starting in verse 31, Solomon gives 7 “for instances,” 7 examples or case studies of when God would need to be merciful to His people.

They are all drawn from covenant. You can find the examples in Deuteronomy, especially chapters 28 and 31.

These are problems that Israel will probably fall into, and will need God’s help. V.31

“‘When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence.”

Do you see what’s going on?

Somebody has done wrong, but the evidence is lacking. You can’t tell by looking.

Even Wise Old Solomon with his cut the baby in half tricks can’t solve this one.

So he comes to this temple and there is prayer at this temple, and Solomon says, “Hear from heaven and act.” Be merciful on your people by bringing true justice.  Show us who is in the wrong and who is in the right.

Notice that you pray at the temple, but God answers from where?  From heaven.

The second one is bigger. More mercy needed. V.33

“‘When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.”

Number three. V.35

“‘When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.”

This is how God promised to deal with His people back in Deuteronomy. They had a special covenant with God. If they obeyed, there would be blessing on Israel. If they disobeyed, there would be curses fall on them.

Solomon says, “Be merciful!”

Number Four. V.37

“‘When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel–each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple–then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.”

Be merciful.

You know us. You know us so well.

You know what’s in our hearts!

Forgive and act.

And not just for us. But also for those who are not like us. Number 5. V.41

“‘As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name–for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm–when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.”

Solomon knows that God is not just the God of Israel.

He’ll be the God of any and all who call on Him in faith.

He’s a missionary God.

He wants the peoples of the earth to know His name and fear Him like we do.

That’s why He’s given us the Great Commission. Like we talked about last week.

Go and make disciples of all nations.

Number six. Verse 44.

“‘When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.”

Be merciful. And last, number 7. V.46

“‘When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin–and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly'; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy; for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

‘May your eyes be open to your servant's plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, O Sovereign LORD, brought our fathers out of Egypt.’”

What’s he talking about?

He’s talking about the possibility, the fearful possibility of EXILE.

Of the undoing of the promises. Of the land being taken away from them. And them being taken away from the land.

At the very moment, the highest moment in Old Testament history, Solomon recognizes the very real possibility of exile because of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

And He pleads with God for mercy.

Based on the priory mercy of God. Because God had saved them before. From Egypt.

Because these people were (v.51), God’s people and God’s inheritance.

Not because they deserved it. They certainly didn’t.

And they wouldn’t, if God sends them into exile.

But because God is incomparably merciful.

He is gracious and abounding in mercy.

That’s Who God is.

God is just. He is righteous. He is justice itself.

But He is also incomparably merciful.

A second Exodus would still be possible. Even if they went into exile.

And of course, if you know the story, you know that they do.

What a prayer! What a God to pray to! V.54

“When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the LORD, he rose from before the altar of the LORD, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.”

Isn’t that interesting? When he started this prayer, he was standing. But apparently by the end he’s on his knees. Was it the weight of what He was praying? V.55

“He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying: ‘Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised [FAITHFUL!]. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. [ACCESSIBLE] May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need [MERCIFUL], so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.’

Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD. Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD.

On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings [UNCONTAINABLE].

So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him–a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the LORD our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all.

On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the LORD had done for his servant David and his people Israel.”

What a prayer!

What an incomparably great God.


***

Messages in this Series

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sunday, May 08, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Mission Minded Moms"

“Mission Minded Moms”
Matthew 28:18-20
May 8, 2016

We’re going take a break for one week from our study of the Books of Kings to stay on the theme of motherhood since it’s Mother’s Day.

But we are staying on the theme of the year.

Some of you will remember that on the first Sunday of 2016, we focused on this particular passage of Scripture together and reminded ourselves that we have been given, as a Church, one great mission, one great Commission, our marching orders to make disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

We are sent on a mission.

The teens going to their Challenge Conference this Summer are going to be taught on this theme all week long.

We are SENT on a mission.

And that mission that Jesus has sent us on determines and shapes every area of our lives.

Including our callings in life. The things that God calls us to do.

And that brings us back to motherhood.

Those of you who are both mothers and Christians need to connect the dots between the two.

Your calling as a mother is shaped by the mission that Jesus has given to His church.

Have you ever thought about that?

Have you ever seen your calling as a mother as a part of Jesus’ mission for the church?

Today’s sermon is entitled, “Mission Minded Moms.”

And I don’t mean first off foreign missions, though we’re going to get there.

I mean that moms who are doing what God wants them to be doing as moms will fulfill their callings as moms by keeping in mind the mission that the Lord has given to us.

So, of course, this is a message for all of us whether we are moms or not. Because the mission is for all of us. But I’m especially thinking today about those of you who someone calls, “Mommy” and how this mission applies to your very very very very very important job.

Whether you are a new mom whose baby was just dedicated today or you have been a mom for 50 or 60 years, this mission is for you.

Let’s read it and then we’ll pray and start applying it to everyday life for the moms among us.

In Matthew 28, the recently resurrected Jesus is talking to his 11 remaining apostles on a mountain in Galilee. V.18

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

Moms, you have a mission.

Christian moms, you have a mission, and you should choose to accept it.

Moms, do you remember how you felt that moment when you first found out that you were expecting?

The pregnancy test came back positive.

Gulp!  “What have I gotten myself into?” Right?

Do did you feel?

Excited, right?

And also probably a little apprehensive.

And maybe a little uneasy about the new responsibility that you were just entrusted with.

What a responsibility it is to have a child!

To feed, to clean, to provide for, to teach everything they need to know to get started in life. To superintend their education. To oversee their health and well-being.

It’s such a weighty responsibility.

And for the first several years it’s so demanding.

There’s always responsibilities, but eventually they grow up. At least you hope so.

But when they are little...

There’s a reason we have a ministry called “Mothers of Preschoolers” and not “Mothers of College Students” (though that’s not a bad idea!).

Because those early years are tough. And it’s 24/7.

My hat is off to young mothers.

It’s a lot of work.

Well-done, ladies. And keep up the good work.

But I want to add to that pile of responsibility this morning.

Because Christian motherhood is more than just feeding, cleaning, medicating, educating, and preparing children for life.

Christian moms have a mission to make disciples of their children and the rest of the nations for Jesus Christ.

Christians moms are meant to be mission minded.

Now, I’m sorry if that feels like an added burden to you who already have so much to do in your work.

But the good news is that this focuses your efforts. Its focuses your work.

Because if you are a mission minded mom as you are called to be, keeping that mission always before you will help you to make critical choices as you do your mothering.

Did you ever notice that children don’t come with instruction manuals?

If you buy a weed-wacker, it comes with an instruction manual.

Here’s how to start it, run it, use it, keep it running. Do this, don’t do that. And so on.
Kids, not so much. Right?

Moms often don’t know what to do.

So, they need to pray for wisdom. But they also can and need to evaluate the parenting choices in front of them based on whether or not and how it will help to achieve the mission.

Some things are mission-critical and they must be done. They must happen.

Other things can aid the mission but are optional.

Some others things can hinder the mission.

Christian moms need to be mission-minded.

And what is our mission? To make disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

V.19 “[G]o and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Those are our marching orders as the people of God, and mothers have a critical role to play.

Now, I’m not saying that only mothers do this or that mothers do all of it.

For example, I don’t think that mothers do the baptizing of their children. The church does the baptizing, normally through the pastors and elders.

But it should be every Christian mother’s aim to see their children grow to be believers in Jesus Christ, disciples of Jesus Christ, and baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And it should be the aim of every Christian mother to see their children turn around and also be used to make disciples of others in the same way.

Mission minded moms.

Do you get a sense of what I’m talking about?

I’ve got just three quick points to make today.

Here’s number one:

#1. MISSION MINDED MOMS REMEMBER THAT JESUS IS LORD. V.18

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Let’s not forget that.

Jesus has come back from the dead and has claimed to possess by divine gift ALL authority in heaven and on earth.

That’s everything. That’s ALL authority.

Jesus is Lord.

And that’s helpful to remember when you’re a mom.

Jesus is Lord.

He’s Lord over your motherhood.

He decides when you become a mom, not you.

You’ve got a part to play, but Jesus rules.

And Jesus decides what motherhood should look like.

We don’t get to pick and choose from an unlimited list of mothering ideas.

There are biblical concepts that Christian mothers should employ when parenting.

Jesus is Lord.

And He’s also Lord over your child’s future.

He’s sovereign over where they live, when they live, and when they die.

He gets to rule their lives. Not you or me.

So Jesus is Lord and we are not.

Moms, have you tried to pretend you’re the Lord?

Maybe taken some prerogative or privilege that is His alone?

Jesus has risen dead and because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

But because He lives, we also need to live for Him.

And sometimes that means releasing our children into the world in ways we’d rather not.

Our world is a dangerous place. But children are arrows.

Psalm 127 says that children are arrows, and arrows are meant to be loosed at the proper time.

Jesus is Lord. So when He calls for your child–maybe to go into missionary service and make disciples of some Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims in some dangerous part of the world, it will be time for you to pull back the string and let them fly.

Because we have a mission, and Jesus is Lord.

I believe that we like to play it safe with our kids.

And we do need to protect them when they are small and teach them to make prudent choices when they are grown.

But we don’t keep them to ourselves. We ready and aim them to fire into the world.

Because we have a mission and Jesus is Lord.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore....” what? V.19

“Go and make disciples of all nations.”

I’ve been reading an excellent new book by Gloria Furman on this topic called Missional Motherhood.

And she opens Part 2 of her book with this title, “Therefore, Go, and Mother Disciples.”

That’s great.

Or in other words, Christian mothering is discipling.

If you are a Christian mom, it should be your aim to make disciples of your children and the rest of the nations.

Because Jesus is Lord. That’s what He’s called us to do.

All of that authority and what does He want?  Make disciples.

#2. MISSION MINDED MOMS FOCUS ON MAKING DISCIPLES.

And who better to start with than those little creatures that live in your home?

Kids don’t come out of birth as Christians, did you know that?

But Christian moms have the goal of reaching them for Christ and seeing them fully discipled as Christians from before birth. If they have their mind on their mission.

Now, that’s going to look different at different times and with different kids.

Here’s the mission-minded mom at our place on the day of Robin’s dedication, 16 years ago.

Back then discipling Robin was mainly just praying for her.

And setting your mind and heart on Christ yourself.

Being a disciple yourself.

Here’s a picture of them a month later. Heather’s reading something, probably her Bible. Stocking up her heart with what she will teach Robin as Robin gets old enough to begin to understand.

But it’s not long until she’s got armfuls like this.

Mother’s Day 2005. Just 5 years later.

And being a mission minded mom meant something very different then.

Than it does today.

And how it will look in 20 years or 40 years from now.

But the mission stays the same.

Mission minded moms focus on making disciples.

What are you doing to disciple your kids?

Now, does this mean indoctrinating them? Forcing them to become Christians?

No. It’s impossible to force someone to become a Christian.

Becoming a Christian is the work of the Holy Spirit.

You can’t make it happen.

These apostles in verse 19 were not commanded to go out and force people to convert to Christianity.

They were to preach it, teaching it, model it, explain it, defend it, pray it into people’s lives.

They were to be, in a word, missionaries.

And as missionaries reach the people they are sent to with the gospel of Jesus Christ so that it transformed them by its power and make disciples of them.

So, moms, you are missionaries. But you aren’t necessarily sent around the world. You are sent to your kids.

Take the gospel to them.

And don’t stop sharing the gospel with them until either they die or you die.

Again, it looks different at different ages and with different kids.

If you are the mother of a prodigal son or daughter and they are out of your home and far from God, you are not going to get out a Bible storybook and make them sit on your knees and have devotions with them each night.

It don’t work that way.

But you are still called as a missionary in their life to love them for Jesus’ sake and seek to share the good news with them when they open to hearing it.

Keep your mind on the mission.

Focus on making disciples.

And of course, not just of your own kids.

As mothers, especially of young kids, they are your first priority as a mission field.

But your kids will have friends, too.  Guess what? They’re mission-field, too.

And those kids will have parents that you will come into contact with.

Mission field!

Potential disciples!

And verse 19 says, “all nations.” So that’s not just people like us right here.

It’s not just whitebread Americans. It’s people all over the world who need Jesus.

Moms, we’ve got to keep our focus on making disciples of all nations.

And that might involve aiming your kids at the nations.

It might involve aiming your whole family at the nations.

We look at John and Becky and think, “I could never do that. Uproot my whole family and move to Oaxaca.”

Never say never. Remember that Jesus is Lord, and He gives the marching orders.
What can you do to raise the awareness of the mission in your household?

Mom, does everybody in your household know the mission?

Do they know that your whole family has a mission?

Could they answer the question, “The mission of our family is...” what?

Mission minded moms keep the mission in front of their families.

Of course, this is a Christian dad’s responsibility even more because he’s called to lead. But this isn’t Father’s day.

Mission minded moms keep the mission in front of their families.

They are praying for missions.
They are praying for disciplemaking opportunities.
They are strategizing as a family how they can make disciples.

Mission minded moms focus on making disciples.

And that involves a lot of teaching. V.20

This making disciples involves not only baptizing new converts but, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Moms, you are a teachers.

When you were given a child, you were given a calling to be a teacher.

That doesn’t mean that you will teach them algebra, but it does mean that you will teach them Jesus’ commands.

“Everything I have commanded you.”

Moms, have you been teaching your kids what Jesus commands?

When was the last time you said, “Jesus says we need to...” whatever?

“King Jesus commands us to...” what?

“Our Lord says....” what?

Do your kids know what Jesus commands and that He expects obedience?

V.20 says “teaching to obey” not just “teaching to know.”

Jesus is Lord and expects us to follow His directions.

And one of your jobs, Mom, is to teach Jesus’ directions to your little disciples.

So much more could be said about that.

It’s the main way that Moms disciple their children is to teach them.

Don’t assume that someone else is going to do that for you.
Don’t assume that Sunday School or Kids for Christ or Children’s Church will do tha for you.
Don’t assume that Youth Group or Miracle Mountain Ranch will do that for you.
Don’t assume that a Christian college will do that for you.

Partner with all of those ministries to help.

But you are the Mom. You are called to teach your children the gospel and what Jesus wants from them and for them.

What do we say around here?

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

And the main thing in mothering is the gospel.

Mission minded moms keep the focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ.

One last point and then we’re done.

#3. MISSION MINDED MOMS KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE. V.20

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I love that Jesus doesn’t just send us on a mission, He goes with us on that mission.

And that’s true for all of you moms, as well.

You are not alone.

Jesus is on this mission with you.

I know that it feels heavy at times.

I think I’ve added to that heaviness today by emphasizing how weighty is the responsibility of being a Christian mom.

But you don’t have to do it on your own. You couldn’t if you tried.

Jesus goes with you.

He’s not talking to just one Mom named Shirley.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

That words means certainly. You can bank on it.

It’s for sure. To the uttermost.

He will see you to the end.

Now, that means you gotta go.

You gotta get out there and complete your mission.

But you don’t have to do it alone.

Abby, you don’t have to do it alone.
Emigh, you don’t have to do it alone.
Stephanie, you don’t have to do it alone.

Church, you don’t have to do it alone.

You just have to do it.

‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Jesus.] Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [He has] have commanded you. And surely [Jesus is] with you always, to the very end of the age.’”