August 30, 2019 – The Wisdom of Solomon, the Sin of Solomon-Exodus 20:1-6, 1 Kings 11:1-13, Romans 3:21-25, 1 John 1:8-9

Solomon

And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:1-6 (ESV)
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Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.” 1 Kings 11:1-13 (ESV)
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But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:21-25 (ESV)

The first of the Ten Commandments is the foundation on which the Law is based: God is God. It sounds simple and basic, but we as fallen humans keep going back to the temptation of the Garden. “Did God really say?,” the serpent inquired of Eve. (Genesis 3:1-7) Part of the tension and the paradox of this life is in truly acknowledging that God is God…but we still harbor the desire to be as God ourselves.
Jesus taught that the summary of the Law is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:25-28) The rich young ruler Jesus was speaking to in Luke 10 would have heard this before if he were an observant Jew, as Jesus’ teaching came from the Shema, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Solomon was the son of King David- the second son of David and Bathsheba. Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who David committed adultery with. Solomon wasn’t the oldest son of David, nor was he a likely candidate to inherit the throne from David.
Solomon did have faith in God. At the beginning of his reign he asked God for wisdom above the typical things that people in positions of power would ask for. He asked for wisdom above wealth or territory or the death of his enemies. God added wealth and long life, and military victory (including death to a number of his enemies) and renown to him also. (1 Kings 3:5-14)
Yet even a man as blessed by God as Solomon got comfortable as his life went on. He accommodated his foreign wives and joined in the worship of their false gods. He wasn’t completely faithful to God.
We read the account of Solomon and we think, “How could a guy like this, the wisest man who ever lived, mess up like that?”
Then we remember that no matter how wise or gifted or “good” we may appear, that:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 (ESV)
David was a sinner. Even though he had a heart for God, and he was truly blessed by God, he was also an adulterer and murderer. David did not love God and love his neighbor as himself all the time.
Sin was a fact of life for all of the “heroes” of the Bible, save Jesus Himself. Only Jesus out of all the humans who walked the earth obeyed God’s Law 100% perfectly all the time, and that was because only He was both God and man. All the rest of us human beings are born under the curse of Adam. All of us struggle with the ancient question, “Did God really say?” All of us entertain foreign gods that are far from God, whether it is out of our own selfishness, or our own obsessions, or our own negligence.
We can’t make ourselves right with God by anything we do or don’t do. Jesus makes us right with God by what He did to break the curse of Adam for us. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we have the ability and the desire to confess our sins and accept that Jesus has forgiven us and covers our sins.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
We pray that through faith in Jesus we would stay focused on the One True God, and not get sidetracked and obsessed with false gods that cannot bring life or hope. We pray that we would trust Jesus to keep us in His grace and love even when we sin and fall short of His standards.

July 10, 2018 One Flesh, One Body- Genesis 2:13-25

garden of eden

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:18-25 (ESV)

It is not good for human beings to be alone. God made us for relationship, not just with Him, but with His creation and with other humans. God entrusted Adam with naming the animals, but having the animals as companionship just didn’t seem to be enough for Adam.  As much as we might think a world with just dogs and cats for company would be a good thing, we can’t relate to them on the same intellectual level.  Procreation is pretty much impossible without both male and female humans.  Where would the babies come from?

One of the most tragic casualties of the Fall – and of the second half of the 20th century- is the good gift of marriage.  Fewer and fewer couples see the necessity of making the commitment of marriage, and even among those who do, only about half of all marriages will survive until one of the partners dies.  Our culture glorifies the ideals of independence and sexual freedom.  The fallout of the so-called “sexual revolution” is all around us. We want that euphoric high of infatuation, and we love to be in romantic love, but we don’t want to deal with another person’s flaws or hard times. Infatuation doesn’t last long. Marriage can become trying when the reality of monthly bills, medical issues, and dirty laundry and each other’s personality flaws becomes painfully clear.

Some marriages are destroyed by adultery. Still others are torn apart by addiction, or by physical or emotional abuse. Some even decide to end a marriage due to lack of interest or “falling out of love.” There is always emotional and spiritual fallout throughout a family when a marriage falls apart.  Separation and divorce- while sometimes absolutely necessary due to abuse or unavoidable because of adultery- are part of our sinful condition, because of our hardness of heart. Separation and brokenness were not the ways God intended.

The relationship of a husband and wife was intended by God to be the closest and most intimate relationship within humanity. John the Baptist compares the relationship of Christ and the church to a marriage. See John 3:28-30. We, the church, as the Bride of Christ are part of His body- just as we see foreshadowed in the creation of Eve from the flesh of Adam. Marriage was intended to be a mirror of that perfect union.

Flesh of my flesh,” Adam says of Eve.  He speaks of a relationship so close that they are of the same body, the same mind, unashamed of their nakedness, with no secrets between them.  This kind of relationship echoes the intimacy of God walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden without the barriers of sin, shame and regret.

The good news is that Jesus always invites us to come to Him- to confess our sin, to repent, and to surrender our shame to Him. Unlike our flawed and tempestuous relationships with other sinners/saints like ourselves, Jesus is always with us, always faithful, never letting go of us, even into eternity.

While the best earthly marriages foreshadow the delight of the forever relationship we will share with Jesus, we can trust that at all times Jesus is our comfort, our strength and our defender.

It is important to remember that there is no condemnation for a person to seek separation or divorce should they be the victim of adultery, or for those who suffer abuse (which includes physical, financial and emotional abuse) at the hands of their spouse. There is forgiveness, healing and restoration for those who have suffered the pain of divorce. Everyone alive has fallen short of the glory of God.  Jesus invites us to come to Him to be forgiven and restored.

We can look forward to the day when there will be no separation from Jesus- no more tears, no more pain, and no more brokenness. Until that day we trust that God will give us the grace to reflect and share His love, forgiveness, restoration and peace.