Aug 23 2020 1 Kings - pt 3 - Navigating a time of Conflict and Divide
23rd August 2020
Welcome – let’s turn our attention to the Lord.
Lord, thank You for this opportunity to be in Your presence. I ask that You would help each of us, as You give us opportunity – to engage people. Sometimes it would be easier to ignore that opportunity or to purposely not take that opportunity – but in a time like this, help us to engage people as Your servants, as those who love You, follow You, and attempt to be faithful to You. It is difficult – but help us to step out for You. In Your name we Pray.
1 Kings 11: 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. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command.
With all that Solomon was doing – he had a lot of good, and a lot of bad. But he turned away from God to follow idols. It might not be statues, but when we turn away from God, we turn to other gods.
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.
This is Solomon’s downfall… Solomon, you have failed, and I will tear the kingdom away from you – NEVERTHELESS…
12 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. 13 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."
He is talking about more than just David – but the person, and the promise, He had made to David. The emphasis of the book of Kings is God keeping His promises.
Even in the case of Solomon, you see God’s mercy and patience – even to say He won’t do this in Solomon’s lifetime.
The result of Solomon’s antics – for 200 years, there is a civil war – the nation of Israel will be split in half – and it is not until hundreds of years later that they come back together, after they have been exiled and brought back.
There is about 400 years of human reign in Israel. Then there is a long period with NO reign in Israel, and the promise is finally fulfilled – for a singular descendant to reign eternally. Jesus.
Sometimes – when we think about the promises of God – we tend, like in this situation – the focus is on RIGHT NOW – Like David’s life, children/grandchildren. Our focus is the singular promise. Like the iceberg thing – the part you see is so small.
Example: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is true.
But Paul is writing this in a specific context. We need to understand that context.
It would be silly to think – even though I’ve never had flying lessons, for me to think that I could fly a plane because of this verse – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
We all have difficult tasks – through which Christ can strengthen us – and that is valid. But the context of this is much DEEPER than that.
What is important to understand: We can feel like God has not been faithful to the promises in our lives because all we have is a surface understanding of those promises.
Israel was that way with the kings. They missed Jesus because they were looking for a physical fulfillment. God has a spiritual fulfilment.
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. The two of them were alone out in the country, 30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 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. 32 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.
So Jeroboam is introduced – and this is a hyperlink to Moses – He is the Moses of the story.
Next we are introduced to Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.
Shechem is the place where Israel rededicated themselves to God and did away with their foreign idols. They destroyed all of those – so this is a natural place to start over.
1 Kings 12 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you."
Now we go back to Moses. Israel was in oppression to Egypt – and Moses is sent to free them. SO Moses stood before Pharaoh – and Moses said let my people go, that they may worship God.
But Solomon has enslaved his own people to some extent. Jeroboam says – this is not right – let them go. The Bible speaks so much about oppressing other people – and what we see – the leaders of Israel were often oppressing their own. You see it in our world, those who have been oppressed become the oppressor.
5 Rehoboam answered, "Go away for three days and then come back to me." So the people went away. 6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. "How would you advise me to answer these people?" he asked. 7 They replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants."
So here is the counsel he is given – a new concept of how leadership should be done – His father had done it one way – and now they are introducing servant leadership into the nation of Israel.
It is easy for those in leadership to be so focused on serving the goals or the company – that they forget the people. That is what these counselors are saying – your father forgot the people and was focused on the building programs. Those were important, but they were not first. People always come first.
Even in church – it happens where leaders can use, in a negative way, people, to grow and build the church. And that becomes the focus rather than serving the people.
Jesus was the example of servant leadership.
First – we must have an upside-down perspective on what leadership is.
God’s way of leadership is in opposition to the world’s way.
Jesus said – the rulers of the Gentiles rule it over you and exercise authority over you – NOT SO WITH YOU! Do not lead like that!
That does not mean that there aren’t some who haven’t learned Jesus’ leadership style, but as a whole, that is how the world is. If you want to lead, serve!
Second – we have a decision – to humble ourselves and to consider others as more important than us.
This means to set aside our own personal interests for the benefit of others. That does not mean you give up self-care – you must take care of yourself, but our focus has to be to be a benefit and help to others.
Be a benefit – seek to meet needs!
What is the person’s need? What is the need in the country?
Considering others as more important – means holding others in high regard – as people made in the image of God. When we see others – we don’t see rich, poor, useless, right, left, whatever, we see those created by God, His image-bearers – made to be like Him. This should change our view of everyone.
Third – throw ourselves into practical and spiritual service. This is crucial. If you are so involved in spiritual service that you can’t do practical – you are not serving anyone!
Fourth – take the LOWEST task and position. You want to be first? Be last! Become the servant and slave.
This is so upside-down? How does a person in authority become a slave? That can’t work! But that’s what Jesus said – don’t be like those people – because it is nothing like how God is – He is the servant leader.
Jesus’ penultimate example was the washing of the disciples’ feet – it was both spiritual and physical. It was, in every way, practical.
Then His ultimate expression was the cross – and this was both physical and spiritual service – it cost Him His life! His physical body was turned over.
Let’s move on…
Isaiah 58:6 6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
1 Kings 12:8 8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, "What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, 'Lighten the yoke your father put on us'?" 10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, "These people have said to you, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.' Now tell them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.'"
Just like Pharaoh – Rehoboam makes it WORSE. Like Pharaoh said – No straw!
15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. 16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: "What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse's son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!" So the Israelites went home.
And here is the great divide – and it will be this way for 200 years.
A time of great conflict and divide. 2020 has been a time of crisis after crisis – and each one has made clearer and divided greater. A house divided against itself will not stand. There is a problem, and church people are included. I’ll focus there.
Somehow, we have come to believe that there is a political or economic solution to the problem we are facing – but we have neglected to address the soul. We do not see that there is a spiritual issue that is much greater! What does COVID have to do with a soul or spiritual problem?!
It sounds easy – being a kingdom issue – but not so fast – there is not a Bible verse anywhere that gives you the answer what we should do about COVID 19! There is not a biblical prooftext to tell us what political policies will fix racism.
There is no verse in the Bible that will tell us who or how to vote in November! You cannot find it anywhere! But with each of these issues – the Bible addresses some things about all of these issues that are much more important than an answer to a policy or position – and much more powerful than any of that.
The Bible if filled with teaching. And the key – The Bible tells us what kind of people to be as we engage in these issues. Suzanne shared that. How do we represent Christ as we engage in all of the different issues we are facing? How do we represent Christ well? We’ll go into that next week.
Lord, thank You. We long to learn to represent You well in our world. To see ourselves as Your witnesses in everything we do. To be your witnesses in racial, political, social, and health issues of our world and what that might look like. Lord, I know it all begins with our hearts – a new heart attitude – a new approach to seeing all of these folks – in all of these sides – as a person, beloved by God and made in His image. Give us eyes to see that way!
Ephesians 4:31 31 You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. 32 Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
8 Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, affectionate, compassionate, and humble. 9 Do not return evil for evil or insult for insult, but instead bless others because you were called to inherit a blessing. (1Peter 3:8)
The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, (2Tim. 2:24-25)
Matthew 11:28 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.