Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ 1 Kings 17

1 kings 17 24

 

1 Kings 17

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

17 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18 And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24 And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. Compare verse 1 with James 5:16-18. What can we learn about prayer from Elijah’s example in these passages?

2. How did God provide for Elijah in verses 2-7? In verses 8-16? In both cases, how did he obtain the food? How did God provide for the widow and her son (15-16)? What does this chapter show us about God as Provider? How might Philippians 4:19 fit with this portrayal of God as Provider?

3. How do the three miracles in this chapter – the control over weather, the creation of food, and the raising of the child – point to the miracles of Jesus? Can you think of similar miracles Jesus performed? Might this explain why some people in Jesus’ time thought he was Elijah resurrected?

4. In verse 24, what purpose did the miracle serve according to the widow? How did Jesus’ miracles serve to confirm His message and His deity?

5. In one sentence, what is the overall theme of this passage?

Discernment, False Teachers, Idolatry, Old Testament, Sunday School

Micaiah: True Prophet vs. False Prophets ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 7-6-14

Photos courtesy of cristoraul.com, Joyce Meyer Ministries, TD Jakes Ministries, and TBN
Photos courtesy of cristoraul.com, TBN, Joyce Meyer Ministries, and TD Jakes Ministries

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 27 ~ June 29- July 5
1 Kings 22-2 Kings 13, 2 Chronicles 18-24, Obadiah, Psalm 82-83
Michaiah: True Prophet vs. False Prophets

1 Kings 22:1-40

Setting the Stage
Ahab was one of the most wicked kings ever to sit on the throne of Israel. The previous chapter (21:25) says “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab”. He has just been confronted by Elijah for his numerous abominations, and has humbled himself and repented.

Getting back what’s mine (1-4, 20:34)
Israel had had peace for three years, but it was bothering Ahab that Syria still had control of the city of Ramoth-gilead, when Ben-hadad (Syria’s king) had promised to return all of the cities Syria had captured during his father’s reign as part of his terms of surrender (20:34). Ahab asked Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, to join him in recapturing the city, and Jehoshaphat agreed.

Not just any prophet will do (5-12, 18:1ff, 20:26)
Jehoshaphat was a godly man and knew that the right thing to do would be to inquire of the Lord before going into battle. Why do you think Ahab didn’t suggest this? What do we know about Ahab’s walk with the Lord? We know from 20:26 that he was an idolator, from chapter 18 that he was a Baal worshiper and had led Israel into Baal worship, and that he also supported the golden calf worship centers that Jeroboam had set up. So, when Ahab summoned 400 of his favorite prophets in order to appease Jehoshaphat, do you think they were true prophets of the Lord, or false prophets of idolatry? They were false prophets.

Tell him what he wants to hear
Was Ahab’s desire to hear and obey the word of the Lord? Was it the desire of the 400 prophets to truly hear and accurately report the word of the Lord? We can answer a resounding “no” to both questions. Ahab’s desires were, a) to hear what would make him happy, b) to make Jehoshaphat happy by granting his request and calling up so called “prophets of the Lord” and c) for Jehoshaphat to hear that they wold be successful so that Jehoshaphat would agree to go into battle with him. The “prophets'” desire was to keep the king happy and thus stay alive and prosper in their positions.

How do you spot a false prophet?
The 400 prophets certainly seemed to be prophets of the Lord. They brought a positive, encouraging message and made Ahab happy. Zedekiah (11) even prefaced his message with “Thus says the Lord,” the same words all true prophets of the Lord used. And all the prophets predicted triumph and that the Lord would give the battle into the king’s hand, words spoken on many previous occasions to other kings by true prophets of the Lord. So, why would Jehoshaphat think these were not true prophets of the Lord?

1. Where they were coming from (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
Jehoshaphat knew that these guys were coming from a temple to a false god, even if they called those golden calves “God”. They were idolators so they were breaking God’s law in word and in practice. Deuteronomy 13:1-3a, 5a says:

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams…. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God,

When it came to the office of prophet, true prophets stayed true to the one true God of the Bible, and His word, in what they proclaimed as well as what they practiced in their daily lives and in their jobs as prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah are good examples of true prophets). It did not matter how many times a person claimed to speak for God or used godly sounding terminology. If he led people to worship idols, he was a false prophet.

2. Whom they were prophesying for
Sometimes (but not always) the person the being prophesied for was an indication of whether or not the prophet was a true prophet. In this case we have Ahab, who we know was not genuinely seeking the Lord. Ahab was about Ahab, and nobody else. We can look at his life and see that he would not be seeking out the type of prophet who would be telling him the truth of God’s word. He was merely using the appearance of seeking the Lord to get what he wanted. False prophets are always happy to oblige such people.

3. Did the message come true? (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 tells us:

And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

If a prophet’s message did not come true, he was not to be believed, because he was a false prophet. He was also to be put to death. As we see later in this chapter, these prophets’ predictions of victory for Ahab did not come true.

Today’s false prophets
False prophets are not relegated to the Old Testament. We also find them in the New Testament and throughout history. We have many false prophets today. While some actually claim the title of “prophet,” most go by the title of “pastor,” “Bible teacher,” or “Christian author.” False prophets such as Joyce Meyer, Joel and Victoria Osteen, and TD Jakes, to name some of the most popular ones, preach encouraging messages to make people happy, use Bible verses (usually twisted and/or out of context) and other Christian sounding terminology, and tell you that you’ll be victorious over life’s problems, or that you’ll be successful or wealthy or healed. But how do they measure up against the false prophet test, above?

1. Where are they coming from?
Meyer, Jakes, and the Osteens (and numerous others) all preach the prosperity gospel in one form or another. They teach that it is never God’s will for you to be sick or poor, that if you are experiencing suffering it’s because of your lack of faith, and that because we are little gods, we have the same power God has to speak things (like health and wealth) into existence.

Additionally, TD Jakes is a modalist (a false view of the Trinity), Joyce Meyer has a number of false soteriological beliefs, and all of them, because they are teaching people to believe in a golden calf of their own making that they call Jesus, are leading people into idolatry.

2. Who are they prophesying for?
In most cases, people who follow false teachers today are not like Ahab. They think what they’re getting from these false teachers is biblical Christianity. Sometimes, however, what they’re really looking for isn’t Christ, but the “stuff” (happiness, encouragement, healing, a better life, money) they think Christ will give them. And when you look to Christ for stuff instead of looking to Christ for Christ, you’re probably going to end up following a false teacher, because that’s what they promise. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

3. Does the message come true?
People like Meyer, Jakes, and the Osteens have millions of followers whom they promise health, wealth, and the realization of all their dreams and goals on a weekly basis. Out of all those millions of listeners, how many do you think are always healthy? How many get terminal diseases and aren’t healed? How many send in their “seed offering” and still can’t pay their bills? How many have failed businesses or never see their dreams come true? If one of these preachers promises anyone, even once, that “God says…” and it doesn’t come true, he is a false prophet.

Just because someone says what we want to hear (as the 400 prophets did for Ahab) doesn’t mean he is telling us the truth of God’s word.

Micaiah: True Prophet of the Lord (13-28)
A number of things tell us that Micaiah was a true prophet of the Lord:

True prophets don’t bow to what’s popular (13-14)
Do you find it interesting that Ahab didn’t want to summon Micaiah because he knew Micaiah’s message would be against him (8)? The messenger (13) also seemed to know this. Perhaps it was because Ahab (and the messenger) already knew he was living in constant sin and that the Lord’s hand was against him. The messenger, already sensing what Micaiah’s prophecy would be, tried to get him to go along with the crowd, but Micaiah would have none of it. He would only speak the truth of God’s word.

Today it’s popular to go along with the crowd that preaches that God wants everybody to be happy and successful, that you can have God and still hang on to your sin, etc. But today’s true prophet will only speak the truth of God’s word, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do.

True prophets speak the truth even when the truth is unpleasant (15-18)
It would have been much easier for Micaiah to just parrot what the other prophets had said. He knew that what he had to tell Ahab was not going to be what Ahab wanted to hear and that he was risking his life by upsetting him, but Micaiah still boldly gave God’s entire message.

Today’s true prophets can be heard saying unpleasant things such as “Jesus is the only way of salvation,” “Homosexuality is a sin,” and “God uses suffering to make you more like Christ.” They might be risking their jobs, but they don’t leave out of their sermons the parts of the Bible that are uncomfortable for people.

True prophets warn people about, and confront, false prophets (19-25)
It wasn’t enough for Micaiah just to speak the word of the Lord concerning the outcome of the battle. God, in yet another act of mercy towards Ahab, wanted Ahab to know that he was being lied to by these false prophets so that he could repent and believe the true word of the Lord.

Today’s true prophets don’t just proclaim God’s word, they warn fellow Christians about false doctrine and false teachers so that they can repent of their false belief and believe the true word of the Lord.

True prophets will risk everything for the truth of God’s word (26-28)
Micaiah knew his life was on the line, but he knew something even more important. God’s word is true, and he was willing to stake his life on it. He would not compromise the truth or attempt to soften his message just to save his own skin.

True prophets of today, especially those who live in countries hostile to the gospel, stake their lives and their families’ lives on the gospel. Often, they are martyred for their faith, but they refuse to compromise the truth or soften God’s word just to save their own skin, their jobs, or anything else.

God will accomplish His word (29-40, 21:19)
Ahab arrogantly tried to subvert God’s word by disguising himself, hoping that if a king were to die that day, it would be Jehoshaphat. But in the end, we see that God’s word always prevails. Not only did Micaiah’s prophecy come true, so did Elijah’s (21:19).

We can trust that God’s word — both the unpleasant parts and His glorious promises– will always be accomplished.

Additional Resources:
Joyce Meyer at carm.org
The False Teachers: TD Jakes at challies.com
TD Jakes at carm.org
Joel Osteen and “Joel-likeness” at challies.com
Lessons I’ve Learned from False Teachers at challies.com

Discernment, Old Testament, Sunday School

A Non-Prophet Organization ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 6-29-14

A Non-Prophet Organization

 

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 26 ~ June 22-28
Proverbs 30-31, 1 Kings 12-21, 2 Chronicles 10-17
A Non-Prophet Organization

1 Kings 12:32-13:34

Setting the Scene (12:32-33)
Solomon has died, and Israel has been divided into two parts: the Southern Kingdom, consisting only of the tribe of Judah, and the Northern Kingdom, Israel, consisting of the other ten tribes. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, is king of Judah. Solomon’s former servant, Jeroboam, is king of Israel.

Jerusalem, where the temple is located, is in Judah. Jeroboam (king of Israel) figures that if his people continue traveling to Jerusalem for feasts and sacrifices, they will eventually turn their loyalty back to the the kingly lineage of David (12:26-27) and he’ll lose both his kingdom and his head. So, in order to keep the people inside the borders of Israel and control them, he makes a couple of golden calves (which somebody should have remembered turned out bad the last time that was tried {Exodus 32}) for them to worship at either of two convenient locations, Bethel, in the south, and Dan in the north. Jeroboam, leading the way, had the Israelites simply transfer their feasts and sacrifices that they would have offered to God to these golden calves.

Prophet #1 (13:1-10)
Since we aren’t told the names of either of the prophets in this chapter, we’ll just call them Prophet #1 and Prophet #2. This section is about Prophet #1.

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In Flagrante Delicto (1-3) 
The Latin phrase, in flagrante delicto, literally means “in blazing offense.” In the American justice system, it means that someone was caught in the act of committing a crime. And, there’s no better way to describe Jeroboam here, standing by the altar, the offensive sacrifice blazing away, when God confronts him about his sin through the prophet.

Normally, when a prophet has a word from the Lord for someone, we see him speaking directly to that person, but here, we actually see Prophet #1 speaking to an altar. Why? Scripture doesn’t say. But, since Jeroboam was standing right there, he got the message.
Prophet #1 prophesied that a new king, Josiah, would come out of David’s line, and slaughter the pagan priests on their own altars. Since Josiah was not to come for about 300 more years, God gave a miraculous sign that He had spoken. The altar was torn down and the ashes “desecrated” (if it’s possible to further desecrate ashes of an idolatrous sacrifice) by pouring them on the ground.

Hypocrisy (4-7)
As soon as Prophet #1 had finished speaking, Jeroboam reached out to kill him, and God protected the prophet by shriveling up Jeroboam’s hand. But, when Jeroboam saw God’s word fulfilled in the altar being torn down and the ashes scattered, he quickly changed his tune. He stopped trying to kill the prophet. And whom did he entreat to heal him? Not the golden calves, but God. Next, he invited the prophet back home for supper and a reward. It sort of looks like he repented. Did he? As we’ll see later in the chapter, he did not.

Jeroboam changed his actions, but so did God. God went from an expression of wrath to an expression of mercy in a heartbeat. When man changes his actions, but not his heart, it’s called hypocrisy. When God changes His actions because of His heart, it’s called grace. Common grace for the sinner, saving grace for the penitent. He did it at the cross, and He does it for each person who will repent and put his faith in Christ.

So, one minute Jeroboam is trying to kill the prophet and the next, he’s being hospitable and wants to reward him. With such a quick turnaround, you have to wonder if he was trying to lure the prophet back home to kill him. We can’t know for sure, but even if God hadn’t forbade him from accepting, it would seem he was wise to decline.

Thanks, but no thanks (8-10)
Contrast the lengths of self denial the prophet went to (“if you give me half your house, I will not…) in order to stay true and obedient to God, and the lengths of disobedience and betrayal of God that Jeroboam went to (12:25ff) to indulge his desire to stay in power. Prophet #1 could have had it made, but his love for the Lord was greater than his love for stuff. It was time to hit the road.

Dueling Prophets (13:11-32)

Prophet #2 and his false prophecy (11-19)
We don’t really know anything about Prophet #2 either, except that he lived in Bethel near one of the golden calf altars. We don’t know why he went out so urgently after Prophet #1 or why he wanted Prophet #1 to come back home with him, and we certainly don’t know why he lied to Prophet #1 to get him to disobey the Lord. It’s ok to try to guess what might have motivated Prophet #2, but we have to remember that anything we come up with will be just that, a guess. Where God’s word does not speak definitively, we cannot speak definitively.

The discernment factor (14-19, Numbers 23:19, Proverbs 30:6, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, Galatians 1:6-9) 
Prophet #1 gives us a valuable lesson in the importance of comparing to God’s word everyone and everything that claims to be to speaking for God. Prophet #1 certainly knew that

“God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” Numbers 23:19

God does not contradict His word. If we “hear” from the Lord, or someone gives us a “word from the Lord” or says “God says/wants/thinks…,” it must be in line with Scripture, or it is not truly from the Lord. Whenever we hear preachers, teachers, friends, etc., saying things like that, we need to ask ourselves, “Where does God’s word say that (in context)?” If God’s word doesn’t say it, we need to throw it out. We must be careful not to add to God’s word or believe those who do. Another verse in this week’s reading says:

Do not add to [God’s] words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Proverbs 30:6

How quickly Prophet #1 turned from obedience (8-9) to disobedience (19). It can be easy to discern between good and evil in a worldly situation (such as the one Prophet #1 faced when dealing with Jeroboam). It’s easy to discern that it’s wrong to do worldly things: get drunk, use a prostitute, steal, etc. It can be much more difficult when we’re in a Christian or church situation (such as the Prophet #1’s situation with Prophet #2). Evil is there, but Paul tells us:

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:14b-15a

We can’t take at face value (as Prophet #1 did) that a book or a pastor or a speaker is doctrinally sound just because it bears the label “Christian.” There are servants of Satan inside the church and they look like, and call themselves, “Christians.” We must compare what they say and teach to the word of God and get rid of them if they contradict it. Galatians 1 tells us people who preach a different gospel are “accursed,” damned. We are to rebuke and (if they don’t repent) remove these people from the church and have nothing to do with them. Don’t buy their books, don’t follow them on Facebook or watch them on TV. Have nothing to do with them.

1 kings 13 - 28 he found his carcase in the way
Prophet #2 and his true prophecy (20-25) 
Why would God speak through Prophet #2 when he had just blasphemed Him? God also spoke through Balaam’s donkey and through Saul. God chose many vessels to speak for Him, some clean, and some dirty. His way is to get His message across despite the vessel.

Both prophets sinned. But why did God seem more concerned with Prophet #1’s eating and drinking disobedience than with Prophet #2’s lie attributed to God? Why didn’t God also punish Prophet #2? Most likely because the part about not eating/drinking/stopping, and going home a different way (9) was part of his prophecy, a behavioral picture of the way God had rejected Jeroboam. Prophet #1’s prophecy was also very public, and had large scale, national implications. With great power comes great responsibility. Prophet #2’s sin was on a very small, one on one scale, not that that makes it any less a sin. Also, we don’t know that God didn’t punish him at some later, unrecorded time.

This time, Prophet #2 was truly speaking for the Lord, and his prophecy came true. Prophet #1 was attacked by a lion and died without honor, a disgrace.

A change of heart? (26-32)
Did Prophet #2 regret and repent of what he had done when he saw what happened to Prophet #1 and realized God’s word had come true? Had it not been for Prophet #2’s lies, Prophet #1 would have gotten safely home. Prophet #2 certainly seemed sorrowful, mourning Prophet #1’s death and requesting to be buried with him. He also supported and admitted the truth of God’s word that Prophet #1 had spoken to the altar.

Unhappily ever after (33-34, 2 Corinthians 7:10)
Second Corinthians 7:10 tells us:

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Think about Prophet #2’s remorse. Think about the remorse of Jeroboam earlier in the chapter, and consider these two verses. Which one do you think was experiencing “godly grief”? “Worldly grief?” While it certainly seems that Prophet #2 was exhibiting the “godly grief” this verse speaks of, we know from verses 33-34 that Jeroboam exhibited “worldly grief” back in the first part of the chapter with Prophet #1. He momentarily changed his behavior, but his heart did not change. He continued in sin and was ultimately destroyed.

Old Testament, Sanctification, Sunday School

Solomon: A Season of Discontent ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 6-22-14

Solomon: A Season of Discontent

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 25 ~ June 15- 21
Psalm 134, 146-150, 1 Kings 9-11, 2 Chronicles 8-9,
Proverbs 25-29, Ecclesiastes 1-12

Solomon: A Season of Discontent

Bill Gates had nothing on Solomon. Solomon was beyond wealthy, he was the wisest man that ever lived, and he reigned during a time of peace and prosperity. Why would he throw all that away?

1 Kings 10-11:11, Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Solomon Had It All- 1 Kings 10
Fame and Reputation (1-2)-
Solomon’s reputation was global. He was so compellingly renown that the Queen of Sheba –1200 miles away– had not only heard of him and his accomplishments, but felt driven to make the long and arduous trip to see him for herself. And she was only one of many nobles who made such visits (24-25). He was a rock star of rock stars. Everybody wanted to see him.

Praise and Admiration (3-8)-
The queen (and presumably most other nobles who visited him) heaped praise and admiration upon Solomon for his wisdom (4), his personal prosperity (4-5), his support staff (5), and the offerings he made at the temple (5). “Gushing” would be a good word. Who wouldn’t love that?

A Godly Testimony (9, Matthew 5:16)-
The queen (and presumably most other nobles who visited him) attributed all of Solomon’s superlatives to the blessing of God. His riches, wisdom, etc., were not just to make him famous and comfortable, they were primarily to glorify God by making people aware that God was the one responsible for all these blessings.

In a similar way, Jesus tells us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) The light we shine is not our own riches or wisdom or opulence, but the riches, wisdom, and opulence of Christ, so that they will give glory to God and be saved.

Swag (10ff)-
4.5 tons of gold and a never equaled abundance of spices from one visitor (10) and plenty of gifts from other visitors (25). 25 tons of gold a year (14). Hundreds of golden shields for his soldiers (16-17). A one of a kind gold and ivory throne (18-20). All gold drinking vessels (21). Silver was not considered anything (21), it was common as stone (27). Horses, horsemen, chariots (26-29).

There was nothing obtainable that Solomon didn’t have plenty of. He wanted for nothing and had the finest of everything.

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Vanity- Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 3:11
Often we carry around the thought: If I just had ______, I’d be happy. A new car, a better job, a husband, better health, more friends. But Solomon had everything he could have possibly wanted, and yet he said it was all vanity (pointless, empty, meaningless). Why?

Because, as 3:11 tells us, God “has put eternity into man’s heart.” We were created by God, for God, and for the things of God. Before Adam and Eve sinned, nothing seemed meaningless or boring or dissatisfying to them. “Wanting more out of life” didn’t even exist as a concept. And ever since they got kicked out of the Garden, we’ve been trying to claw our way back in. We try to get there through money or relationships or success, but none of those things will satisfy our craving for Eden, because we weren’t created for stuff. We were created for fellowship with God, and nothing less will do.

Trashing the Treasure- 1 Kings 11:1-11, Deuteronomy 17:17, 2 Corinthians 10:5
So, if Solomon was so wise and knew that joy and contentment are only found in God, why didn’t he just find joy and contentment in God instead of throwing everything away by disobeying God, worshiping idols he knew were false?

Because of sin.

If we go back to the beginning of Solomon’s reign in chapter 3, we see that “Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father.” (3) We see him humbling himself in complete dependence on God (7-9). As we walk through the subsequent chapters, we see Solomon’s increasing wisdom, wealth, accomplishments, and praise by men. Maybe he doesn’t feel quite so humble or dependent on God anymore. Along the way, he’s gathering 700 wives and 300 concubines. Foreign wives and concubines, whom God had explicitly told Israel not to intermarry with (2).

Deuteronomy 17:17 says, “And [the king] shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.”

Gradually, through the years Solomon had disobeyed this command over a thousand times. And every time he disobeyed it, he drove the wedge between himself and God just a little bit deeper, until he finally turned away from God to idols.

Solomon didn’t just wake up one morning and suddenly decide to turn from a life of loving and walking with the Lord to a life of idol worship. Sin crept in and Solomon said yes to it time and time again until it completely pushed God out of the picture.

This is the way Satan works in our lives as well. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to have an affair. It starts with an attraction– a lustful or covetous thought that you entertain instead of killing and repenting of. It moves on to flirting, then a deeper than appropriate friendship, then an emotional attachment, and then an affair. All along the way, we continue saying yes to sin, and no to God, until, finally, we push God out of the picture. This is why it is so important to “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Cor.) because every sin starts with a wayward thought. We must turn from even the thought of sin, lest it snowball and end up controlling us.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Yes, you can, if you’re a believer. What can Solomon’s story teach us?

  • Preach the gospel to yourself, often. Remember the sin Christ saved you from, what it cost Him, and His great mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
  • Don’t entertain “small” sins. They grow into bigger and bigger sins.
  • Walk in repentance. We’re going to sin, but when we do, we need to turn from it immediately and ask God’s forgiveness.
  • Don’t buy the lie that stuff or circumstances or accomplishments will fulfill us. We need to stay in God’s word, stay in prayer, and stay in fellowship with the church to learn to find our contentment in Christ.