Friday, January 31, 2014
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
In the book "History of the World", J.M. Roberts writes at the end of the book, "Only two general truths emerge from the study of history. One is that things tend to change much more, and more quickly, than one might think. The other is that they tend to change much less, and much more slowly, than one might think. The past hangs around longer and is more difficult to keep peacefully buried, even by strenuous efforts, than we believe." (P. 1109)
But the Scripture advocates only one truth - the truth of the work of the gospel advancing from the Day 1 of Adam's fall to this date and beyond. Ninth century B.C., in 1 Kings 19:19 (through 21) we see the Lord commanding Elijah to anoint Elisha, whereupon Elisha burned the bridge behind, and became the servant of Elijah. Elijah means "Yahweh is God" whereas Elisha denotes "Yaweh is salvation". This looks to the appearing of Jesus the Savior who submitted himself to the will of God to save the world even to the point of death on a tree as a ransom sacrifice, only to rise again. (Phil 2:8-11) The history of Korea past and present is but one example this one truth. Watch two videos below.
Last Sunday Shepherd William Larsen called us to participate in this 'missionary' work on college campuses.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014
Please urgently pray for Malakal center in South Sudan. We heard that there has been severe fighting in Malakal for the last three days and people are being killed indiscriminately. They say that the situation is deteriorating from bad to worse. There has been a house-to-house killing of people. Some were killed in their houses and others were killed in their hospital beds. Women are being raped and killed. The UNMISS compound in Malakal is now home to 22,000 people who fled there to seek shelter from the conflict.
Our brothers who are in Juba say that shepherd Peter Angelo and Philip Angelo’s family are now in the compound of UNMISS in Malakal and shepherdess Regina, who is shepherd Johnson Deng’s wife, fled to an unknown area out of town with a baby who was born three weeks ago. However, we cannot communicate with them because all system of networks are down now. We don’t know the situations of the other brothers and sisters’ now. All lecturers in the university have moved to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, by a special airplane.
Dr. Oyor Moses is now in Egypt. Shepherd Johnson Deng, shepherdess Rose Peter, and Kimo (Philip’s wife) who delivered a baby two weeks ago are in Juba now. Please urgently pray for peace in South Sudan and our brothers and sisters’ safety.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Monday, January 13, 2014
Thursday, January 9, 2014
1 Kings 1:1-22:53
[Skim through the book, but pay closer attention to Chapters 11-14, particularly 11]
Key Verse 11:11
“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.””
Welcome to the study of the 1 Kings. The Bible can be compared to a high mountain with many ridges and valleys. Each mountain has good vantage points here and there, which give you a panoramic view of a mountain range or ranges. In the case of 1 Kings, there are several good vista points. Chapter 11 is one, and chapter 14 is another. But since Chapter 14 (particularly, the part where the Lord God announced judgment upon Jeroboam and his descendants and the cause of it) is an offshoot of the event developed in Chapter 11 (which describes the cause of Solomon’s downfall). Tonight we will mainly focus on Chapter 11.
It has been observed that 1 Kings begins with glory and ends with disgrace, and that 2 Kings begins with turmoil and ends with disaster. King David’s adultery set this downward movement in motion. King Solomon’s promiscuity sped up the motion. In Psalm 90 Moses prayed, “Oh, Lord, establish the work of our hands!” No one wants to see the work of his hands come to nothing. Everyone desires to work hard and accomplish something. We work expecting that the work of our hands would stand forever. For example, would you marry someone only to divorce? Would you get into a PhD program only to be expelled?
Tonight then we would like to take a good look at the causes of Solomon’s downfall, for the study of this so-called “wise” (or wisest) King Solomon will help us to keep ourselves on secure ground. Regarding the causes of Solomon’s downfall, there are many conjectures and theories. Chapter 11:1-13, however, describe his problem in detail. Further, the three adversaries the Lord raised against him also help us better understand the problem. With this in mind let us delve into the three adversaries of Solomon and then come back to the discussion on 11:1-13, especially 11:11.
First, Hadad the Edomite.
Hadad gives us an inside look at the way in which human activities are connected to deeper roots. Let us read 11:14-22. In these verses we find:
- Satanic influence on Solomon. Verse 14 says, “Then the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary…” Here the word “adversary” in Hebrew is “Satan,” which in English means “adversary”. This alludes to the fact that a lust problem traces its origin back to Satan. The problem Solomon had was no different than the problem of Eve. When tempted by the serpent, Eve gave a good look at the forbidden fruit and reflected on what the serpent said about the fruit. Then she ended up eating it. After becoming an adulterer she seduced her husband to eat the fruit as well. The Bible is clear about this point, for 1 John 3:8 reads, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” But thank God. The Lord sent Jesus Christ to destroy the work of the devil, as 1 John 3:8b says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil.”
- Idol worship held a grip on Solomon. Hadad is the name of a Baal god worshiped in Palestine. With the desire to be like God, Satan puts himself in the place of the throne of God. Baal worship in the land of Canaan is one of the manifestations of the devil’s desire to be worshiped. In the case before us, it is interesting to note that Hadad is another name for a Baal god worshiped in Palestine. Why then was it Hadad who rose against Solomon? It is because by way of bowing down to the heathen gods worshiped by the unbelieving women he held onto in lust, he literally worshiped Satan. This means that by way of coming to the worship of the heathen gods Solomon exposed himself to harm’s way and the devil was free to come in and cause havoc to Solomon and his kingdom.
- Solomon allowed his flesh to take an upper hand over his spirit and soul. Hadad was an Edomite, a man from the royal line of Edom. Edom refers to the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Esau is the anti-thesis of Jacob. Jacob represents spirit, whereas Esau represents the flesh. There is always a conflict between the flesh and spirit. The Bible commands us to let the spirit rule over the flesh (John 6:63; Genesis 2:7). But as Solomon succumbed to his fleshly desires, naturally, Edom, the king of flesh, came to take control over him. The Bible says, “Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up.” And the first thing on the list is “A servant who becomes a king.” Here a “servant” refers to what is fleshly. We should not let the flesh rule over us. Otherwise we will only suffer. In fact, when a man of flesh rules, the whole house, fellowship, kingdom, and even the whole earth trembles.
- Love of the world took over Solomon. Note that Hadad fled to Egypt and Pharaoh was so pleased with him that he gave his sister-in-law in marriage. This turn of events is very interesting and revelatory for it reveals the truth that the cause of one’s downfall begins with leaving a spiritual land for Egypt, which is symbolic of the world. Moses fled from Egypt to the Promised Land, but Hadad went the other way around. The Bible says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” The Israelites used to live in Egypt as a slave nation. The Lord God had mercy on them. In his great mercy the Lord saved them “out of Egypt” into worshiping him. But by first marrying with the daughter of Pharaoh, he effectively invited the world into his private life. Then he lost his heart to the world. This constitutes the cause of his downfall. Why then should one not go back to the world? Why should one flee from the love of the world? What is wrong with loving the world? First of all, while the love of the Father is not in him the world then causes backfire. It gathers forces to bring havoc to house of the worldly. Consider the exchange of conversations between Pharaoh and Hadad in vs. 17-20: “What have you lacked here? Nothing! But do let me go!” Verses 17-20 provide us with so much information about Hadad. In Egypt, he enjoyed high status. As he was closely related to the Pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire he lacked nothing. Yet, why did he decide to go back to Israel all of a sudden? Why did he leave all the success behind and choose to suffer in rebelling against Solomon? The only logical answer is because the Lord caused him to rebel against King Solomon. Solomon sinned. The point of sinning was to scorn the love of God and lust after the things of the world, only to fall victim to the temptations of the world.
Second, Rezon the leader of a band of rebels.
Let us read 11:23-26. Here we see a pattern of Solomon’s downfall, which is more or less the same as what we saw in regard to Hadad.
- Satanic influence on Solomon: verse 23 states, “And God raised up against Solomon another adversary…” This expression, especially the word “adversary,” gives us a glimpse into the spiritual world. In a physical realm it looks as if people operate with their own ideas or agendas. But in the invisible realm, we know that the Lord God is in control of all that are going on. Nothing escapes the sphere of his rule. And the Lord God has all different ways to punish those who need to be punished.
- Solomon changed his master from the Lord God to heathen gods. Rezon is described as the son of Eliada, who fled from his master. The personal background of Rezon reveals another cause of Solomon’s downfall, that is, fleeing from his master for something or someone else. Being the “son” of the one who fled from his master, Rezon rose to cause trouble to Solomon who fled the God of Israel, his master. The Bible says, “The ox knows his master; the donkey knows his manger…” (Isaiah 1:3). But Solomon became worse than an ox or a donkey. Even a donkey knows his manger. A manger is a food box (trough) where animals feed. In Solomon’s case the Lord God provided him with so many things [cf. Read 1 Kings 4:20-28 for Solomon’s daily provisions.]. Yet he did not recognize the Lord as his master. Rather he turned his back to his master and went to worship idol gods. What then will God do to him?
- Solomon exposed himself to the spirit of rebellion. Rezon is described as “the leader of a band of rebels.” The word “rebel” means those who are rebellious. A band of rebels is tantamount to a bunch of gang-bangers in our day. Rezon was a leader of the gang-bangers of Solomon’s day. Rebels make a living by breaking laws, peace, and orders of a society. This reminds us of Romans 2:8, “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” By disobeying the Lord’s commands and departing from the Lord’s decrees, Solomon rebelled against the Lord. Then the Lord raised Rezon, the ring leader of a bunch of professional thugs, to teach him a lesson.
- Solomon lost the sense of mission. The rebels went to Damascus, where they settled and took control. According to 2 Samuel 8:5-6, with a pioneering spirit, David conquered Damascus and included the area into his empire. But now that Solomon sinned against God, he lost the sense of mission. In its place, a pleasure seeking desire took over. As a leader of the kingdom of priests and a holy nation, he was supposed to work hard to get people educated on the Bible and trained to bring God’s light to all peoples on earth. When God’s people lose the sense of mission, what will happen to the nation? The nation will lose territories. They will lose the tug of war. So, instead of Israelites under Solomon taking control over Damascus, a bunch of thugs began to take control over the area. Figuratively speaking, the rebels who settled in Damascus and took control over Damascus are like a certain section of one’s body becoming cancerous. The tissues around will continue to deteriorate, making the whole body dead. The Bible says that Rezon became Israel’s adversary as long as Solomon lived. It is interesting to note that Rezon is described as “Israel’s” adversary as long as “Solomon” lived. This indicates that it was specifically due to the sin of Solomon that all of Israel came to suffer.
Third, Jeroboam, one of his favorite officials.
Let us read verses 27-40. These verses show us:
- Solomon invited enemies of God into the inner life of the Israelites. To teach him a lesson on what it is to keep the life of God’s people watertight from worldly influence the Lord God raised an enemy of God from someone inside, that is Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, which means that Jeroboam was from one of the 12 tribes of Israel. This man represents an enemy within. When Solomon sinned, the Lord God also raised enemies from within. Specifically, Solomon had built the supporting terraces, and he saw how well the young man did his work. This is the account of Jeroboam. What is interesting here is the reason why Solomon recruited him. The supporting terraces refer to the terraces mentioned in 1 King 9:24. “After Pharaoh’s daughter had come up from the city of David Solomon had built for her, he constructed the supporting terraces.” The terraces were for Pharaoh’s daughter. Solomon appointed Jeroboam to be in charge of the forced labor working on the project. Jeroboam did so well that Solomon promoted him to be in charge of the forced labor from the house of Joseph. It was no coincidence that the Lord appointed Jeroboam to take the ten tribes of Israel out of the hands of Solomon.
- Solomon tried to get the best of both worlds. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to Egypt. This turn of events also indicates that you cannot get the best of both worlds. Solomon loved the world. In fact, having been sold by the beauties of the world, he even married the daughter of the unbelieving Pharaoh. Then he tried to kill Jeroboam, who in turn fled to the dungeon of the wicked, the house of Pharaoh. This reminds us of what James says in James 4:4, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Now let us stop for a moment and re-examine Solomon’s problem as mentioned partially in 11:9-11.
Verse 9 says that his heart had turned away from the God of Israel who had appeared to him twice. Why did his heart turn away from the God of Israel? Was it because he did not know God sufficiently enough to know that it is not a good idea? The answer seems to be “No,” for in the first place it was out Solomon’s own mouth that it was said, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The Scripture also says that the Lord appeared to him not once but twice.
Why then did he turn away from the Lord? 11:4 says that 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. This passage raises another question: “As one grows older, one tends to become more experienced on what is right or wrong, so that he can get wiser. Why then did he become stupider as he picked up human age?” Normally, when one is young, because of his youthful passions, it gets harder to control lustful desires. But in Solomon’s case it appears that things worked the other way around. Solomon lived to be 52. This is based on the assumption that he became a king at the age of 12, as some Jewish resources maintain. We are told that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines. We are also told that it took 7 years to build the temple but 14 years to build his palace. Seven plus 14 equals 21. Let us assume hypothetically that he started out the temple project during the relatively early period of his reign, let’s say 14. Let us also assume that as soon as he completed the temple he started working on the palace. This gives us this number: 14 + 21 = 37; 52-37 = 15. For the remainder 15 years of his life he indulged in pleasures of the flesh using what he had built. Most likely, he got involved in this pleasure seeking lifestyle in the royal palace with his women. And the deeper he got into this pleasure seeking lifestyle, the weaker he became spiritually, so that he was able to exercise self-control less and less. This analysis reminds us of the problem Mr. Felix had, as described in Acts 24:24-25. “Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed onrighteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’ ”
The expression, “the Lord appeared to him twice,” supports our conclusion in that the second time the Lord appeared to him was after Solomon had completed both the temple and his palace. Unlike the first time the Lord appeared to him, when the Lord appeared the second time he issued a strong warning against Solomon: “But if you...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…” One may say, “Look, everyone needs a shepherd. Solomon does too. But Solomon was without a shepherd. So he lacked discipline.” But we know that it is difficult for any human shepherd to shepherd over a man like King Solomon. After all, wasn’t he a king, the top gun? Plus he was known as one of the wisest men. Yet, the Lord God chose to be a shepherd over him. As a shepherd the Lord appeared to him at a critical moment and warned him about the consequences of him turning away from the Lord.
So what was Solomon’s problem? The answer that comes to mind then is “over-confidence.” He was confident that despite the challenges, such as the number of unbelieving women influencing him into worshiping idol gods, he should be able to sort things out and come out to the right path on his own. But it was a miscalculation. His own word testifies against him: “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud…” (Pro 18:12). Consistent with this proverb, the Apostle Paul says, “It is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh…” (Philippians 3:3).
This observation leads us to the key verse we have for tonight, 1 Kings 11:11, “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…’ ” Here the Lord pointed out Solomon’s problem: his attitude. It has been said, “In the school of success attitude is everything.” With this in mind, let us all read Philippians 2:5-11. Solomon lacked a humble attitude. At first he was humble, but later he became proud.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So the conclusion is that Solomon’s real adversary was himself, particularly him maintaining a relativistic attitude towards the Lord and his word.
One word: your attitude should be the same as that of Christ JesusClass Exercise:
- How long did it take Solomon to complete the Temple? [ ] years
- How long did it take Solomon to build his royal palace? [ ] years
- How many times did the Lord appear to Solomon? [ ] times
- When was it that the Lord appeared to him the second time? [ ]
- How long did Solomon rule as king? [ ] years
- What was the key to his success as a “governor”? [Give a Bible verse] [ ]
- True or false: Solomon’s downfall came because (or because of):
- T ____ F _____ his wives misled him
- T ____ F _____ he was not able to overcome lustful desires
- T ____ F _____ over-confidence
- T ____ F _____ poor attitude [toward the Lord and his word]
- T ____ F _____ all of above
- Which of the following statements in regard to the wisdom and the word of God is correct?
- Wisdom is more important than the word of God
- The word of God is more important than wisdom
- Both bear equal importance
- None of the above is correct
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
In reading the passage a question arises, "Why does the Scripture emphasize the 'one'[ness] of the Lord?"
An answer is found in the passage that immediately follows: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength." And the answer is the security complete integrity of a person and thereby of 'all'.
One is not what is divided but united as dictionary defines it. Dictionary.com says there are no definitions available for the word 'one'. Miriam Webster defines it: being a single unit or thing; being one in particular; being preeminently what is indicated; being the same in kind and quality; constituting a unified entity of two or more components; being in agreement or union; being a certain individual specified by name; only.
Heart can be broken, soul can be crushed, and strength might be gone. When one's person falls into disrepair how can one fix him up? The answer is to love the Lord who is 'one' with one's 'all'. The Lord is the source of oneness; he is the Lord of divine singularity.
This way is also the way to keep the integrity of one's relationship with one's neighbors. Many are broken hearted due to the broken relationships with one's neighbors. A mother suffering from the broken relationship with her daughter or son, a wife estranged from her husband, divorcees, and children from broken families bleeding inside. And here in the U.S. so many suffer from the 'father' problem. A father who has a problem with his own father is prone to have a problem with his own son who in turn is open to dropping the ball in his relationship with his children.
The cure? There is no magic remedy except for this: Hear O Israel, the Lord 'our' God is one. He is my God and your God, as each person loves his or her God who is one, all will be one.
The Lord God wants all of his children to be happy. He wishes you and me a very "Happy New Year". So the Lord says, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is 'one'!"