April 27, 2016

I & II Kings
Sovereignty, God’s sovereignty, is one of the most difficult things for people of faith to live out in everyday routines...It’s a wild and extravagant notion, to be sure.  But nothing in our Scriptures is  attested to more frequently and emphatically...

So how do we mange to live believingly and obediently in and under this revealed sovereignty in a world that is mostly either ignorant of defiant of it?

Worship shaped by an obedient reading of Scripture is basic...

Human beings, no matter how well intentioned or gifted, don’t seem to be able to represent God’s rule anywhere close to satisfactory.  The books of Kings, in that light, are a relentless exposition of failure...

But through the centuries, readers of this text have commonly realized something else in the midst of the incredible mess these kings are making of God’s purposes, God continues to use his purposes and uses them in the work...

God’s purposes are worked out in confrontation and revelation, in judgment and salvation, but they are worked out.  God’s rule is not imposed in the sense that he forces each man and woman into absolute conformity t o justice and truth and righteousness...

The benefit of reading these books is enormous.  To begin with, our understanding and experience of God’s sovereignty develops counter to all power-based and pious-based assumptions regarding God’s effective rule... 

Following that, we begin to realize that if God’s sovereignty is never canceled out by the so deeply sin-flawed leaders in both our culture and our church, we can quite cheerfully exult in God’s sovereignty as it is being exercised (though often silently and hiddenly) in all circumstantial details of the actual present. 

I Kings 1-2
King David grew old. The years had caught up with him. Even though they piled blankets on him, he couldn’t keep warm. So his servants said to him, “We’re going to get a young virgin for our master the king to be at his side and look after him; she’ll get in bed with you and arouse our master the king.” So they searched the country of Israel for the most ravishing girl they could find; they found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king. The girl was stunningly beautiful; she stayed at his side and looked after the king, but the king did not have sex with her.

5-6 At this time Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, puffed himself up saying, “I’m the next king!” He made quite a splash, with chariots and riders and fifty men to run ahead of him. His father had spoiled him rotten as a child, never once reprimanding him. Besides that, he was very good-looking and the next in line after Absalom.  Adonijah talked with Joab and with Abiathar the priest, and they threw their weight on his side. But neither the priest Zadok, nor Benaiah, nor Nathan the prophet, nor Shimei and Rei, nor David’s personal bodyguards supported Adonijah.  Next Adonijah held a coronation feast... He invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and everyone in Judah who had position and influence—but he did not invite the prophet Nathan, Benaiah, the bodyguards, or his brother Solomon.

Nathan went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “...Quickly now, let me tell you how you can save both your own life and Solomon’s. Go immediately to King David. Speak up: ‘Didn’t you, my master the king, promise me, “Your son Solomon will be king after me and sit on my throne”? So why is Adonijah now king?’ While you’re there talking with the king, I’ll come in and corroborate your story.”  Bathsheba went at once to the king in his palace bedroom. He was so old! Abishag was at his side making him comfortable. 

As Bathsheba bowed low, honoring the king, he said, “What do you want?”  “My master,” she said, “you promised me in God’s name, ‘Your son Solomon will be king after me and sit on my throne.’ And now look what’s happened—Adonijah has taken over as king, and my master the king doesn’t even know it! He has thrown a huge coronation feast...Abruptly, while she was telling the king all this, Nathan the prophet came in and was announced: “Nathan the prophet is here.” He came before the king, honoring him by bowing deeply, his face touching the ground.  “My master the king,” Nathan began, “did you say, ‘Adonijah shall be king after me and sit on my throne’?...  Is this something that my master the king has done behind our backs, not telling your servants who you intended to be king after you?”

King David took action: “Get Bathsheba back in here.” She entered and stood before the king.  The king solemnly promised, “As God lives, the God who delivered me from every kind of trouble, I’ll do exactly what I promised in God’s name, the God of Israel: Your son Solomon will be king after me and take my place on the throne. And I’ll make sure it happens this very day.”
King David said, “Call Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” They came to the king.
33-35 Then he ordered, “Gather my servants, then mount my son Solomon on my royal mule and lead him in procession down to Gihon. When you get there, Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet will anoint him king over Israel. Then blow the ram’s horn trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ You will then accompany him as he enters and takes his place on my throne, succeeding me as king. I have named him ruler over Israel and Judah.”...

Adonijah and his retinue of guests were just finishing their “coronation” feast when they heard it. When Joab heard the blast of the ram’s horn trumpet he said, “What’s going on here? What’s all this uproar?”  Suddenly, in the midst of the questioning, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest, showed up. Adonijah said, “Welcome! A brave and good man like you must have good news.”  But Jonathan answered, “Hardly! Our master King David has just made Solomon king! And the king has surrounded him with Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, with the Kerethites and Pelethites; and they’ve mounted Solomon on the royal mule. Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon and the parade is headed up this way singing—a great fanfare!...

Panicked, Adonijah’s guests got out of there, scattering every which way. But Adonijah himself, afraid for his life because of Solomon, fled to the sanctuary and grabbed the horns of the Altar....Solomon then said, “If he proves to be a man of honor, not a hair of his head will be hurt; but if there is evil in him, he’ll die.” Solomon summoned him and they brought him from the Altar. Adonijah came and bowed down, honoring the king. Solomon dismissed him, “Go home.”

When David’s time to die approached, he charged his son Solomon, saying, “I’m about to go the way of all the earth, but you—be strong; show what you’re made of! Do what God tells you. Walk in the paths he shows you: Follow the life-map absolutely, keep an eye out for the signposts, his course for life set out in the revelation to Moses; then you’ll get on well in whatever you do and wherever you go.... 

“And don’t forget what Joab son of Zeruiah did to the two commanders of Israel’s army, to Abner son of Ner and to Amasa son of Jether. He murdered them in cold blood, acting in peacetime as if he were at war,... “But be generous to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite—extend every hospitality to them; that’s the way they treated me when I was running for my life from Absalom your brother.

“You also will have to deal with Shimei son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim, the one who cursed me so viciously when I was on my way to Mahanaim. Later, when he welcomed me back at the Jordan, I promised him under God, ‘I won’t put you to death.’ But neither should you treat him as if nothing ever happened. You’re wise, you know how to handle these things. You’ll know what to do to make him pay before he dies.”
Then David joined his ancestors. He was buried in the City of David. David ruled Israel for forty years—seven years in Hebron and another thirty-three in Jerusalem. Solomon took over on the throne of his father David; he had a firm grip on the kingdom.

Adonijah son of Haggith came to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. She said, “Do you come in peace?” He said,.... “You know that I had the kingdom right in my hands and everyone expected me to be king, and then the whole thing backfired and the kingdom landed in my brother’s lap—God’s doing. So now I have one request to ask of you; please don’t refuse me....Ask King Solomon—he won’t turn you down—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”

Bathsheba went to King Solomon to present Adonijah’s request...King Solomon answered his mother, “What kind of favor is this, asking that Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah? Why don’t you just ask me to hand over the whole kingdom to him on a platter since he is my older brother and has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side!”
Then King Solomon swore under God, “May God do his worst to me if Adonijah doesn’t pay for this with his life! As surely as God lives, the God who has set me firmly on the throne of my father David and has put me in charge of the kingdom just as he promised, Adonijah will die for this—today!”  King Solomon dispatched Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he struck Adonijah and he died....

Solomon stripped Abiathar of his priesthood, fulfilling God’s word at Shiloh regarding the family of Eli.  When this news reached Joab,...he took refuge in the sanctuary of God, seizing the horns of the Altar and holding on for dear life. King Solomon was told that Joab had escaped to the sanctuary of God and was clinging to the Altar; he immediately sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada with orders, “Kill him.”...Kill him and bury him. Absolve me and my father’s family of the guilt from Joab’s senseless murders. God is avenging those bloody murders on Joab’s head.... So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went back, struck Joab, and killed him....The king appointed Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.

The king next called in Shimei and told him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but you are not to leave the area. If you so much as cross the Brook Kidron, you’re as good as dead—you will have decreed your own death sentence.”...But it so happened that three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran away... Shimei sprang into action, saddled his donkey, and went...looking for his slaves. And then he came back, bringing his slaves...Solomon then called for Shimei and said,... “Deep in your heart you know all the evil that you did to my father David; God will now avenge that evil on you. But King Solomon will be blessed and the rule of David will be a sure thing under God forever.”  The king then gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he went out and struck Shimei dead....


I Corinthians 15 - 
Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time -

The first thing that I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me:  that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as the Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the 3rd day, again exactly as Scripture says, that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than 500 of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around; that he spent time with James and the rest of those commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me.....

Because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am.  And I am not about to let his grace go to waste...

It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.  So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same.  We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives.

Now let me ask you something profound yet troubling.  If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you say there is no such thing as a resurrection?  If there is no resurrection, there is no living Christ.  And face it--if there is no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors... If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.  But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries... Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ....

And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work?  I look death in the face practically every day I live.  Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah, Jesus?

Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works...We do have a parallel experience in gardening.  You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant.  There is no visual likeness between seed and plant.  You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed.  What we plant in the soul and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike.  The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different...

You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies....when we are raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever!  The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious!...Let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll never fully understand.  We are not all going to die---but we are all going to be changed...

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.  But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three---sin, guilt, death---are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ.  Thank God!...  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.