1 Kings 14:21-24 – In the Shadow of The House of God – No Guarantees!

Posted: January 30, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 14:21-24

Rehoboam Rules in Judah

I hear the testimonies of people that I have known through the years since becoming a Christ follower. Some of these stories are truly awe-inspiring in how God can reach a person who has no knowledge of Him at all, grew up in families that were abusive, stories of substance abuse, stories that would make a prudish woman blush. These are amazing stories of God’s redemption of people who grew up far from God and maybe several generations of family who were far from God. I love these testimonies of how God has literally altered this life and the generations after it.

What was my excuse? I grew up as a son of a preacher. I was in church every Sunday since I was a baby. I lived and breathed the church life. When the church doors were open, my brother and I were there. Church was the backdrop of everything in our lives. We were the preacher’s kids. We moved around a lot because of being the United Methodist Church system. So, the Methodist Church in South Carolina was the thing that guided and ruled our lives. It was the “family business”. You would think that because of that I would have accepted Christ as my Savior at an early age. I had great advantage over some of the testimonies of redemption that I have heard over the years. I was all up in the church. I knew God was Creator. I knew that Jesus was of one and the same essence as the Father and the Holy Spirit. I knew that Jesus Christ broke into human history to be the redemption of mankind through His action on the cross and through His resurrection. I knew all that. I had the materials for the making of simple conversion experience. It is like having gone to a high-end prep school and having great advantage over some kid from the projects when it comes time to demonstrate our academic capabilities. I had the advantage of being a preacher’s kid. I had the advantage of exposure to all that is of God. However, even if you grew up as a preacher’s kid, it does not automatically mean that you are going to accept Christ as your Savior and Lord. Just because you have these built-in advantages, it does not guarantee salvation. You can’t come to Christ just because you lived in the right conditions and environment.

That was the thing that I thought about this morning as I read these verses about Rehoboam. He had all the advantages of being at the seat of God’s visible power among men but it did not guarantee that he would lead the people of Judah in the ways of the Lord. Let’s see what happened – here in 1 Kings 14:21-24:

21 Meanwhile, Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen from among all the tribes of Israel as the place to honor his name. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammonite woman.

22 During Rehoboam’s reign, the people of Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, provoking his anger with their sin, for it was even worse than that of their ancestors. 23 For they also built for themselves pagan shrines and set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 24 There were even male and female shrine prostitutes throughout the land. The people imitated the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.

In this passage, we see that Rehoboam, despite being the grandson of a “man after God’s own heart” and son of “the wisest of kings” and living in eyesight of the Temple of God, he did not follow God himself. He allowed the culture’s desire for the easy religion of “what I want” to permeate the people including himself. He was not a spiritual leader to his people. He followed the prevailing trends and went along with it just to appease the crowd and win their acceptance. That is the dilemma that we face today as Christians, do we ignore God’s Word just to “get a listen” from the culture or do we stand firm on God’s Word, the timeless, eternal Word of God, and engage the culture with that which is blatantly counter-cultural. We will always be in opposition to the culture because the culture is about “me, me, me” and God’s Word is about “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”! I am not saying that we do not engage the culture where people are at but we do not trade our beliefs away just to be accepted and at some point in our engagement with unbelievers we will have gained their trust and will have to confront them with the truth of God’s Word.

For me, personally, the journey to the cross was much the same as this broad generalization about the church and culture. It was more important to me, like Rehoboam, to be accepted by the culture around me than diving into the world of believers in Jesus Christ that I knew full well from birth. I was like Rehoboam. I grew up in the shadow of the house of God. Often, the parsonage was right next door to the church my dad was serving. But living in the shadow of the house of God, like Rehoboam and me, does not guarantee salvation. It guarantees that you will know about God but does not guarantee that you will follow Him. The pull of culture is great. It is tangible and right before you. You go to class with culture. You work with culture. You play with culture. If you are an insecure person, acceptance is everything. Even after salvation, I still struggle with being what I call “an approval junkie”. I want to be accepted and approved of. That’s why I think, in part, that it took me so long to get to the cross (at age 39 in December 2001). I made getting the approval of others, particularly drawing my value from whether I was in a relationship with a woman or not, the most important thing. I would dare say that I made been liked and approved of a god. In this way, I can identify with Rehoboam. He and I both knew that worshiping something other than God was wrong, but we just wanted to be liked by the most people … so we go along with the tide. Just because you live in the shadow of the steeple does not guarantee anything!

The thing that I take away this morning is that Rehoboam we look upon with disgust when we read this passage. I have pity for him. He is me and I am him. What Rehoboam needs to learn and what I had to learn (and in some ways still learning) is that we draw our value from God himself not from the culture. We must realize that the culture is going to tempt us to do that which is away from God because it is easy and pleases the flesh. We must realize that God calls us toward holiness through Jesus Christ and that it will never be easy. We must realize that we do not have to have the approval of culture when we are firmly planted in the heart of God through Jesus Christ. When we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we can place our trust in Him to carry us through the hard times, the good times, and everything in between. Through God, we can have confidence that He has a purpose in everything that we go through. There was a pastor in my past that said, “God is preparing us for what He has prepared for us.” Everything has purpose in God’s plan. What you are going through right now, God will use later in what He has next for you. Trust in the Lord. He is stable. He is eternal. Trust in the Lord. He knows you personally and loves you. Trust in the Lord and He will guide your steps. Culture is always changing to meet its fleshly desires but God is unchanging and eternal. That very same God desires that you follow Him and obey Him for His love is so great for you that He will see you through all things all the time.

Amen and Amen.

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