Archive for June, 2020

OVERVIEW OF 2 CHRONCLES

Personal Reflection on Overview of 2 Chronicles

This morning, we begin the next book of the Bible, 2 Chronicles. As 1 Chronicles ended, we saw that the baton of kingship was passed from David to Solomon. It was under Solomon that the Israelite kingdom reached its greatest expanse geographically and reached its zenith of influence among the ancient Middle Eastern kingdoms and empires. The country was strong and secure and economically vibrant. It was a time of peace and prosperity in the Israelite kingdom. Although there were undercurrents of tribal jealousies that smoldered under the surface, Solomon was a shrewd and wise ruler for most of his days and was able to manage it all and keep opposition dispersed. Solomon’s kingdom was undoubtedly the Golden Age of Israel. 

From that point forward, it is like watching how rich families rise and fall. Many of the wealthiest families that you see in the world over the past two centuries have usually been started by a shrewd and entrepreneurial founder of a company. His ingenuity and management skill creates a vast empire of wealth. Usually the second generation is equally astute though not as cutthroat as his father before him. But usually this son of the founder is able to expand the wealth empire but not on the scale of nothing to supreme wealth as the father did. However, in succeeding generations, the lack of being in touch with the reality of having nothing as the founding father did (and who instill that in his direct heir, his son) usually leads to frivolous spending and lack of concentration on the business enterprises of the family. These succeeding generations often turn over business operations to unrelated employees so that they can pursue fun. With each generation, the family becomes more and more like these depraved reality shows that you see on MTV. Ultimately, these families end up not resembling anything like the hard working, hard charging founding father of it all. These families are not even grateful what that founding father did. They just assume wealth is a way of life and that the money will never end. With each succeeding generation the creation of wealth ends and the party lifestyle ensues. You can see Israel in what I just described. David founded it. Solomon expanded and strengthened it and then the succeeding generations just messed it all up to the point that the Israelite kingdom (both the northern part and the southern part) was wiped off the map.

The book of 2 Chronicles shows us this rise and fall. In it, we can see ourselves, the United States. We grew up in homes where we had full and complete access to the things of God. And, many like us in the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation and all of Generation X, we scattered from the church. It was not hip enough for us. It was stuck in the mud even then to us (and some traditional churches still haven’t changed a bit since the Gen X exodus). We sought to live for ourselves. We knew best. We questioned whether God even existed. We humanized Jesus into a radical, anti-establishment rabbi with great philosophical wit and wisdom and took away His deity. We made Jesus into a regular guy not the Creator of the Universe. We made Jesus just one of the ways to get to heaven. We made ourselves our own gods. We followed our own hearts and did what was right in our own eyes. We lost our way seeking ever greater and greater senses of pleasure. Then we raised succeeding generations to be just like us who then as the Millennial generation and now Generation Z are taking the world even deeper into godlessness and pleasure seeking.

It is then look into the demise of once great kingdom of Israel that should stand as a stark warning to us as a nation as we approach Independence Day weekend. The warning to us is that as we pursue political correctness, as we pursue all roads lead to heaven, as we pursue the elevation of the rights of self over the rights of society, as we pursue running further and further away from the Word of God as a nation, there will be a reckoning for a nation now just as there was for biblical Israel. Let us not ignore this history. Those who ignore or rewrite history are destined to repeat it.

Amen and Amen.

OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF 2 CHRONICLES

This overview is a combination of materials drawn from the following two websites: http://reformedanswers.org/answer.asp/file/41781 and from https://www.gotquestions.org/Book-of-2-Chronicles.html

Purpose:

The Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles cover mostly the same information as 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. The Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles focus more on the priestly aspect of the time period. The Book of 2 Chronicles is essentially an evaluation of the nation’s religious history.

Date:

The Book of 2 Chronicles was likely written between 450 and 425 B.C.

Key Verses:

  • 2 Chronicles 2:1 – “Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself.”
  • 2 Chronicles 29:1-3 – “Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them.”
  • 2 Chronicles 36:14 – “Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.”
  • 2 Chronicles 36:23 – “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the LORD his God be with him and let him go up.'”

Author:

The Book of 2 Chronicles does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that 1 and 2 Chronicles were written by Ezra.

Brief Summary:

The Book of 2 Chronicles records the history of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, from the reign of Solomon to the conclusion of the Babylonian exile. The decline of Judah is disappointing, but emphasis is given to the spiritual reformers who zealously seek to turn the people back to God. Little is said about the bad kings or of the failures of good kings; only goodness is stressed. Since 2 Chronicles takes a priestly perspective, the Northern Kingdom of Israel is rarely mentioned because of her false worship and refusal to acknowledge the Temple of Jerusalem. Second Chronicles concludes with the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Time and Place of Writing:

The final verses of the 2 Chronicles (2 Chron. 36:21-23) indicate that the Chronicler wrote after the release of the exiles from Babylon (c. 538 B.C.). The lack of Hellenistic influences suggests that he composed his history before the Alexandrian period (c. 331 B.C.). Nevertheless, opinions vary over the precise date of composition.

Some interpreters have proposed that the Chronicler wrote as early as the reconstruction of the Temple under Zerubbabel (c. 520-515 B.C.). At least three evidences support this view:

  • The Chronicler consistently presented the Temple and its personnel in close partnership with the royal line of David (see “Purposes and Distinctives”). This emphasis suggests the possibility of composition near the days of Zerubbabel when expectations of royal and priestly partnership were still high (e.g., Zech. 4:1-14).
  • The Chronicler gave much attention to the details of priestly and Levitical duties (1 Chron. 6:1-53). This focus suggests a date of composition during the time when the new Temple order was being established.
  • The Chronicler’s omission of Solomon’s downfall due to intermarriage (1 Kings 11:1-40) stands in striking contrast to Nehemiah’s appeal to Solomon’s difficulties (Nem. 13:26). This omission suggests that the Chronicler may have written before intermarriage had become a major issue in the postexilic community.

The majority of interpreters have held that the Chronicler wrote during or after the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah, in the latter half of the fifth century or the early decades of the fourth century B.C. The main evidence in favor of this view is the royal genealogy in 1 Chronicles 3:17-24, which some interpreters believe extends up to five generations after Zerubbabel.

A specific date of composition for Chronicles cannot be determined. It seems best to accept a range of possibilities from sometime near the days of Zerubbabel to sometime soon after the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah (c. 515-400 B.C.). The major themes of the book fit well within these boundaries.

The Chronicler wrote for historical and theological reasons. His extensive use of historical documents (see “Author”) and devotion to numerical and chronological details (e.g., 1 Chron. 5:18; 2 Chron. 14:1, 9; 16:1, 12, 13) indicate that he intended to give his readers an inerrant historical record. But he did not merely offer information about the past; he also wrote to convey a relevant theological message. Comparing the Chronicler’s history with those of Samuel and Kings reveals that he shaped his account of Israel’s past to address the needs of the postexilic community. He wrote to encourage and guide his readers as they sought the full restoration of the Kingdom after the Babylonian exile.

The people who had returned from exile faced numerous difficulties. The restoration had not brought about the dramatic changes for which many had hoped. Instead, they endured discouraging economic hardship, foreign opposition and internal conflict. These difficulties raised many questions: Who may legitimately claim to be heirs to the promises God gave his people? What political and religious institutions should we embrace? Should we hope for a new Davidic king? What is the importance of the Temple in our day? How may we find the blessings of security and prosperity for our restored community? The Chronicler addressed these and similar questions in his history.

Purposes and Distinctives:

The book of Chronicles was originally untitled. Its traditional Hebrew name may be translated “the annals (events) of the days (time).” This expression appears often in the book of Kings with other qualifications (e.g., 1 Kings 14:29). It also occurs elsewhere in this form without further qualification (Neh. 12:23; Esther 2:23; 6:1). Some Septuagint (Greek Translation of the Old Testament) texts refer to Chronicles as “the things omitted”; i.e., a supplement to the history of Samuel and Kings. Jerome (and Luther following him) called the book “the chronicle of the entire sacred history.” Our modern title stems from this tradition.

The Chronicler’s theological message may be summarized in many ways, but three concerns were particularly prominent:

  • The People of God. Throughout his history the Chronicler identified the people who should be included among the heirs of God’s covenant promises. The prominence of this theme appears in his frequent use of the expression “all Israel” (see notes on 1 Chron. 11:1; 2 Chron. 10:1; 29:24). The Chronicler’s concept of God’s people was both narrow and broad. On the one hand, he looked on those who had been released from exile as the people of God. Representatives of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, who had returned to the land, were the chosen people (see note on 1 Chron. 9:3). As such, they played a vital role in the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.

On the other hand, however, the Chronicler identified God’s people with all the tribes of Israel (see note on 1 Chron. 2:3-9:1). The restoration of Israel was incomplete so long as some of the tribes remained outside the land, separated from the Davidic king and the Jerusalem Temple. As a result, the Chronicler went to great lengths to include both the northern and southern tribes in his genealogies (1 Chron. 2:3-9:1), to present an ideal of a united Kingdom under David and Solomon extending to all the people (see note on 1 Chron. 11:1) and to depict the reunification of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms in the days of Hezekiah (see note on 2 Chron. 29:1-36:23). The returnees were the remnant of God’s people, but they had to pray and hope for the restoration of all the people of God. As Hezekiah put it in his day, “If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate” (2 Chron. 30:9).

  • The King and Temple. In the Chronicler’s view, God had organized his people around two central institutions: the Davidic throne and the Jerusalem Temple. These political and religious structures were fundamental to the life of Israel. In his genealogies, the Chronicler gave special attention to David’s lineage (1 Chron. 2:10-17; 3:1-24) and to the organization of the priests and Levites (1 Chron 6:1-81). He emphasized that God had chosen David’s line as the permanent dynasty over the nation (1 Chron. 17:1-27; 2 Chron. 13:5; 21:7; 23:3). The establishment of David’s throne was a demonstration of divine love and blessing for Israel (1 Chron. 14:2; 2 Chron. 2:11).

The Chronicler also focused on the Temple as the dwelling place of the Name (2 Chron. 7:12, 16; 33:7). The joy and splendor of music in Temple worship were chief concerns in the Chronicler’s history (see notes on 1 Chron. 6:31-47, 9:15-16, 28-34, 15:16-24; 16:4-6; 25:1-31; 2 Chron. 5:12-13; 23:13, 19, 29:25-30; 34:12).

The Chronicler drew a close connection between kingship and the Temple in many other ways as well (e.g., 2 Chron. 13:4-12; 22:10-24:27). With this emphasis on king and Temple, he instructed his postexilic readers not to lose sight of either institution. The full restoration of the Kingdom could not take place apart from the Davidic king and the Jerusalem Temple. As the Lord said to David, “I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his Kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever” (1 Chron. 17:11-12).

  • Divine Blessing and Judgment. The Chronicler composed his history to show his readers how to receive God’s blessings in their day. He accomplished this end by drawing close connections between fidelity and blessing, as well as infidelity and judgment (1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 6:14; 7:11-22; 15:2; 16:7-9; 21:14-15; 24:20; 25:15-16; 28:9; 34:24-28). The king and the Temple could not in themselves secure God’s blessing for Israel. His blessings depended on obedience to the Mosaic Law (1 Chron. 6:49; 15:13, 15; 16:40; 22:12-13; 28:7; 29:19; 2 Chron. 6:16; 7:17-18; 12:1-2; 14:4; 15:12-14; 17:3-9; 19:8-10; 24:6, 9; 25:4; 30:15-16; 31:3-21; 33:8; 34:19-33; 35:6-26) and to the prophetic/priestly instruction (2 Chron. 11:4; 12:5-8; 20:20; 21:12-19; 24:19-25; 25:7-10, 15-20; 26:17-20). Blessings came to those who upheld the purity of Temple worship (2 Chron. 15:1-19; 17:1-6; 24:1-16; 29:1-31:21; 34:1-35:19) and humbly relied on God instead of human strength (1 Chron. 5:20; 2 Chron. 13:18; 14:7; 16:7-8; 32:20).

When the people of God and their kings turned to sin, the immediate retribution of illness and military defeat often followed (1 Chron. 10:1-14; 2 Chron. 13:1-16; 16:12; 18:33-34; 21:15-19; 25:14-24; 26:19-20; 28:1-5; 33:1-11). Even so, when the people came under God’s judgment, they could be restored to blessing by humbly seeking God through repentance and prayer (1 Chron. 21:1-22:1; 2 Chron. 7:13-15; 12:1-12; 33:10-13). By emphasizing these themes the Chronicler showed his postexilic readers the way to divine blessing in their day. The full restoration of God’s people would come only as they lived in fidelity to the Lord. The prophet Azariah stated the matter succinctly to King Asa: “If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).

As the book unfolds, prominent motifs appear a number of times, but certain themes are emphasized over others in each portion. The history divides into main parts: (1) the genealogies of God’s people (1 Chron. 1:1-9:34), (2) the united Kingdom (1 Chron 9:35-2 Chron 9:31), (3) the divided Kingdom (2 Chron. 10:1-28:27), and (4) the reunited Kingdom (2 Chron. 29:1-36:23). Each part contributes specific elements to the Chronicler’s overall theological purpose.

  • The Genealogies of God’s People (1 Chron. 1:1-9:34). Genealogies in the ancient Near East followed a variety of forms and served many different functions. These variations appear in the Chronicler’s use of genealogies in the first nine chapters of his history. Some passages follow the form of linear genealogies that trace a single family line through many generations (e.g., 1 Chron. 2:34-41); others are segmented and sketch several family lines together (e.g., 1 Chron. 6:1-3). The Chronicler’s genealogies also skip generations without notice, emphasizing persons and events that were important to his concerns (e.g., 1 Chron. 6:4-15). Beyond this, just as other ancient genealogies often included brief narratives highlighting significant events, the Chronicler paused on occasion to tell a story (1 Chron. 4:9-10; 5:18-22).

 In addition to different forms, the function of ancient genealogies also varied. They occasionally sketched political, geographical and other social connections. In some such cases, the expressions “son of” and “father of” had a meaning other than immediate biological descent. In line with these ancient (yet ordinary for that time) functions of genealogies, the Chronicler provided an assortment of lists, including families (e.g., 1 Chron. 3:17-24), political relations (e.g., 1 Chron. 2:24, 42, 45, 49-52), and trade guilds (e.g., 1 Chron. 4:14, 21-23).

The Chronicler included extensive genealogical records in his book to establish that his readers were the legitimate continuation of God’s elect people. He accomplished this end by reporting the special election of Israel from all of humanity (1 Chron. 1:2-2:2), the arrangement of the tribes of Israel (1 Chron. 2:3-9:1), and the representatives of the tribes who returned from Babylon (1 Chron. 9:16-34).

By identifying the postexilic readers as the continuation of the chosen line, the Chronicler pointed to their opportunities and responsibilities. Since they were God’s people, they were offered the opportunity of God’s blessing in the Promised Land. They had a solid basis for hope in the full restoration of the Kingdom. But their identity as God’s elect people also entailed many responsibilities. The Chronicler’s genealogies focused on the breadth and order of the tribes of Israel, emphasizing especially the importance of the Davidic and Levitical families (see note on 1 Chron. 2:3-9:1a). If his readers were to receive the blessings of God, they had to observe these divinely ordained arrangements carefully.

  • The united kingdom (1 Chron. 9:35-2 Chron. 9:31). The Chronicler viewed the reigns of David and Solomon as Israel’s period of glory. He focused on the positive qualities of these kings and chose not to reference many of their well-known shortcomings and troubles recorded in Samuel and Kings (see notes on 1 Chron. 9:35-29:30 and 2 Chron. 1:1-9:31). David and Solomon ruled over all the tribes and territories of Israel (see note on 1 Chron. 11:1); they provided rich blessings through their political structures (1 Chron. 14:2; 2 Chron. 2:11; 9:8) and the Temple (1 Chron. 22:1; 2 Chron. 7:11-22).

For this reason, the united kingdom laid the foundation of hope for the postexilic readers. God had chosen David’s line and the Temple in Jerusalem to be the instruments of blessing for his people through all generations.

But this hope of blessing was conditional. The Chronicler also presented David and Solomon as models to be imitated. The postexilic community had to devote itself to the ideals of the united kingdom. Humble and faithful reliance on God, commitment to Davidic rule and devotion to the Temple were essential to receiving the blessing of God.

  • The Divided Kingdom (2 Chron. 10:1-28:27). The Chronicler’s record of Israel’s history from Rehoboam to Ahaz focuses on events in the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Although he relied on the book of Kings for much of his information, the Chronicler omitted large blocks of material dealing with the Northern Kingdom, Israel. In his view, the important historical events of this period took place in Judah, where the Davidic king and the Temple resided.

In many respects, the Chronicler evaluated the kings of this period according to the ideal of the united kingdom. He applied several criteria to Judah’s kings (see “Purposes and Distinctives: Divine Blessing and Judgment”). Was the king faithful to the Law of Moses? Did he support the Temple order established by David and by Solomon? Did the king listen to prophetic and priestly instruction? Did he rely on foreign alliances, or seek God in humility and prayer? The writer evaluated some kings negatively (Jehoram, 1 Chron. 21:4-20; Ahaziah, 1 Chron. 22:1-9; Ahaz, 1 Chron. 28:1-27) and others positively (Abijah, 1 Chron. 13:1-14:1; Jotham, 1 Chron. 27:1-9). For the most part, however, he distinguished between each king’s years of fidelity and infidelity (Rehoboam, 2 Chron. 10:1-12:16; Asa, 1 Chron. 14:2-16:14; Jehoshaphat, 1 Chron. 17:1-21:3; Joash, 1 Chron. 22:10-24:27; Amaziah, 1 Chron. 25:1-28; Uzziah, 1 Chron. 26:1-23).

The Chronicler reported these events to illustrate how the conditions of Israel depended on her fidelity to the ideals established in the united kingdom. With remarkable regularity, he demonstrated that God blessed his people when they proved to be faithful and chastised them when they turned away from him. Victory, security and prosperity came to those who sought the Lord, but defeat, trouble and illness to those who forgot him (see “Purposes and Distinctives: Divine Blessing and Judgment”).

This portion of the Chronicler’s history addressed the needs of the postexilic readers by explaining their situation and offering them guidance. Just as Judah’s kings had experienced God’s chastisement, the postexilic community suffered difficulties because of infidelity. God’s promises of restoration had not failed; the people had failed. Similarly, just as the kings of Judah were blessed as they turned toward the Lord, the Chronicler’s readers could hope for restoration, security and prosperity if they would do the same.

  • The Reunited Kingdom (2 Chron. 29:1-36:23). Beginning with Hezekiah, Israel entered a new phase of her history. The Chronicler presented Hezekiah as a new David/Solomon; Hezekiah reunited the faithful of Israel and Judah around the Davidic throne through worship and celebration at the Temple (see notes on 1 Chron. 29:1-36:23 and 1 Chron. 29:24). This reunited people experienced several periods of failure: Manasseh’s apostasy (1 Chron. 33:1-10), Amon’s entire reign (1 Chron. 33:21-25,) and the overall reigns of the kings of Judah just before the exile (1 Chron. 36:2-14). But each of these failures was followed by God’s gracious renewal of the people: Manasseh’s restoration (1 Chron. 33:11-17), Josiah’s reforms (1 Chron. 34:3-35:19), and the return from exile (1 Chron. 36:22-23).

This portion of the Chronicler’s history also offered hope and guidance to his readers. Despite the failures of the reunited Kingdom, God continued to grant blessings to his repentant people. These events reminded the readers that God extended his mercy to them, offering them his blessing. At the same time, however, the events of this period demonstrated the requirements placed on those who longed for the full restoration of the Kingdom during the postexilic period. The nation must turn to the Lord in humility and live faithfully before him.

Christ in Chronicles:

As with all references to kings and temples in the Old Testament, we see in them a reflection of the true King of Kings—Jesus Christ—and of the temple of the Holy Spirit—His people. Even the best of the kings of Israel had the faults of all sinful men and led the people imperfectly. But when the King of Kings comes to live and reign on the earth in the millennium, He will establish Himself on the throne of all the earth as the rightful heir of David. Only then will we have a perfect King who will reign in righteousness and holiness, something the best of Israel’s kings could only dream of.

Similarly, the great temple built by Solomon was not designed to last forever. Just 150 years later, it was in need of repair from decay and defacing by future generations who turned back to idolatry (2 Kings 12). But the temple of the Holy Spirit—those who belong to Christ—will live forever. We who belong to Jesus are that temple, made not by hands but by the will of God (John 1:12-13). The Spirit who lives within us will never depart from us and will deliver us safely into the hands of God one day (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). No earthly temple contains that promise.

Practical Application:

The reader of the Chronicles is invited to evaluate each generation from the past and discern why each was blessed for their obedience or punished for their wickedness. But we are also to compare the plight of these generations to our own, both corporately and individually. If we or our nation or our church is experiencing hardships, it is to our benefit to compare our beliefs and how we act upon those beliefs with the experiences of the Israelites under the various kings. God hates sin and will not tolerate it. But if the Chronicles teach us anything, it is that God desires to forgive and heal those who will humbly pray and repent (1 John 1:9). If you could have anything you wished from God, what would you ask for? Fabulous wealth? Perfect health for you and your loved ones? The power over life and death? Amazing to think about it, isn’t it? But more amazing is that God made such an offer to Solomon and he chose none of these things. What he asked for was wisdom and knowledge to complete the task God had assigned to him and to do it well. The lesson for us is that God has given each of us a commission to fulfill and the greatest blessing we can seek from God is the ability to carry out His will for our lives. For that, we need the “wisdom from above” (James 3:17) to discern His will, as well as the understanding and intimate knowledge of Him in order to motivate us to Christlikeness in both deed and attitude (James 3:13).

1 Chronicles 29:26-30

Summary of David’s Reign

Opening Illustration/Comments

Today we conclude our eight (8) month journey through the book of 1 Chronicles. Three hundred twenty plus pages of personal musings on these scriptures later, we reach the end of 1 Chronicles. Tomorrow, we will begin 2 Chronicles. For today, let us reflect on the fact that David ended his life on a high note. It is because of David’s willingness to cleanse himself of his mistakes of the past, repent and return unto God that David is known as a man after God’s own heart. He is viewed as Israel’s greatest king. He is viewed as a great biblical hero.

Although Solomon’s kingdom was a step above David’s kingdom, Solomon is not remembered as fondly by the Jewish people or by readers of the Bible because he did not finish well. David did! Solomon allowed his love of women to bring in pagan worship rituals into the kingdom through is marriages to pagan women. Solomon started well. He expanded upon the territories conquered by his father. He started and finished the Temple. He executed a plan of governmental organization that allowed the nation to flourish to its greatest height during his reign. However, his failure to rid his life of pagan religions and his failure to seek God sowed the seeds of destruction of the great Israelite kingdom that began almost as soon as he died. Solomon started well but did not finish well.

That’s the difference in the fondness we have for David and the somewhat ambivalent feelings most of us Bible readers have for Solomon. It was Paul who wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8

6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

And in Matthew 25:23, we read:

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

I think that is the hope that the author of 1 Chronicles is trying to give us. There is hope for all of us even when we have dishonored God and we have paid the consequences for it. The key is repentance and then renewal. While the Jews were in exile in Babylon, they clung, through the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles, to the hope of finishing well. Then, and we, have our example in David right here. The final words about David was that he “enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor.” That’s finishing well, don’t you think? Considering what we know about David, he had repented of his sins and all the disastrous family and royal consequences that it had and finished off his days as humble and as in love with the Lord as he was a young lad standing on the battlefield across the way from Goliath. He finished well.

It is that idea of finishing well that I want you to consider as we read 1 Chronicles 29:23-25 this morning:

Scripture Passage

26 So David son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. 27 He reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.

29 All the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in The Record of Samuel the Seer, The Record of Nathan the Prophet, and The Record of Gad the Seer. 30 These accounts include the mighty deeds of his reign and everything that happened to him and to Israel and to all the surrounding kingdoms.

Passage Analysis

In this conclusion to the book of 1 Chronicles, we reflect on the fact that it vividly illustrates the importance of maintaining a relationship with God. The genealogies in Chapters 1-9 emphasizes the importance of a spiritual heritage. The second part of the book details the life of David. Few men or women in the Bible were as close to God as David was. His daily contact with God increased his capacity to worship and strengthened his desire to build God’s Temple. David’s life shows us the importance of staying close to God – through studying and obeying His Word and communicating with Him daily through prayer. In David’s life, we also see how quickly our lives can deteriorate when we fail to stay well grounded in the Lord. That David ends his life in a positive way is reflective of David’s ability to recognize his sins, repent of those sins, and renew his pursuit of the Lord.

Life Application

Let the takeaway today be as it was for the exilic Jews in Babylon – one of hope, one of return to favor in the Lord. No matter what we have done in our lives, God will forgive us for our sins through the perfection of Jesus Christ and our own decision to repent from our sins that have been convicted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We may have really screwed up the majority of our lives. We may have ignored the presence or even the existence of God for most of our lives. We may have blatantly shaken our fist at the Lord in bold arrogance. However, when we accept Christ as our Savior, He is quick to forgive and wipe our past away. He, then, uses the Holy Spirit to convict us of every sin in our lives as He sanctifies us. When we repent and turn away from those things that the Holy Spirit identifies as unholy in our lives, we become closed to the Father and more like Jesus Christ.

Even if you have screwed it all up in the past, we can be forgiven when we repent and turn away from those sins. Even if we were the chief of sinners as Paul says, in 1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

when we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, God can use even the worst of sinners. If he can do with Paul and David, He can do it with you. It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish that matters!

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:23-25

Solomon Takes the Throne

Opening Illustration/Comments

When I look back on my life and how I lived it, I am often revulsed by the actions of my life in front of my children whether it be when they were children or when they were adults. When you live your life, it’s about getting through things and getting from one point to another in life. It is the forest vs. the trees kind of thing. You can’t see the forest for the trees when you are right smack in the middle of the forest. It is only when you have gotten your children grown and out of the house (even if they only live with you part of the time because of divorce) that life slows down a bit for you. Not much mind you, but a little. It is only then that you can reflect on the example that was being set in front of them.

That’s the part that makes me nauseated is that I was not saved until I was 39 years (in 2001) when my kids were 16 and 11. And even then, it really wasn’t until 2009 that I really began maturing in Christ. The girls were grown by then so much of their lives, I was either unsaved or a highly immature Christ follower. I can beat myself up for the person I was back then. One thing spiritual maturity has taught me is that even now when I am way more mature in Christ than I was a decade ago, I will also be revolted by the guy I am now in another 10 years as I continue to mature in Christ. But right now, it’s looking back at the person I was prior to really beginning to mature in Christ after meeting Luke & Felisha Brower in 2009. They were our spiritual mentors even though they were 10 years younger than us. But part of maturing in Christ is looking back at who you were and thanking God that you are not that person anymore. The example that I set for my girls was not stellar. And, back then, you really didn’t think of it as setting a bad example. It was more of a “this is what I want to do and you gotta deal with it” kind of thing. Back then, I did not look at life long-range. I did not look at the big picture of what I was teaching my children.

That’s the thing that pains me is that I cannot go back to that cad that I could be at times back then and slap him around and shake some sense into him. You know like when Leonard Nimoy’s Spock visits Zachary Quinto’s Spock in the rebooted version of the Star Trek movies here within the last five or six years. Oh the things that I would tell younger Mark, about the mistakes that he was about to make, and about the example that he would be setting for his kids. But you know what? Unless it’s a science fiction show or movie, we cannot travel back in time and grab hold of our younger version and slap them around a bit. We cannot change the past. It is fixed. It is in stone. It has happened and cannot be changed. I just wonder what are the legacies that I have given my children from how I lived my life prior to 2009.

It is that idea of your generational spiritual legacy that I want you to consider as we read 1 Chronicles 29:23-25 this morning:

Scripture Passage

23 So Solomon took the throne of the Lord in place of his father, David, and he succeeded in everything, and all Israel obeyed him. 24 All the officials, the warriors, and the sons of King David pledged their loyalty to King Solomon. 25 And the Lord exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel, and he gave Solomon greater royal splendor than any king in Israel before him.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that Solomon surpassed his father’s wealth and splendor. David’s legacy resulted from his vital relationship with the Lord, and he passed these spiritual values on to his son, Solomon. Any money or power that we leave to our children is far less valuable than the spiritual legacy that we pass on. What spiritual inheritance will your children receive? In what ways are you passing on that legacy today?

Life Application

The life application here is that we need, as parents, to take more than a day-to-day approach to parenting, even after our kids are grown. We must take a big-picture approach to parenting. We must always have an eye toward the messages that we are sending them through our behaviors. Do we want this behavior to be repeated? Because it will! Do you want the legacy that you pass on to your children to be better than that? David passed on a positive spiritual legacy to Solomon. Can you or I say that?

OK, Mark, I get what you are saying but I am like you in that I did not set a good example for my kids for a large swath of their lives and I cannot change that. What can we do? You are right. We cannot change the past – though we would like to do just that (like on Star Trek) sometimes. What we can do is be honest about the past with our kids and the mistakes that we made and discuss your repentance for those sins with them. Then, all we can do is live a changed life in front of them. That can be the greatest spiritual legacy of all. Living life as a changed man speaks to our children of the wonders of a true and maturing relationship with Jesus Christ. In that changed life, we do not ignore out past but we use it to demonstrate how Jesus changed our lives from what we used to be to what we are now. That’s the legacy we as those ones who came to Jesus not early in life is that of life transformation at the hands of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Let that be our legacy, a changed life. A life that has been transformed by the power of God in our lives. We use the mess from our past as our message. We then live our present and our future to give God glory for what He has done in us and through us.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:10-22 (Part 2 of 2)

David Crowns Solomon as King

Opening Illustration/Comments

This morning and pretty much all week this week, the Lord has impressed upon my heart the idea of, in colloquial terms, “you gotta wanna!” You gotta wanna means that you have to do more than desire something you have got to want it bad enough to do something about it. My sermon this Sunday will be about the beatitude, “Blessed are those you hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled!” Not to spoil it for those who will read this plus be there in-person or online to hear my sermon on Sunday but there is this idea of action vs. inaction. Then, I read this morning the following quote in a blog by another blogger by the name of Bill Rice which drives home the point that God has put on my heart for Sunday’s sermon. I call it God’s synchronicity. That’s when God gives me the same message from multiple sources and it’s all about the same thing. Here’s what Bill Rice had to say:

“What must a sinner do to go to hell? Nothing. If he does nothing, his inaction is the “action” that will send him to a Christ-less eternity. What must you do to send such a person to hell? Literally, nothing.

What must you do for evil to triumph, in your own heart or in your own house and even your own church? Nothing! The truth is, passivity is not innocence. “But I didn’t do anything!” is not an excuse. Doing nothing is not the same as doing right.

You may be tempted to not do what you should do today because of foes or fears; but when you act on what God has said, His hand will be on you.”

Inaction is an action. In church life, that can take many forms. It can be a leader deferring decisions to a committee so that no decision will have to be made. It can be deciding in a committee or a ministry group to defer making a decision to the next meeting so that making a decision might get forgotten by the time the next meeting rolls around. Inaction can take the form of not showing up – thinking someone else will do the job so you don’t have to. Inaction can take the form of waiting for the pastor to tell you what to do instead of taking ownership of your leadership of a ministry. Inaction can take the form of saying that we should do something but never doing the work required to pull it off. Inaction can take the form of saying that you support something but never really stepping forward to put hands and feet to it. You gotta wanna. That’s the danger in church today is simply inaction. We often think of ourselves as being benevolent to the world around us but never really doing anything to show it. Inaction leads us to think we are hands and feet churches but really we are content to be chaise lounge churches. Inaction provides the reality that we would rather just be served than to actually serve. We would rather write a check and send it off in an envelope than actually put our hands in the dirt and shoes on the ground. Inaction leads us to wonder why no new people come to our churches. When we hide behind checks sent off in the mail, we can’t be known personally to the people we are trying to help. You gotta wanna be the hands and feet of Christ to change the world. Inaction is the lack of activity. Inaction is sitting and waiting for people in need to come to your door. Inaction is wishing for your church to be impactful in the community but doing nothing. Inaction is being satisfied with church being about Sunday morning and maybe an occasional Bible study. Inaction is convenience. Inaction is not leaving my comfort zone.

That’s the idea to contend with this morning. You gotta wanna. You gotta wanna means that we have a desire to serve the Lord even when it means going beyond your comfort zone. You gotta wanna means that the desire to serve the Lord is overriding our fears, overriding our sense of what’s convenient, overriding what entertains me, overriding what is the easiest path. When we desire, truly desire, to serve the Lord, we must be willing to do whatever he calls us to do individually as Christ followers and collectively as churches. Having that desire is what David is talking about here. It is you gotta wanna that I want you to consider as we read 1 Chronicles 29:10-22 this morning:

Scripture Passage

10 Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly:

“O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel,[a] may you be praised forever and ever! 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

13 “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

16 “O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you! 17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.

18 “O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes. 19 Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.”

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Give praise to the Lord your God!” And the entire assembly praised the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they bowed low and knelt before the Lord and the king.

Solomon Named as King

21 The next day they brought 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 male lambs as burnt offerings to the Lord. They also brought liquid offerings and many other sacrifices on behalf of all Israel. 22 They feasted and drank in the Lord’s presence with great joy that day.

And again they crowned David’s son Solomon as their new king. They anointed him before the Lord as their leader, and they anointed Zadok as priest.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that David makes reference to a “wholehearted desire to obey”. In that statement, he means that Solomon should be entirely dedicated to God. This idea of wholehearted desire to be all-in for God is what David prayed for Solomon – that he would, above all else, desire to serve God. It is often that we desire to serve God but when it comes down to it, we must have the “want to”, that “you gotta wanna”, that inner drive to want to serve the Lord. Are we “you gotta wanna” Christ followers? Are we “you gotta wanna” churches?

Life Application

Let us prayerfully consider what has be said here this morning. Too often, when we hear such in your face words from God as this one, we say that it is intended for someone else. It is not about me. When we hear a sermon that is a call to move from inaction to action, a call to have a true desire to serve the Lord, a call to be hands and feet Christ followers instead of chaise lounge Christ followers, the sermon is intended for others and not me. But let us prayerfully consider these words as they apply to me, to us, individually and to the churches that we are a part of. Are we willing to do what it takes to expand the kingdom of God. It’s not somebody else’s job. It is our church’s job. It is our job within our churches. If we are committee leaders, if we are ministry leaders, we need to take ownership of our ministries and committees. If we do not have the fire in our bellies for these ministries, maybe we should prayerfully consider making way for those who DO have fire in their bellies. How dedicated are we to expanded God’s kingdom through the leadership positions that God has placed us in. Is it a nice title or is it a passion?

David is calling Solomon to be all-in for God. David is calling Solomon to love the Lord above all else. David is calling Solomon to be obedient to God in whatever God calls him to do – even if it is hard and even if it is seemingly beyond his ability. Let us be Christ followers who are all-in. Let us be all-in churches. Let us not be satisfied into inaction. Let us not be satisfied that we have arrived – as Christ followers and as churches. Let us be you gotta wanna Christians and you gotta wanna churches. Let us pray that God will stir us from inaction to action. Let us pray that God will put our feet to the pavement and our hands in the dirt. Let us pray that God will draw us to that which is inconvenient, that which is hard, that which is not easy. Let us pray that we read this and not just think it is a great word but that it applies to somebody else. Let us pray that this word hits us square in the eye and moves us beyond inaction to action. Let us pray that we see a revival in our churches that gets us out of the pews into the streets spreading the gospel and making a difference in the eternities of our communities. Let us be all-in for doing what God calls us to do. Let us be you gotta wanna! The Temple to build is the expansion of the kingdom. That’s our temple to build. Give us wholehearted desire! Give us you gotta wanna!

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:10-22 (Part 1 of 2)

David Crowns Solomon as King

Opening Illustration/Comments

When I read today’s passage, my first and immediate thought was to file/retrieve from my memory banks of the music of my youth. This one comes from the progressive album rock band, Kansas, and it comes from the album, Point of Know Return. The song is “Dust in the Wind”. A meditation on mortality and the inevitability of death, the lyrical theme bears a striking resemblance to the well-known biblical passages Genesis 3:19 (“…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”) and Ecclesiastes 3:20 (All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.). The lyrics of the song go like this:

I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone

All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind

All they are is dust in the wind

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea

All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

Oh, ho, ho

Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

It slips away

And all your money won’t another minute buy

Dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

Dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind

The wind

For all the things that we try to make important in this life, ultimately, they come to nothing on the other side of eternity. Further, you may fondly remember your grandparents and what they stood for and how they lived. You might even slightly remember your great grandparents, but, think about it, within 4 generations after your life is complete, no one, even in your family, remembers anything about you except as a placeholder in a genealogical tree. There may be family letters that tell of your life, but with each passing generation, no one personally remembers you. After 5 generations, people in your own family may not even talk of you at all. Nothing that we have gathered. Nothing that we have done will be part of the context of future generations lives. Everything here on earth that we do comes to nothing. It is dust in the wind. Just think of how many houses actually make it through more than 4 generations.

Thus, what is the point of life if all of what we do here comes to nothing, not even a memory, within 4 or 5 generations? f one were to examine all of the lyrics of the song, he or she would find them to be both cynical and depressing. They smell of death. Yet one can see that the writer of the lyrics of the song is intelligent, indeed penetrating. And the music the tune is well written and makes these sad lyrics palatable. Kerry Livgren, the band’s lead singer and writer of the song, is just one of the brilliant minds of his times whose words were put to music. But for all his brilliance, we are confronted with a feeling of emptiness. All of these sones are no more than sweet nothings which in the long run makes for an empty bitterness.

That’s the idea to contend with this morning. That idea of the point of our existence in this temporal world is what we shall consider as we read 1 Chronicles 29:10-22:

Scripture Passage

10 Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly:

“O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel,[a] may you be praised forever and ever! 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. 12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.

13 “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! 14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

16 “O Lord our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you! 17 I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there. You know I have done all this with good motives, and I have watched your people offer their gifts willingly and joyously.

18 “O Lord, the God of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make your people always want to obey you. See to it that their love for you never changes. 19 Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations.”

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Give praise to the Lord your God!” And the entire assembly praised the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they bowed low and knelt before the Lord and the king.

Solomon Named as King

21 The next day they brought 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 male lambs as burnt offerings to the Lord. They also brought liquid offerings and many other sacrifices on behalf of all Israel. 22 They feasted and drank in the Lord’s presence with great joy that day.

And again they crowned David’s son Solomon as their new king. They anointed him before the Lord as their leader, and they anointed Zadok as priest.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that David contrasts God’s everlasting nature with the fleeting earthly existence of His people. Nothing lasts unless it is rooted in God’s unchanging character. If even our most impressive deeds and/or accomplishments, then, where should we place our confidence? Only in a relationship with God can we find anything permanent. His love never fades or fails, and nothing can take it away.

Life Application

The right conclusion that purpose is found in God, not the empty god of relativism, not a projected transcendence by the mind of man. Rather purpose has to truly come down from above. It has to be revealed by God. In a world that measures itself by the toys we collect and the money we have in the bank, none of that really matters in the end. We and the things we do and what we gather are turn to dust and we are forgotten here on earth. Then, the only anchor that we have is doing what is pleasing to the Eternal One, the Only True God. The only anchor that we have is pleasing Him. The only way to Him is through His Son, Jesus Christ. All else is meaningless and dust in the wind. What is your god? Is it your job? It won’t last, even your lifetime. Is it your spouse? He or she, too, will die. Is it your house? You can’t take it with you when you die and guess what? Within 3 or 4 generations, the house will be bulldozed most likely. Is it your toys? They will often have to be replaced multiple times with age and changes in your taste. All these things are temporal. When you cross over into your eternal destination, heaven or hell, none of it goes with you. Only thing then is our judgment? Did you believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for your sins? Did you accept His free gift of salvation to be your Savior and Lord? That, my friends, is the only thing that ultimately really matters in eternity. That one question. That’s what matters. Everything else is dust in the wind.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:1-9

Gifts for Building the Temple

Opening Illustration/Comments

Have you often wondered why it is that pastors rarely preach on tithing and generosity to the work of the Lord? There’s the age old idea that it is a touchy subject to address with church members in sermons. Preachers like to do a daring bombing raid during a giving talk prior to the offering time but most are skiddish about an all out ground assault of a sermon series on putting God first in our finances. Then, there’s maybe a deeper issue, how are pastors doing in the area of tithing and generosity to the churches that they lead? It’s hard to preach about being obedient to the Lord in our finances and putting the Lord first in our finances if we, as pastors, are not doing it ourselves. We must practice it if we going to preach it. Here, we see David setting the example for his leadership team as well as for the nation of Israel. If the leadership team and the nation see David being generous, it’s sure bet that they will think about when it was time to set aside 10% of their crops and income to the Lord. What they saw too was that David gave his very best to the Lord, not his leftovers or no longer needed items. As you read through the list of personal wealth items that he gave to the Temple, it was no list of what he had stored in the back of his garage. It was his best stuff.

We cannot stand in the pulpit and encourage or admonish our congregations concerning putting God first in our finances if we do not do it ourselves. This is one area of obedience to the Lord that I am kind of passionate about. Elena and I have given 10% or more of our income since probably 2009 and it has made a significant change in how we view our finances. The real blessing of tithing is that it reorients your priorities. Instead of working a gift to the church in among your secular purchases and priorities, we give God right of the top of what we make. We design our finances so that we can live off of 90% or less of what we have in income. It really made us ask the question about always having to have the new this and the new that and keeping up with the Joneses. It is better to us now to have things that are fully paid for than it is for us to have new things and the debts that go with them. We relish the breathing room we have in our budget. It allows us to not only tithe to our church but also to be generous to individuals and organizations in need as well. Tithing definitely led to a mindset change about money and what God’s place in it is. Thus, in January 2021, when I begin a sermon series on putting God first in our finances at my church, I will be able to do so with an unfettered, unrestrained heart because I am practicing what I will be preaching.

That’s the idea that came to mind this morning as I read through 1 Chronicles 29:1-9. With that idea in mind (of the leader of God’s people setting the example when it comes to generosity), let’s read the passage now:

Scripture Passage

Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. 2 With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise,[a] stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. 3 Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: 4 three thousand talents[b] of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents[c] of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, 5 for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?”

6 Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. 7 They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents[d] and ten thousand darics[e] of gold, ten thousand talents[f] of silver, eighteen thousand talents[g] of bronze and a hundred thousand talents[h] of iron. 8 Anyone who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that David gave generously from his personal fortune to the Temple. He encouraged others to follow his example and they willingly did so. Both the Tabernacle and the Temple were built from the voluntary gifts of the people. Like Davide, we can acknowledge that all we have comes from God. We may have David’s wealth, but we can develop his same willingness to give of what we have, generously. It is not the amount that we give that counts with God, but our willingness to be obedient to Him in this regard. As well, we see that the leaders of the tribes and other leaders of the people of Israel displayed a right attitude toward their money and possessions by willingly giving to God’s work. This attitude is described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully” and gives without reservation. When we are generous in a spirit of thanksgiving to the Lord, our attitude can inspire others to do the same.

Life Application

Church leaders need to know their pastor is “in this thing.” Few things are more powerful than putting your money where your mouth is. Saying yes to God’s call to ordained ministry is not a discipleship exemption when it comes to tithing. Pastors should begin their careers, even as they are working for a pittance of reward as a student or part-time pastor, with tithing. It must be a part of their beginning financial habits when they embark on a pastoral career. a church can’t properly address God’s resources without a pastor leading from the pulpit and pen. I truly think many pastors don’t preach it because they don’t live it. Failing to proclaim the whole Gospel because you aren’t willing to tithe is malpractice. It is equivalent to not preaching on sex outside of marriage because you are being tempted to stray or you are, in fact, straying from your marriage. We don’t preach on the sins that we are unrepentantly participating in, typically.

Every church must have a critical mass of tithers to sustain the church and provide that base of security for the daily operations of the church as well as its ministries. If the pastor does not lead in this area, that critical mass of tithers may not form. Even though a pastor’s contributions to the church are confidential and are not discussed outside the finance office of the church, those same confidants who manage the contribution records are often in leadership positions in the church. They may not reveal your extent of contributions but they can say whether you are generous to your church or not. They may not say in those words but they may hold back approvals on matters because they simply do not think you practice what you preach when it comes to your own finances.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The tithe is still in play. We can play theological gymnastics about how the tithe does not apply to the New Testament era in which we live, but that is simply a misread of the totality of Scripture. Paul did not say that we no longer need to tithe. His was a good Jew from birth and tithing was the minimum of behavior. As a Christian, he was not saying that we didn’t have to tithe. He was saying that we should give in a spirit of thanksgiving because of what Christ has done for us and quibbling over the percentage is simply not reflective of thanksgiving. He would stand here and tell you that 10%, the tithe, should simply be our starting point. We should cheerfully give more than that because of the grace shown us through Jesus Christ. Additionally, Jesus Christ himself said that he did not come here to abolish the law but to fulfill its purpose. Thus, the non-ceremonial parts of the law are still binding on us as God’s people today, including tithing.

Thus, let’s be like David. Set the example. Do it so you can preach about it.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 28:1-21 (Part 4 of 4)

David’s Instructions to Solomon

No fancy illustration this morning. Just the cold hard facts. So many of us, including myself, often act as though God does not see into our hearts. We think our sins are OK for some reason until they are made public to other human beings. However, that’s just not the case. Sin is sin regardless of whether it is found out or made public or whatever. God sees the heart. We stand convicted before Him even if the sins we commit are kept private here on earth during our earthly sojourn. And, there will be an accounting before God at the moment of our death. Our sins are still sins even when they are just thoughts. That’s a sobering thought. Sin is still sin even when it’s just a thought. Wow! That makes Jesus more important to us than ever. So, let’s get real and quit kidding ourselves about how good we are. What fine church folk we are. What fine citizens we are. Let’s begin with stopping with the idea that we somehow have created in our minds that God does not see our sins. He does! He does! He does!

David’s reminder to his son not to delude himself into thinking that just because our sins are not public knowledge does not mean that God does not know. We should be aware of our sinful thoughts and confess them to God immediately and beg Him to act in our hearts to cleanse of these iniquities. It is a reminder to us that Jesus basically tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that the Ten Commandments are the minimum that God expects of us in our relationship with Him and with our fellow man. Jesus tells us in that sermon that if you get to the point that the Ten Commandments have to be invoked that you have gone from thought to action and it shouldn’t have gone that far. For example, Jesus says of the commandment, “You shall not commit adultery”, in Matthew 5:27-28  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus is saying that sin begins with the thoughts of what it would be like to commit a certain sin. He is saying that the sin begins there. It’s similar to the debate over when life begins, at conception or later. Jesus’ view of sin is consistent with our view of the beginning of life, it is at conception. Sin is given life in our lives at its conception in our mind. We have already sinned at that moment.

With that idea in mind, Let’s read 1 Chronicles 28:1-21 for a third time this morning:

Chapter 28

1 David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men.

2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12 He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 13 He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. 14 He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: 15 the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; 16 the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; 17 the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; 18 and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

In this passage, we see that it says, “The Lord sees every heart.” Nothing can be hidden from God. He sees and understands everything in our hearts. David understood this point all too well from his remembrance of Nathan being sent by God to confront his sins of adultery and murder. David told Solomon to be completely open with God and be dedicated to Him. It makes no sense to try to hide any thoughts or actions from an all-knowing God. This should cause us pause to think. Who are we trying to hide our sins from? It is not from God. He knows it from the time of thought formation to the action of the sin to the earthly cover-up of the sin. God knows it all, but we act as if He does not see it because it has not been publicly revealed. Even if you do not act upon a sinful thought, the thought itself is a sin. What if we had a buzzer or something like that when we had sinful thoughts, man, our buzzers would be going off numerous times per day.

Thus, the grace of Jesus Christ becomes even greater to each one of us. Even those that have been good girls and good boys from a young age and have been in church all their lives and never missed a Sunday at church are sinners. Because we sin with the conception of the thought of a sinful action, we are already sentenced to hell for the first time that we do that in our lives. So, then, we add a lifetime of sinful thoughts not acted upon and sinful thoughts acted upon, we are unfit for the sinless perfection required to be in the presence of God in heaven. There is no place for us in heaven on our own merits. Thus, the grace of Jesus Christ is necessary. His death on the cross for our sins (and this is so because God deemed that this what Jesus dying on the cross was for) and our belief that He did that for us because He is the Son of God covers us in His grace. Accepting the grace gift truly and honestly in our hearts, minds, and souls is the only way in which we can exist in the presence of God in heaven. Acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior is not some nice little thing. It’s not an option among options. It is the only way that we can reach heaven and be in the perfect presence of God.

Therefore, let’s stop kidding ourselves that we are good people. Even the best churchgoers are still sinners. Even those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior are sinners. The difference between a believer and a non-believer is that the believer has the humility to realize that from a sin standpoint we are just homely sinners that Jesus has made beautiful. We are like pigs that Jesus has put lipstick on and has called us beautiful. We are still sinners in need of Jesus to make us look beautiful in the eyes of God. With that humility, help us Lord to always be totally honest with ourselves. You already know the real truth about the things that we hold in our heart, the good and the bad and the ugly. Then, help us not to pretend that you don’t know and pretend that we are some fine upstanding moral paragon of virtue. We are all sinners, every day. We are all in need of grace. We are all in need of the covering of Jesus Christ. He makes us clean through His sacrifice for us on the cross when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord. Help us to see our desperate state without Jesus. Help us to be humbled by that. Help us to be honest with God in light of that. Help us to never act like God doesn’t already know what’s in our hearts.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 28:1-21 (Part 3 of 4)

David’s Instructions to Solomon

As some mountain climbers will tell you when they are climbing a major mountain and the mountain is shrouded in fog, you just focus on what’s right ahead of you til the fog clears. They will tell you as well, sometimes, the most depressing moment can be when the fog clears and you can see how steep the rest of the mountain really is. That can be depressing for a mountain climber. You have been forging your way in the fog and mist and think you have been accomplishing a lot and then the fog clears. Ah man! Look how steep that is. Look how much mountain lies above and ahead!

Similarly, you can get turned sideways by what you think God expects of you as a pastor but yet you are not seeing any results. Something happens and it gets you going down a path of negative thinking. For example, this past Sunday, we were allowed by our state conference (the equivalent of state conventions in other denominations) to return to inside worship services. We had been promoting it in various ways over the past two weeks. Through social media posts, pulpit announcements, newsletter blurbs, and handouts to the attendees at the last three outdoor services that we held before we moved back inside this past Sunday. For outdoor church, we had been averaging between 70-75 attendees each Sunday (compared to the 80+ we had been averaging in indoor attendance before the conference asked us to suspend all normal church operations on March 17th). I was hopeful that this attendance was an indication that people realized that we can worship anywhere. But I also expected that when we returned to indoor worship this past Sunday that there would be this resurgence in attendance over and above our pre-March 17th attendance averages.

However, I was disappointed. Attendance was down a good bit this past Sunday. We had a total of 21 people for Sunday School (usually average about 38). Worship attendance in-person (not counting the 9 folks that tuned in online for all or part of our Facebook Live broadcast) was only 50 people. I had thought there would be a hunger for getting back inside to worship the Lord that attendance would have been in the 90s. I was sadly mistaken and dismayed. I am sure that there were people who were out of town. I am sure that there were people who afraid to come because of the flare-up in cases of Coronavirus cases during the week before last Sunday. Both of these were plausible factors. But the gut punch was still there. When you are struggling to see passion and growth in the church little victories mean a lot but then also little defeats mean a lot as well.

During the time that our church was shutdown, I was in crisis management mode. This pandemic was a new thing for even the most experienced pastor and the most experienced church. Never before had anything but weather-related incidents or freak power outages caused us not to gather inside our worship centers for more than one or max two Sundays in a row. This was all new, the 13 week hiatus on church indoors so as a new head pastor/solo pastor I was right in there with the guys that had been doing this 20, 30 and 40 years. We each had to chart our own course and it was to each pastor to figure out all the various ways to continue being the church without a building to be in. The whole time I think my church and I responded well. We made church work via video church, parking lot church, and church under the trees. It was all an adventure in doing things differently, experimenting with what works and what doesn’t within your own context. It was adjust and adapt. It was crisis management and we did well. People actually enjoyed all the different things we were doing (whether that feeling would have remained long-term? who knows). Then, this past Sunday, it was a return to as close to normal as we can be in the life cycle of this pandemic. So, in a sense the toughest part of our church crisis was over and you could attempt to breathe at a regular rate again instead of the breath rate of a crisis. Surely, there were many things that I read that said when church opens back up, don’t expect it to be the same for a while…if ever again. I wanted to think, since my people had so enjoyed the outdoor church we had done that they had somehow regained a passion for church. However, the experts were right. It was not the same when we started having church inside again. And it may not be for a while, if ever.

The feeling that you are fighting an uphill battle can be real for a pastor. The passion that you want to have in your church for your church among your people that matches your own can be a struggle. You realize that we live in a culture today where church is an optional activity, an add-on to things. It is no longer the central focus of people’s lives among even those that go to church regularly. It’s not just a my church problem. It’s an all churches problem and this pandemic may have made the hill for us to be even steeper. Although we had faithful people come every Sunday during outdoor church. We even had some inquisitive guests and non-regular members attend sporadically during the past months of outdoor church. However, at the same time, we have had some members who attended indoor church probably 60-70% of the Sundays that disappeared completely during the hiatus from indoor church. These may never come back. They filled their Sundays will other things while we were doing outdoor church and may have found that they like those activities better than church. Therefore, the hill just got steeper. It can all be a very daunting feeling to a pastor. The mountain sometimes feels too high to climb and makes you just want to quit trying to climb this continually steepening mountain. Sometimes as a pastor, you feel like you are trying to sell last year’s model of car in the couple of months just after the new year model has come out. It’s a tough sell and can make you feel unequipped for the mountain climb. You become fearful that you can’t sell the car. You become fearful that you are not up to the task or that the task is too large, too steep, too much!

That idea of feeling unequipped for the huge task ahead is what came to mind this morning as I read through this passage of David speaking to Solomon about taking over as king for David. Solomon’s dad was trying to reassure him that he was capable for the twin tasks of being king and building God’s Temple all at the same time. With that idea in mind, Let’s read 1 Chronicles 28:1-21 for a third time this morning:

Chapter 28

1 David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men.

2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12 He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 13 He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. 14 He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: 15 the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; 16 the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; 17 the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; 18 and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

In this passage, we see that David advised Solomon not to be frightened about the size of his task as king and builder of The Temple. Fear can immobilize us. The size of a job, its risks, or the pressure of a situation can cause us to freeze and do nothing. One remedy for fear is found here: Don’t focus on fear. Instead get to work. Getting started is often the most difficult and frightening part of the job.

That’s the takeaway for me this morning and maybe for you in whatever huge task you may be facing in your life. For me, it is now in the post-shutdown church world, how do we relight the flame of the people that you already have in your care. How do we shift the attitude away from church being a nice option instead of a central focus? How to conquer that mountain is the new mountain placed in front of us. It is the mountain we must now conquer before we can conquer the mountain outside the church. It can be an overwhelming feeling. However, as the old saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Further, the thing to remember too is that God is sovereign and we must rely on Him for help. We must do our part (like David in gathering the materials for the Temple and Solomon in supervising its construction) but we must see that we are not in this alone. God is with us. Immanuel. We must realize that what happens in our churches do not depend on us. He has us in our churches because we have specific talents and passions for this moment in this church’s life. But it’s His church. I just need to be faithful and keep making progress. We must leave the rest of the mountain to be climbed to God. When we look at the mountain by ourselves, it can be too daunting and can make us want to give up. When we plug away at faithfully climbing the part of the mountain that is in front of us and leave the rest of the mountain to God, then, we can handle it better. God’s better with the rest of the mountain than we are! We just need to faithfully scale the part of the mountain that He has right in front of us. He’s going ahead of us to work out the rest of the mountain.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 28:1-21 (Part 2 of 4)

David’s Instructions to Solomon

How do we respond to today’s world as Christians? There are many troubling things going on that we must address and not sit quietly aside. However, we must react in ways that are consistent with the Word of God. There are two main issues developing that I see that we must address.

  1. The issue of racism is one we must address head-on and no longer sidestep the issue with platitudes and half-measures and certainly not inaction.
  2. The issue of censorship of anything that is against the prevailing winds of our politically correct culture and its intolerance in the name of tolerance.

We must not address any of these subjects from anything other than a Christ-like view and to do that we must be studiers of Scripture and not just readers of Scripture and not just a people who have Bibles that they never open.

First, the issue of racism is real and we have not solved it. Many of us who are white Americans think that we have solved the issue of racism back in the 70’s and 80’s. However, we are looking at that from a white person’s point of view. Many of us would simply like to think that we are all created equal and that we are all judged in that manner. However, racism may not exist in the legalized and institutional ways that it once was in America but it is still there though in more subtle forms. Police are not the issue though. They are the ones that have to deal with the results of the 450-year disadvantage that we have placed blacks in. Through slavery, Jim Crow, and the resulting poverty that these things enforced, we placed the black 450 years behind us in enjoying the economic advantages of our capitalist culture. They were left behind and forced to stay there by law and then simply by cultural norms. And, it is not always just in the South as events have proven over and over during the past 50-60 years. The backlash against the police of America is equivalent to picking at a sore on your skin but not treating the cause of the sore. The backlash is picking at the scab over the sore that is in the flesh that comes from the cancer of a half a millenia of racism. There is no doubt that racism still exists. It may not be the same institutional and legalized racism that was once a part of our culture but yet it is still there. It is economic. It is social. It is subtle. The prevailing thoughts of the white culture of “what more do they want” is prevalent, but, yet, we have never had to live one day in black skin.

Second, it has become known as the “cancel culture” here recently. In the name of tolerance and political correctness, anything that does not follow the prevailing ideals of the culture, you are censured. You are ostracized. You are made into persona non-grata. People are getting fired from jobs where they have performed well whose thoughts and ideas are counter to the prevailing cultural cause of the moment. And many times, it happens because something a person said or did a decade ago. We are rewriting history to eliminate anything that is antithetical to the prevailing cultural narrative. If you have the temerity to challenge the prevailing culture narrative by trying to have informed discussions as to the real root causes of current social unrest, you are branded a racist and submitted to the cancel culture’s punishment. If you try to go against the prevailing anti-cop narrative, you are backward and racist among other things. If we are to solve the race problem in our country, we must get beyond blaming the cops and look at the prevailing cultural issues that are latent effects of racism in all its forms all around the country not just the South. The real problem is an economic one in that we must address in the most fundamental ways to get beyond systemic poverty, lack of education, lack of adequate health care, lack of and lack of access to adequate nearby employment, which in turn causes lack of access to decent housing. We need to have real discussions about how to change these things including the debate about how government assistance programs tend to create a culture of dependency that reinforces all of the above. However, these debates cannot be entered into without encountering the cancel culture. Further, the cost of solving these fundamental problems is long-term and requires not just a decade by many decades to solve. In our culture today, on both sides of the political aisle, where quick fixes to meet the next election’s needs will prevent there ever being genuine discourse over the real and systemic social issues of our country.

So, how to we as Christians respond to the world in which we live now? A world that seems to have started spiraling out of control in just a few weeks. One thing is for certain is that we must do several things. First and foremost, we must quit just reading the Bible and begin really STUDYING it. We must begin to understand what God’s Word really means and not what we think it means and what we want it to mean. We must dive deep into His Word. We must not allow preconceptions about race to taint our witness. We must not, as well, let the cancel culture of the secular world in which we live dictate what we believe. We must know God’s Word better than we ever have in the comfort of the 20th and 21st century America.

That’s what I was thinking about this morning as I read 1 Chronicles 28:1-21. Here in this passage, David tells his son, Solomon, that he must know God’s Word and obey its commands so that he can be an effective king. God’s wisdom is what we need right now and not just our own judgment of how things out to be. This passage is, thus, instructive for us in today’s world. Let’s read it now:

Chapter 28

1 David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men.

2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12 He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 13 He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. 14 He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: 15 the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; 16 the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; 17 the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; 18 and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

In this passage, we see that David told Solomon to be careful to obey every one of God’s commands to ensure Israel’s prosperity and the continuation of David’s descendants upon the throne. It was the king’s solemn duty to study and obey God’s laws. The teachings of Scripture are the keys to security, happiness, and justice, but we will never discover them unless we search God’s Word. If we ignore God’s will and neglect his teaching, anything we attempt to build, even if it has God’s name on it, will be headed for collapse. Get to know God’s commands through regular Bible study and find ways to apply them consistently.

For us today in this current climate in which we live in 2020, we must seek God’s wisdom more than ever in knowing how to respond to what’s going on in this world. In knowing God’s Word, really studying it and knowing it, will allow us to seek God pleasing decisions about what to do.

We must be willing to address the centuries old issues of racism in our culture and the sense of segregation that exists even in our own faith. We must seek to create opportunities to interact with our black brothers and sisters in the faith. We cannot say we are all brothers and sisters in the faith when we barely acknowledge each other’s existence unless there is some common Christian event that requires us to be together. We may not wish to worship together consistently on Sunday mornings because of differences in worship style preferences but we must begin to interact with one another more frequently. If we are not demonstrating true brotherhood amongst the races, how can we stand on the street corner and decry what is going on in the general culture. We must set the example. We must be the ones who can have the needed discussions about the social ills caused by centuries of racism. We must be the ones who can have these discussions between blacks and whites where easy cultural labels are not invoked that ends discourse. We need to be the ones to join arm and arm, black and white, to work to do what we can to demonstrate how we love one another. We need to truly love one another and interact with one another frequently so that world will know we are Christians by our love for one another.

As well, we must study the Bible and know it well enough to see when our values must diverge from that of the prevailing intolerance of the age of tolerance. We must know God’s Word well enough to be able to see change in people and not crucify them for what they used to be in their past. We must know God’s Word well enough to stand against the sense of censorship that this “cancel culture” is breeding in our culture, because there is coming a day when the church will be square in the cross-hairs of the cancel culture. We must be able to articulate to the culture the eternal truths of God in a way that is not hateful and off-putting. We must know God’s Word well enough to discern what is happening in the culture that’s consistent with Scripture and that which is not. We must be willing to speak out. But when we speak out, we must have first rightly understood God’s Word. Then, we must stand for what God stands for. We must do so even when it is against the cultural tide. We must be willing to step outside of our comfort zones of Sunday morning church and Wednesday night Bible study and be willing to get into the fray armed with a definitive understanding of God’s Word.

David gave Solomon good advice – to know and obey God’s Word. Solomon for much of his reign as king was known as the wisest man in the world. That ought to tell us something for the plethora of problems that we face in our culture today. We must know God’s Word. We must study it so that we will have wise answers for a world that so desperately needs God’s wisdom.

Amen and Amen.

1 Chronicles 28:1-21 (Part 1 of 4)

David’s Instructions to Solomon

We were talking at Bible study last night about Chapters 10 and 11 of the book of the Acts of the Apostles. In these two chapters, we see the story of Peter, the hotheaded, emotional, distinctly proud Israelite Jew (though he was a scruffy, salty languaged fisherman), at one time a hater of tax collectors and Rome, and Cornelius, the Roman soldier stationed at Joppa. Cornelius had been in Palestine long enough for his family to be living with him there and for him to have learned the local customs. He was well respected among the Jews in Joppa, who of course made up close to 100% of the population. He had been there so long that he had become entrenched in the community as was a part of the culture in Joppa. He knew the Jewish people there so well that they had shared with him about the One and Only True God. Cornelius had been so impressed with this God of the Jews that he prayed to a God that he did not yet fully understand and was considered an honorable man and a God-fearing man. He lived his life according to what he had been taught by the Jews of Joppa.

Peter and most nationalistically proud Jews and religiously devout Jews considered the Romans pagans and would not go inside their home and would never eat with them publicly or privately. The Romans were hated by the Jews because they represented the conquering nation (of a once proud nation that had collective remembrance of what was once the glory of Israel as a regional superpower under David and Solomon). The Romans represented foreign taxation that took a significant bite out of the economy locally. The Romans represented military occupation and always fearing angering the military and being imprisoned or killed for the least little things. Thus, Acts 10 and 11 represented to Peter and almost unfathomable thought. To go to a home of a Roman centurion and to share the gospel with him and his family.

It was comparable to us today of God telling us to go to the home of a militant jihadist Muslim and sharing the gospel with them. It would be comparable to a white person being asked to go to the home of the most militant African American’s home and sharing the gospel with them. Why do I mention this passage from the New Testament in relation to our passage today from 1 Chronicles in the Old Testament?

Well, it is a reminder to us of God’s sovereignty in both cases. If let up to us, these things would have never happened. In the Old Testament below, David would never have been king and, even if he was king, under human traditions, Solomon would have never been king. In the New Testament above, this meeting between a proud Jew and now a Christian, Peter, and the hated Roman pagan, Cornelius, would have never happened on its own. In each case, God sovereignly chooses how and why things are done. God chooses who He will use as His representatives and God sovereignly chooses who receives the gospel and not us. That’s what I was thinking about this morning as I read 1 Chronicles 28:1-21. Let’s read it now:

Chapter 28

1 David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the warriors and all the brave fighting men.

2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. 3 But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

4 “Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. 5 Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’

8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”

11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. 12 He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. 13 He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of the Lord, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service. 14 He designated the weight of gold for all the gold articles to be used in various kinds of service, and the weight of silver for all the silver articles to be used in various kinds of service: 15 the weight of gold for the gold lampstands and their lamps, with the weight for each lampstand and its lamps; and the weight of silver for each silver lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand; 16 the weight of gold for each table for consecrated bread; the weight of silver for the silver tables; 17 the weight of pure gold for the forks, sprinkling bowls and pitchers; the weight of gold for each gold dish; the weight of silver for each silver dish; 18 and the weight of the refined gold for the altar of incense. He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

19 “All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the Lord’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”

20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”

In this passage, we are reminded that the kingdom of Israel belonged to the Lord, not to David or anyone else. Israel’s king, then, was God’s deputy. He was commissioned by God to carry out God’s will for the nation. Thus, God could choose whomever He wanted to be king without following the traditional human method of following familial lines of successful of a kingly lineage. David was not Saul’s heir. They were not related in any way. As well, Solomon was not David’s oldest son. However, God anointed the person whom He would best serve in the capacity of God’s deputy as the king of Israel. It demonstrates that in God’s kingdom, it does not matter what your pedigree might be or not be. God can use each of us to enhance and expand His kingdom when we have given our heart to Him through Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

The takeaways for this morning as we talk about God’s sovereignty are two. The first takeaway is that no matter what you and I have done in our past, it does not disqualify us from Christ’s love and from us being useful to the Lord’s kingdom. God looks at the heart not your pedigree. You don’t have to have been a Christian for 50 years to be useful to the kingdom. You don’t have to have lived a stellar, buttoned down, straight-laced life to be useful to the kingdom. God chooses who he will use not man. God chooses who will be useful for His kingdom not us.

The second takeaway is that since God chooses sovereignly who is useful to his kingdom, whatever qualifiers we put on things are meaningless. We cannot say, I will not share the gospel with him because he is black. That’s meaningless in God’s plan. I will not share the gospel with him because he is not just like me. That’s meaningless in God’s plan. I will not share the gospel with him because he hangs around with that rough drinking crowd at the bars. That’s meaningless in God’s plan. I will not share the gospel with him because he is of a different religion than me. That’s meaningless in God’s plan. I will not share the gospel with that person because their support abortion. That’s meaningless in God’s plan. I will not share the gospel with that person because they support defunding the police. That’s meaningless in God’s plan. I will not share the gospel with that person because they believe in this universalist, Godless, everybody’s their own God, everything’s tolerated, nothing offensive can be tolerated, cultural quasi-religion that pervades our Western culture now. That’s meaningless in God’s plan.

We share the gospel with all. It’s available to all. That’s what God says in Acts 10 and 11. That’s what God is saying by his personally choosing the second and third kings of Israel here in the Old Testament. God chooses not us. We simply seek His will. His will is that everyone needs the gospel and He chooses to whom it will be shared not us. He also chooses who will be useful to the kingdom not us. Thus, we share the gospel with everyone.

Amen and Amen.