Posts Tagged ‘following the crowd’

OVERVIEW OF 1 KINGS
Personal Reflection on Overview of 1 Kings
My momma used to say, “you are the company you keep!” What this wonderfully Southern women meant by that statement is that if you hang around with a bad crowd, you will end up being in the middle of trouble. When you hang around with a bad crowd, you always end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. My dad, the master of all clichés (at least when it came to parenting), would always tell me, “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” Well, sounded like fun when I was a teenager, but I didn’t dare say that to him. I knew what he meant. The same thing my momma said.

Growing up as a preacher’s kid, particularly as a teenager, I was one of those preacher’s kids that gave preachers’ kids that reputation as being wild bucks. I hung out with the party crowd and tried to be as normal and fit in as well as I could. I didn’t want to be singled out as one of those Bible thumping preacher’s kids that everybody picks on in school. Back in those days, there were not as many private Christian secondary schools as there are now. You just went to public school. With us moving as much as Methodist preacher families do, I don’t think my parents would have sent us to a private school any way. So, in public school, I just tried to fit in. I didn’t want to be seen as one of those religious freaks. It was more important to me to fit in that it was to follow Jesus Christ. It just seemed like it would cost you too much in the drama that is elementary, and especially, middle and high school. I would rather hang out with the party crowd and become known and accepted than it was for me to stand up for Christian principles (that I knew well having grown up in church). Getting in to trouble for partying too much, doing stupid stuff, and getting put on restrictions by my parents was more important to me than doing the right thing. You know the story?

That’s what I thought of this morning as I researched materials for an overview on 1 Kings. Trying to fit in even if it meant forgoing what you knew to be God’s way! That was me. That was Israel in 1 Kings. Let’s read about Israel’s decline in this overview.

The following is an excellent overview of 1 Kings provided to me at http://www.gotquestions.com, my favorite website concerning biblical issues from an evangelical perspective:

OVERVIEW

Author
The Book of 1 Kings does not specifically name its author. The tradition is that it was written by the Prophet Jeremiah.

Date of Writing
The Book of 1 Kings was likely written between 560 and 540 B.C.

Purpose of Writing
This book is the sequel to 1 and 2 Samuel and begins by tracing Solomon’s rise to kingship after the death of David. The story begins with a united kingdom, but ends in a nation divided into 2 kingdoms, known as Judah and Israel.

Key Verses
1 Kings 1:30, “I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”

1 Kings 9:3, “The LORD said to him: ‘I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.'”

1 Kings 12:16, “When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!'”

1 Kings 12:28, “After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'”

1 Kings 17:1, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.'”

Brief Summary
The book of 1 Kings starts with Solomon and ends with Elijah. The difference between the two gives you an idea as to what lies between. Solomon was born after a palace scandal between David and Bathsheba. Like his father, he had a weakness for women that would bring him down. Solomon did well at first, praying for wisdom and building a temple to God that took seven years to construct. But then he spent thirteen years building a palace for himself. His accumulation of many wives led him to worship their idols and away from God.

After Solomon’s death, Israel was ruled by a series of kings, most of whom were evil and idolatrous. The nation fell further away from God, and even the preaching of Elijah could not bring them back. Among the most evil kings were Ahab and his queen, Jezebel, who brought the worship of Baal to new heights in Israel. Elijah tried to turn the Israelites back to the worship of Yahweh, challenging the idolatrous priests of Baal to a showdown with God on Mount Carmel. Of course, God won. This made Queen Jezebel angry (to say the least). She ordered Elijah’s death, so he ran away and hid in the wilderness. Depressed and exhausted, he said, “Let me die.” But God sent food and encouragement to the prophet and whispered to him in a “quiet gentle sound” and in the process saved his life for further work.

Foreshadowings
The Temple in Jerusalem, where God’s Spirit would dwell in the Holy of Holies, foreshadows believers in Christ in whom the Holy Spirit resides from the moment of our salvation. Just as the Israelites were to forsake idolatry, so are we to put away anything that separates us from God. We are His people, the very temple of the living God. Second Corinthians 6:16 tells us, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’”

Elijah the prophet was for forerunner of Christ and the Apostles of the New Testament. God enabled Elijah to do miraculous things in order to prove that he was truly a man of God. He raised from the dead the son of the widow of Zarephath, causing her to exclaim, “”Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.” In the same way, men of God who spoke His words through His power are evident in the New Testament. Not only did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, but He also raised the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:14-15) and Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:52-56). The Apostle Peter raised Dorcas (Acts 9:40) and Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).

Practical Application
The Book of 1 Kings has many lessons for believers. We see a warning about the company we keep, and especially in regard to close associations and marriage. The kings of Israel who, like Solomon, married foreign women exposed themselves and the people they ruled to evil. As believers in Christ, we must be very careful about whom we choose as friends, business associates, and spouses. “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Elijah’s experience in the wilderness also teaches a valuable lesson. After his incredible victory over the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, his joy turned to sorrow when he was pursued by Jezebel and fled for his life. Such “mountaintop” experiences are often followed by a letdown and the depression and discouragement that can follow. We have to be on guard for this type of experience in the Christian life. But our God is faithful and will never leave or forsake us. The quiet, gentle sound that encouraged Elijah will encourage us.

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Numbers 16:1-50 (Part 3 of 3)

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

 

In recent weeks, we have seen North Carolina take a beating in the press with regard to House Bill 2, otherwise known as the Bathroom Bill. The latest in the vilification of North Carolina has been actions by the NCAA, the governing body of college-level athletics, and by the ACC (the Atlantic Coast Conference), whose headquarters happen to be within the borders of North Carolina in Greensboro. The Atlantic Coast Conference is made up of member schools, Boston College, Clemson University, Duke University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Louisville, University of Miami, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse University, Wake Forest University, Virginia Polytechnic & State University, and the University of Virginia, and member in all sports except football, Notre Dame University. The conference, headquartered in the heart of Tobacco country in Greensboro, NC has decided to join the ever-increasing bandwagon of sporting events that have been removed from North Carolina by removing all of its conference sports championships that had been planned for the next year in the state.

 

Although I am a Clemson fan and have been proud of our heritage as one of the few schools (in this day and age where schools change their conference affiliation like I change underwear) that has remained in this conference since its formation in 1953, this decision is so disheartening. Clemson has had chances to leave the conference on two occasions but has decided to stay because of loyalty to the conference. Although I think it would be better from a football standpoint for Clemson to join the SEC, they have remained loyal. I often defend the ACC to my SEC friends. I am angered when the level of competition in our football is questioned. Although the ACC has four teams ranked in this week’s Top 25 rankings and three of those are ranked in the Top 10 (Florida State, Clemson and Louisville), we still must defend the strength of our league. Although we rank only second to the SEC in the number of NFL draftees over the past five years, we still have to defend our league. And, I have done so with passionate fervor. However, I must say that I feel betrayed this morning by the very league I often staunchly defend.

 

The irony of it all is that the ACC, as well as the NCAA, do not seem to grasp their own hypocrisy in this situation. Although the ACC has come out in favor of unisex bathrooms in catering to those with claimed gender identity crises, it remains committed to holding separate men’s and women’s sports championships in sports common to both sexes. If you go to their website, www.theacc.com, and click on the “Sports” link at the top of the page, you will note the blatant segregation of men’s and women’s sports. The same would be found in a browse of the NCAA’s website. So, it seems that the objections of the ACC from the get-to to HB2 is fundamentally flawed and fundamentally hypocritical. Why not allow men to compete in women’s sports and vice versa and just remove the labels of men and women altogether. You and I both know why. It is because of safety concerns not only on the field but off it. Women could easily be gravely injured by competing with men. And, certainly, women would, in general, desire not to be required to undress in front of men.

 

The motivation for this removal of sporting championship from the state where the conference is headquarted is nothing more than political bandwagoning. If the ACC is so committed to principles to which it says it was committed to yesterday, why not move the ACC headquarters out of North Carolina? Would that not show how committed they are to the unisex concept? The ACC owes much its heritage to the tobacco industry that has long supported its core North Carolina member institutions. Why not protest that, too, by moving out of North Carolina? As Franklin Graham said yesterday, why not drop Dr. Pepper as title sponsor from the ACC football championship game. Dr. Pepper readily and willing operates in countries where transgenderism and homosexuality is actually a crime punishable by imprisonment or death. Why not put your mouth where you money is, ACC? The hypocrisy is astounding. Standing on wagon with tobacco on it while on one side of the wagon saying you boys have your championships over here and you girls have your championships over there, and then turning around and taking a gulp of Dr. Pepper and shouting that inclusiveness is our thing so we disdain the very state in which we are headquartered and have no intention of leaving. It’s all about gaining political currency as well as seeking to maintain actual currency. This has less to do with conviction and more to do with perception. I am dismayed. North Carolina actually had the common sense to make state law that would supersede a city ordinance passed by its largest city, Charlotte.

 

Jumping on the bandwagon, ACC, and caving to what you perceive as the populist wave does not make what you did yesterday morally correct. God did create us as men and women for a reason. If He had wanted us to blur the lines between manhood and womanhood, he would not have made the division so distinct. Such sexual identity crises should be met with loving and compassionate counseling not glorifying it as normal behavior. However, we are glorify and normalizing what we have no idea how it will impact society for years to come. It is like though we have the capability to create nuclear weapons we as society have chosen to not use them anymore. Just because we CAN be transgender does not mean we SHOULD not only from a God-ordained standpoint but also simply from a social chaos standpoint.

 

Yet, here we are, the bandwagon of lunacy and hypocrisy grows larger each day. North Carolina will be vilified to the point of having to repeal their law. The bandwagon pressure will grow and grow but as the bandwagon falls of the cliff, they will say they are supporting liberty and quash anyone who has a different opinion. The bandwagon was joined by the ACC yesterday, the biggest hypocrite of all. My dad used to say to me that “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” That’s the very question that I ask here.

 

It is that idea of having to choose between popular opinion and that which is of God is the thing that I thought of when I read this rather extended passage for the third and final time today, Numbers 16:1-50:

 

16 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

 

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

 

38 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

 

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come!”

 

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

 

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.” 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

 

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

 

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

 

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

 

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

 

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

 

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

 

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

 

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

 

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

 

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.

 

The Israelites were told to not even touch the belongings of the wicked people. In this case, doing so would have shown sympathy to their cause and agreement with their principles. Korah, Dathan and Abiram were directly challenging Moses and God. Moses clearly stated what God intended to do the rebels. He did this so everyone would have to choose between following Korah and following Moses, God’s chosen leader. When God asks us to make a fundamental choice between siding with that which is not of God and that which is of God, we should not hesitate but commit ourselves 100% to the Lord’s side, no matter the ramifications of public opinion.

 

We should choose God’s side over human opinion each and every day. When we begin compromising our beliefs to make our beliefs more palatable to the world then we begin destroying the integrity of the Christian faith. At the same token, we are not to blow up buildings and such things to get our point across. We are simply to choose God’s way in peaceful and loving ways. We cannot jump on the bandwagon and say this thing that the Bible said is OK now in the 21st century but that has been wrong eternally. God does not change. What He says was wrong a million eternities ago is still wrong today. Just because we now call a gorilla a kitten does not mean the kitten is not fundamentally and in every way still a gorilla.

 

I do not wish to sound harsh here but the bandwagon mentality has taken over our country. We as Christians must lovingly stand against the tide of public opinion and stand with God. We must stand with North Carolina in a very public way. We must stand with them and not cave to public opinion and fear of losing corporate dollars as the ACC did yesterday. May we have the same conviction to the principles of God and with the same love for others as Jesus did when He died on the cross. That loving necessity meant pain and suffering and public ridicule but He was executing the Father’s will and that was the most important thing to Him. May we stand with Christian principles with the same conviction knowing that God loves the very people that are spitting in our faces.

 

Amen and Amen.