Sunday, May 29, 2016

Watching a nation crumble

What does the downfall of a nation look like? It looks like this:

[1Ki 6:37 KJV] "In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif:"
[1Ki 6:38 KJV] "And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which [is] the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it."

Eleven years into Solomon's reign, the temple was completed

[1Ki 8:10 KJV] "And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy [place], that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,"
[1Ki 8:11 KJV] "So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD."

Not long thereafter, God fills the temple with His glory.

[1Ki 9:3 KJV] "And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually."
[1Ki 9:4 KJV] "And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, [and] wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:"
[1Ki 9:5 KJV] "Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel."
[1Ki 9:6 KJV] "[But] if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments [and] my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:"
[1Ki 9:7 KJV] "Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:"
[1Ki 9:8 KJV] "And at this house, [which] is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?"

God provides Solomon with a simple decision tree. Obey and all goes well; Disobey, and all goes badly.

[1Ki 11:1 KJV] "But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, [and] Hittites;"
[1Ki 11:2 KJV] "Of the nations [concerning] which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: [for] surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."
[1Ki 11:3 KJV] "And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart."
[1Ki 11:4 KJV] "For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, [that] his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as [was] the heart of David his father."

Solomon exercises his option to disobey.

[1Ki 11:14 KJV] "And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he [was] of the king's seed in Edom."

Judgement begins. Later in chapter 11, we see God inform Jeroboam, son of Nebat, that he will be king over ten tribes.

[1Ki 11:42 KJV] "And the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel [was] forty years."
[1Ki 11:43 KJV] "And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead."

The nation is torn apart into two parts; the greater part consisting of the ten tribes, Israel; and the smaller part consisting of the tribe of Judah.
[1Ki 14:21 KJV] "And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam [was] forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother's name [was] Naamah an Ammonitess."
[1Ki 14:22 KJV] "And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done."
[1Ki 14:23 KJV] "For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree."
[1Ki 14:24 KJV] "And there were also sodomites in the land: [and] they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel."
[1Ki 14:25 KJV] "And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, [that] Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:"
[1Ki 14:26 KJV] "And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made."

Solomon dies. His reign was forty years. The temple was completed eleven years into his reign. So, from the time that God let his glory rest on the temple until the kingdom was divided was about twenty-nine years. Almost immediately, the kingdom is torn asunder between Jeroboam and Rehoboam. Five years into the reign of Rehoboam, the nation of Egypt invades, and Rehoboam capitulates, letting the Egyptians haul off the wealth of the nation.

The time span from the greatest period of the nation to its humiliation is thirty-four years.

Let's say you were eighteen years old when Solomon's temple was dedicated. You personally witness God fill the temple with His glory. You live through the most prosperous period in the history of the nation; a time when "silver accounted as nothing" (1 Ki 10:21). During the prosperity of Solomon's reign, some warning signs appear. Solomon is amassing a huge stockpile of horses, and an impressive harem of the finest women from around the world. The women are bringing in the ways of their nations, and you are seeing a relaxing of standards to accommodate this new worldview. Time progresses, and as you get older, you watch the nation start to slide into idolatry. The days of God filling the temple with His glory are gone and forgotten.

And the nation is torn in two. You find yourself now in the tiny nation of Judah. The new king Rehoboam pays lip service to the LORD, but in reality is opposed to Him. Sodomites are emerging on the scene as a political force. The days of the nation seeking after God are not only fallen out of favor, they are flatly rejected. As a follower of the LORD, you find yourself now an oppressed minority, a social pariah.

You are fifty-two years old. Your nation's ruler surrenders to the Egyptians, and the wealth of the nation is carted off. All that gold, gone. The economy is crushed. One might think this would lead to repentance, but no; the leadership and the nation decide to continue on in their evil ways.

Does anything in this history lesson remind you of our present day and age?