Saturday, October 5, 2013

Only Son (part 20)

It is written that “When Solomon became old, his wives shifted his allegiance to other gods; he was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been.  Solomon worshiped the Sidonian goddess Astarte and the detestable Ammonite god Milcom.  Solomon did evil in the Lord’s sight; he did not remain loyal to the Lord…  The Lord was angry with Solomon because he had shifted his allegiance away from the Lord, the God of Israel…  So the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you insist on doing these things and have not kept the covenantal rules I gave you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you’.” (1 Kings 11:4b-5a,9a,11a)  This idolatry would reportedly lead to the division of the kingdom of Israel into north and south, and the dual monarchies that would persist until their respective subjugations and exiles. 

When the Temple of Jerusalem had been dedicated, Israel’s God promised to make it the place of His presence, as it was recognized in the ancient near east that temples were the resting places of the gods (the whole of the creation was the temple of the Creator God, for that is where He was said to have rested).  At the same time, the covenant God issued a warning for Solomon, saying “if you or your sons ever turn away from Me, fail to obey the regulations and rules I instructed you to keep, and decide to serve and worship other gods, then I will remove Israel from the land I have given them, I will abandon this Temple I have consecrated with My presence, and Israel will be mocked and ridiculed among the nations” (9:6-7).  To this was added: “This Temple will become a heap of ruins” (9:8a).  Is not this same warning, given to Solomon, also that which was given to both Adam and Israel? 

These respective sons of God were all given responsibilities, and all three, as the historical narrative would indicate, fall short of those responsibilities through which they were to reflect the glory of the Creator God, and through which their God would gain worship and praise.  Indeed, Adam’s temple (creation) would fall into ruin, subjected to death and decay.  Israel’s temple (it’s promised land) would fall into ruin, subjected to foreign power and exile.  Solomon’s temple (the Temple) would fall into ruin, destroyed by subjugating powers. 

For all of the good that was said to have been done during his reign, it was Solomon’s idolatry that set the nation on course for the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple at the hands of the Babylonians.  For all of the good that Adam presumably did, in service of his Creator, it was his self-idolatry that brought destruction into the world.  For all of the good that Israel had done, as they carried out at least a portion of their God’s commands in taking and subduing their promised land, it was their idolatry that routinely and repeatedly and finally brought about destruction. 

Before coming to that however, Solomon is shown to have served his Lord well.  As was said, kingdoms paid tribute to Israel, as the Creator God blessed Israel for its faithfulness.  “People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s display of wisdom; they came from all the kings of the earth who heard about his wisdom” (4:34).  The queen of Sheba was one of those that reportedly came to Solomon, having heard of his reputation.  It is said that when she heard him and saw all of his wealth, that “she was amazed” (10:5b).  She would go on to say, “Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, He made you king so you could make just and right decisions” (10:9b).  This hearkens to the words of Jesus.  Is it not possible to hear echoes of these amazed words from the queen when Jesus says, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)? 

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