Bible Order: Psalms 79–83
Chronological Order: 1 Kings 20-21
New Testament Only: Acts 4:1–31
Surrender Your Crown
The message God keeps sending us in His word is getting rather redundant isn’t it? Seek and obey God and things go well; seek after others and disobey God and things go horribly wrong. I almost always read the Old Testament thinking “when will these guys get it”, only to be reminded of my own cyclical obedience and disobedience. David had laid a foundation for a solid heritage of godly obedience. David had counseled Solomon to walk with God and at first Solomon did so. Solomon was wise enough to ask God for wisdom to rule. God was pleased that Solomon had asked for the sake of his people rather than himself and so granted this request as well as adding to that riches and fame.
It seems to me that wisdom was not enough to keep Solomon from marrying women from foreign lands that would eventually lead him away from walking with God. The wisdom didn’t keep him from succumbing to his wives pulling him from walking with God. I don’t believe God was impressed by Solomon’s request for wisdom as much as the fact that Solomon asked for something for the sake of others. It was the attitude of Solomon’s heart at that time that pleased God. Of what real value was the wisdom when it did nothing to keep him in right relationship with God? Of what real value was that wisdom in raising his heir to walk with God? Tell me something. Of what tree was the forbidden fruit of which Adam and Eve partook? Was it not the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
Wisdom cannot save you. We know deep down in our soul right and wrong and we still can’t keep ourselves from doing wrong. Wisdom will not save you. If you have put your faith and hope in wisdom you have built your future on sinking sand. When Rehoboam had become king and the leaders of the people asked him to lighten their burden he took the council of his young friends rather than that of the elders that advised his father. Rehoboam told the people he would increase their burden and the split of Israel began. In many ways that split has never been healed. Even when wisdom is available, our self-centeredness usually out-ways its council and pursues a self-destructive course.
Rehoboam turned from God early in his reign; most likely following the example of father in the last years of his. Do we ever become too old to set a good example for our children? They will walk in our ways. Rehoboam had been raised in the lap of luxury. Did you catch the description of the throne Solomon had made; ivory covered in gold? Today’s reading reminded me of what Jesus had said:
Matthew 19:23-26 ESV
“And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
I find it funny that the Holy Spirit has lead me to this verse today. It was just the other night Juli and I sat down to watch the movie “The Blind Side”. It is a heartwarming film based on a true story of a family that showed Christian love to a teenage boy who had no place to live and no family to turn to. They brought him into their home and made him part of their family. He now plays left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. This young man had been accepted into a private Christian school for the purpose of playing football. In the movie he walks up to the school for the first time and he looks up at a verse of scripture over an entrance archway. I had to stop and rewind because I was sure I had read that verse incorrectly.
I hadn’t read the verse incorrectly. The movie had rendered Matthew 19:26 as follows:
“With man this is possible, with God all things are possible”
The movie makers evidently didn’t like the scripture as written so they changed it to fit their view of the world. In that little change from impossible for man to possible for man is the whole problem of all humanity. Whatever “this” is, it is not possible without God. Rehoboam had all the wealth one could possibly desire and he couldn’t keep it. Why? Because he acted as though he didn’t need God. He had confidence in his own ability and didn’t see the need for God.
God, in His grace, showed Rehoboam that he did indeed need God. He allowed Egypt to conquer Judah.
2 Chronicles 12:5 ESV
“Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’”
What was Rehoboam’s response to God’s discipline?
2 Chronicles 12:6-7 ESV
“Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.” When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.”
This was God’s purpose in allowing Egypt to plunder Judah; to restore Rehoboam and Judah into right relationship with Him. God didn’t just stop Egypt, however, He made things better in Judah because Rehoboam had humbled his haughty spirit.
2 Chronicles 12:12 ESV
“And when he humbled himself the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to make a complete destruction. Moreover, conditions were good in Judah.”
Giving up lordship of your own life and surrendering to God, humbling yourself before Him by confessing His Lordship, leads to “good”. Being your own god leads to “bad”; it’s just that simple. Do you get it yet? Is this little drama playing itself out in your life? Do you find yourself sliding away from God and experiencing more and more challenges in life only to return to Him and find peace and happiness? I hate to admit it but that drama has played itself out in my life many times. That is our battle; to abdicate lordship over our own lives and surrender our “Burger King” crowns to God who wears the only true crown.
In the quote from Matthew above, Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter heaven. He said this in response to a young man who had ask Him how to obtain eternal life. In response to Jesus saying one must keep the commandments the young man replied that he had kept them but what else did he lack. Jesus told the rich young man that he only needed to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him. The young man could not do this.
The disciples were shocked because Jesus was saying that obeying the letter of the law would not save a person. The disciples wondered how they too could be saved because they had thought the point was to obey the commandments of God. The wealth wasn’t the issue. Wealth is just a tool; it can be used for good or for evil. The issue is the condition of the heart; how do you wish to use the tool? The disciples missed the point; you can’t obey God. It is against your spiritual DNA. You have running through you a natural desire to do what is wrong. Neither wealth nor an imperfect attempt to obey can save you. For you this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible. With your surrender of your bogus crown to the one true King, Jesus Christ, you will be saved. Surrender your crown today and every day. Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him! With Him as your Lord and dwelling inside you, obedience is possible!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 5/16/10)