Bible Reading for: April 20
This world wants you to relax about God’s laws, telling you things have changed. You’ll obey God in everything if you know what’s good for you.
Okay, I have read through the Bible cover to cover a number of times, but I have forgotten far more than I remember. That is why I found my jaw dropping as I read today’s passages. We had been told that Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, would lose all but the tribe of Judah due to Solomon’s turning his back on God and worshipping other gods. We knew that was coming. We were also told that Jeroboam would be made king over the remaining tribes. Again, we knew that was coming.
What I didn’t see coming is that the guy who God made king over Israel would immediately make golden calves for Israel to worship. Get this:
1 Kings 12:28 ESV
“So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
It would be one thing if the guy had no idea that God had made him king, but this guy had to run to Egypt until Solomon died because God had foretold that Jeroboam would be king and Solomon had tried to kill him because of it. So here is a clear demonstration to Jeroboam of God’s authority and power and he makes golden calves and says, “here is who brought you out of Egypt”? Really? I just can’t get my mind around it. How warped and twisted do you have to be to not understand the consequences of such a perverted act?
You know, that is the problem with reading about the Israelites. We read from many thousands of years in the future knowing the course of history and we say “You dummies! Don’t you know that your disobedience is going to hurt”? Were there to be another 5,000 years before Christ returns, I wonder what people would say of us. Would it be something like “You dummies! Don’t you know that your disobedience is going to hurt”?
I think the parallels between ancient Israel and modern America are pretty apparent, but what about a comparison between ancient Israel and the American church? Did you notice in today’s reading the story of the “man of God” whom God sent to prophesy about Jeroboam’s downfall? He obeyed God, delivered his message and went home. Part of his instructions from God was to “neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came” (1 Kings 13:9). When invited by Jeroboam and later a prophet to go with them and eat he said no, quoting his instructions from God. So far so good.
The prophet, unfortunately, lied to the “man of God” and told him that an angel had spoken the word of the Lord to him and that “the man of God” was to go home with him. The man of God, I’m sure, was tired, hungry and thirsty. This probably sounded like music to his ears. It was something he wanted to hear. At this prohibited meal, God spoke through the prophet and told the man of God that his “body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers”. He was going to die. He would not make it home. He would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers. Can you imagine starting off on your trip home knowing that you will die before you get there?
Man, that is harsh! My human sense of righteousness was outraged. It was the prophet that had lied. The prophet ought to be punished not the man of God! The man of God had every intention to obey. He was tricked! This isn’t fair!
Boy we love that phrase “It isn’t fair!” Fair by whose standard? Here is the problem with what the man of God did. God spoke directly to him and told him what to do. Someone else came along and said, “God countermanded His order and now you are to do something else.” Why would the man of God accept the word of this stranger? If he has a direct channel to God, why would he assume God would change his orders by talking through someone else? It isn’t consistent with how God started the communication.
Let me give you an example. If my wife tells me that our daughter is not allowed to have any more sweets today, and then one of her little friends comes to me and says “Mr. Hood, I just spoke with Mrs. Hood and she says that Olivia can have a big slice of chocolate cake”, what do you think my response will be? “Well if you say so.” No. That will not be my response. My response will be to call my wife and confirm that directive. If I gave my daughter that cake, do you think my wife would be mad at me or my daughter? You got it. I’d have a big bull’s-eye painted on my forehead! I’d be in for it brother and I don’t mean maybe!
Do you know there are at least two major religious groups in the world today that do exactly that? They say their more recent guy is the latest and greatest word on the subject of God and redemption. I’m aware of allegedly Christian denominations that say God’s Word was written for a different time and that the prohibitions against things like homosexuality are no longer pertinent. I’ve quoted before Christ’s statement that He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He further said that not one dot would pass from the law until heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:17-18). I’m also reminded of His words when he said:
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Brother, God has written a sense of right and wrong on every human heart. He calls the world to right relationship with Him and, more importantly, He has provided you, and every Christian, with His Word and His Holy Spirit to guide you in His will. You have no need to search out a guru, or some other spiritual leader, to tell you God’s will.
When Christ died, the veil was ripped from top to bottom. You can now come into the presence of the Almighty and Holy God because the shed blood of Christ covers your sin. He can, will, and does speak directly to you. Woe to you if you take a word from man that is contrary to God’s revealed Word. You will not be held blameless. Compare everything that comes from man against the Holy Word of God. If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!
Believe it or not, the sin of Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and the man of God were the same; they didn’t follow God’s commands. To not follow God’s commands is to turn your back on God. That is deadly. Good intentions are not enough. Forgiveness through Christ is paramount. That requires that you accept Him as your King and that you do not follow after false gods. If you have truly accepted Christ, false teachers will rub you the wrong way. If, however, you fall for a lie, you will not lose your salvation, but there will be consequences.
There is no need for that brother. Remember under whose authority you have placed yourself, and obey that authority alone so, as God says many a time in the Bible, things “will go well for you”!
Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!