Series: The Book, Part 3
17 May 2015
We're continuing a series called The Book. Over the next several months we are going to be teaching out of all the sections of the Bible and seeing how it’s put together, seeing common threads that connect the books of the Bible to make up The Book.
Now we find ourselves in the Historical books, a thousand-year period that starts in Joshua and ends with Esther. These books tell the story of
(1) Israel’s entry into the Promised Land of Canaan under Joshua;
(2) Israel’s life in the land under the judges and the transition to kingship;
(3) the division of the nation into two rival kingdoms (Israel and Judah) and life in both;
(4) the downfall and exile of each kingdom;
(5) life in the exile; and
(6) Judah’s return from exile.
Specifically we are looking at the story found in 1 Kings 12:1-24. This story refers to the dividing of Israel, a key event in the Historical books. Take a moment and read it through (read the previous chapter to get the context.) Notice in particular v.15 and v.24.
What do you think the writer wants us to see?
Here is how I would put it – God’s in the front row - watching and working! In other words, as we live out our lives, God is not only watching, but working in our lives, in our story.
What the writer wants us to see is that the doctrine of providence (providence refers to God’s active governance of the universe, because He is indeed a God who sees. He sees everything that takes place in the universe), is one of the most fascinating, important, and difficult doctrines in the Christian faith. It deals with difficult questions, such as, “How does God’s causal power and authority interact with ours..?”, “How does God’s sovereign rule relate to our free choices…?”, “How is God’s government related to the evil and suffering in this world…?” and “Does prayer have any influence over God’s providential decisions…?”
Believe you me, you could spend an eternity wrestling with these questions. BUT, note that the author does not want us to get caught up in these questions. He is telling the story to help us see that God’s in the front row - watching and working.
How do we see God’s providence working out in this story and thus ours?
Think of your own story, your own narrative - are there any power encounters going on?
The stubborn will of a child, the rebellious posturing of a spouse, the gritty grip and control of a boss, the persistent push back of a friend, the defiance of a roommate, the incalculable invasive control of your in-laws - power that can make one think, “How could God ever work in this situation? How could any good thing come from this?” Everyone has their mind made up - how could God ever work?
Look at our biblical story. Look at the power encounter in this story. What kind of power do Rehoboam, Jeroboam and the crowd have? How is it demonstrated? Who seems more powerful?
But note again v.15 and v.24 - what does the author want us to see? Who holds the real power?
Got any power encounters in your story?
Does it ever feel like in your story that all you see is the strong will of people?
Do you ever look at the power encounters in your story and wonder, “How will God ever be glorified in this?”
Power can, at times, result in great evil. Again review this story and ask, “How is power being used by these characters? What sin is manifesting? Regarding Jeroboam also read v.25-33.
Once you are done that exercise, scan your story. What examples of human sin lace your story, your family narrative, and your family tree? What has been the sin you have brought into the narrative? All of us could talk for hours about how sin has tainted our stories. For some sin has had devastating effects on our family story.
But note again v.15 and v.24 - what does the author want us to see? Does it appear that God has a front row seat to all that is happening? Does it appear that he is not only watching but working?
God is using the pernicious power, and the toxic sin to bring about His perfect purposes.
Check out v.15 again and ask, “Who is Ahijah?” Check out 11:26-43. God is bringing judgment upon the house of Solomon and he is using the sin and pernicious power of people to accomplish just that. He is also preserving the line of David (see v.36). Why? Check out Romans 1:1-4.
God’s in the front row - watching and working! His providence means He holds the power and can accomplish His purposes even when life looks really bleak.
What pernicious power is in your story that you need to ask God to work through these days?
What toxic sin is in your story that you need to trust that God can work through? Are you abusing power and thus sinning in your story?
Don’t allow the complexities of sovereignty, God’s providence, to rob you of the hope it can give us as we live out our story. Misguided power and sin that is embraced can be the very thing God uses in our story to accomplish His work. Mystery? For sure! Hope? Absolutely!
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact our Director of Worship and Discipleship Amanda Van Halteren firstname.lastname@example.org
DID YOU KNOW?
This week, as Mark discusses the Kings, I thought I’d remind you of a great principle to remember: a contradiction and an apparent contradiction are two different things.
Many atheists like to use the genealogies of the kings of Israel to show so-called “contradictions” in the Bible. However, you can be reassured that these contradictions are apparent contradictions only and can usually be resolved with some historical research and common sense (after all, if God wrote the Bible, which Christians contend, there is simply no way He would allow such a simple error!)
As an example, we are told that in one text (let’s say, 1 Kings) that King X was in charge, but in another text (1 Chronicles for instance, talking about the exact same time period), it says that King Y was in charge! So which is it? Well, it’s quite simple really: they’re BOTH right – it turns out the first King was on the throne, but the other was his son who acted as Regent until his father’s death.
We still see this even today: our own Queen Elizabeth II is still the reigning monarch, but her son Prince Charles has taken on more and more of her duties as she ages. See?!
Count on it: when God writes a book, you can trust the content, even if it’s not always easy or obvious!
(New this week) Grudem, Wayne et al. Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible: A Guide to Reading the Bible Well (p. 40). Crossway. Kindle Edition.)
(New this week) Zacharias, Ravi and Vince Vitale. Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn't Make Sense
Arthur, Kay. Teach Me Your Ways: The Pentateuch (New Inductive Bible Study Series) Harvest House Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 978-0736908054. Begin at the beginning - Creation, marriage, sin, civilization. Then learn about God's continuing lovingkindness and faithfulness to His covenant people, even when they let Him down.
Koukl, Greg. How Does the Old Testament Law Apply to Christians today? Available at the Stand to Reason website at http://www.str.org/articles/how-does-the-old-testament-law-apply-to-christians-today#.VTpOJSFVikp
Longman III, Tremper. Making Sense of the Old Testament. Baker Books, 1998. Answers 3 questions: What are the keys to understanding the OT? Is the God of the OT also the God of the NT? How is the Christian to apply the OT to life?
Redford, Douglas. The Pentateuch. (Vol. 1, Standard Reference Library: Old Testament). Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 2008.
Schreiner, Thomas. 40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law. Kregel Publications, 2010. (ISBN 978-0825438912) – all that Law… what still applies to us? What doesn’t? Why or why not?
y or why not?