2 Chronicles 7:19-22 and A Stark Warning

Shield of the Holy Trinity

Shield of the Holy Trinity

As I read through the Old Testament I usually try to see how this applies to Jesus or to life as a Christian. Sometimes it is easy to see the connection, and sometimes I end scratching my head. This reading, however, came across as a stark warning to me. The context is that Solomon has just dedicated the Temple and God showed up in a mighty way–fire from heaven consuming the sacrifices and the presence of the Lord so great in the Temple that the priests had to stop what they were doing. This is part of God’s response to Solomon after all of this:

 But if any of you ever turn away from and abandon the regulations and commands that I have given you, and go to serve other gods and worship them,  then I will uproot you from my land that I gave you, and I will reject this temple that I made holy for my name. I will make it a joke, insulted by everyone.  Everyone who passes by this temple—so lofty now—will be shocked and will wonder, Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and temple?  The answer will come, Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods, worshipping and serving them. This is why God brought all this disaster on them.

Many people in Western Culture see the Church, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, as a joke and it is insulted because of that fact. Could it be that we are seen as a joke because we have worshiped other gods? Have we replaced the worship of the Trinity with prosperity, or justice, or moralism, or spiritual enlightenment, or tolerance, or civil power, or ritual, or music style, or some other such false god?

Perhaps we ought to think and pray long and hard about this and see what comes of it. Perhaps the Church’s problems are of our own making because we have forsaken our God in favor of the false gods of the peoples around us. Perhaps it is time for repentance so that the West may see the power of the Living God at work transforming lives once again.

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1 Chronicles 10:13-14 and Seeing History Clearly

Sauls_deathI have to admit, sometimes I have a difficult time reading 1 and 2 Chronicles. Yes, there are some different details than 1 and 2 Kings, but a lot of times it seems just like a retelling of the same stories. However, this time I was reading I realized something different. Look at this passage once we get through all the genealogies:

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and hadn’t followed the Lord’s word. He even consulted a medium for guidance.  He didn’t consult the Lord, so the Lord killed him and gave the kingdom to David, Jesse’s son.

This is different. There is no reminder that Saul was “the Lord’s anointed.” There is no reference to David and Jonathan’s friendship. There is no mention that David served Saul, ran from Saul, and was still loyal to Saul. No, this passage is short and to the point: Saul greatly disobeyed God, so the kingdom was given to David.

Both 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles were written after the events happened. They both know of the exile because of the unfaithfulness of the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. Yet it seems that Chronicles takes a much more direct approach. There is no pretense left in trying to show some semblance of faithfulness. Having suffered for seventy years in exile, the author of Chronicles has no problem calling sin a sin and showing the consequences of those sins. I get the feeling in Kings that there is still some effort at justification for the sinful actions of many of the people, but that is not present in Chronicles.

Sometimes in our own lives the best way to move forward is to see ourselves more like the author of Chronicles–call sinful actions what they are without trying to justify or sugar-coat them. Only then can real repentance and growth come. Only then can we begin to see real development of our souls further into the image and likeness of Christ.

When we can see our own history clearly, we can repent and move forward.

2 Samuel 11:1 and A Timeline for Sin

david-and-bathsheba-gregory-peck-everettOne of the most troubling parts of the story of David, the man after God’s own heart, is the Bathsheba incident in 2 Samuel 11. How could someone who had been so faithful to the Lord sin in such a big way? It was like David was saving up all his sins to commit them at the same time in life! The story continues in Chapter 12 and we see David’s true repentance, which is why he was a man after God’s own heart. But through this whole scene we can see the timeline for how sin works (very similar to Achan’s sin in Joshua 7). It begins with this simple statement:

In the spring, when kings go off to war, David sent Joab, along with his servants and all the Israelites, and they destroyed the Ammonites, attacking the city of Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

First, David was not in the right place. He should have been out with the army since he was the king, but instead he chose to stay home. Intentionally being in the wrong place can be the beginning of sin.

Second, David saw what he should not have seen. David’s palace was at the top of the downward-sloping city of Jerusalem. From his palace he could see into almost all of the homes below. If he had not been where he ought not to have been, he would not have seen Bathsheba bathing.

Third, David inquired about her. Not only did David see Bathsheba, he became curious about her and sent for people to tell him about her.

Fourth, David sent for her. Now, not only was David where he wasn’t supposed to be, seeing what he shouldn’t have seen and investigating what he had seen, he sends people to bring her to him.

Fifth, David entertains his sin. He lives out what he thought about when he saw her.

Sixth, David tries to hide his sin. He recalls Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite, from battle to make it look as if he got his wife pregnant, not David.

Seventh, David tries to hide his sin a different way. He murders Uriah and then takes Bathsheba as his wife.

In each of these instances David could have stopped the timeline of sin and the guilt would not have been compounded. David could have spared Uriah. He could have admitted to Uriah he slept with his wife. He could have not sent for Bathsheba. He could have not inquired about her and thought about having an affair with her. He could have looked away when he saw her bathing and not thought about it again. He could have gone out and led the armies of Israel as he was supposed to do.

Often, when we start something little, like David not fulfilling his duty to lead Israel in battle, it leads to bigger sins. One of the hardest things to do is to stop the timeline in its tracks and confess our sin to God and to someone who can hold us accountable for our actions. It is difficult, but by having the humility to confess we can stop the sin from growing exponentially and our guilt likewise increasing. The guilt for not going to war was not great. The guilt for seeing Bathsheba bathing was not great. Yet by not stopping this timeline from progressing, David ends up being an adulterer and a murderer. This is much, much more guilt and sin than simply staying away from a battle.

Do not let pride or reputation keep you from ending a cycle of sin. Escape the timeline in which you are trapped by confessing your sin to God and to someone you trust who can hold you accountable for your actions. Admitting sin is painful, but not nearly as painful as the amount of sin that will need to be confessed later as the situation builds beyond control and the consequences of sin spill out on the ones you love.