Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 14 & James 2:14-26
I’m always fascinated to read stories of dynasties, particularly the stories which start with a faithful, prayerful generation committed to hard work and sacrifice, founded on a love of providing for the family; a vision of seeking a better life. As the story unfolds, the next generation rises to take responsibility into the future, and the cycle continues.
I have very fond memories of my early years growing up, where there were almost as many different nationalities living in the street as there were houses; each home a wonderful blend of different colours and sounds and smells. For all of us kids, different was fun and interesting and always full of surprises particularly with what might come out of the oven or the trading over the fence from the vege patch or chook pen.
But over time, and as I’ve gotten older, there are also some sad and tragic stories of what could have been for some of the kids from the families I knew growing up; families where my generation made decisions which compromised everything, losing the family inheritance and everything that had been sacrificed and given so freely by parents and grandparents, not just monetary but also values for living life; decisions which ended in destroyed lives.
On a much grander scale than our street and neighbourhood, we find ourselves engrossed in seeing what started out so promising, swiftly change. Back in 1 Kings 11 we have read how the promises made to David slipped through the fingers of Solomon as he made unwise decisions; as his heart turned from the Lord, failing to keep His commands. But during his reign, Solomon saw something in Jeroboam:
Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labour force of the house of Joseph. vs 28
And then the message to Jeroboam through the prophet; a promise from God himself that through Jeroboam, God would build a dynasty, but it was grounded in the same conditional cycle of obedience and blessing; disobedience and punishment:
‘ ….. as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statues and commands as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 1 Kings 11:37-39
And now we find ourselves in Chapter 14 with disaster about to unfold; the promise of what could have been taken away. Jeroboam was God’s plan; not a lineage inheritance but rather a divine appointment with a divine purpose; Jeroboam was the one chosen by God to be the leader of God’s nation.
As Jeroboam’ s wife visits Ahijah the prophet, she is delivered a reminder of the original promise of the leadership appointment:
Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and made you a leader over my people Israel.’ 1 Kings 14:7
And the consequences of ‘what could have been’:
You have done MORE evil than all who lived before you. You have made yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back. Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam.’
1 Kings 14:10
The tragedy in this story is that because he was God’s appointed, Jeroboam had the opportunity and potential to be an amazing leader but instead, because the decisions he made were in defiance of God; displacing God from the position of God, he took not just his family, but the whole kingdom entrusted to him down a path of destruction.
There is certainly much more that can be shared in this chapter as we then move to the situation that unfolded with Rehoboam’s ungodly leadership of the remnant; Judah that had been entrusted to him ….
And like Jeroboam, there is the ‘what could have been’ … but that will unfold in the coming chapters.
But as I read, there is the confronting reality, as I stop to reflect not just on my childhood neighbourhood, but also those I have known over the years as part of my Christian walk; those I sat alongside in church, those I prayed with, those I shared ministry with, those who for some reason, have taken a different path away from God ….
My prayer is that I will remain faithful to the call God has on my life; that I will not be pulled by the distractions of the world and that God would reveal those things which have potential to be the idols that could creep into my life; the distractions which can pull me into the world.
Pray with me ‘… to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith ….’ Hebrews 12:1-2
And rather than life being about what could have been, it will be about all that God intended;
‘… bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light’. Colossians 1:10b-12