an inside job

The Word for today:
1 Kings 13

Today we read the tale of a man of God who guarded against any compromise with an idolatrous king, but then was deceived by a prophet from within the “church.”

The Apostle Paul specifically warned of this detour into danger:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned. (1)

The man of God had been given the clear Word of the LORD. Then he acted upon it. He stood firm against the outside world, against the king himself.

But he was not on guard against forces from inside the so-called “church”–in this case a prophet who claimed a special angelic visitation.

If someone claims, “An angel spoke to me,” or “A vision has been given to me,” then his claims must be tested against the clear Word of God. Is it the scriptural Truth, the whole scriptural Truth, and nothing but the scriptural Truth?

If not, then reject it. Don’t follow him down that road–or you, like the man of God we read about today, will find yourself being torn up by the “lion” that Peter identifies as Satan (2).

(1) Galatians 1:8; (2) 1 Peter 5:8

Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on an inside job

a national divorce: the history and geography of “Israel” and “Judah”

The Word for today:
1 Kings 12

In order to complete his massive building projects, Solomon had taxed the people heavily.

So Jeroboam led a delegation from the ten northern tribes to ask Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and successor, to relieve them of their heavy taxation.

Rehoboam consulted the elder advisers, who recommended he cut taxes.

Then Rehoboam consulted younger men, his circle of friends, who recommended that Rehoboam continue the heavy taxation. Rehoboam decided to follow the advice of these younger men.

When the northern ten tribes heard that Rehoboam would continue to govern with heavy-handed authority and high taxation, they’d had enough. So they proclaimed Jeroboam their king. The glorious kingdom was broken, split in two like an eggshell struck against the pan.

Yesterday, we watched King Solomon fall. Now we’ll watch the kingdom slowly disintegrate until the walls come tumbling down.

The northern kingdom–“Israel”
The year was 920 b.c. The ten northern tribes (known from this time forth as “Israel”) would no longer serve Rehoboam, son of Solomon. They chose to follow Jeroboam instead.

The southern kingdom–“Judah”
The tribes of Judah and Benjamin stuck with Rehoboam, son of Solomon. (They would henceforth be known as “Judah.”)

Alert: the Bible student must pause here and commit to memory the names of Israel (the northern 10-tribe kingdom) and Judah (the southern 2-tribe kingdom). Many Bibles–usually at the back–will have maps showing various times in the history of Bible lands. Note that although there were only two tribes in Judah, it is nearly as large as 10-tribe Israel.

In the year 726 b.c., the ten northern tribes (“Israel”) were carried away into captivity by the Assyrians. “Israel,” during their 200 years, did not have a single good king (one who sought the LORD God).

“Judah” (composed of the southern tribes) lasted a bit longer, until the year 586 b.c. when they were carried away by the Babylonians. Out of nineteen kings, they had eight good ones (who sought the LORD) and eleven bad ones over the course of their 350 years.

The Jews that were exiled to Babylon would be led back by Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah, and Zerubbabel. They rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple and remained there until A.D. 70 (after Jesus) when forces of the Roman Empire destroyed the temple and dispersed the Jews throughout the entire known world.

920 B.C. — the kingdom splits into 2 kingdoms–“Israel” (north) and “Judah” (south).
726 B.C. — “Israel” (north) forced into captivity by Assyria
586 B.C. — “Judah” (south) forced into captivity in Babylon

—Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection—

70 A.D. — Jerusalem leveled, Jews dispersed throughout the world
1948 — “Israel” (a political entity; a nation) restored in Palestine
Today — spiritual “Israel” has not yet returned to God through faith in Messiah Jesus


Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on a national divorce: the history and geography of “Israel” and “Judah”

all the king’s horses and all the king’s men

The Word for today:
1 Kings 10:13 — 11:43

mark these:

1 Kings 11:7-11 —
On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods. The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.

Deuteronomy 17:16-17 —
The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself. He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne he is to write a copy of this law and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left.


It’s not pretty, what comes next. The great king comes unraveled and his kingdom is torn into fragments at the hand of the LORD God.

What happened?

Disobedience, plain and simple, is what happened.

God said, “Do not acquire great numbers of horses.” Solomon acquired great numbers of horses.

God said, “Do not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.” Solomon accumulated large amounts of silver and gold.

God said, “Do not marry foreign wives who will entice you to worship their strange gods.” Solomon collected 700 wives and 300 concubines, who enticed his heart to worship idols.

Sometimes we can romanticize Bible characters. Solomon and Samson come to mind. We look for deep-seated and complex ingredients in their souls as we seek to understand how two such gifted men fell.

Sometimes we can romanticize ourselves, as well. We look for deep-seated and complex ingredients in our souls as we seek to rationalize and justify our actions.

Stop it. The answers are not complex. Disobedience, plain and simple, is almost always at the core.

Solomon put himself above the law. I have, too. Have you?

I can’t be certain, but I think I shall see Solomon one day. I think he’s just another child of God gone astray.

Jesus said to receive the kingdom like a child (1). No need to make it complicated.

When, as a child, I did something my father told me not to do, my brother would always tell me, “You’re in trouble now, Franklyn.” And I was.

So I’ll say the same to you, brother or sister in the family of God. If we do something he tells us not to do, we’re in trouble. Guaranteed trouble.

Blessings are guaranteed in the Bible when we follow God’s guidance.

Trouble is guaranteed when we depart from his guidance. A child of God will not get by with disobedience.

When we think we’re too smart for all of this; when we see our relationship with God as so sophisticated, so unique that His elementary laws must have been written for somebody else…

Watch it. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, but to God he was just a disobedient brat who needed some of God’s guaranteed discipline. God, ever faithful, delivered.

And all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Israel back together again.

(1) Luke 18:17

Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on all the king’s horses and all the king’s men

the miracle of the universe is the character of God

The Word for today:
1 Kings 9:1 — 10:13

mark these:
1 Kings 9:1-2 —
When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

Matthew 12:39-42 —
A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

The Bible, like any book, can compress time. A quick reader could read from cover to cover in 100 hours or so, but untold thousands of years are “covered” by the Bible.

This can leave us with the sense that every time Bible characters turned around, there was some fresh revelation from the LORD. It can make it seem that miracles are occurring one after the other.

But that is not the case, and in 1 Kings we are given an example of the Bible’s compression of time. The first time the LORD spoke to Solomon was in Gibeon. You can read about it in 1 Kings 3:5. The second time God speaks to Solomon is in 1 Kings 9:
When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

Let’s say you were “Standing in the Rain” faithfully, until last week–a week that was so hectic you missed 5 days of reading. So, catching up today, you read from 1 Kings chapter 3 to 1 Kings chapter 10. Now you are back on schedule.

But reading those few chapters gives you the sense that God spoke to Solomon quite frequently, when actually there were 20 years between the first time and the second time God spoke to him.

There can be great spans of time between the LORD’s apparent dealings with us. It is spiritually dangerous to think that we will experience revelations or miraculous circumstances at every turn.

Reading the book of Acts, for example, might take us 3 hours. We will read of miracles which seem to happen daily, until we remember that the book of Acts covers thirty-eight years.

God is teaching us to live by faith, not by sight (1). Visions and revelations and visitations and miracles are in the realm of sight, not faith. If we were to have daily visions and miracles, we would not learn to trust his goodness, his faithfulness, his heart, his promises, his integrity–his character. Instead we’d learn to trust miracles, not Him.

So for those of you who don’t see visions or hear God’s voice, I want you to hear this very carefully: you are never to think that people who say they see and hear such things have a superior relationship with God (2).

Pharaoh saw many miracles and did not trust God. The disciples saw many miracles, but they deserted Jesus in his time of need.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (3). There isn’t a miracle or a revelation or an experience or a vision in that sentence. There’s just God, and his Word.

The miracle of the universe is the character of God.

(1) 2 Corinthians 5:7; (2) Matthew 12:39; (3) Romans 10:17

Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on the miracle of the universe is the character of God

“Something greater than the Temple is here.”




The Word for today:
1 Kings 8:12-66

[The book of Hebrews in the New Testament develops the rich spiritual significance of the Tabernacle’s design and furnishings. Why does Hebrews use the simple Tabernacle to illustrate these truths when it could have used the ornate Temple? We began to answer that question over the past two days, and will conclude our answer today.]

God proposed the Tabernacle:

(Artists’ renderings; night and day views)–

Man proposed the Temple:

There was nothing wrong with the Temple. It was good. But God’s idea–the Tabernacle–was great.

The Tabernacle (also known as the Tent of Meeting) was always in the midst of the nation Israel as they encamped and as they were on the move through the wilderness.

John 1:14 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. “Dwelt,” if literally translated, means “tabernacled” or “tented.” Jesus is the tabernacle amongst us; our access to God.

In the same way, the Bible is like the tabernacle. It shows the Way for man to approach God. It’s portable, simple, and among us.

So the Word, the Word made flesh, and the Tabernacle–each were sent to be among us, showing us the Way to God.

Solomon, son of David, built a sumptuous palace, and lived in opulent splendor. But coming down the road, in a threadbare cloak, with calloused carpenter’s hands, the ultimate Son of David faced the religious leaders and told them,
Something greater than Solomon is here (1); something greater than the Temple is here (2).

Then he was gone. At the center of 12 sons of Israel as they walked down the road, he was a picture of the Tabernacle in the midst of the 12 tribes of Israel as they made their way through the wilderness. God was among them, on his way to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, where he would build his Father’s house with just 3 nails.

(1) Matthew 12:42; (2) Matthew 12:6

Posted in Stand in the Rain Blog | Comments Off on “Something greater than the Temple is here.”