New windows were installed in the parsonage basement this week. The old windows had been there since the house was built 65 years ago. Suddenly, the basement looks brighter and fresher, the exterior of the house looks newer and even more attractive, and the basement is sealed up much better prepared for winter cold. Everything we have—our buildings, our vehicles, our bodies—require a lot of maintenance. The years go by and we don’t realize just how long its been. Is it time for a spiritual tune-up? Is it time to replace some old things with some new things?
God’s name is majestic in all the earth declares Psalm 8. We may be total idiots destroying our own history, culture, and environment with wild abandon. But God is majestic in the heavens above and the earth below. His own creation testifies to His greatness and glory, to His ability to order and sustain the smooth functioning of the universe while we cannot order even a single day of our own lives smoothly. What is more amazing, God does all of this while He delegated the care of His creation to us—sinful, foolish, and evil as we be.
William Willimon said, “Democracy really only works among a people who have been transformed by Christ. If the church wants to influence the world again, it must be able to transform people in the church before it tries to change the world.” Democracy depends on people choosing to do the right thing because of personal morals and ethics. The other option is where people do what the government wants out of fear of what the government will do to them if they don’t. Sadly, we have turned our back to God, and we are reaping the results.
Ahab’s final ruin came at the hands of Jehu King of Judah in fulfillment of the Word of God spoken through Elijah because of Ahab’s wickedness as the King of Israel. Ahab had been killed along with his wife Jezebel. Then in II Kings 10 we are told of the slaughter of Ahab’s 70 descendants and the prophets of Baal. It is hard to admit we are in a real spiritual battle and that we cannot idly sit by while the opposition does great evil. The Allies had to engage Hitler or be destroyed. We must be men of courage.
Ahab was the most wicked king of Israel. I Kings 20 and 21, however, speak to God’s grace to Ahab. He gave victory to Israel over the Arameans so Ahab would know that “I am the Lord.” The next year God did it again to show the Arameans that God is the God of the mountains and the valleys and so that Ahab would know that “I am the Lord.” Then Ahab and Jezebel murdered Naboth to steal his vineyard. The prophet announced the upcoming disaster on Ahab, but Ahab humbled himself—and God put off the disaster. Amazing grace.
I Kings 10 speaks of Solomon’s outstanding wealth and wisdom. But I was reminded of the Jews coming back from captivity in Nehemiah and Ezra. They remembered the greatness of Solomon’s temple and the wealth. But they were coming back trying to rebuild from absolute rubble and ruin. God had warned Solomon that all he had built would become a heap of ruins if they serve other gods (I Kings 9:6-9). The United States has been abundantly blessed by God, but we need to repent and turn to God lest we become a heap of ruins.
King David’s sin resulted in a plague on Israel. At the prophet Gad’s instruction, David goes to sacrifice to the Lord. Araunah offered the land to him for free. But David said, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (II Samuel 24:24) David paid Araunah for the land and the oxen. David’s heart was like the heart of Mary who poured expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. When we really know the greatness and glory of God, we find ourselves joyfully serving a God for whom no sacrifice is too large.
II Samuel 14 tells the story of Joab using a woman to convince David to bring back his son Absalom who had fled to Geshur after murdering his brother Amnon. The woman said to King David, “God devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” That really expresses the heart of God. After God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden, He still maintained a relationship with them. Regardless of where our choices and circumstances have taken us, God’s heart for us is that we no longer be strangers to Him. He yearns to love us.
Jesus had raised his good friend, Lazarus, from the dead. The Pharisees were more concerned about protecting their power and control than about standing for truth or the good of their people. They decided they needed to kill Jesus because people were believing in Jesus and they were afraid the Romans would take away their influence and power (John 11:48). Next they made plans to murder Lazarus because many Jews were believing in Jesus because of him (12:10). These same people preached the Ten Commandments! At what point will we commit evil to protect our own power and influence?
Today I read about David and Goliath. I was impressed with the trash talk used first by Goliath and then by David. Goliath used trash talk against King Saul and the whole army of Israel and he succeeded in demoralizing them. David approaches Goliath without armor or spear. Goliath’s trash talk has no impact on David. David returns fire with fire. He tells him he comes in the name of God. David tells him he will cut off his head and feed the carcasses of the Philistines to the birds of the air. David’s confidence and courage win the day.