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When Solomon Prayed about Jesus Christ

1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
When I think of the first Christians—recent converts from Judaism—going back and reading their Scriptures (the Old Testament) after believing in Christ, I think how they must have been astounded to see how their God had been at work throughout all his time with them, pointing them to the watershed moment in Christ. I have no doubt that they would be sitting in the synagogue (now the assembly for the church), listening to the Scriptures, when suddenly they received a jolt in their gut. “WOW! Can you believe how that mentions the Christ, and how God brought that to fulfillment in Jesus? I never knew that was there before or I never knew that it meant that. Now that I see it though, I’m amazed and astounded. How did I not see that before? Praise God for his wisdom and his forethought!” If we would be diligent in reading the Old Testament, I am sure that we would encounter moments just like that, just like the one that we see in this passage about Solomon’s dedicati…

Rules for Life

Deuteronomy 4:1-9
When we were children, our parents probably gave us a lot of rules. Many of us probably did not like those rules, sometimes we may not have understood why there were those rules, and we may have thought that they were arbitrary. That is the nature of things when you are a child because you do not have the perspective to understand the bigger picture. The trouble with what I have described is that it can form in us a sense that most rules are arbitrary. The lawmakers and God just make rules to make rules. This passage in Deuteronomy should quickly put that notion to rest. Moses tells the Israelites a couple of reasons for the Law which he is about to recite to them again. First, they are “that you may live and go in and take possession of the land” (4:1). In some way, these are rules to preserve and prolong life, and rules that will aid them in their conquest. Second, they are what the Israelites “should do…in the land” (4:5). In some ways, these are rules for societa…

The Blessings of Wisdom

Proverbs 9:1-6
Of the three “wisdom” books, Proverbs probably is the one which we most associate with wisdom. (Some of you may not have realized that Ecclesiastes and Job also are “wisdom” books.) In it are contained the sayings of what will lead to wisdom, and a person who lives by the words in them will be wise. Of course, the book does not contain just two-line proverbs, but there are poems as well as something like stories. That is what we find here as we learn about Wisdom personified. Wisdom’s story actually is a bit longer than these few verses, but here is the most succinct summation of who Wisdom is. She is one who has built her house, and it is perfect as the “seven pillars” indicate (9:1). In essence, Wisdom is secure. She also has done her duties and prepared a table for guests (9:2). In essence, Wisdom is righteous and hospitable. Finally, she sends out her call from her place of prominence (9:3). In essence, Wisdom is valuable and open to all. In these short verses, we g…

To Live or To Die?

1 Kings 19:4-8
This passage is a little startling because we do not expect prophets to act like this. Here is Elijah giving up and asking to die because he feels worthless. It is even more surprising considering what has just happened (1 Kings 18). Elijah just had the showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He showed the people who is the true God, he destroyed the prophets of the false god, and then he announced the sending of rain which was three years in the making. What power! What goodness! Why does he now feel that it would be best for him to curl up and die? Is this how prophets act? In our Wednesday night class this week, we encountered another prophet of God (if you will) who also faced death. In Philippians 1, Paul seems to be facing some sort of dilemma. Does he live or does he give into death? It is a tough choice for Paul because he knows that dying means going to be with Christ in heaven; but living means advancing the Gospel even more and encouraging the Phi…

That We May Know the Lord

Exodus 16:1-15
As you know, Beth and I are in the midst of raising our first child, and being in this position invites an endless wave of advice. Some of the advice is good, and some of it does not align with what we want to do as parents. That is fine because parents are different and children are different, there is more than one way to raise a child, and who knows what will be useful and what will not. Well, as I read this passage, I was reminded of a particular kind of advice which takes different forms: Do not give into your children when they whine, or it will just teach them that they can get what they want by whining. It is a fair bit of advice, and one which we try to use in different ways. It is curious that God does not seem to know this trick. Here the Israelites are in the wilderness, just having finished celebrating God’s deliverance of them from Egypt, and they start complaining that things were better in Egypt. Back there, they could eat as much as they wanted whenever…

The Lord Giveth…and Giveth

2 Samuel 7:1-14
This is a famous passage in the history of the Church because it is where we see the promise of the Messiah to David. God will establish David’s lineage, and one of his own shall sit on the throne of his kingdom forever. We even are treated to such words as “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me” (7:14). If you have wondered what is with all of the connections to David in the Gospel accounts and why it is so important that Jesus is referred to as God’s “Son,” then this is the answer to those questions. This passage is, perhaps, the crown jewel of christological prophecies. That is why it is so easy for us to overlook other aspects of this passage which also bear significance for us. You see, this passage began with David being at peace because of all that God had done for him, so he wanted to do something great for God in return. What a wonderful impulse! Surely, we ought to give thanks to God (Luke 17:11-19), and such thanks might even take the form o…

A Rebellious Heart Unchanged

Mark 6:14-29
Last week’s article was from Ezekiel 2 in which Ezekiel is commissioned to proclaim the word of God to rebellious people who may or may not listen. This week’s passage seems to bear upon such a person. As Herod reminisces about John the Baptist, we learn that John spoke against Herod and his wife, Herodias. Herodias wanted to kill John for his words of judgment (rebellious, indeed), but Herod feared John (6:20). He knew that John was righteous, he knew that John’s words were hard, and yet he liked listening to John. Would it have any effect on Herod’s life? Would he repent from his ways? In answer to these questions, Mark gives us the story of one of Herod’s banquets. At such a banquet, the guests and the host likely indulged in much revelry and drinking. Eventually, seductive women came and danced erotically, as we see Herodias’s daughter do (6:22). These banquets basically were venues for physical pleasures. With the sense of euphoria lying heavily over the proceedings,…