1 KINGS 4:1 – 6:38 and JOHN 3:1–36
1 Kings 4
Solomon goes about the establishment of his kingdom. He has some key people brought over from David’s rule such as Nathan and Zadok. We also see the extension of his kingdom that encompasses all of Israel and even portions of the land of the Philistines up to the borders of Egypt. There was peace, prosperity and all manner of abundance. David put in place a solid foundation from which Solomon was able to build upon. Most importantly, David gave Solomon strong foundations of instruction which positioned him to receive extraordinary wisdom and understanding. David had sinned before the Lord but he allowed God to atone for that sin by subjecting himself in wisdom to the many judgements that resulted. Solomon is now able to enjoy the fruits of that foundation. As mentioned previously we see a good illustration of the coming millennial reign of Christ. There will be nations that will come before the Lord in the millennium just as there are rulers and nations coming before Solomon. There simply was no man who could match him in knowledge, wisdom and splendour (vs 30).
This then leads to another characteristic that we will see in Solomon. He will also give a clear portrayal of what the antichrist will be like. Like Solomon, the antichrist will have answers to many of the complex issues of the day. He will command an appeal and an attraction to many. How is it possible that one man can present two polar opposites in manner of life? We will see with Solomon a desire to taste the elements of the world. He will allow his heart to be opened up to worldly delights primarily through improper marriage alliances.
We already saw how he took to himself the daughter of Pharaoh in the previous chapter (1 Kings 3:1). He had to devote time and energy to satisfy her intents which hindered his all-out pursuit of God. It may have seemed harmless at the first but like a seed it begins to grow. What we see in these early accounts of Solomon’s reign is a picture of the glorious Christ, the bridegroom to the heavenly bride. This will be illustrated in his writings known as the Song of Songs. This book was written early in his reign when his love and passion for God was at its height. We need to pay close heed in the upcoming chapters to see indicators that eventually led to the turning of his heart. It is most instructive and we want to learn from where Solomon went astray. There is no other ONE character in the Bible who gives us clear insights into the reign of both Christ and antichrist than Solomon. In his early years he wrote Proverbs and the Song of Songs. In his latter years he penned the Book of Ecclesiastes which is a sad summation of his experiences. We will examine his early years in the upcoming chapters and along the way we will see the highlights that caused his reign to be glorious. At the same time we will see clear indicators that ultimately led to his divided heart. In the end it all comes down to issues of the heart. It always does!
1 Kings 5
In verses 1-12 we see a strong relationship between Solomon and Hiram who was king of Tyre. This is a follow-up to the strong relationship that David had with Tyre. David has passed on but he developed good relationships with certain leaders that Solomon is now able to benefit from. Solomon shares with Hiram about his father’s desire to build the Lord a house. Solomon requested of Hiram to provide the cedar trees and hired servants who could be involved in the process of its construction. Hiram was more than glad to cooperate and be a part of this endeavour.
In verse 6 Solomon makes mention of the skills of the Sidonians in their ability to cut and work with lumber. This reminds us that God is the creator of gifting’s and there are unique abilities given to different ones. The Lord speaks through Isaiah in speaking about the ability of farmers to plant and to harvest (Isa 28:24-29). It is essential to walk closely with the Lord and allow our unique gifts to emerge and come forth. In doing so we find fulfilment due to activating something that God has placed within us. As time goes on I am convinced that the enemy works tirelessly in suppressing ones gift. The spirit of the world often drives us to pursue interests which may be contrary to who we are. This can even happen within a Christian setting. The enemy is threatened when a people come into their God ordained calling and gifting. This is why we must know the vision that God has given be it a church or an individual. We can be engaged in a good work but it may be in a setting that is not unleashing the potential that resides within. The Sidonians had a reputation for being masters of handling and constructing with timber and Solomon sought their help in the work. Once again, it all comes down to identity where God can work in releasing that which He has placed within us. This is where fulfilment and contentment s realized. The reverse can be frustration, burnout and lack of purpose which sadly is something so evident today. God gave peace between Solomon and Hiram and the two made an agreement.
The project of building the Lord’s house was a massive one involving around 100,000 men working both in the mountains in Lebanon and at home. They cut out costly stones out of the mountain that would serve as the foundation of the house. They also employed the stonesquarers who worked to ensure an exact foundation.
There are many truths that can be gleaned from what is transpiring here. What we see on earth is oftentimes a projection of what things are like in eternity. The New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven at the end of the millennium is exact in its dimensions much like we are seeing with the house being built for God. One prominent truth that God is emphasizing is that of foundations and how important it is that they are solid and square.
The Bible makes clear that if the foundations can be destroyed what then can the righteous do (Psa 11:3)? Every foundation will be tested; some will quickly yield and give way while others erode over time. It is the latter that gives pause for concern due to its cracks not being easily seen. We can be deceived in thinking that all is well because the foundation appears to be strong. Over time such a work can begin to show signs of crumbling resulting in a tragic outcome. How does this happen?
We will see in Solomon’s life a good example of this. He starts so very well but over time begins to make allowances into his heart that eventually turn him away from God’s purpose. We must be so very careful about making allowances for compromise because in a church context this is where foundations san fracture and give way. A stonesquarer such as what was used in the building of the house has a spiritual counterpart. Our lives and our churches have a plumb line that is applied to test and see where we are rooted. The Word of God is that plumb line and any bit of deviating from it will affect the foundation. This is why the enemy is threatened by the Law of God and why he constantly challenges it. The law and the Word of God were given to those who would reign as kings. David and Solomon both failed in these appointed laws, Solomon much more so. This is why the foundations of both their reigns eventually gave way. David allowed God to bring restoration to his life and the kingdom but at a tremendous price. We absolutely must learn from their examples as we approach these last days of the church age. Let it be our prayer that the Word of God be our stonesquarer so that right foundations will be established for His glory.
1 Kings 6
The building of the house for God is underway and it is numbered after the years that Israel came out of Egypt. God was housed in a tabernacle that was constructed soon after their departure. He is now about to be given a house. This was something that was very much in the heart of David to do but not allowed by the Lord due to the excessive shedding of blood during his reign. Still, David will have a part in the future millennial reign of Christ. The task is undertaken by Solomon. A verse of note is the following:
1Ki 6:7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
There was a preparation of each stone before it was placed into its position. This speaks of the polishing and workmanship involved prior to its functioning role. This is so true in the preparation of the believer. We are called to be lively stones that are part of a spiritual house.
1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
The polishing and preparation is often an isolated procedure that is removed from the perceived function. The only one who often takes note is the stonesquarer himself. It can be likened to being in the hand of the potter as he fashions the vessel for its intended use. The stones for the house were precisely pre-cut so that it did not need hammering or iron chiselling once it was placed into its setting in the house. A lively stone is a polished stone; one who has allowed God to prune the rough edges and impediments that would alter its being set in place. It requires a yielding and willingness for this work to be done. It can be at a time when one is out of the limelight and the view of others which can add to the pressure. The latter day house that God is building is a spiritual and holy one and we see it requires the office of the priest in its functioning. In Peter’s account he later speaks of a royal priesthood where we see the merging of the true king/priest. As priests, just like the stones that are placed in the house that Solomon is building for God there must be the testing, polishing of that stone to help ensure a sure foundation (Isa 28:16).
The Lord speaks to Solomon and gives him a promise of what He will do for him if he keeps his statutes and commandments, executes his judgments and keeps HIs ways (vs 12-13). It is a beautiful promise in always dwelling with Israel. Solomon finished the house and it featured various rooms and articles that were overlaid with pure gold (vs 20-22). Once again we cannot help but notice the absolute abundance featured in this house and the early part of Solomon’s rule. The New Jerusalem that will come down from heaven will have streets that will be totally paved with pure gold, a transparent gold. The difference will be that it will be a kingdom that is fixed in righteousness without the taint of sin or iniquity. We see another feature of the house with its palm trees. It signifies the righteousness of God that will establish the foundation of the house.
Psa 92:12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
This house took a total of 7 years to build. We will later see that his own house took 13 years in building (1 Kings 7:1). We are already beginning to see small cracks in the foundation of Solomon’s relationship with God. Yes, his reign gives a beautiful glimpse to the glory of the latter day house but it also serves as a warning to what happens when “little foxes” are allowed to spoil the vine. The latter day house will have no such cracks in its foundations hence the time taken in preparing for this group of latter day overcomers. May we be among those who allow the stonesquarer, the Lord Himself to polish and prepare us to be those precious corner stones.
This chapter, more than any other addresses the subject of being born again. It begins with a man by the name of Nicodemus who marvels at the miracles and the teachings that Jesus had been doing. Nicodemus was a very high ranking Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin who seems to show respect for who Jesus was purporting to be. He recognizes that God had to be with such a person. This provides the Lord the perfect opportunity to speak as to how a man needs to be born again in order to see the kingdom of God. This made no sense to Nicodemus as he tried to analyse what Jesus said from a natural perspective. This is the problem with the mind of natural man; we often try to reason and figure out the things of God. The Pharisees who observed the law to the letter were very much like this. Jesus further adds that a man needs to be born of water and the spirit and not the flesh. This is how He tries to make the distinction in defining what being born again truly means.
Being born of the Spirit helps us to understand the role of the Holy Spirit in this process. Jesus became a man by the working of the Spirit when He was conceived in Mary. We as man become linked to God by the work of the Spirit when we accept Jesus into our hearts by faith. Jesus is the sacrifice that enables us to be reconciled to God but it is the working of the Holy Spirit that makes this a reality. Jesus states that it is a mystery by speaking as to how one can see the wind. You can’t, but it blows and moves in a way that one can feel. So too it is with the Spirit of God. We do not see Him but we certainly can feel His presence and working in our lives as believers. We certainly can attest to His working when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts.
The Lord, in his conversation with Nicodemus is seeking to share on spiritual truths to a man who internalizes everything through natural lenses. I am sure that any of us can relate to this when trying to share our faith with others. Jesus then goes to an Old Testament example that any Pharisee would be well aware regarding the raising up of the brazen serpent (Num 21:9). He seeks to show Himself as a pattern and type of what was represented in Moses act. All someone had to do who was bitten by a serpent would be to gaze upon the serpent of brass and he would be healed. A vivid picture is presented to Nicodemus of what would take place upon the Cross. What a beautiful time to introduce this Old Testament example to those who were observing him. What a beautiful time to use this Old Testament example to introduce perhaps the most famous Bible reference. “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Perhaps when we share John 3:16 we should also reference the two previous verses and then go back to Numbers 21:9. It all ties together so well.
John 3:16 is so commonly known but have we really given time to ponder its meaning. God so loved the world; that means you and I, people who are undeserving of His attention let alone His love. He loves us so much that He gave everything; He gave the life of His only begotten Son. The question we must honestly ask is this. What more could have God the Father done to demonstrate His love and commitment to man? We somehow feel that God needs to prove His love if we are really His children. He has already done it and it is up to you and I to accept His precious gift to us. All He requires is that we accept and choose to receive Jesus into our lives. It is the only means by which that barrier of sin can be bridged that separates man from God at birth. This verse also makes clear the consequence and high cost of sin. There is only one way that sin can be atoned for and that is through the sinless Lamb of God becoming sin. This is what is represented with brass serpent. The Old Testament type and New Testament reality are summed up in these few verses (Num 21:9, John 3:14-16) Let’s utilize the pattern the Lord uses when sharing John 3:16 to others.
The final thought to look at in this chapter is the relationship between John the Baptist and the Lord. John was the one who was prophesied of to prepare the way of the Lord (Isa 40:3). John drew a huge amount of attention during his time of ministry. He had a following of disciples and was truly effective in his preaching on the message of repentance. The transition of focus clearly came when he declared Jesus as the Lamb of God at the river Jordan. The following verse speaks volumes as to the kind of man that John the Baptist was:
Joh 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
John knew and understood his role. This was important due to the large following that gathered to John. In fact we find that there were some of his disciples that did not effectively make the transition as seen in Math 9:14. The danger in not transitioning was that they soon aligned themselves with the Pharisees. This is why we must have the ability to become new wineskins so as to flow with what God is doing. If we fail to do this we may fall prey to Pharisaic tendencies which in the end hinders and blocks the purposes of God. John clearly knew who he was and stepped away from being the primary focus. Do we have that ability? It is a vital test of any leader. John was an exceptional man of God. The day we live in is looking for the modern day version of a John the Baptist to emerge, to pave the way for the coming king of kings.