I had an interesting discussion with a pastor friend of mine the other day about the kings of the Old Testament which prodded me to write this short but much needed article. In fact I will also preach on this subject this coming Sunday morning. Many people continue to say that the Bible is an old book and is no longer relevant to the 21st century. I strongly disagree with this statement and I will explain why, simply using the O.T. as evidence. Those who claim that the Bible is not relevant have usually never actually read the Bible. They base their information on what others have said. This is very dangerous because what you “hear/read” from others may not necessarily be true. Here we go.
I. Israel was a nation founded on godly principles from the Word of God.
It is not difficult to see this with a simple reading of the first 5 books of the Old Testament. God carved out this nation and set down the guidelines for daily life. The people accepted God’s plan and followed it. The nation was formed and grew to power. The main thing that the nation of Israel was to do was to continue following God’s plan as laid out in the Scripture. They did a descent job but they revolted in the fact that they wanted a king in order to be like the other nations. God allowed them to have their king and the first one was a disaster. It got better with David and most of Solomon’s reign. Something happened during Solomon’s reign. The USA has followed the same pattern. America was founded on godly principles and those principles were to be passed on throughout each generation. God carved out a nation of people who were following Him and the nation prospered greatly, into the world’s superpower but somewhere along the way America fell into the same trap that Israel did. America has not learned that history repeats itself if people do not know history and try to avoid the mistakes of the past.
II. The Word of God was promoted in almost every public setting.
In ancient Israel the Word of God was the Light and Lamp that led the nation. Children were taught the Scriptures from birth. Their parents would teach them the ways of the Lord at all times. In school the Word was also taught to reinforce the teachings that the parents had established at home. When the family went to “church” (the temple) the Word was taught once again. The Word was also the guiding light in the political arena. The king had to write his own copy of the Law of Moses and read from it every single day. If we scan the history of the USA we can see another parallel. The Word of God was once at the center of education, both at home as well as in school and especially at church. Even the leaders of the nation were very familiar with the Scriptures even if not all of them lived by the Word of God. The Word of God had high standing in societal life. Of course there were evil people in ancient Israel just like there have always been evil people but since the Word of God permeated every aspect of life morality was highly valued. The same can be said about America. The Word of God also used to permeate American life and morality was highly valued as well.
III. Solomon removed the high position of the Word of God in society rapidly bringing moral decay in the life of the leaders as well as in the lives of the people.
God specifically told the children of Israel not to intermarry with the “nations” not because of racism but because they “the nations” would turn the hearts of the Israelites away from God to serve idols. Solomon did not listen to God’s warning and he took wives from the nations who were pagans. In order to be politically correct with these women and the nations that they represented Solomon removed the Word of God from its high position and placed it along with the teachings of the “gods”. He was being politically correct as we would say today. This was a grave mistake because not only did the Word of God lose its position in society, it (the Word) was lost and completely left out of society in general. Generations began to grow up without any knowledge of the Word of God. If the people heard of God’s Word it was just labeled as one of many teachings about god. Moral decline quickly followed because the people followed their leadership and began worshiping idols leading to sexual immorality and the killing of innocent children. Prostitution and homosexuality ran rampant throughout Israel. The once good people of God began to sacrifice their children to the gods of immorality. The same mistakes can be seen in the USA. During the 1960’s God was kicked out of public schools (the only place where some kids learned about God since they did not go to church). The Word of God has been removed from the political and social life (for the most part, unless you go to church). America now has generations that have grown up with no knowledge of the Word of God and there are disastrous effects. After God was kicked out of the public schools the sexual revolution began in the 60’s and 70’s. Sexual immorality was promoted everywhere and homosexuality began to rise through the ranks of society. Once a terrible sin, homosexuality has been renamed a “lifestyle” instead of a detestable act. America now sacrifices its babies on the alters of immorality, performing almost 50 million legal abortions since 1973. Do you realize the similarities?
IV. The solution is to rediscover the Word of God and bring it back to its high position in public life.
One of the kings of Israel realized the difficult times in which he was living and he began to seek after God. God answered his prayer and allowed the Word (which had been lost for years) to be discovered. Josiah was able to read the Word of God and it caused him to repent (realize that he and his country were living in direct disobedience to God and turn away from their disobedience and turn to obedience) and bring radical changes to the nation. He gathered the nation together and had the Word of God read to them. Then he re-instituted the Word of God into public life. People were once again taught the Scriptures systematically. This brought great reform and prosperity to the nation. Sexual immorality was stopped and the consequences of sexual immorality disappeared. The innocent children were no longer sacrificed on the alters of lust. Society as a whole did a U-turn. The same can happen for the USA. We are killing ourselves with sexual immorality as well as making many innocent victims of the children of abortion. We can turn it around if we will discover the Word of God and bring it back to its high position within society. In fact, the I Kings 11 text actually gives us the answers to turning it all around.
- Keep the Word of God in Its proper place (2) Do not try and remove it from society
- Obey the Word of God (2) James 1, not hearers only but actual doers
- Guard our hearts (3) Proverbs 4:23
- Stay fully devoted to the Lord (4)
- Follow the positive examples in the Bible (4)
- Do not tolerate sin in your life or the sin around you (7-8) In Sermon on Mount, Jesus calls His followers salt and light. Light exposes sin while salt stops the decay that sin brings about.
- When God confronts you, repent (9)
May the Lord help us in this endeavor.