Folly

(King’s Folly, Ivan Venkov, sculpture; theme – polarity, statement – exploitation)

March 29.  Okay, then.  It’s been 63 days since my last post.  That’s way too long.  I apologize.  My original intention was to write an introduction to every book of the Bible to help orient you as you work through the Chronological Bible Reading Plan.  It was going somewhat smoothly for a while.  And then I missed Ruth.  Not a biggie; only four chapters (the entire reading occurred on April 7 during Holy Week).  Then there was 1 & 2 Samuel.  And having just spent the previous 8 months in a sermon series on the life of David, I failed to act proactively in developing a summary.  Before I knew it, the Psalms were upon us, intertwined with readings from the books of Samuel and, oh yeah, Chronicles.  It began to snowball.  I was then out of town (here and there).  We moved houses.  Before I knew it, two months had passed and it’s 95 degrees outside.

Even so… my hope is that despite my dereliction of duty we’ve all been keeping up with the reading.  I know that it hasn’t always been easy.  There’s some dense and confusing stuff in there.  But I’m back.  And while I know that my brief musings do not necessarily clarify all things, hopefully they at least provide some direction through the muddied waters.

We’ve just begun 1 Kings.  And what we need to see through the telescope of Israel’s history is the future destruction and desolation of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.  It provides the foreground for our reading.  In other words, this cataclysm has not yet happened in the story, yet we must read everything that occurs in these books as preparation for that impending fall.  Through the pages of 1 & 2 Kings we learn of Israel’s progressive idolatry, sinfulness, and failed leadership, all of which contributed to the destruction of the Temple, the deportation and captivity of the people, and the desolation of their city and its defenses.

As a 21st century reader of ancient history, what is the takeaway from 1 & 2 Kings?  The primary lesson to be gleaned is that God is indeed in control of nature and all of history.  He is the one, true God and nothing more powerful than Him exists.  Additionally, He is good.  As such, this good and all-powerful God sovereignly oversaw the annihilation of His own prized city, the destruction of His own Temple of worship, and the exile of His own people to the pagan nation of Babylon.

Bad stuff happens.  But God is on His throne through it all.  The King of kings reigns.

It is helpful here to consider where we’ve been, Scripturally speaking.  The astute reader of the books of Kings will see resonance with the book of Deuteronomy, if only by contrast, in the opening section of David’s parting speech to Solomon (1 Kings 2:1-4).  Many themes and phrases are highlighted:

–  “keep the charge of the Lord your God” (Deut. 11:1);

–  “walking in His ways” (Deut. 8:6);

–  “keeping all His statutes and His commandments” (Deut. 6:2);

–  “that you may prosper in all you do” (Deut. 29:9);

–  “that He may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers” (Deut. 9:5);

–  “with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29).

So, as we work through Kings, it is evident that these things are not being followed, either by Israel’s leaders or the people.  And so Israel’s great fall should not come as a surprise.  Their folly led to their ruin.  In this way, jumping soon into the wisdom literature of the book of Proverbs (June 3) is not only historically chronological, but quite theologically apropos.  Scripture is to be instructive.  We are to learn from the failures of our forefathers.  This reading plan is not simply for information.  It is meant for transformation.  The Bible teaches us, reproves us, corrects us, and trains us for righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).  Therefore, as we read through 1 & 2 Kings and the subsequent wisdom of Proverbs, be attentive to your heart and what the Holy Spirit may be speaking to you.  And lastly, understand this – where prior kings have failed Jesus has succeeded.  Where prior worldly “wisdom” has failed, the “folly” of Jesus has succeeded (see 1 Cor. 1:18-21).

As always, please feel free to ask questions.  You can either email me directly (mike@citychurchstl.org) or, if you’d like to start a broader conversation, you can post a public comment/question here on the blog.  Thanks for reading.

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