The Sin Of False Witness…

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Exodus 20:16

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Rev 12:10

As food and water are to physical health, So Truth is to the Soul and the Spirit. We all need the Truth to live.

Obviously we need the truth about God, we cannot live without the knowledge of God, for that is the very definition of Eternal Life,

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Notice that Jesus spoke of the knowledge of “The only True God...”. emphasizing that precision and accuracy of that knowledge is essential. Eternal life is specific knowledge, of the one true God, who has fully revealed himself in sending His Son Jesus the Messiah.

Man was made to know God, thus one could say, man was created to receive Truth into his soul. Each one of us only have so much time to open our hearts and receive the truth, is it is very important that what we let into our souls really is true.

The fall of man came about because Satan bore false witness against God, and our first parents were willing receive it. He called God’s goodness into question, implying that God was holding back things which would have enriched and fulfilled the first couple. When they entertained such a notion, they broke away from God, and took the whole race with them into estrangement and separation. Such is the power of false witness.

Adam and Eve needed the truth, but were misled, choosing to believe the Serpent rather than the Word of God.

People are never more like Satan, then when they promote false witness against their neighbor. False witness is literally the Devil’s work, for He is the “accuser of the brethren”.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. ( Proverbs 6:16-19)

Because of false witness, nations are ruined, wars are started, families are destroyed, people are alienated and estranged, in short Satan’s Kingdom is established. The Kings of the earth, and the ruling elite routinely employ false witness to “divide and conquer” those whom they rule over. Truly the scripture correctly asserts, that “The Whole World lies in the power of the wicked One”.

It is bad enough when sinners bear false witness against each other, but the spectacle of Christians doing so is heartbreaking.

I have seen false witness employed to split churches, separate chief friends, destroy ministries, defame godly and well intentioned people, and to ruin the spiritual lives of those who indulge in or are affected by it.

What is false witness?

It can be the telling of outright lies, mistruths spoken about a person’s character, or it can occur more subtly, such as telling a truth, but keeping pertinent parts out of it, to make someone look bad, or to diminish a person to those who hear it. Sometimes it is not what someone says, but what they don’t say or what they withhold, or emphasize or de-emphasize that paints a false picture about a person.

False witness kills. It is a form of murder, not physical murder, but it is the Spirit of murder, because it alienates, and can destroy a person’s name and reputation. This is why those who indulge in it, are actually guilty of murder.

A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow. ( Proverbs 25:18)

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. (Psalm 27:12)

There are many people who suffer greatly because mistruths and outright lies have been told about them, and there is little they can do to set the record straight.

Another form of suffering comes by believing such lies and being separated from possible friends and allies because of the Power of false witness.

Love is only possible in Truth. We need each other, and we need the truth about each other. To be denied the benefit of the doubt due to someone else’s talebearing. or to lose the trust of those who we once fellowshipped with, is by definition the destruction of God’s work.

Truth and Love are inseparable. We are told to “Speak the Truth in Love…” . The Church is the “Pillar and ground of the Truth”, and the demonstration of God’s Love in this world. “No man hath seen God at any time but if we Love one another God dwells in us…”

Spiritually speaking there is no real truth without Love.

Many of God’s servants have rightly seen that false prophets and false teachers had become a destructive bane on the church, and were raised up to expose them, and to defend the Faith once delivered for the Saints. They are used, to expose flaws and misrepresentations in the teachings of false prophets and teachers, and thus become extremely critical, for a good, righteous cause.

But in those cases, the temptation is to become angry, and to forget Love in the cause of Truth. This is what happened to the Ephesian church Jesus wrote to in the Revelation,

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:2-4)

“Discernment Ministry” often legitimately requires debate, argument, the marshaling of facts, rebuttal and open reproof. When those who are used in this ministry “lose their first love” they become cranky, abusive, they often rejoice at the discovery of evil in an “opponent”, and delight to expose them, rather than mourn. At times they can easily slide further, not being accurate in their accusations, or shading things to put allegedly false ministers in a worse light, and not being careful to be precise in quotations of those they seek to “expose”. This is no longer discernment, it has become “false Witness”.

Apologetics is one thing, but false witness is something else entirely. It is not hard in the fight to drift from one to the other. Sometimes apologetics can actually serve as a cover for malice, anger, frustration, and even jealousy. These are the works of the flesh, there is nothing of the Holy Spirit about them.

At the end of that spectrum is the angry, bitter spectacle of ministers actually seeking to ruin one another, damaging the names and reputations of those they consider as rivals. A local pastor once confided in one of my elders, that he “prayed regularly that (our) so called Church would shut down and that I would have to leave the ministry…”. Someone had borne false witness about us to him. He never talked to us, He just ran with it.

We could not get further away from the ideal of the Christian ministry than by practicing false witness, the very work of the Devil himself.

Let us remember that one of the names of Jesus, our LORD and Messiah, is “the Faithful Witness”, He is the true witness of and to God the Father, and He bears true witness about all men, thus his witness leads to Life, peace and true communion.

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Solomon; A Type of Christ …Solomon pt 10

The Bible is a record of real people, living out real history, and fulfilling the purposes of God, knowingly and unknowingly. All of the Prophets of the Bible in some way are tops of the Messiah to come. Moses, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, all lived out certain aspects of the suffering and triumph of Jesus Christ. Pharaoh tried to kill Moses as a child, just as Herod tried to kill the baby Jesus, Joseph was sold for silver by his brother Judah, just as Jesus was sold by Judas… I could go on and on.

There are some also who are types of the Anti Christ to come, for example Judas and AntiChrist are both called “Son of Perdition”. Ahithophel, David’s counselor went out and hanged himself after betraying David. these typologies make for fascinating and rewarding Bible Studies. They truly happened, yet they foreshadowed what was coming in the future.

Solomon is unique in this sense, He serves as a type of Christ, and at the same time, He also is a type of AntiChrist.

For example, as a type of Christ, Solomon was the Son of David, and was used to build the temple of God. His reign comes after David ( major type of Christ), had subdued all of his enemies and won the peace. This typifies the Millennial reign of Jesus when there shall be peace on earth, and unprecedented prosperity.

The reign of Solomon began with a judgment of all of those who committed crimes in David’s Kingdom, and thought they got away with them. We read in 1 Kings 1 and 2 that Solomon began his reign by rooting out the sinners and bringing them to justice, even plucking some from the altar of God, which they vainly clung too.

Jesus said that when he comes again to commence his thousand year reign He too will deal with all transgressors,

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats ( Matthew 25:31-32)

Solomon’s Wisdom became a well known fact throughout the world, so much so that people flocked po Jerusalem from the ends of the earth, to hear him and see the civilization built upon that Wisdom.

Isaiah saw that in the days of Messiah, the Millennial reign of Jesus, that the same thing would happen on a larger scale,

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways , so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples .( Isaiah 2:1-5)

When Solomon was King the gentiles brought their best things as gifts to Jerusalem, He was as a magnet to the gentiles, who came to hear of his Wisdom and to behold the glory of his Kingdom; but this shall be dwarfed by the streams coming to Jerusalem in Israel’s bright future under Messiah Jesus.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. ( Isaiah 60:1-6)

Jesus himself taught that Solomon was a type of Jesus, when he preached that the Queen of Sheba would condemn his generation because she knew to come to Solomon and learn of him. Now, that a “greater than Solomon “was in their midst and many ignored him.

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.( Luke 11:31)

This greater Solomon is currently building his temple, which is the body of Messiah, living stones, adorned with the gold of faith, and purchased with the blood of the lamb.

Solomon once prayed at the dedication of the temple, “Will the Most High dwell on earth? The heavens and the Heavens of Heavens cannot contain you!”

The Greater than Solomon prayed to God also,

“I in thee and thou in me… no one knows the Father but the Son, and no one knows the Son but the Father and whoever the Father reveals to Him…”

Much has been made of Solomon’s table, which daily fed thousands and received state visits from the Kings and mighty who streamed in to fellowship with Solomon and to partake of his Wisdom.

But Jesus set a table, two thousand years ago, and ordained a simple feast of bread and wine, which has sustained millions around the globe, from every walk of Life, and status. Hour by hour and day by day there is not a moment which goes by, that someone isn’t handing someone a piece of bread and saying “This is my body, broken for you…”.

Truly Solomon foreshadows Jesus the Messiah.

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The Decline And Schism … Solomon pt 9

 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. (1 Kings 11 :1-4)

Through the account of all of the glory, prosperity, blessing, favor and honor of the reign of Solomon, runs a continuous thread of of a coming destruction. Solomon had steadily sown the seeds of his own destruction , in spite of the Wisdom God had granted him.

Deuteronomy, which is the national covenant of God with Israel, has a section in chapter 17 called “the Law of Kings” which gave explicit warning to all of Israel’s Kings to make sure to not transgress in three areas; the accumulation of Gold, Horses and Wives, (particularly foreign wives). Solomon ignored all three of these warnings.

In more than one place in Deuteronomy, Kings and subjects are warned that intermarriage with foreign wive would “turn their hearts away” from God himself.

The language in 1 Kings 11 echoes other parts of Deuteronomy, for example, we are told Solomon “Clave” to his wives…but in Deuteronomy 10 we are told to “Cleave” to God.“Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name” (Deuteronomy 10:20).

Solomon’s heart most definitely turned unto these new objects of his affection and away from his God. When Solomon loved God he built for Him, but now he accomodated the ‘gods’ of his wives, building temples and shrines to them, even in the Holy City.

 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.  And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,( I Kings 11:5-9)

It is unthinkable, but true that Solomon, the Son of David actually “went after” Ashtoreth, Malcom,Chemosh, Molech as he had once gone after the God of Israel!

His heart went after what he loved, but Solomon had allowed himself to love the wrong things! He had been warned about the danger of letting his heart turn, but he ignored the warnings. The heart always pursues what it loves supremely, therefore it is very critical to only allow the heart to love what is good.Solomon loved his foreign wives.

Being who he is, the Son of David, the Messiah, the King, in a sense the “son of God” and Shepherd of Israel, there would be political consequences for his defection. When David stole bathSheba’s wife, the nation split in two as a consequence, but soon came together again. You could say, the Kingdom died, but was resurrected.

The consequences for this sin would be far more extensive and painful.

The way that the Most High chastised his idolatrous son, was to raise up three “satans”, (ie adversaries) against him, an Edomie, a Syrian, and a Jew.

And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king’s seed in Edom. ( I Kings 11:14)

And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah:( I Kings 11:23)

And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king. ( I Kings 11:26)

The first two adversaries were foreigners who had grievances which went back as far as David and his conquests of Edom and of the Kingdom of Zobah. The Edomite had been sheltered by Solomon’s father-in-law, in case he would need him sometime as an ally or a proxy warrior.

Jeroboam was an Israelite, an Ephraimite , who had once distinguished himself working for Solomon. One day he was confronted by a prophet of the LORD and told that he would be given ten of the twelve tribes to govern.

And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valour: and Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph. And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:

And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:(But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.

Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.( I Kings 11:28-38)

David was the standard that Solomon fell short of. In spite of the many sins and failures of King David, recorded openly for all to see, David was and is the standard for Kings. Solomon was no David. In all of his flaws, we never see David succumb to idolatry, He definitely reminded loyal to God. No matter how dark the sin, David always repented, truly and deeply, turning back in humility and contrition to his God.

When Solomon died, they held a coronation at Hebron for Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Jereboam, the adversary God had raised up, attended that coronation and consulted with the new King, pledging loyalty and the loyalty of the people of Israel, as long as Rehoboam would cut come of the heavy taxes and Levees Solomon had instituted for his numerous building and infrastructure projects.

Some of the more aged counselors of Solomon testified that this was true and vlid wisdom, but Rehoboam also sough counsel from younger cunselors sought to make a name for themselves, by counseling Rehoboam to come down even tougher on the people, increase the taxes and let them know He was in control. Rehoboam agreed with the younger counselors and spoke roughly to the people.

This “tough guy” approach provoked the split, ten tribes broke away to form their own nation, and Rehoboam became King of Benjamin and Judah. The Twelve tribes were now only two, for the Kingdom was now split. The ten Northern tribes now had most of the people, the wealth, land and power. The southern Kingdom , Judah, retained Jerusalem and the Temple.

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The Zenith of Solomon and of Israel…Solomon pt 8

… the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.  And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:  Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.  But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil. ( I Kings 9:2-9)

The building of the permanent temple, and the Divine inhabitation of it, were the partial culmination of all that the LORD had been doing since He called Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, promised them a people and a Land, brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness, as well as the bestowal of various Judges, Saviors and eventually to KINGS.

Now the Kingdom of God on earth was established, and God’s King was the Shepherd of God’s people from the city where he had placed his name. There was now a city on earth which had a Temple where true worship, prayer, intercession and sacrifice were regularly performed. The Priestly apparatus and the ministry of mercy were functioning. The Law was pouring forth out of Zion, the Truth was being taught, and people were streaming to the Holy City from the ends of the earth to participate.

At this point God gave Solomon a second dream in which he appeared and spoke to Him.He assured Solomon that he had indeed heard and would answer the prayer in the temple, and that his “name, …eyes…amd heart…” would be there perpetually.

The LORD also warned him that should he or his children defect from following and walking with God, (David being the standard), He would expel Israel from the Land and that He would “cast this house out of my sight”, in such a way as to make all of the house of Israel an object lesson, an astonishment to all and a living parable of Divine judgement for all to see.

We are then given two portents of possible trouble already brewing, slight diminishment’s of all that Solomon was allowed to accomplish.

First we are told that Hiram was displeased with the cities Solomon had given his partner in business and construction.

(Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not.  And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day. ( I Kings 9:11-13)

Either Solomon had taken for granted his partner and truly gave him useless cities, (which would be a terrible witness to God), or it could be the same problem we are seeing now in Israel. It is impossible to give the land away and be blessed for the Land belongs to God, and is not Israel’s to give away. Such transactions are not blessed.

Secondly we see that Pharaoh , Solomon’s Father-in-law took the city of Gezer, slew the Canaanites who lived there and gave the city to his daughter as a gift. The problem this presents is that Gezer was given to Ephraim, but they did not have the faith to drive the Canaanites out, as recorded in Judges 1:29.

A Pagan King did in the promised land what the children of Israel had been unable to do in the case of Gezer!

Solomon set about fortifying Gezer ,as well as the other cities of Israel. He built storage cities, chariot cities, military bases, Cavalry cities and a vast infrastructure.

Solomon and Hiram united in business, an international import and export company. For this Solomon constructed a navy for Israel. Gold, spices, exotic animals began pouring into Israel under Solomon’s leadership.

It was at this point in time that Solomon received a State visit by the Queen of Sheba, (Yemen), with her huge escort caravan loaded with spices, gold and silver, precious stones and goods. The Queen had come because she had heard of the magnificence of Solomon’s reign and of his Wisdom. She had come primarily to test and possibly learn, and perhaps to trade.

The Queen had heard of the famed Wisdom of Solomon and wanted to see for herself.

And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. ( I Kings 10:1-3)

She initially came as a skeptic, (she was going to test him with hard questions), but was soon overwhelmed with the Wisdom which poured out of his mouth. It was as though when Solomon spoke, the secrets of her heart were revealed. She had heard of Solomon’s wisdom from afar, but now she saw it first hand.

What was it that she “saw” in Solomon’s house and Kingdom?

She saw the beauty, order and prosperity of a society based upon God’s Wisdom.

Every society is based upon some kind of wisdom, for example there is a ‘wisdom of the Egyptians’ or the Wisdom of Babylon or Persia. There is the “Wisdom of the Greeks” also, for man is made in the Image of God and even fallen man is always led to develop some kind of ‘Wisdom’. Man was made for Wisdom, but the fall corrupted our capacity for Wisdom.

Solomon’s Wisdom was not given to him to make him a uniquely clever or wise King. Solomon, as King represented an entire civilization. Nor did this Wisdom accrue, over long centuries of experience and observation. It was and is a gift of the Creator himself, “For the LORD gives Wisdom…” (Proverbs 2).

What Solomon received and showcased was a societal , civilizational wisdom, an example of what people can have when restored to fellowship with the only true God. This was a kingdom based on the kind of Wisdom, justice, equity, love that we were originally meant to operate in.

As she beheld the beauty and interaction of these around Solomon’s table, and entered into the discussion and conversation, she was stunned. It was all so wholesome, intellectually edifying and soul satisfying…She could see that even Solomon’s servants and the attendants at his house were elevated by it.

When they proceeded from Solomon’s house up the “ascent” to the Temple next door, and she saw the same wisdom realized liturgically, and noted the parallel to Solomon’s servants and attendants, which were God’s priests, and ultimately to God’s table, The Queen of Sheba passed out. It was overwhelming. But when she came through this foreign Queen made a remarkable confession of faith in Israel’s God.

And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.  Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.  Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. ( I Kings 10:6-9)

The visit of the Queen of Sheba portends the bright and glorious future God has in store for Israel, after her long night of exile and punishment. Once again the Law shall go forth out of Zion and the Gentiles will come to see the brightness of the Kingdom of God, and once again they shall bring their glory and riches as presents to the restored prodigal nation,

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. ( Isaiah 60:1-6)

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Solomon’s Prayer…Solomon 7

Solomon the King is in the temple at it’s dedication, in front of a great congregation of Elders, Priests, Levites and Israelites, alternately kneeling or standing upon a brass platform. His arms are outstretched towards God, and He is praying.

The prayer consists of an acknowledgement of the Faithfulness and Omnipresence of God, and that no man made temple could ever truly contain Him. He then supplicates that the House He had built for God’s Name, be one of prayer, that God would ever be attentive to it or to anyone who ever turns toward the temple to pray.

Next Solomon requests that God would hear prayers in seven different circumstances.

  1. If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness. (1 Kings 8:31-32)

This is a request by Solomon that God protect the sanctity of every oath sworn before the altar, that all who swear falsely would be exposed and punished, and that those who do swear oaths in good faith would be vindicated. Kiel and Delitsch say that this applies to situations such as in Exodus 22;6-12.

2. When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. ( 1Kings 8:33-34)

This is a direct prayer for the reversal of the curse of the Law of God as recorded in Deuteronomy 28:25, and 28:48.

The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth… (Deuteronomy 28:25)

Solomon prays that in the future occasions, “When…”, (not “if”) Israel is slain before the enemy, if she turns back to God and prays for forgiveness, that God would hear, and forgive the sin of Israel. Notice he even anticipated the future exiles in this prayer, because He prays that Israel would be brought again back into the land.

3. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.( I Kings 8 :35-36)

Solomon knew that the Holy Land was morally sensitive, due to the Covenant of God. When the people went into idolatry, the curses of the Law would come upon them, one of those curses being drought. (Deuteronomy 28:24) The heavens would be shut up, not giving rain, as a sign of the Divine displeasure.

Notice , He makes the temple itself the focal point, “…if they pray towards this place…”. Solomon prayed that the people would turn towards the Temple, the place where God has set his name, the focal point on earth of all prayers, the place of mercy, atonement, sacrifice, the forgiveness of sin, and of intercession. God would be attentive , and forgive sin and even teach them the right way there.

4. If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;  What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:  Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. (1 Kings 8:37-40)

Here also the curses of Deuteronomy become the burden of Solomon’s heart, as if He knew they were inevitable because surely the people would defect from God and suffer them. The Plagues are called “strokes upon the heart” in the prayer for they would be divine chastisement.

He prays that whether it be an individual or the whole nation united in prayer, that all would realize that these plagues which came upon them are reflections of the inner plague of the heart, which everyman shares in, ie sin, and that that very realization would turn each one towards the Holy House in prayer and supplication.

5. Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake; (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;  Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name. (I Kings 8:41-43)

In this fifth request Solomon prays that foreigners would come and pray and that the God of Israel would hear and answer their prayers. The fulfillment of the original promise that the seed of Abraham would one day bless every family on the earth is anticipated here. This house would be a house of prayer for all nations. Solomon asks that God would hear foreigners , so that they might come to know him, and to fear Him.

6) If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:  Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.  ;( I Kings 8:44-45)

This prayer request anticipates times when the armies of Israel are sent out away from home, on military expeditions ordained of God. Let those far from home who turn in prayer towards the city Jerusalem and towards the Holy House, be heard, and let their cause be blessed of the LORD.

7) If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;  And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:  Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, (I Kings 8:46-49)

This is a different situation , for here Solomon anticipates that because of sin, God would deliver the covenant people into captivity and far, far away from Jerusalem and the Holy House. This is a prayer that even in exile, those captives who turn towards the city and the Holy House and pray from the heart, supplications and prayers of repentance, May God hear from heaven and respect those prayers and supplications.

Notice that Solomon here, by the Holy Spirit anticipates the very words of the prayers, “We have sinned, done perversely, and committed wickedness…”. Here we have them praying about the whole range of human evil, Sin(missing the mark), Perversion( (distortion of the rightful use), and wickedness, which is transgression and rebellion against the LORD. Even from a far land, let them turn and pray and May God hear them!

Solomon is again drawing much from Moses and particularly the covenant curses and promises, in this scenario. The last request is almost an echo in prayer of Deuteronomy 4:27-30;

And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.  And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.  But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.  When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (Deuteronomy 4:27-30)

This prayer is more than a prayer, for as in the later chapters of Deuteronomy, it is a prophecy of the future of Israel. Everyone of these scenarios would play out before the end of the books of Kings, and Israel would have been given hope in advance, as long as she remembered these supplications and the instruction which they contained, that in those circumstances of they turn towards the House and all it stands for and truly seek the LORD, would find mercy, and help in the name of the LORD.

2 Chronicles tells us that the prayer that day was dramatically affirmed by the LORD, before Solomon and all of the people, in a demonstration comparable to Sinai, or to Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal.

Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.( 2 Chronicles 7:1-3)

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The Filling of The Temple… Solomon pt 6

And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.  And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.  There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.( I Kings 8:3-9)

It had been twenty years since Solomon had commenced building the temple, and furnishing it.The time had come for the great dedication. In all of that time since the days Eli the Priest and Samuel, when the Ark was captured and recovered, the Ark had been in a separate location from the altar and the remains of the tabernacle. There were two holy shrines, one at Gibeah and one in the “tent of David” in Jerusalem.

The time had come for the Ark, the visible throne of God on earth, to come into the Holy Temple,. With great procession and much sacrifice, Elders, Priests in holy array, and Levites, and the King Solomon, accompanied the ark, carried on staves by Priests, up the steps of the temple, into the courts of worship, and into the holy place and finally into the”oracle” , the Solomonic name for the Holy of Holies. the Ark entered into its rest before the two great, gilded Cherubim, each fifteen feet in height.

As soon as the [priests departed from the oracle, The cloud of Glory filled the temple, so completely, the Priests were unable to stand and minister.

And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 8:10-11)

Solomon, the anointed, Israel’s Messiah, is in the Spirit, and can only utter, in awe, “The LORD said He would dwell in thick darkness..But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever..”

Solomon had made for himself a brass platform to stand, kneel and sit upon for the dedication, in the midst of the great congregation. From there He blessed the congregation, reminding them of the faithfulness of God, in choosing Jerusalem as the place for his name, calling David and promising that he would have Son who would reign forever, and for choosing Solomon to build the Holy house for his name.

The placing of that Ark into the oracle, represents the culmination and continuity of all that God had promised to do since he brought Israel out of the wilderness in the days of Moses. No longer would there be a tabernacle, (a temporary dwelling place) . The Ark would enter into the place which God had established as a dwelling place for his name.

Then Solomon spread out his hands and uttered the prayer of dedication,

…Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. (1 Kings 8:23-26)

Solomon blesses the faithfulness of God to his servants and especially to David his father. But Solomon asks the LORD to keep the promise of an everlasting reign of one of the sons of David, and to confirm it.

…But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? ...Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day vs 27-28

This is the wisest man who ever lived up to that time, endowed with Wisdom as a gracious gift of God himself. He knew that no man made structure could ever contain the Most High God, who is omnipresent, and self existent. He is acknowledging that for God to inhabit this house is an act of Divine condescension, God is humbling himself to dwell among the congregation, and in no way could he ever truly be limited to time, space or matter.

That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive. ( vs 29-30)

This great dedicatory prayer of the temple, is a prayer about prayer.

The house of God is a house of prayer for all nations, a place of contact where all people would present prayers, to be received in the person called “thy name” , ( A pre-incarnate reference to the second person of the Godhead). He would gather those prayers and direct them to heaven, the dwelling place of the most High.

So He prayed that God’s eyes would be towards this place, day and night, and that he would be attentive to anyone who prays toward it, ( not necessarily always in it, but even towards it).

The primary prayer must of necessity be prayers for forgiveness. One of the emphasis of this prayer is the reality that men are weak, sinful and prone to wonder. One of the functions of the house would be the constant priestly task of atonement, intercession and the ministry of the mercy of God.

Solomon then sets out seven different scenarios, supplicating that in all of them God would hear and answer prayers directed towards the Holy House of God.

we will look at each of them in the next message.

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The Victor’s Portion….Servant Songs pt 15

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.(Isaiah 53:12)

The Last verse of this fourth Servant Song has always struck me as anti-climatic. But this is because I believe the King James version confuses the meaning somewhat, for it reads as though the Servant takes his place among other great and strong ones.

But the according to evangelical scholar Alec Motyer, Hebrew text reads, “I will allocate to Him the many, and the strong will be apportioned as a spoil”. Thus, the Servant receives as his own possession, the many for whom he died to save.

As for his possession of the strong, the prophet has already sung about the reactions of the “princes” of the earth to the Servant,

So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.(Isaiah 52:15)

Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.(Isaiah 49:7)

The song closes by listing the grounds for which the Servant receives ‘the many’, as his own, and why the “strong'(Kings of the earth), as His possession,

“Because…” Young points out in his commentary,that this word,‘tahat aser’, is the strongest causitive in Hebrew, and is the equivalent of “Because of the fact that…”.

…he hath poured out his soul unto death… He will receive the many and the strong for his possession, because He gave His life as a drink offering to God. Notice that the Servant is not said to have been murdered, He himself was the agent of his own death, He poured out his own life!

…and he was numbered with the transgressors… The word ‘numbered’, niphal, is in a ‘tolerative ‘ tense, “He let himself be numbered…”The Servant receives the reward because He voluntarily identified with the people He came to save. He allowed himself to be so identified with us, He actually became liable before God for our guilt! Paul proclaims,

“He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him”(2 Cor 5:21)

…and he bare the sin of many…As a substitute, the Servant ‘lifted up and took away’ the transgression of the rebels, bearing our sins to judgment on the cross. Like the scapegoat of Leviticus, he was banished for us, carrying away the guilt of our defection from God.

…and made intercession for the transgressors. Finally, because he became a mediator, standing between we who deserved nothing but wrath and judgment, and the Holy God, against whom we have sinned. He made His own life our sin offering. His sinless life , perfectly pleasing to God, becomes our only plea for pardon and favor.

The cross itself, which fixed him between heaven and earth, is the ultimate intercession, the final and complete act of interposition. He put himself between sinful man, and the Holy God! He took upon himself our judgment, our guilt and the sorrows that accompany our rebellion!

He still pleads for us at the Right hand of God, as the ever faithful High Priest, constantly bringing us to God, and maintaining our life before Him, in spite of our sins, flaws and periodic defections.

The Servant himself is our peace, for He has accomplished the task, He has pleased the LORD, who has ordained Him to bring this reconciliation without. Small wonder that in the end, all shall sing with trembling adoration, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is LORD”.

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