Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Strength and Success in God's Kingdom (2 Chronicles 8-9)


Rev. Christopher Chelpka

So this evening I'm going to do things just a little differently. The goal here, we will see if I can accomplish it, is long text, short sermon. I will see how that goes. But I want to begin by just introducing the text a little bit, by by reminding you of something that's probably true for all of us. When I was a child, I love to pretend to be a king and I think less your lady. That's probably true of all of us. The the old king and Princess Game, as my father and sister used to play or I play with my kids, is very common, strange for American children, I think, but nevertheless we do it. But what if it wasn't to pretend? That's my question for you. What if you really really had to be a king or a queen? What kind would you be? Would you be good or bad? Would you be cruel or kind, rich or poor? Would you be wise? Would you be foolish? Now I know what all what kind of King or queen you would like to be, but that's not my question. My question is, what kind of King or Queen would you be? It take an inventory of your skills in trade, politics, national security and all the rest how? How would you do? How would you fair in ruling your people? I suspect that most of us would do a fairly poor job. This is the way it goes. Not all of us are born to be those kind of leaders, and that's fine. The reason I ask you this question want you to sort of imagine this for a moment, is as we hear now about King Solomon, the summary of his reign and the end of it in particular, I want you to be amazed at how successful Solomon was at every level, whether it was a political power and influence, his wisdom, his wealth. Solomon is a king who would become one of the most famous kings of all history, and certainly of Israel, but even outside of Israel as well. He is a synonymous with what it means to be a great king. So I want you to pay attention to that as we hear the Chronicler sum up Solomon's reign, and we're going to hear that by hearing two chapters of the Bible, I'm second chronicles, Chapter Eight and chapter nine, and as much as you possibly can, I want you to listen and carefully. I want you to imagine the details of what the chronicler is telling us about this king's reign. So let's give our attention to God's word now in second chronicles, beginning at Chapter Eight, at the end of twenty years in which Solomon had built the House of the Lord and his own house, Solomon Rebuilt the cities that Hiram had given to him and settled the people of Israel in them. And Solomon went to Hamath Zobah and took it. He built Tad more in the Wilderness and all the store cities that he built, and in Hamath he also built Upper Beth harn and lower Beth Haron, fortified cities with walls, Gates and bars and bottle off and all the store cities that Solomon had and all the cities for his chariots and the cities for his horsemen and whatever Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, at Lebanon and in all the land of his dominion. All the people who were left of the Hittites,...

...the Amorites, the parasites, the Hivites and the jebusites, who were not of Israel, from their descendants who were left after them in the land whom the people of Israel had not destroyed these Solomon drafted as forced labor, and so they are to this day. But of the people of Israel, Solomon made no slaves for his work. They were soldiers and his officers, the commanders of his chariots and his horsemen, and these were the chief officers of King Solomon, two hundred and fifty, who exercised authority over the people. Solomon brought Pharaoh's daughter up from the city of David to the House that he had built for her, for he said, my wife shall not live in the House of David, King of Israel, for the places to which the Ark of the Lord has come our holy. Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord that he had built before the vestibule, as the duty of each day required according offering, according to the commandment of Moses, for the Sabbaths, the new moons and the three annual feasts, the Feast of unloven bread, the Feast of weeks and the Feast of booths. According to the ruling of David, his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service in the Levites, for their offices of praise and ministry, before the priests, as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers and their divisions at each gate, for so David, the man of God, had commanded, and they did not turn aside from what the king had commanded, the priests and Levites concerning any matter and concerning the treasuries. Thus was accomplished all the work of Solomon, from the day the foundation of the House of the Lord was laid until it was finished. So the House of the Lord was completed. Then Solomon went to Azion, Geber and eloth on the shore of the sea, and to the land of Edom and Hiram sent to him by the hand of his servants, ships and servants familiar with the sea, and they went to ophier together with the servants of Solomon, and brought from their four hundred and fifty talents of gold and brought it to King Solomon. Now, when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions, having a very great retinue and camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind and Solomon answered all her questions. There was nothing hidden from Solomon that he could not explain to her. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, in the House that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials and the attendance of his service servants and their clothing, his cut bears and their clothing and his burnt offerings that he offered at the House of the Lord, there is no more breath in her. And she said to the king, the report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, half the greatness of your wisdom was not told to me. You surpassed the report that I heard. Happy, are your wives happy? Are Those your servants who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom? Blessed be the Lord, your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne. Is King for the Lord your God, because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them that you may execute justice and righteousness. Then...

...she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. There were no spices such as those that the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. Moreover, the servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon, who brought gold from othear, brought Algamwood and precious stones, and the king made from the algamwood supports for the House of the Lord and for the King's House, Liars also, and harps for the singers. There never was seen the like of them before in the land of Judah, and King Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked, besides what she had brought to the king. So she turned and went back to her own land with her servants. Now the weight of gold that came to Solomnon in one year was six hundred and sixty six talents of gold, besides that which the explorers and merchants brought, and all the Kings of Arabia and the governors of the land brought gold and silver to Solomon. King Solomon made two hundred large shields of beaten gold. Six hundred shekels of beaten gold, with went to each into each shield shield, and he made three hundred shields of beaten gold, three hundred shekels of gold women to each shield, and the king put them in the House of the forest of Lebanon. The king also made a great ivory throne and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps and a footstool of gold which were attached to the throne, and on each side of the seat were armrests and two lions standing beside the arm rests, while twelve lions stood there, one on each end of a step of the six steps. Nothing like it was ever made for any kingdom all kings. Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold and the vessels of the House of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. Silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon, for the king's ships went to tarshish with the servants of Hiram once every three years. The ships of Starshus tarshish used to come bringing gold, silvery ivory, apes and peacocks. Thus King Solomon Excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom, and all the kings of the Earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom which God had put into his mind. Every one of them brought his present articles of silver and of gold, garments, mers spices, horses and mules, so much, year by year, and Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and Chariots and twelve thousand horsemen whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king of Jerus and with the king in Jerusalem. And he ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made Cedar as plentiful as the Sycamore of the Shefelah. And the horses were imported for Solomon from Egypt and from all lands. Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the history of Nathan the Prophet, and then the prophecies of a he'Sah, the Sheilanite, and in the visions of Edo the seer concerning Jeribalum, the son of Nibot? Solomon reigned in Jerusalem, over all Israel, forty years and Solomon slept with his father's and was buried in the city of David, his father and ray a bone, his son, reigned in his place. So you see what I mean.

It's fantastic, it's spectacular. I would love to see some picture of this or to experience that. The chronicler has given us this spectacular summary. Forget about being king for a moment and imagine what it would be like to be a subject of someone like this, or a trading partner or a foreign dignitary, or like this queen of Sheba, place very far from Israel, or even a slave. Now, of course we know that things weren't perfect in Israel. Life was hard. There are hints of this even here, as we read of Solomon's many wives, of a of a princess, of his queen coming from Egypt, and our eyebrows go up a little bit. But nevertheless they're all put in this very positive light. The best way that they could be understood is is pointed out, not to excuse them, but to really show how glorious Solomon was. This king, or the kings of this world, I'm do not come close to this and in all this we see that he was truly blessed by God. It's not stated over and over and over again, as it is in other sections, because here we have a listing of these things, but the fact that God is the giver of all of them is very clear and comes out several times. The Queen of Sheba, herself a gentile, recognizes this, recognizes that the wisdom he has, the gifts that he has, are from God. Let's consider some of the details of the glory of Solomon. First, there's the infrastructure of the kingdom and it's sovereignty. In first kings we learned that some cities had been given to Hiram and possibly as collateral for loans. But here in the Solomon's reign, and these is this summary is given to us, we see that they seem to be coming back into his hands. In Chapter Eight, versus, versus one and and two. There, furthermore, we see that these cities of Solomon are very strong. In verses three through seven, even in far away places, saw aloman is able to fortify and secure all that belongs to him. This is not always easy. Tucson, for example, and much of our history has been something of a border town, a frontier kind of place that has changed hands and moved in and out of various people's control, and it's hard to control what goes on there. It's hard to manage what happens in a place like that. But Solomon, even in the farthest reaches of his kingdom, has strength and power. They very much belong to him. If you get a chance sometime to look at a map of Solomon's kingdom and you see how far it really went, it was never this big before and it would never be this big again. So his infrastructure and the very borders of the land were strong and big. And that leads into a second thing to notice. Just the security of the nation. Israel was big, but it was also secure and throughout Solomon's reign, Israel enjoyed a great peace with her neighbors. In fact, Solomon's kingdom was more secure, was more than secure, it was famous within the international community. Instead of trying, as we read through these verses, instead of him trying to protect himself against these other nations, what do we see? The Nation's coming into Israel,...

...subjecting themselves to him, giving him gifts instead of compelled to take what he has, they feel compelled to give what they have. This is how great a Solomon is. He unlike David, who was constantly fighting battles, Solomon is not a warrior. His country is strong and at peace. This leads to a third point. But today, the nation of Israel does not enjoy this kind of situation. She feels threatened, constantly needing to be on guard from her neighbors, both near and far. But during Solomon's reign, it seems like the world couldn't have been happier with Israel, instead of being jealous and greedy about fertile land and constant crops, coveting the important trade roots that ran along her borders, Israel became one of the most important trading partners in the world, and Solomon took advantage of this, and the economy grew. I'm according to some archeologist, there's even evidence that the standard of living rose during this time. The visit of the Queen of Sheba from such a far away place points to that Solomon is getting supplies from far, far away, and he seems to be able to work alongside people like the Queen of Sheba or the king of tire. The hium, he has a relation somehow with Egypt, and that they would give to him. There there are queen, this princess and Queen. Israel is acting in an advantaged position on the world's stage. But it wasn't all about money and power. Solomon was also getting things right on the spiritual front as well, as we discussed a little bit in Sunday school this morning. There are other times when Israel was wealthy, but we're spiritually all wrong. Not So in Solomon's reign. He does well on this point as well. As a comment in the ESV Study Bible points out, it wasn't until the temple was actually an operation that the chronicle oiler finally considers it done Solomon. For Solomon, it wasn't just important to build the thing, it was to see it working, to see the sacrifices made and the priests in place. He even says, and it points out several times, that he does this according to the Commands of Moses, according to the Commands of David. Finally, finally, of course, there is Solomon's great wealth. And what more could be said? The chapters there have made it very plain. This was a wonderful place, a beautiful place, fine treasures, even animals are listed here. Imports from all over the world, their wealth growing and growing, and Solomon's wisdom growing and growing, and the religious a worship of the people growing and growing, God pouring out all these blessings on Solomon. This country was safe, it was important, it was famous, it was wealthy, it was respected and it was living right before the Lord. Well, we consider the glory of Solomon and we will continue to exercise our minds in this way. As we read the chronicles, we have to think about how this compares to our King. Perhaps, at least as Christians, this is one we reason we keep playing king and Queen,...

...because we do belong to a kingdom, we do have a king who is over us, who rules us, and so it's very natural for us to think, well, how does the King of Israel and this olden days King Solomon, compared to our king and the kingdom that we belong to, namely the Kingdom of God and and King Jesus? What we find is that, as splendid as Solomon was, he doesn't even begin to compare. How can you say that? When many people think of Jesus, they don't think of him as a king first of all, and certainly I don't think of him as a King like Solomon. You may remember that when they nailed Jesus to the cross, they also nailed a sign to the cross that mocked him and made fun of him, saying King of the Jews. When people think of Christians, they don't think of powerful, wealthy, famous, politically connected people. When the world thinks of Christians, they think of backwards people, Awkward People, strange people, loyal perhaps, but wrongly so, sometimes even a burden and a danger to the communities way of life. In fact, people crucify Christians just like they crucified their king. So how can I say that Solomon doesn't? Solomon, in his glory doesn't even begin to compare to Jesus. Well, the first reason is that there truly is great glory in his kingdom, even though it's not always outward and visible in the forms that we would usually expect in our time. In this period of grace before the day of the Lord comes, much of the glory of the Lord and his kingdom is hidden. It's found in unexpected and humble places. We might call the Kingdom of Heaven, as it is right now. The Kingdom of the Cross. That's how where characterized. Instead of wielding the sword, we find Christians wash washing feet, instead of executing justice, we see them turning the other cheek. And yet, even though the glory is hidden, I do think you can see it and you can hear it. Take, for example, a prisoner that I had the opportunity to disciple for a while, a man here in the Tucson a federal prison who had done terrible things to his children, but by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit that had come into his heart and changed him and brought him to true humility and repentance and faith, I found that sitting across from this man, I found a very serious and devoted Christian man who is broken by his sins and in love with the Lord Jesus, a man who talked about his past and present and hopes, all in terms of his faith, a man who struggled still but was most certainly a man with Christ. Is that not a glorious thing? Of course it is. When we look at our own lives. Perhaps some of you have became Christians later in life, and you see the change that happened and the glory that is attached to that. How of loving God can take things that are broken and corrupt and make them new. I have to ask, is that not a glorious thing? And I think it's even more than that. It's not just glorious, but it's even more glorious. Compare the two.

External peace and good crops in the field or internal peace with God and the bouncilful fruit of the Holy Spirit. What's better? Pomegranates and olives and grapes or love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control? Which would you rather have? which more truly speaks to the glories of the Kingdom of God? And we see that, sure, in a hidden way and in a broken way and in an incomplete way in our lives, but they're nevertheless. You could think of the glory of Christ also in terms of its extent, not only its effect in our lives, but it's extent. The Kingdom of God is found throughout the world, behind prisoned walls and in houses and in steepled churches. The word of God and the glory of Christ penetrates the most impenetrable forces and even the hardest of our hearts. Is that not glorious. Solomon's kingdom was indeed big, but it doesn't worldwide as the Lord Jesus's is. You can see the glory of Christ's kingdom also, I think, in the humble means by which it comes. It's not the flashing sword which accomplishes this change, but it is the Gospel, the preaching of the word. That is the power of God, unto salvation for those who believe it's the word of God that makes a man, a woman, a child devote him or herself, even unto death, to God, their savior. These are some of the obvious glories of the Kingdom of Christ. Now they come in a meek and a humble way, because that's how the king came, and that's good news to us. It's good news because it means that the Lord came in a gracious way, in a lowly way. It's good because it means that the glory is a glory of grace. At the moment it's a different kind of glory. It's a glory that means people like you and me can belong. It means that we can come into the kingdom and belong to Jesus and not be kicked out for not being glorious enough. Without the gracious glory of God, you and I would never measure up, we would never be good enough, we would be always outstanding outside and never in. But there will be a time when this period of grace, when the glory of grace, will come to an end and the glories of God and judgment and consummation will come finally, and these are pictured throughout the Bible, partly here and set second chronicles, but in other places as well. Even some of the individual images that are address here in chronicles come up. Take the throne, for example, this amazing throne that Solomon builds. You remember it, covered with made of ivory, covered with pure gold, two lions on either side, with lions going down six steps. Beautiful, amazing. And yet how does the Bible describe the throne of God? Surrounded not by statues of Lions, but terrible and fearful, fearsome...

...rather angels, myriads of Angels, not twelve stone lions, but a hundred million angels ready to obey the Lord's command. He stands there, he sits rather in heaven, in all his glory and Awesomeness. Whenever the profits are given even a vision into this heavenly throne room, they throw themselves down at his feet and wish to die. It's that glorious. The Queen of Sheba is certainly not. I'm proud. She's humble, she's thankful, she offers all kinds of gifts to Solomon, she's amazed. No one would falter for her reaction, but she doesn't fall down before his throne and wish her own death upon herself. She doesn't say I'm a woman of Unclean Lips, but that's what the prophets say when they see the kingdom, or rather the throne room, of God. And that's a glory opened up to them and one day will be opened up to us all, revealed on the last day, and then no one will ever doubt whether the Kingdom of God is more glorious than the Kingdom of Solomon. Our opportunity, though, here and now, at this moment, is to hear a passage like this and to see two things. First, the blessings of God that are poured out on this son of David, and to see also in that a picture of the greater glory that God would pour out on Jesus David's greater son. And when we hear that, let us be filled with fear and awe in worship and not turn to him, or rather turn away from him and despise him and be apathetic and not care, but to worship and to give our gifts and to give ourselves fully and entirely unto him. Let us trust him in this period of grace, while we still have it, and give all the glory to God. Let's pray.

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