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Los Lunas Cornerstone

Church of the Nazarene

His Name (1 Kings 9)

    Have you ever sat down to read your Bible, something in the Old Testament, perhaps, about old kings and prophets, land wars, covenants, rituals, sacrifices, and read through a passage, and been completely clueless about what it means or why it might be important?
    I’m sure this is a situation that has happened to just about every person who has ever tried to read passages in the Old Testament that are a bit more difficult. We struggle to understand the relevance because we don’t understand the culture, or context, or the history, or the people. There can be so many nuances to any passage that we can sometimes miss the richness of what a passage should mean to us.
    It doesn’t mean we stop trying though, it simply means we must heavily rely on the voice of the Holy Spirit to speak to us in those moments when we don’t know how to get something out of God’s Word, because we do have His promise that all of Scripture is God-breathed, and all of it is useful for one of these purposes: for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, or for training in righteousness.
    This morning is one of those passages, that, if you sat down with it, might be all too easy to read and think, “Okay, that’s great, but why does it matter?” Or to read through it, and not feel like it changed anything in your life at all.
    I’ll be in 1 Kings 9 this morning. It’s mostly a recording of history, but in the history lesson, there is something the Lord has to say to each of us.
    1 Kings 9 is the turning point for Solomon. It’s the point where we see how he used his wisdom to pursue wealth and connections with foreign kings instead of using his wisdom to wisely lead the nation of Israel closer to God. But like I said, in this, God has something important to say to us.
    1 Kings 9 has two sections to it, the first section has God giving a promise and a warning to Solomon, just as Solomon finished the building of the temple. In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicated the Temple to the Lord and made a prayer on behalf of the people. God’s promise and warning to Solomon in the first section of 1 Kings 9 was God’s response, His answer, to Solomon’s prayers of dedication.
    The second section of 1 Kings 9, beginning at verse 10, talks about Solomon’s relationship with a foreign king, as well as his misuse of the wisdom that God gave him.
    I want to start with this second section to show how Solomon’s path was changed. Let’s look at 1 Kings 9:10, “Now it came about at the end of twenty years in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house”
    The last time we looked closely at Solomon’s heart, we saw that his heart was fully inclined to the Lord. We saw that he loved the Lord and was walking in God’s ways. It was this Solomon, whose heart loved God, that started the building of the Temple. But, this verse tells us that it’s been TWENTY years since the beginning of the Temple construction. That’s your first blank, if you want to take notes and follow along in your bulletin this morning.
    During that twenty years, we see that Solomon began to use the wisdom God gave him to do things that weren’t so wise. 1 Kings 9:20-21 tells us that any enemy that Solomon could not do away with, he forced into slave labor. This was the first time in Israel’s history that the leaders of Israel used slaves of any sort. They had been slaves in Egypt, but never had used slaves.
    Slavery was the cultural norm, but the cultural norm is not always up to God’s standards. Though the Bible does give advice to slave-owners, even in the New Testament, on how to be Godly slave owners, it was so they might walk with God as best as they could, while living in the culture that they did, not because God condoned slavery, then or now.
    The fact that it took this long in Israel’s history for them to take slaves should tell us that it was not God’s design for people to belong to other people like property. Solomon making his enemies into a SLAVE labor force, which is your next bulletin blank, was a misuse of his God-given wisdom.
    This creation of a slave force was just one of the ways Solomon compromised within that twenty years. But, he also pursued foreign relations with other nations. This was one of the ways Solomon amassed so much wealth. During his twenty years of building the Temple, he made a connection with Hiram, the king of Tyre, to get building materials from him for the Temple. Solomon paid King Hiram well, and not just paid him well, but kept him well fed with all the best foods Israel had to offer.
    Look at 1 Kings 9:11-14, “(Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar and juniper timber and gold, satisfying all his desire), that King Solomon then gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. So Hiram left Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, and they did not please him. And he said, “What are these cities which you have given me, my brother?” So they have been called the land of Cabul to this day. And Hiram sent to the king 120 talents of gold.”
    Another misuse of his God-given wisdom was for Solomon to give Israel’s LAND to a foreign king. That’s your next bulletin blank. It was not a wise thing for Solomon to give his land to a foreign king, and it didn’t even go over well! We see in these verses that Hiram wasn’t pleased by Solomon’s gift. In fact, Cabul means “nothing”, so he thought of Solomon’s gift as nothing. Worthless. Interestingly enough, the most important person in the world would one day come from a small town in Galilee, this nothing land.
    In this twenty year time between the beginning of the Temple construction and the ending, Solomon misuses the wisdom God gave him, not only by putting together the first system of slavery in Israel, but also compromising Israel’s security to please foreign kings that did no good!
    Those twenty years were not entirely kind to Solomon, but 1 Kings 9 does tell us about one wise thing Solomon did do. After the twenty years was over and the Temple was complete, Solomon dedicated the Temple. You can read about that in 1 Kings 8, and read all about what Solomon prayed over the Temple and over the nation. He asked God to forgive Israel when she sinned. He asked God to shine His face upon Israel. He asked God to dwell in the Temple. He asked for God to be with the NATION of Israel, no matter what. Nation is your next blank. When Solomon dedicated the Temple to the Lord, he prayed over the people and asked God to always be with them.
    Look at 1 Kings 9:3, “And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea which you have offered before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built, by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there always.”
    After this verse, the Lord goes on to give Solomon the same promise He gave to David, that if Solomon walks in His ways then He will ensure that Solomon’s line will always be on the throne. But, if Solomon does not walk with the Lord, Israel will be cut off and God will remove His Name from the Temple that He had promised to consecrate with His Name.
    This tells us that Solomon was also wise in that up to that point, at the dedication of the Temple, Solomon was still seeking to walk in God’s ways. Maybe not always succeeding, but he was seeking.
    I want to spend just a little more time talking about God’s response to the dedication of the Temple, because this is where God wants us to pull out something special. We know that God now dwells in Temples made of human hearts. That is, He dwells in the hearts of those who have believed in Jesus Christ as their savior. If you call yourself a Christian, God lives in you. You are the Temple.
    When Solomon finished the Temple and dedicated it to God, then we’re told that God responded by consecrating the Temple and putting His Name on it forever. And your last two bulletin blanks are MY NAME, that He put His Name on the Temple. That means that He set apart the Temple for Him and His use and only Him and His use.
    By putting His Name on it, He was signifying a few things. It’s like when you sign your name at the bottom of a letter, or when they used to use signet rings to seal letters with a seal in wax. When you do that, you are saying, “Yes, this really is me writing this letter.” So, you’re identifying yourself. You’re saying, “I approve of everything that is written in this letter.” You’re saying, “I put my name on this letter to show you that everything I have said is true and trustworthy.”
    So, God, by putting His Name on the Temple also certified a few things. Yes, that is His home, that is the place He dwells. Yes, He approves of what has been built in His name. Yes, you have confidence that when you go to His House, you will meet with Him.
    We are that Temple now, and when we become His Temple, He also consecrates us and puts His Name on us. That means He sets us apart for Him and His use only. That means that He says, “Yes, this one is mine.” He says, “I approve of what this person does in My Name.” He says, “What they speak from My Word is true and trustworthy.”
    It’s an incredible thought, to think that God looks over our lives and decides that He will put His Name over our lives simply because we are His, but that is exactly what He does. It’s one of the reasons that the writer of Hebrews tells us that we should boldly approach God’s throne with confidence, because we are His!
    A few years ago, a song came out by Casting Crowns called “Lifesong”, and one of the lines says, “I want to sign Your Name to the end of each day, knowing that my heart was true.” God called this song to my mind as I was thinking about this passage in 1 Kings 9 because He knows how much music speaks to me. Immediately, I saw the connection He was trying to show me.
    We are His Temple. That happens simply by His grace through the shed blood of Jesus. That is not something we do ourselves. Unlike Solomon, we don’t build the Temple, God does. But, we are meant to dedicate the Temple, ourselves, to Him. Not just once, each and every day. This is what Romans 12:1 speaks of, that we are to present ourselves to God. We are supposed to consecrate ourselves, give ourselves completely to the Lord.
    And He puts His Name on us. Calls us His, speaks to us and through us, and works to build us up. Our part is to continue to give ourselves to Him so He can do the work that only He can do: changing us. We cannot change ourselves, not truly. Only His Spirit can do that. But we can cooperate. We can walk each day in step with Him, so at the end of each day, we can be sure that He would proudly and gladly sign His name to each of our days.
    We live each day for Him, speak to Him more, listen to Him more, read His Word more, pray more, and know that we have done all that He has asked us to do.

1. Review what God tells Solomon to do in 9:4. Can God require this also of you? Is He requiring it?

2. In what ways has Christ already fulfilled this requirement for you, and in what ways is He continuing to do so in and through you?

3. What adjustments are needed now in your life so that you can better fulfill this requirement?

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