Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Kings II 17 – The Fall of Israel 

It is very difficult reading the 17th chapter of 2 Kings without filling up with tears of sorrow at the tragedy of the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. 

It’s not as though God hadn’t warned them. He had done so on numerous occasions through various prophets. Yet their persistence in rejecting God lead to inevitable consequences. The summary of their decay and decline to the point of being taken away by the Assyrians is tremendously sad. Not only rejecting God, but actively despising all He had done for them but blatantly following idols. Completely neglecting the Lord that had brought them out of slavery on Egypt. 

It is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to see active rebellion against a compassionate Saviour. 

Their exile left the land to be resettled by an assortment of peoples bringing their own idols with them. Despite the reintroduction of Yahweh worship, it was always mixed in with those other gods as though He is one among others. That only reinforced the very sin that made the people so repugnant to God. That degree of mixing and compromising continually diluted the place the one true God should have in the land He had given to the people He delivered. 

Reading it is a very sad experience seeing the extent to which sin and idolatry had lead God’s people. It acts as a warning to us today that God does not want mixed worship. He doesn’t require one day worshippers who then revert to idol worship in the rest of the week. He Who has brought us out of slavery to sin requires wholehearted worship of Him alone, not adopting the practices and customs of idol worship around us. He still desires that from His people today. He still requires us to turn to Him and remain devoted to Him. 

The alternative is to worship worthless idols and become ourselves worthless. 

Dear God, help us. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings II 15 – Unrest and Upheaval in Israel 

​In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maakah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria. (2 Kings 15:29 NIV) 

The writer of the account in Kings rattles through a number of kings who ruled the northern Kingdom of Israel in the 15th chapter of 2 Kings. These are bookmarked by the reign of two kings in the southern kingdom of Judah. Those kings of Judah followed a similar pattern to Joash – starting well in relying on God, ending not so well. At least, however, they had an ongoing intentional relationship with God. This is in complete contrast to the litany of disastrous reigns in the northern kingdom of Israel. 

As soon as God’s word was fulfilled about Jehu and the fourth generation had ascended to the throne, there followed conspiracy and coup after conspiracy and coup. Jehu’s great grandson was assassinated. The man who did it became king … and subsequently was assassinated. 

King after king showed little regard for God and little regard for their predecessor. Only one king succeeded his father on the throne, but inevitably even he became a victim of a conspiracy. The display of disrespect and disregard had an impact on the stability of the country. The Assyrians rose to become a prominent threat to the country, plaguing them with attack after attack, chipping away at the land, claiming portions of it and furthering the decay if the northern kingdom of Israel. 

Unrest and upheaval afflicted the kingdom of Israel in no small way due to the disregard for God. The length of each reign mattered little if the state of the country only worsened with each passing ruler. As other insights would inform us, it is not as though God was silent or had never left a word on how they could be. The connection is clear – do what is evil in the sight of the Lord who has clearly expressed His requirements and deal with the debilitating consequences. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings II 05 – Cure and Curse

​But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:8 ESV) 

Two men and leprosy give us another insight into the importance of humility in considering the matters of God. 

Naaman 

The commander is given a great deal of kudos before we are informed of his leprosy. The favour he finds with the king and even with the servant of his wife is what allows him to be referred to the prophet in Israel. 

Yet for all his good qualities, the instructions from Elisha trigger a reaction in Naaman that is less than noble and challenges his sensibilities. It takes the good counsel of his servants for him to actually apply the simple orders of the man of God. It is reinforcing his good character, that his response is effusive and humble thanksgiving. 

His desire to be generous is clear when he actually gets to give something. His conscientious response to the healing and acknowledgement of Yahweh as the one true God makes a remarkable connection of the goodness of the Lord far beyond the realm of Israel. 

Gehazi 

In contrast to Naaman, we have the servant of Elisha. Here is someone who is well aware of the acts of God. He is also more than aware of how Elisha is a man in tune with the will of the Lord. 

It takes something far greater in him to ignore what his master says to pursue Naaman. It is not as if Gehazi was in lack and even if he was he was serving a man who constantly ensured those in lack had their needs met. The greed in Gehazi overwhelmed him and so he lied twice in a bid to pursue his desire for gain. Once to Naaman to get the goods and the second time to Elisha in a bid to cover up the deed. 

Where Naaman received the cure because of his obedience, Gehazi got a curse through his greed. Though this will not be the last we hear of Gehazi, here we learn from him of the futility of solely pursuing material gain. We also learn from the example of Elisha that it is not about looking for payment for good works, but about being sensitive to the leading of God in ensuring He gets the glory. 

There are times when God will ask us to do the unconventional and inconvenient. Our ability to follow God rather than our own inclination can be the difference between enduring the curse that separates from community and health or enjoying the cure that brings wholeness with creation and especially the Creator. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 20 – No Room for Leniency. (Ahab: Strike One) 

​The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord .’ ” (1 Kings 20:28 NIV) 

Following Elijah’s defeat of the prophets of Baal, the episode outlined in 1 Kings 20 is a great opportunity for King Ahab. Despite his notorious reputation for idol worship, when he is confronted with the siege of his capital city by the Arameans, he is compliant to follow God’s advice not once, but twice. 

The immense army of the Arameans with plenty of kings and soldiers should have overwhelmed the Israelites, but God granted His people two great victories. What it clearly established for the Arameans was that they were facing a God who was not limited by the type of landscape. 

The second victory was a significant one and should have lead to the comprehensive defeat of the king of Aram who had been so defiant against God and the people. It should have been and would have been had Ahab overlooked this responsibility to go about looking to make a treaty with the enemy that would have crushed him. No wonder God had to inform him that his act of treaty-making was costly. In the larger context of what was to happen this can be seen as strike one for Ahab. 

There is a time for leniency and there is a time to be clinical. When it comes to the great enemy of the soul and our charge to remove it completely, there is no room or time for compromise. God does not give victories in the battle of life for us to work out treaties with that which afflicts us. He grants us victories so we acknowledge and completely follow His exclusive rule in our lives. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 16 – From Bad to Worse 

​Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord , the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him. (1 Kings 16:33 NIV) 

In the southern kingdom of Judah, King Asa ruled for 41 years. In the time of his rule he saw Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri and Ahab take the throne of the northern kingdom of Israel. That’s not just seven kings, that’s four ‘dynasties’. 

Baasha sacked Jeroboam’s lineage by plotting and killing his son Nadab  and wiping out the family line, only for his own dynasty to be nipped in the bud by an uprising from Zimri that killed Baasha’s son and successor Elah. Zimri also wiped out any vestiges if the Baasha household. Not that Zimri spent much time on the throne as after a week his rule was challenged by the army commander Omri. Facing the army siege of his palace, the already beleaguered Zimri took his life by setting the place on fire! 

On taking over, Omri had to battle potential threat to the throne before establishing his rule and setting up a new capital for Israel in the new town of Samaria. He managed to stay on the throne a little longer than his predecessors and even managed to hand his throne onto his son without revolt which was rare. 

The instability of the northern kingdom, however, did not stop the leaders deepening ever further in idolatry and rebellion against God. Such disobedience has lead to the downfall of the kings and yet failing to learn from history, they chose not to repent. Indeed Omri’s son seems to take it as a pursuit to set a new standard for flagrant ignorance of the one true God, choosing to follow other gods including that of his wife, Jezebel. 

This is not a godless chapter for Israel, though. Even in their idolatry, God remains concerned about the affairs of His people. 

Even as the situation appears to be getting worse, it is not for us to think God is not concerned. More than ever before God is looking for faith among the faithless, for the fate of the wicked will be judged by Him. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 15 – The Bad, The Good and The Ugly 

​He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. (1 Kings 15:3 NIV) 

History records the life and times of various leaders and rulers by different standards. Their goodness might be connected to their social and economic policies. They might be considered great because of how far they expanded the borders of their rule. The success of Israel and Judah was based on obeying the God who had delivered them from slavery and settled them in the land promised to their forefathers. As long as they remembered their covenant and followed it carefully, it would go well with them. They were already recipients of such an example of what it was to follow the covenant by the rule of King David. Yet once his son, Solomon, ended his reign in idolatry, he set a pattern that his successors in both the northern and southern kingdoms would follow. 

The fifteenth chapter of 1 Kings establishes that in the southern kingdom of Judah, with Abijah who followed his father, the idolatrous Rehoboam. It is only God’s promise to David that doesn’t see Abijah’s lineage wiped out for his sin. It is also just as well that his lineage was spared, because following Abijah was the rule of Asa. 

It’s great to read of how Asa was even willing to stand up to his own grandmother when it came to ruling righteously, deposing her and destroying her false gods with her. It is particularly remarkable that Asa had such a heart for God considering neither his father or grandfather showed that regard to follow God. It is a bright spot in a dark chapter. His commitment to doing what is right in God’s sight reassures us of the possibility that a generation has in turning to God even if their circumstances and context would suggest otherwise. 

Meanwhile the northern kingdom plods on in its unrelenting rebellion against God, even though He is still very much embedded in their fortunes. For just as he said, Jeroboam’s entire family are wiped out after a coup takes the throne from Jeroboam’s idolatrous successor, Nadab. The coup, led by Baasha, would set up a pattern where the monarchy of the North would never be settled in a continuous hereditary flow. Without a root of righteousness that Judah had in David, the throne would be vulnerable to coup after coup. Each one seeming to outdo its predecessor in ambitious plots and subsequent rebellion against God which left them prone to end up the same way they got to their position – being overthrown by a coup.

Disobedience leading to destabilising effects. So much to be learnt if we truly want to pursue true success. Better to base it on a covenant with the creator than on the selfish and ambitious pursuit of power and prestige. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden