Readers’ Choice Month:
Thank you for sending your selections of meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. We have a few extra Readers’ Choice posts we will drop into this week and next. Remember that you don’t have to wait to send a Readers’ Choice. You can submit them all year long simply by replying back to our emails or filling out the form found at this link.
Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 6.11-13
11 The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 12 “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.”
Reflection: Neither Despair Nor Nostalgia
By John Tillman
Covenants have at least two participants. Husbands and wives make covenants of love, support, and faithfulness. Business partnerships are covenants of capital, intellectual property, and labor. Governments (even non-democratic ones) are philosophically based on a sacred covenant that leaders will protect and provide for the people and the people will support the needs of the government as it does so.
In many ways, Solomon’s era was the golden age of Israel’s covenant with God, but the roots of unfaithfulness are also visible. In golden ages, we often find excesses that will bankrupt the future. Solomon instituted forced labor and was consumed by pleasures of wealth, sex, and power. Solomon built beautiful buildings but failed to build a beautiful community. He raised a glorious Temple but raised a spoiled and foolish son who caused a civil war. (1 Kings 12.13-17)
Like Solomon, we have sacred work to do in our world. Like him, our efforts are often incomplete and imperfect. We see this in the broken covenants of marriage, business, and, especially government. When struggling for the reins of power, leaders will harm anyone if they score some political points. No one is sacred—not families fleeing communism, children hiding from gunmen, unborn babies, or victims of sexual assaults.
Frustration with the present can birth longings for a golden age or despair for the future. We think, “if only things could be like they were.” The writer of Kings almost certainly held some nostalgia for Solomon’s Temple. Jesus’ disciples were also impressed with its eventual replacement, built by the wicked king, Herod. (Matthew 24.1-2) We easily get lost in the grandeur of the descriptions of the temple, the “greatness” of the past, impressive (if wicked) kings, or imagining what we might build for God.
Rather than despair or nostalgia, let us focus on faithfulness in the present. Don’t get lost in the grandeur of the past or dreams of future glory. Opulence, craftsmanship, and “greatness” don’t impress God. God says, “As for this temple you are building…” then pointedly ignores the sculptures, gold, and cedar. Obedience and faithfulness are what God seeks.
Regardless of corporate unfaithfulness, the faithful remnant will see God’s covenant fulfilled. Abusive governments or corrupted Temples may fall but the promise made to Solomon is still alive in Christ. God will tabernacle with his remnant, even in exile. He will not abandon his people.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody. — Psalm 108.1
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Ezekiel 3 (Listen 4:41)
Romans 6 (Listen 3:28)
*We have diverted into 1 Kings and Ephesians for this week. Devotionals on our daily readings will continue next week.
Read more about Gods of Ruin and Ridicule
We must decide every day whom we will serve. The gods of this world bring ruin and ridicule.