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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Sovereign God of History - Reflecting on 1 Kings

I am reading through the books of Kings in the Bible. I just finished 1 Kings.  This book along with others are considered historical, more precisely dealing with the relationship of Israel (the divided Kingdom, which was a direct result of Salomon turning away from God) and God.  It is easy to read these books as just history (some scholars prefer "theological interpretation of history"). We often read them one time and go on to the next book. But as Christians we understand that God is in control of history.  It is HIS-Story.  We need to learn from them. Yes, it is hard for puny minds like ours to comprehend how God can be in control of such messy history (the book of Kings is no exception, seven kings were assassinated, one was stricken by God, one was led captive and another committed suicide). For many, history, is utterly depressing and leads them to question if God is at all involved in it or if He even exists. I don't know all of the answers, especially in understanding how everything in history has been decreed by God and will ultimately bring Him glory. But there aren't two paths in history: God's path and our path. There aren't any mistakes in God's history and sinful Man is involved but this in no way makes God responsible for the sinfulness of Man. There isn't  plan A and plan B. If Man messes up plans A, then God chooses plan B to fix things (I can't forget this fallacious statement by a pastor concerning choosing a mate!).
God has is in control of all nations. He desires all of them to seek Him:
"From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." (Act 17:26-27)

Perhaps, reading a book like 1 Kings gives me a glimpse.  Thought the book is primarily how God dealt with His people Israel (both Northern and Southern Kingdoms), it also shows how God was involved orchestrating and using other nations to accomplish His purposes.  Many of the kings in the Northern Kingdom were evil.  The phrase "did evil in the sight of the Lord," repeats often in this book. But God was still in control.

Ultimately this all came down to Jesus being born through the lineage of David (the Southern Kingdom). Read here. Galatians makes it clear that God sent His Son at the right time in history. This was no mistake.

As I have reflected on this book, I've thought of my own life. How much I want to have control. This year has been incredibly tough for me in many areas. My life has added extra pressures and stress. Some are due to my own sinfulness, some are out of my control.  My immediate response is to try to fix it. I want to make things right, which means the way I want them to be.  But as I reflect on this book of the Bible it makes me think that my duty is to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. He wants my obedience. This still applies to me: "As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness"' (1 Kings 9:4).  He is in control of "my" history. He can raise adversaries (1 Kings 11:23) if I am not obedient but He can also deal with them better than I can. Whatever it is, I am called to obey Him.

Here we are. We try to be our mini gods, controlling our own history. We are certainly not passive in history, but we are not in control of everything. God is. He is the sovereign God of history.