Bible reading for October 2.
1 Kings 4-5.
"For he had dominion over all the region west of the Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings west of the Euphrates. And he had peace on all sides around him. And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon." (1 Kings 4:24-25)
SOLOMON'S DOMINION (ch 4). We are given a list of Solomon's key officials (vv 1-20), and a glimpse into his large organization. Abiathar the priest apparently served a little longer before being removed (v 4; cf 2:27). Azariah, the son of Zadok, became high priest. The material needs were immense, but so was the blessing upon the land and people (vv 21-28). There was peace and plenty. Solomon is again noted for his wisdom (vv 29-34). Such growth of power and government, however, should remind us of the warnings the prophet Samuel gave in 1 Samuel 8:10-17.
PLANS FOR THE TEMPLE (ch 5). So far Solomon's intentions are good. He reaffirms friendship with Hiram, king of Tyre, and makes plans to construct the temple in Jerusalem (vv 1-12), the work which David had desired to accomplish. [See chart above for time period.] Solomon enacts a draft for public service (vv 13-18) in order to accomplish such a great undertaking. Israel is at a high point in its history, with much blessing, a wide dominion, and a great national task, building the house of the Lord.
REFLECT. We can't help but reflect on history, how such success cannot last. It's been said that few people can handle failure well, and even fewer can handle success well. At this point in Solomon's story he desires to glorify and worship the Lord. But soon we'll see this great power and success will bring its own great problems. We must ask ourselves, how do we handle success? How can we avoid pride and self-sufficiency when God blesses us? What can you do to stay humble when things are going well?
"...so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7)
RAISED WITH CHRIST. This chapter is just packed with wonderful truths! Observe the contrast between who we were before Christ and what we are now (and will be) in Christ. We were spiritually dead, worldly, in bondage to Satan, fleshly, disobedient, children of wrath, separated, alienated, having no hope, and without God (vv 1-3, 12). But just as Paul wrote elsewhere, we were raised with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places (vv 5-7; cf 1:19-21; Rom 6:5-13; Col 3:1-4). This union with Christ -- whether we call it positional, mystical, or covenantal -- is the means by which every good thing comes to us. We are recipients of God's grace, seated above, fellow citizens, members of the household of God, and a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
GRACE, FAITH, AND WORKS. And so this salvation comes to us by grace (2:8-10). This means the initiative for our salvation, the accomplishment of our salvation, and the culmination of our salvation come from God's bountiful mercy, his love, and his kindness toward us in Christ. There is a place for good works in our life, but that is not the basis of our salvation. We ourselves are actually God's work, and he has created good things for us to do. We walk in these good works by faith, that is, in the same way we were saved, with our focus always (and only) to his glorious grace.
RECONCILED TO OTHERS. Our salvation not only brings us to God, it reconciles us to other people. Here, Paul's point is to show that the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles was broken down in Christ: "...that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility" (vv 15-16). There is now a new humanity, and a new spiritual temple (vv 19-22), which is built upon Christ and upon the inspired writings of the apostles and prophets.
REFLECT. Do we realize how great a salvation we have? Are we rejoicing in God's grace, our position in Christ, and our new humanity? Only through Christ will racism and ethnic strife end -- so, are we helping to end such hostility by showing forth God's reconciliation and our new humanity created at the cross?
Image credit: OT chart originally designed by Prof. Howard Hendricks and given to students at Dallas Theological Seminary. We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.