Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to inherit eternal life, part 16: How the Samaritans came to be

But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' (Luke 10:33-35 NASB)

Today, we are looking at the difficulty between the Jews and the Samaritans. It turns out that the problems between the Jews and the Samaritans were not at all what I had thought. 

The problem began during Solomon's reign. He had taken numerous foreign wives and they "turned his heart away" from the Lord. (1 Kings 11:1-13) When he began to build altars on the high places and worship idols, God appeared to Solomon again and basically told him, "I've already told you not to worship any God except Me, and I cannot let this go." God told Solomon that He would "tear the kingdom" from him. Because of his father, King David, who loved God with his whole heart, the discipline was softened. The kingdom would be split, but not until after his death. Because of David's love for God, two tribes would be left with Solomon's descendants. (The second tribe was insignificant and actually David's descendants would basically have only Judah.)

God moved quickly. The prophet Ahijah found Jeroboam (an industrious and upcoming soldier) on the road. Ahijah had a new cloak which he tore into twelve pieces. He told Jeroboam to take ten pieces for himself. God, he said, was giving ten tribes to Jeroboam and leaving the rest (Judah) with Solomon's descendants. Jeroboam would have to wait until after Solomon died, but if he did, and if he listened to God's commands and obeyed them, He would be with Jeroboam, give Israel to him, and establish an enduring house (lineage) as He had done for David. 

Wait. Listen. Obey.

All Jeroboam had to do was wait, listen, and obey, but Jeroboam was much like us. God had promised the throne to him, and he wanted it. Who wants to wait? We will see more of his waiting problem in the next post, but I suspect that Jeroboam began to talk (and likely brag) about what the prophet had said, because Solomon soon heard about it. King Solomon added more sin to what he had already piled up when he became enraged and tried to have Jeroboam killed. (It would have been a perfect opportunity to repent and seek God's face, but, instead, he chose more rebellion.) Jeroboam fled to Egypt and waited. 

One of the greatest sermons of the 20th century was preached by Dr. R.G. Lee and was entitled "Pay Day Someday". (My mother heard him preach this sermon, and never forgot it. She was still speaking of it, more than fifty years later, in the months before her death.) Dr. Lee was right. There will always be a pay day someday. No matter how rich or powerful we are, we will have to answer for our choices, our decisions, our sin. Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, had to answer for his idolatry and his disobedience, and the price was tremendous. His disobedience not only devastated the lives of his descendants, but also ripped a nation into shreds. 

It is easy to think that Solomon had "bigger" sins than we have, or "more" sins, or was disciplined because he was "more visible", but that is not born out by Scripture. Solomon refused to obey and God disciplined him. He was not the only one who was worshiping at the high places. He was not the only one who worshipped idols. He was not the only one disciplined. He is simply the one we read about. God always responds to sin. He always responds to rebellion. It is as simple as that, and should serve as a strong warning to us. 

We would do well to heed the instructions that the prophet gave to Jeroboam if we want to avoid the discipline of the Lord. Wait. Listen. Obey. What joy, what peace, what blessings we would find if we would only wait, listen, and obey. Dear ones, resolve to do that very thing. Be still and know that He is God, then live as if you believe it. 

The "Pay Day Someday" sermon is worth reading. Click here to read it.