God's government

God's gifts can be squandered.

2 Chronicles 10

Today’s chapter reminded me somewhat of the story of the Prodigal Son—you know, the foolish boy who squandered the riches of his father’s estate. And since we looked yesterday at what an outrageous giver God is, I thought it might be prudent to add a P.S. today—that all of God’s gifts come with freedom. That means, if we are foolish enough, we can squander them all. What God gives, He doesn’t force us to keep or use wisely. We are free to do with His gifts what we want.

When Rehoboam succeeded his father as king, it didn’t take long to discover that he had inherited none of Solomon’s wisdom. In fact, one commentator (Dilday) observed that "with a dozen rash words, Rehoboam, the bungling dictator, opened the door for four hundred years of strife, weakness, and, eventually, the destruction of the entire nation." It didn’t take very much to totally destroy everything his father had built in Israel. His reign ushered in a phase of rebellion that split the nation, a rebellion from which it never recovered.

Photo © Unsplash/Paco S

Photo © Unsplash/Paco S

With all his wisdom and insight, it seems that Solomon foresaw this possibility, although it’s unknown whether he had his own son in mind when he wrote these words: "I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun." (Eccl 2:18-19) It seems Solomon accurately foretold the fate of Israel.

Rehoboam took everything his father had built and wasted it. He took all of the gifts God had blessed his family with and squandered them. And, although it may be hard for us to believe, God allowed him to do it, and He also allows us to do it. He does not cease to be generous, even if He knows we will squander what He has given us. He gives because He is a giver, not because He will force us to use those gifts in a way that is pleasing to Him. He doesn’t determine outcomes. He doesn’t dictate our behavior. He only determines His behavior.

Photo © Unsplash/freestocks.org

Photo © Unsplash/freestocks.org

God gives us the freedom to take what He’s given us and abuse it, if we wish. We can destroy His gifts, if we wish. There’s part of me that still doesn’t understand that, just as I don’t understand why the father of the Prodigal Son would finance his journey into the far country. The only thing I can say is that God loves to give, and He loves to give with no strings attached. Accepting His gifts doesn’t turn us into puppets. We are free, as Rehoboam was, to squander it all... if we’re that foolish.

God exalts others.

God exalts others.

1 Chronicles 29

1 Chronicles 29 recounts the story of David’s "passing the baton" to his son Solomon. In his final speech, he challenged Solomon and the people to remain true to the Lord, and then there was a large celebration with music, feasting, and joy. But tucked away into the description of the festivities was, I thought, a very important lesson about God.

God's kingdom is made up of individuals.

God's kingdom is made up of individuals.

1 Chronicles 12

In this chapter, we are given more details about David’s ascent to the throne and his inaugural celebration. Verses 23-37 provide a list of all the warriors from the twelve tribes of Israel who made their way to Hebron to show their support for David’s anointing and recognize him as their new king.

God rules with service.

God rules with service.

1 Chronicles 11

What is, hires more. Have you ever heard that saying? Basically, it’s one way people comment on their bosses. Sometimes it’s a compliment. If you think you’re a brilliant person, you might say that your boss hired you because he is also brilliant. Or if you’re disappointed with the poor quality of your coworkers, you might say that only a lazy, stupid boss would hire lazy, stupid people. (Of course, you better be careful with that way of thinking if you work there, too.)

God isn't above His own law.

God isn't above His own law.

1 Kings 2

Throughout history, there’s probably been at least one thing that set a king apart from his subjects: He didn’t have to abide by the same rules as his fellow citizens. That’s one of the "perks" of people in power—they tend to be (or at least see themselves as) above the law. They aren’t held to the same standard as everyone else.

God's justice is different than ours.

God's justice is different than ours.

2 SAMUEL 3

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a statement about God from a chapter in the Bible that doesn’t really mention God at all. However, in this particular chapter, one of the small (and often overlooked) events really stood out to me, and I realized it was a great opportunity to draw a contrast between our type of "justice" and God’s justice.

God wants us to choose.

God wants us to choose.

JOSHUA 24

Here we find Joshua’s famous words to the Israelites: "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (vs 14-15)

God is all about the evidence.

God is all about the evidence.

JOSHUA 20

So, the cities of refuge are finally established in Israel—you know, the places a person could flee if they had accidentally caused a person’s death and were on the run from the blood avenger. In the city of refuge, they would find a haven where they would be safe; there, they would be given the opportunity for a hearing on the incident in question.

God is highly efficient.

God is highly efficient.

DEUTERONOMY 26

It seems like we can't go very long in American culture without asking the social questions: How much should the government play a role in the day-to-day lives of American citizens? Should the government provide universal health care? Should the government take more money from the rich and give it to the poor? Should the Federal Reserve print more money to cover our expanding debt?

God believes in choices.

God believes in choices.

DEUTERONOMY 11

What a great verse from today’s chapter: "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known." (vs 26-28)

God has the best government.

God has the best government.

DEUTERONOMY 10

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but think about God’s government versus man-made governments. Specifically, three things were mentioned that brought this comparison to mind: citizen burden, corruption and greed, and treatment of the weakest in society. First, citizen burden: "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (vs 12-13)