|Vol. 13 No. 12 December 2011||
The appeal in 1st and 2nd Kings is for faithful obedience to God (1 Kings 2:4; 8:25, 57-58; 9:1-5; 15:1-5; 2 Kings 18:1-6; 22:1-2; 20:3). The chief aim of both books is to teach great moral lessons exemplified by events in the history of the Jewish nation and in the lives of its leaders and people. In studying these two Old Testament books, we see that every king was judged by his obedience or disobedience to God’s law. His success was measured by his adherence to the law, and by his God-honoring testimony before the heathen (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
The good of the nation depended upon its faithfulness to God (our nation needs to give strict adherence to this fact as well). Idolatry and compromise caused the decline and eventual fall of both Israel and Judah (cf. Hosea 1-13; Jeremiah 1-52). Idolatry and all sin inevitably bring defeat and punishment (Psalm 106:34-38; cf. Jeremiah 19:3-11) while faith and righteousness bring victory and joy (Psalm 33:12; Proverbs 14:34).
Events in Jewish history are lessons in the righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, mercy and faithfulness of God (Hosea 2:18-20). They also serve as a constant warning and example of the consequences of disobedience (1 Corinthians 10:1-12; cf. Romans 15:4).
Blaise Pascal wrote, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof, but on the basis of what they find attractive.” William Dembski reflects on this and comments, “Pascal wasn’t just speaking about people merely believing what they want to believe, but people being swept away by attractive ideas that capture their heart and imagination.”
I believe many times these two concepts work together. Ideas capture one’s heart and imagination many times because it fits what they want to believe. The presentation simply confirms what it is they feel, or appeals to their desires, or in some way authenticates their value system.
The concept of the “sinner’s prayer” is a good illustration of this principle. Saying the words of this prayer requires little effort of the individual, can be said in private and thus kept private, and demands slight commitment or change in one’s lifestyle. It captures one’s heart because his or her heart is attracted to such. It also keeps many from seeing the truth of the Gospel, and the beauty of being immersed in Christ, where we are joined in His death (Romans 6:3-4), commit our heart and lives to our Lord (Romans 6:12-13), and have a sure confidence in the hope of things eternal (Romans 6:23).
This is one of Satan’s most effective tools to entice to commit sin and to keep us in sin. This is what appealed to Eve in the garden. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6). Paul warned the Christians at Corinth, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).
The ultimate expression of this today is the belief that subjectivity is pleasing to God, that any expression of spiritual fervor is acceptable. Sincerity is important to God, but not sincerity alone. We must make sure we are walking in the light, not darkness (1 John 1:7). We must crucify self so Christ can live in us (Galatians 2:20). We must be transformed by the renewing our minds in the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
If our faith truly comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17), then we must be like the noble Bereans, “examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). We must make sure the Word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105), to make sure we are walking the narrow way that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).
May what we find attractive, that is the basis of our beliefs, be the truth of the Gospel. “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’” (John 8:21-32).