Solomon and Cornelius receive…and ‘the four alls of Methodism’ remembered

16 07 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY SEVEN : 1 Kings 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 12; Acts 10 v. 23b – 11 v. 18; Psalm 74 v. 10 – 17

The next book of the OT, 1 Kings, was believed to have been compiled around 550BC, gathering information from the ‘Book of the Acts of Solomon’ and the ‘Chronicles of the Kings of Israel’ and of ‘Judah’. Jewish tradition had Jeremiah as the compiler, but the writer doesn’t identify himself.
‘The books of Kings are an anonymous prophet’s reflections on the history of the Israelite monarchy from Solomon to the end…..the author…illustrates the two paths in life between which all of us must choose. The one pursues God in heart as well as in religious forms, and pleases Him. The other fails to obey God because of a lack of devotion.’  (The Wesley Bible – NKJV)


1 KINGS
Adohijah Sets Himself Up As King – nothing is straight-forward, is it ? Before Solomon can become King, there are some family/political maneuverings. Adohijah is the ‘crown prince’ – although he is the fourth son, his older brothers have died, so he is the rightful next in line.
David is now old, and is brought a young beautiful girl (Abishag….oh dear!), to lie with him, to keep him warm (but no sexual relations).
Adonijah puts himself forward (‘exalts himself’) as the new King (before David has even passed away), and gathers chariots, and the support of Joab (commander) and Abiathar (the priest). There were some who didn’t join with Adonijah – Zadok, Benaiah, Nathan, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard.
Adonijah (who were are told was never corrected or disciplined by his father (v.6)), carries out the sacrifice of many animals in a big ceremony which Nathan, Benaiah, the special guard and Solomon himself were not invited to.
Nathan persuades Bathsheba to talk to David to get him to pass the kingdom on to her son, Solomon. David is still unaware that Adonijah is proclaiming himself as king. Bathsheba visits David, reminds him of his pledge ‘Solomon, your son, shall become king after me, and he will sit on my throne’, and lets him know of Adonijah’s actions. Bathsheba concludes : ‘My lord, the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to learn from you who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.‘ If Adonijah succeeds David, Bathsheba and Solomon will be treated badly.
As previously arranged, Nathan just happens to arrive at that point, and confirms all that Bathsheba has said.

David Makes Solomon King – So David, summons Bathsheba, and swears to carry out his intention to make Solomon king. He sends Solomon off with Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah, setting Solomon on David’s own mule (a powerful symbol of passing on the royal crown), and sending them to the spring at Gihon, where Zadok and Nathan anoint Solomon (with the horn of oil from the sacred tent) as king over all Israel; then Solomon returns and is placed on the throne, appointed by David as ‘ruler over Israel and Judah’.
Benaiah proclaims, ‘As the Lord was with my lord the king (David), so may He be with Solomon, to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David.’
All the people play their flutes, shout and sing, rejoicing greatly.
Adonijah and all his followers (guests) hear the noise, and receive the news via the priest’s son, Jonathan, that Solomon has been chosen by David to succeed him, and has already been crowned king. Even King David, himself, is reported to have said,
‘Praise be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.’
Adonijah’s guests flee, and he, himself, fearful of what might happen to him next, ‘took hold of the horns of the altar’ (claiming refuge/sanctuary), pleading with Solomon not to put him death. Solomon declares that Adonijah will be judged by his actions (‘if wickedness is found in him, he shall die’). And with that, Adonijah is sent back home.

David’s Charge to Solomon – Just before David dies, he commissions Solomon, with words of advice.
(i) be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord God requires. Walk in His ways and keep His commands, so that you may prosper in all you do…and that the Lord may keep His promise:
‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
(ii) deal accordingly with Joab (who killed Abner and Amasa (Israel’s commanders) in peacetime)
(iii) show kindness to Barzillai’s sons (who stood by David when he fled from Absalom)
(iv) remember Shimei, who called down curses on David; David had pledged not to harm him, but he tells Solomon to deal with him!
These are David’s final words, before he
‘rested with his fathers and was buried in the City of David’. David had ruled for forty years (7 in Hebron, then 33 in Jerusalem).
Solomon’s reign and rule was finally established.

ACTS
Peter at Cornelius’ House – The next day, Peter sets out for Caesarea, along with some disciples from Joppa.
Cornelius was expecting them and had a house full of family and friends.
Peter received quite a welcome – Cornelius (the centurion), bowing before him ! Peter gets him to stand right back up, saying: ‘I am only a man myself’.
Peter explains that though there is a Jewish law about not associating with Gentiles (eg visiting their home), ‘God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean’, and asks why Cornelius had sent for him.
Cornelius explains his encounter with the angel, who urged him to send for Peter from Joppa, and that he has gathered his family and friends together to hear from Peter, ‘to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.’
Peter begins by stating he now knows ‘God does not show favouritism, but accepts men from every nation….’ – he reminds them of John’s baptism for repentance, and Jesus being anointed ‘with the Holy Spirit and power’, and all His miracles of healing, ‘because God was with Him.’
Peter testifies to all he has witnessed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (‘seen by witnesses whom God had already chosen – by us who ate and drank with Him’). He relates how they were commanded to preach and testify, pointing out how Jesus fulfilled so much prophecy – ‘that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name’.
The Holy Spirit comes upon everyone who heard Peter’s message – and the Jewish believers who were with Peter were ‘astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.’
Peter orders that they all be baptised, and he remains with them for several days.

I doubt many could be more astonished than Peter himself at all he experiences here in Caesarea – truly the gospel is for ALL people – and the Holy Spirit is at work everywhere !! God has moved in both Peter and Cornelius (at the same time) to open up a whole new dimension to the mission.
I am reminded of the ‘four alls’ of  Methodism:
ALL NEED TO BE SAVED (Separation from God / universal sin)
ALL CAN BE SAVED (Redemption)
ALL CAN KNOW THAT THEY ARE SAVED (Assurance of faith)
ALL CAN BE SAVED TO THE UTTERMOST (Growth in Holiness / Sanctification)

Peter Explains His Actions – Of course, all this lands Peter in trouble – the Jewish (circumcised) believers in Jerusalem are not happy with the notion of Gentiles receiving the word of God. Peter is criticised (for doing what God had clearly told him to do!) for having eathen with heathen!
Peter patiently explains everything that had happened – his vision in Joppa, the voice telling him to ‘kill and eat’ what he had known to be impure, the voice telling him to not ‘call anything impure that God has made clean’, and that this all happened three times (just to make sure). 
Three man had arrived from Caesarea, and the Spirit communicated to Peter that he should go with them. Cornelius, too, had had an encounter – an angel had visited him and told him to send for Peter.
‘He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’
Peter recounts how he spoke to them, telling them everything he had personally witnessed, and the Holy Spirit came upon them (‘as He had come on us at the beginning’ – visibly and audibly, accompanied by the gift of tongues/languages)
‘If God gave them the same gift as He gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?’
There being no further objections, they all praised God that ‘God granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life’.

GLORIOUS !!! The testimony of what has happened, what Peter has seen and experienced, is enough to convince them the God is at work in a new way.

PSALM
‘How long will the enemy mock You, O God….take Your right hand from the fold
s of Your garment and destroy them!
But You, O God, are my king from of old…You bring salvation upon the earth.
It was You who…split open the sea…broke monsters’ heads…crushed the Leviathan….fed desert-creatures…opened up springs….dried up rivers….established the sun and moon…made summer and winter….’

WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE HAVE !!

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