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Posts Tagged ‘national leaders’

Ancient Israel divided into two kingdoms. This northern kingdom existed for a little over 200 years. As you read through the summary of each of their national leaders, ask yourself why they were chosen and why they were such bad leaders. Most have a much longer story if you want to read about each one individually. These abridged verses are from the NLT.

Jeroboam (I Kings 14:7)   Give your husband, Jeroboam, this message from the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel. I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, 10 I will bring disaster on your dynasty’”

Nadab (I Kings 15:25) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. 27 Then Baasha …plotted against Nadab and assassinated him

Baasha (1 Kings 15:32) There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. 34 But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Elah (I Kings 16:9) One day in Tirzah, Elah was getting drunk at the home of Arza, the supervisor of the palace. 10 Zimri walked in and struck him down and killed him. They provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.

Zimri (I Kings 16:15)  Zimri began to rule over Israel …but his reign in Tirzah lasted only seven days. 16 When they heard that Zimri had committed treason and had assassinated the king, that very day they chose Omri, commander of the army, as the new king of Israel. 17 So Omri led the entire army of Israel up from Gibbethon to attack Tirzah, Israel’s capital. 18 When Zimri saw that the city had been taken, he went into the citadel of the palace and burned it down over himself and died in the flames. 19 For he, too, had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit.

Omri (1 Kings 16:21) But now the people of Israel were split into two factions. Half the people tried to make Tibni son of Ginath their king, while the other half supported Omri. 22 But Omri’s supporters defeated the supporters of Tibni. So Tibni was killed, and Omri became the next king25 But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.

Ahab (I Kings 16:29) But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 31 And as though it were not enough to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. …33 Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.

Ahaziah (I Kings 22:52) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the example of his father and mother and the example of Jeroboam, who had led Israel to sin. 53 He served Baal and worshiped him, provoking the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, just as his father had done

Joram (2 Kings 3:1) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as his father and mother. He at least tore down the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had set up. Nevertheless, he continued in the sins that Jeroboam had committed and led the people of Israel to commit.

Jehu (2 Kings 10:31) But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Jehoahaz  (2 Kings13:1)  He reigned in Samaria seventeen years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. So the Lord was very angry with Israel, and he allowed King Hazael of Aram and his son Ben-hadad to defeat them repeatedly.

Jehoash (2 Kings 13:10) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Jereboam II (2 Kings 14:23) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Zechariah (2 Kings 15:8) Zechariah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestors had done. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Shallum (2 Kings 15:13) Shallum reigned in Samaria only one month. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went to Samaria from Tirzah and assassinated him, and he became the next king

Menahem (2 Kings 15:18) But Menahem did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. During his entire reign, he refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:23) He reigned in Samaria two years. 24 But Pekahiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Pekah (2 Kings 15:27) But Pekah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.29 During Pekah’s reign, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria attacked Israel again,

Hoshea (2 Kings 17:1) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him. King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, . . . for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. . . .

 

Every national leader worries about his/her legacy—as they should because they leave behind a unique history that can have repercussions for generations. This list of rulers is horrifying and seems to be the primary legacy of the first king Jeroboam.  He was chosen king in a moment of reaction and rebellion. That moment and that choice left its mark for 200 years. If we don’t want this kind of legacy, we need to choose wisely and prayerfully now.

Prayer:  O Lord, this list is so discouraging! Give us wisdom not to choose leaders who will leave such legacies. Give us foresight to choose leaders who can withstand the tides of political history and turn their nation into your path. Amen.

 

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Word:  Isaiah 61 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
    They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
    and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
    ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
    and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the Lord has blessed.”

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.

 

Warnings after warnings after warnings were delivered by the prophets. Opportunities to turn away from evil and injustice accompanied every message . . . until punishment was the only option for the King of All Nations.  Even punishments were accompanied by mercies. A remnant seems to have always been saved because the King of All Nations has never delighted in destroying that which He created.

Finally, the prophet Isaiah is given Good News to deliver: relief for the poor, comfort for those who despair, freedom for those enslaved, and justice for the enemies of the righteous.  Rebuilding, repairing, and revival take the place of destruction and death, honor takes the place of shame, and blessing replaces cursing!

Who wouldn’t be “overwhelmed with joy!!” And the Sovereign Lord, the King of All Nations, will show his justice to the nations of the world, so everyone will praise him. Eternal Spring!

We, the people of the King of All Nations, when we champion relief for the poor, comfort for those who despair, freedom instead of enslavement or addiction, and justice for those who do evil, when we rebuild, repair, and revive rather than destroy, when we act honorably rather than shamefully, and when we bless the world rather than curse it, then are we not preparing the way for the King of All Nations?  Are we not serving in His Name?

When our nation, our people, when we are like great oaks, then won’t the King of All Nations also be overwhelmed with joy! And won’t the nations of the world notice!

Prayer:  We have heard your warnings, O Sovereign Lord, and we have taken notice, but today the promise of your blessing motivates us even more to imitate in our nation the goodness that will bring you overwhelming joy!  And may all the nations observe so that they too may enjoy the eternal spring that the King of All Nations is bringing!  AMEN.

 

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The prophet Isaiah spoke the message of God to ancient Israel in the time just before the Assyrian empire invaded and conquered it, taking most of the people into exile in other countries, never to return. In this passage, we have a glimpse into the mind of God as he uses nations to accomplish His will.

Word:  Isaiah 10:1-5 (NLT)

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges
    and those who issue unfair laws.
They deprive the poor of justice
    and deny the rights of the needy among my people.
They prey on widows
    and take advantage of orphans.
What will you do when I punish you,
    when I send disaster upon you from a distant land?
To whom will you turn for help?
    Where will your treasures be safe?
You will stumble along as prisoners
    or lie among the dead.
But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.
    His fist is still poised to strike.

Words: from the prophet Zephaniah about Ancient Israel

Chapter 3 
No one can tell it anything;
    it refuses all correction.
It does not trust in the Lord
    or draw near to its God.
Its leaders are like roaring lions
    hunting for their victims.
Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time,
    who by dawn have left no trace of their prey.
Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain.
    Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God’s instructions.
But the Lord is still there in the city,
    and he does no wrong.
Day by day he hands down justice,
    and he does not fail.
    But the wicked know no shame.

“I have wiped out many nations,
    devastating their fortress walls and towers.
Their streets are now deserted;
    their cities lie in silent ruin.
There are no survivors—
    none at all.
I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now!
    Surely they will listen to my warnings.
Then I won’t need to strike again,
    destroying their homes.’
But no, they get up early
    to continue their evil deeds.

Some things make the King of All Nations furious!  Unjust judges who issue unfair laws that show disregard or take advantage of the needy are at the top of the list. Next come religious leaders who disregard God’s instructions, usually because they are interested in their own advancement more than helping others or serving God.  So if the judges of the nation disregard the needy and the religious leaders disregard God in favor of promoting themselves, the nation is in serious trouble.

The King of All Nations is still there! He is not instantly offended, quick to exercise His wrath; no, instead he continues to minister day after day, causing it to rain on the just and the unjust, providing for the sheep and the goats—but not forever.

Apparently when the Goodness of the King fails to win the hearts of the people, then His justice demands punishment. “I have wiped out the nations . . . . Surely they will have reverence for me now!” What does God have to do to a nation to win its heart and its obedience?

Prayer:  O God, forgive our judges for corruption; capture again the hearts of our religious leaders. Teach us to obey your instructions because your love and mercy and fairness overwhelm us. You and you alone are our King!  Amen.

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Word: Jeremiah 10:1-10 (abridged)(NLT)

This is what the Lord says:

“Do not act like the other nations,
    who try to read their future in the stars.
Do not be afraid of their predictions,
    even though other nations are terrified by them.
Their ways are futile and foolish.
    They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
They decorate it with gold and silver
    and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
    so it won’t fall over.
Their gods are like
    helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field!
They cannot speak,
    and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of such gods,
    for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”

Lord, there is no one like you!
    For you are great, and your name is full of power.
Who would not fear you, O King of nations?
    That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth
    and in all the kingdoms of the world,
    there is no one like you.

People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
    The things they worship are made of wood!
Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes
    made by expert tailors.
10 But the Lord is the only true God.
    He is the living God and the everlasting King!
The whole earth trembles at his anger.
    The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.

What god does your nation worship?  Is it made of oil (the god of prosperity) or atoms (the god of power). Is your nation’s god an ideology (the god of political knowledge) or politics (the god of control), or money (the god of materialism), or travel and leisure (the god of self-indulgence).  Are the gods of your nation dressed in royal blue and purple robes as if they were royalty, but, in reality, they are of human invention and must be carried or maintained or supported by extraordinary national efforts. Have nations not fought wars over their gods, murdered millions of people for their gods, and spent decades—even centuries—of national time and energy in an attempt to show that their god is supreme!

There is only one God who legitimately wears the title King of All Nations! He is the Living God and the Everlasting King—all without our vote, all without our effort, all without us!

The gods of nations are just as lifeless as a scarecrow—just as powerless. Ask a scarecrow to be your national leader and your nation will be in trouble.  Nations that follow scarecrows are stupid! What god does your nation follow?

Prayer:  O King of Nations, we acknowledge that you and you alone are God. You are the One who created the world. You are the one who created the nations. You are the One who created us. We will worship and follow You alone.  Give us courage to tell others that You are the only King of All Nations. Amen.

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After King Rehoboam angered his people and harshly threatened them, ten of the twelve tribes in his kingdom seceded and anointed a new king named Jeroboam.

Word:  I Kings 12:25-33 (abridged)(NLT)

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”

28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”

29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.

31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

Jeroboam had just led a successful coup and won over most of the nation to his side!  He was the new king, but politically he had a problem. The religion of the nation required them to perform their rituals in the capital of the old country—the enemy country.  So, on the advice of his counsellors, he creates a new religion—or perhaps more accurately, a new imitation of the old religion.

To create a new religion, you need a new history: not that old God of the old story, but these new gods are the true gods of freedom, of liberty. Then you must have a new priesthood to tell the new story, of course.  These new priests lacked only the credentials and anointing of the old religion and the old god, so if they are given new credentials and if they dress like the old priests, almost no one will notice any difference. Then the clever new king created new religious festivals “in imitation” of the old festivals, and he chose appropriate days, and he performed the main rituals himself—because, after all, he is the creator of this entire new religion—that looked and felt a lot like the old religion.

Beware of leaders that need to change the national story, who ignore history, and especially who offer new and improved morals and values! Neither goodness nor power reside in this new religion just because it feels like the old one.  Goodness and power are where the real God is!

Prayer:  Lord, You alone are the God who has led us to this day in history. You are the real God who has shaped our nation. Keep us from being deceived by imitation gods, pretending to be good and have power, but who are nothing!  Deliver us from leaders who would create substitute histories and substitute morals/values in order to further their political agendas. Amen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

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Word:   Jeremiah 6:19-21 (NLT)

19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
    my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
    will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
    for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
    These are not real gods at all!”

21 The Lord says,
“Now I will show them my power;
    now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
    that I am the Lord.

 

Most prophets had very difficult messages from God to deliver. While sometimes they might be given good news—for instance, the nation is leaving slavery and returning to their homeland—on most occasions, the prophets tried in vain to rouse people with dire warnings: Repent or perish; turn to God or the nation will be conquered.  Jeremiah, often called the weeping prophet, carried an especially ominous message to his nation because they had completely abandoned the King of All Nations.  For faithfully proclaiming this message of imminent disaster and punishment, he was viciously mocked and ridiculed and eventually imprisoned—until all he said came true just as God had revealed to him.

In this prayer of Jeremiah’s, the prophet shares with us the big picture! He knows the “day of trouble” is coming, but he personally finds shelter, not in new systems, new kings, or new ideologies; rather, he finds comfort in knowing the King of All Nations is his refuge and strength.

The nations of the world can’t rejoice because they have been led astray by their foolish heritage!  What part of our nation’s heritage has led us astray? What if it were treasured values like rugged individualism, national exceptionalism, or even capitalism?  What gods has our nation created that are not real gods at all?

In Jeremiah’s time, God had to reduce ancient Israel to a remnant and start over again in order to convince them that He alone is real. He alone is the King of All Nations.

Prayer:  Lord, open our eyes to the gods that we have inherited from our heritage, some of which we may not even recognize as gods. Open our hearts, Lord, that we might recognize your activity among the nations, that we will know that you are the only God, and that you are our King. And be our strength and our fortress in the fight against godlessness. Amen

 

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Word: Ezekiel 18:19-32 (NLT)

19 “‘What?’ you ask. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. 21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.

23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. 24 However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to me, O people of Israel. Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you? 26 When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. 27 And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. 28 They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die. 29 And yet the people of Israel keep saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ O people of Israel, it is you who are not doing what’s right, not I.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? 32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!

These are words spoken to a nation complaining that God is not fair. They thought that the goodness of their forefathers might save them from destruction. The great men of their history like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David had built a God-fearing nation, and now it had drifted far away from those founding principles . . . yes, worshipping other gods, practicing religious prostitution and ritual murder, abusing the poor and neglecting their social obligations, but weren’t they still that exceptional nation!!  How could God judge them and allow this special nation to diminish, to be destroyed—even disappear?

“Do you think I like to see wicked people die?”  Some people believe God to be an evil judge, but that is nonsense. The whole story of the King of All Nations is that He calls nation after nation to repentance, to put rebellion behind, to find a new heart and a new spirit.  “Turn back and live.”

Prayer:  Father, we long for that new heart and new spirit. We fear death, both individually and as a nation, so we repent of doing evil. Give us leaders who will lead us in your path, away from all that is evil.  Forget our past sins, Father, and help us not depend on the merit of our forefathers. We accept the responsibility for ourselves and our nation today, and we turn to you.  Amen.

 

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King Solomon’s wisdom made him world renown, but unfortunately, his son and successor Rehoboam did not inherit his father’s gift.

Words:  1 Kings 12:1-20 (abridged)(NLT)              

Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam . . . .

 

To whom do those who want to lead the nation listen?  All leaders have those who want to influence them, to guide their decisions. These people are sometimes more influential than the leaders themselves because they work behind the scenes and often do not really have to answer to the public.  Knowing who these people are may make a difference in whom you want to choose as a national leader.

While it would be easy to say—and this text probably implies that it was so—that the big mistake was listening to the young advisors instead of the older ones, I really believe the bigger mistake that Rehoboam made is that he “paid no attention to the people.”  Disrespect is a tell-tale sign of a broken relationship. Paying no attention to the people and speaking “harshly” to them betrayed this new young ruler’s distant, self-serving heart. He paid for his disrespect by losing most of what he was trying to grab.

Lookout for the potential leader who disrespects the people and speaks harshly.

Prayer:  O Lord, it is hard for us to know who has the ear of our leaders.  So much is done in secret and hidden behind smokescreens. Be our protector. Give us leaders, Sovereign Lord, who respect the will of your people and who speak the truth, but speak kindly to us.  AMEN

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Word: 1 Kings 11:1-13 (NLT)

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.

In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.

On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.

The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”

 

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, lost his way when he lost his heart to women he should not have loved. Ancient rulers often married daughters of foreign kings in order to seal alliances and ensure peaceful coexistence. In spite of God’s extraordinary blessings that he had enjoyed his entire life, when he was old, these wives “turned his heart.”

The marital status and relationships of our national leaders are important!  They may tell us about constancy and faithfulness, about where the heart of that leader is!  And it would be a mistake not to believe that the spouse or the family of a leader does not have significant influence on the most important actions of that leader.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam would suffer the consequences of his father’s unfaithfulness. The people of the nation also suffered because Solomon “did not listen to the Lord’s command.” Our nation will suffer as well if our leaders have chosen significant relationships that would move their hearts toward “other gods,” whether that be power, wealth, influence—or other gods!

Prayer:  Father, we want to choose national leaders whose hearts are turned toward you. Help us to know the truth about their spouses, so that we might have insight into how they choose those who will influence them the most. If they have children, show us the values they have used to mold the people they love the most.  Give us leaders, Father, whose old age confirms their abiding faith in you and their love for obeying your will, not their own sense of entitlement.  Amen

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Day 16

Words:  Jeremiah 17:5-10 (NLT)

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

 

 

The ancient world was always looking for a way to know what was going to happen next. The limited knowledge of what we call science left them looking at bird entrails, animal bones, stars, and many other kinds of “signs.” Their world was full of sorcerers, seers, prophets, astrologers—often called “wise men.” When the young King Solomon asked God for wisdom above all else, he was not asking to become a “wise man” in this sense; he was asking God to help him know the difference between right and wrong, to know what was true and what was false.

In this text, Jeremiah says that those who trust in human wisdom or strength are like stunted shrubs in the desert, while those who trust in God, who look to him for knowing what the future holds, who find their confidence in Him, these people have deep roots and productive lives.

National leaders and those who would be leaders often say they can see, that they know the future, that they are “wise.” They ask for your trust and confidence.  In making critical choices, the human heart can be very deceitful. Especially in these times, we should search out leaders who trust in the Lord and not in their own wisdom, their own insights.  These are times for prayerful requests to the Sovereign Lord for wisdom to know what is true and false, right and wrong.

PRAYER:  Father, because of our frailty, we want to know what lies in front of us. We often follow people who tell us they are wise.  Our hearts are deceitful, so we pray for discernment, Father, to know who really knows right from wrong, truth from falsehood. We pray for leaders who trust in you, Lord.  Amen.

 

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