FREEDOM IS A JOURNEY
Under Joshua the Israelites entered and occupied their promised land, and lived there with various degrees of success for the next few hundred years. But the golden age of rest came with the reign of Solomon. Under his rule the kingdom flourished, and a magnificent temple was built to be at the heart of its life and worship.
David said to Solomon:
‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God.
But this word of the Lord came to me:
“You have shed much blood and have fought many wars.
You are not to build a house for my Name,
because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight.
But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest,
and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side.
His name will be Solomon, (which means ‘Peace)’,
and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.
He is the one who will build a house for my Name.
He will be my son, and I will be his father.
And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.”
[1 Chronicles 22]
The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore;
they ate, they drank and they were happy…
For (Solomon) ruled over all the kingdoms west of the River Euphrates,
from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides.
During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety,
everyone under their own vine and under their own fig-tree.
[1 Kings 4:20,24,25]
Although we know that utopian state didn’t last, and Solomon’s reign didn’t end well, there is a significant lesson to be drawn from his story.
Solomon was described as a man of peace and rest, whereas David was a man of war, a man who had seen much bloodshed; but the two things go together. Solomon’s success was built on the foundation laid by David. Solomon lived in the good of all his father had achieved, the battles won, the territory gained, and even the temple materials provided.
For those of us who are seeking rest* as a way of life this detail is important. The foundation for our rest is the blood shed at the greatest battle in the history of the world. On the cross, the Son of David defeated every power of evil and purchased an eternal inheritance for us. (An eternal inheritance which starts now—not at some time in the future.)
If you haven’t done so recently, I urge you to take time to explore and discover the riches of the provision purchased for you on the Cross. There are several resources on The Power of the Cross page to help you.
HOSTING HIS PRESENCE
Solomon’s magnificent temple, and its successors are no more; and will never be rebuilt. Although we read of these structures being shaken with the power of God, and filled with shekinah glory, they were merely the shadow of the reality to come. The Presence of God was to be housed not in buildings or artefacts, but in specially created, intricately designed, beautifully crafted human beings—in you and me, in fact [1 Corinthians 6:19].
Although His presence can be experienced profoundly in particular places and events, the amazing truth is that we have in these ‘jars of clay’ the greatest treasure of all time [2 Corinthians 4:7]; and like David provided the materials for the first temple, Jesus has provided the way for His Holy Spirit to take up residence in us.
True biblical rest is about living in the provision of God, in the finished work of Jesus, and we are urged to be tenacious in our seeking of it.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
*Note 1: As no photo of Solomon's Temple was available(!!) I borrowed one of the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin to portray a structure of slendour.
*Note 2: Our common use of the word ‘rest’ in English usually implies resting after work or effort. The Biblical use of the word may include this connotation, but has a much richer breadth of meaning, including the internal peace and wholeness which is such a focus of the New Testament. It is never used to denote indolence or complacency. All the resources on this website are designed to explore this concept.
NEXT WEEK: 8. MADE TO BE FRUITFUL
God's Rest is not a life of unrelenting leisure, but fruitfulness, the Lord’s blessing on the work of our hands…
[Photo credits: Johannes Plenio (Brandenberg Gate); Nick Owuor (beautiful lady) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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