1 Kings 14:9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have provoked me to anger and thrust me behind your back.
When I read some parts of the Old Testament, I get bothered by the punishment that is inflicted upon leaders, kings, and people who do wrong. It makes me wonder that if I was alive in those days and lived according to my current ways, would I have been forgiven or condemned by God? I find it very unsettling and it makes me feel really guilty about my sins. I feel unworthy of God’s grace and separated from His love. I feel like I have created an insurmountable gap between myself and God. I feel unholy and alone.
In today’s passage, 1 Kings 14:1-11, King Jeroboam is cursed and condemned by God for following idolatrous and self-serving ways, as well as for being ungrateful about the original blessings that God had bestowed upon him. Jeroboam was chosen by God to lead the ten tribes of Israel that had severed themselves from Judah. It was supposed to be an honor for him and a blessing for his descendants. Sadly, however, Jeroboam wasted this God-given opportunity. Instead of praising God, he set up false idols. Rather than give thanks to God, he made up his own new religion and consecrated his own priests. Jeroboam turned out to be a worse character than the misguided king that he had replaced.
I know that God is both slow to anger and immensely patient, but I wonder how long He will put up with our sins and wicked ways. People feel sexually liberated and independently free, however, instead of using those rights and gifts to make the world a better place, young naïve people are being exploited and trafficked across the world; society has also become more selfish and uncaring to the point that if someone stumbles and falls in a busy street, people just walk on by.
Jesus has the power to forgive us of all of our sins, but we've sadly reached a stage where most folks don’t feel the need to repent or even recognize that our behavior is sinful. As I've written several times before, what is morally right in the world’s eyes is everything that gets a person whatever they want; what is morally wrong is anything that gets in the way of obtaining that desire – which, of course, means that the true Church of Christ will always be confronting cultural morality and personal lifestyle choices.
Questions for personal reflection
Am I truly aware of how badly my sins damage my relationship with God? Am I willing to truly repent of those sins?
Lord Jesus, sometimes we treat You as if You’re our biggest pal and indulgent friend instead of acknowledging You as both our Judge and Savior. We all sin constantly, but we forget to repent or even cast aside our need to confess to You. Forgive us for taking You for granted; help us to truly distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, honesty and falsehood. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of my Good Friday drawings called ‘Cross Bound.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the link: Cross Bound.