All Roads Lead to Jesus - 1 Kings

I KINGS – JESUS IS A RULER GREATER THAN SOLOMON’S RICHES & WISDOM
Reading: I Kings 3, Colossians 2:1-6

I am a child of the Eighties. In the Eighties, Saturday mornings consisted of a few bowls of cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. Smurfs. The Snorks. Pac-Man. I didn’t realize it at the time, but these 20-minute episodes were just 20-minute advertisements to drive my parents miserable. Cartoons were essentially toy commercials. Transformers, GI Joe, and He-Man were toy lines that created cartoons to sell those toys.

In the Eighties, there was a legendary contest that would pop up every so often. At the time, couldn’t tell you how you entered the contest, and sometimes I thought it was just a figment of my imagination. It was too good to be true. If it weren’t for the internet, I might not be able to prove that it actually existed. But it did. The contest was the Holy Grail of all Eighties kids’ imaginations who watched cartoons week in and week out. All you had to do was send in a registration form and you could be the one lucky kid who would have 15 minutes to run through Toys R Us and grab whatever your hands could manage.

Legends and myths swirled around our neighborhood gangs of kids. Some of these legends were straight-up lies about some mythical neighborhood kid who won the contest. Most of the time, we’d just sit around and argue about how we’d go about the contest if we were picked. None of us were ever picked.

In First Kings, Solomon was picked. But this was no toy shopping spree. God chose to offer Solomon anything that his heart desired. All he had to do was name what he wanted, and God would give it to him. I remember hearing this story in 5th grade Bible Class and I knew what I would pick. I would pick that shopping spree. But Solomon wasn’t about the Atari 5200. Solomon wanted more than an entire set of Star Wars action figures. Solomon could have chosen anything. He could have asked for riches, a bigger palace, women, more military might, or to be loved. But he chose wisdom.

God was pleased to give him this wisdom and he added all of the other worldly things as a result of that wisdom. Why would a young king ask for wisdom? I think the answer is found earlier as the story of Solomon begins to unfold. As King David is handing over the kingdom to Solomon he has this to say, “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Solomon had been brought up to seek the Lord by following his commands and living in gratitude of His Covenant promises. Solomon knew that in order to keep God’s commands, and in order to rule well and fulfill his calling, that he would need wisdom. As a result of Solomon’s wisdom, Israel prospered for many years. The cities were built up. The military was strengthened. Alliances were made. The temple was built. As a matter of fact, much of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament is attributed to King Solomon. He was indeed a wise and wealthy king.

But Solomon also fell short of God’s standards and law. He loved many women and broke God’s law. His reign was not perfect. In 1 Kings 11-12, we begin to see how imperfect he was. After his death, the Kingdom split into two. In the account of the split, we have a hint into some of the flaws of Solomon. The people begged his son Rehoboam to lighten the load that Solomon had put on their backs. It’s not hard to fill in the blanks. Solomon had accomplished much but it wasn’t without the work of the people of Israel. They had built the cities, the temple, the walls, and served in the military. This was a huge drain on their resources. Solomon was a wise king, but he was a flawed king. Solomon was a rich king, but when he died, his riches were dispersed for others to use, just as he predicted would happen in Ecclesiastes. On his own, Solomon is neither wise nor rich. On his own, and without the grace of God, Solomon would have been just another ignorant and dead king.

Solomon’s story is in the narrative of the Old Testament so that we can see how God continued the line of David. But the narrative is also there for us to see that Solomon is just the third king in a long list of kings that is not The King. In Solomon, we see a faint glimmer of the perfect wisdom and endless riches of Jesus Christ the King.

In Colossians 2, Paul says to the church in Colossae that he prays for them to persevere in knowing Christ because in Christ, “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Paul says here and in many other places that what was once hidden in Christ has now been revealed. Hopefully, we can catch the encouragement of what Paul is saying here. Jesus is rich in wisdom and knowledge. If we are in Christ, we too can be rich in wisdom and knowledge. In fact, our wisdom in Christ is better than the wisdom Solomon had to rule over a nation. Our wisdom in Christ is better because this wisdom is the full revelation of the Gospel in Jesus Christ.

If we could ask God for anything, what would it be? I am sure, this might change from time to time. In the Eighties, I would have asked God for that shopping spree in Toys R Us. In the Nineties, I would have asked God for my brother to rise from the dead. In the early days of my ministry, I would have asked God for crowds of students and people to listen to my preaching. As my kids grow older, I might ask God to protect them and to help them make the right choices. Or maybe I might ask for more money, or more time, or more love.

Like King Solomon’s days on this earth, these things don’t last forever. As the wisdom of Solomon, these things are imperfect. But there is a Wise and Rich King who is reigning forever and who’s wisdom is perfect and has been perfectly revealed in the Gospel.

What if I were to thank God for the wisdom I already possess in Christ who is the Better Wise and Rich King? What if I were to praise God for the riches, I have in Christ in that this life is not all there is? What if I were to thank God for the Better King and His wisdom because Jesus gives meaning to this life and the next? You see, for those of us in Christ, we have a wisdom that is of immeasurable worth. Because of this wisdom in Christ, and the richness of life that we have in Christ, these days are, as the old hymn says, “worth the living.”

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