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Monday, October 12, 2015

Prophets of a Rising and Dividing Kingdom

We're coming up to where the kingdom grew and split, where worship of God got mixed with so many other things, and where prophets, major minor and unknown, were led in trying to hold things together. I'm looking forward to seeing where each prophet appears. But the first ones might not even be ones that we know:

(4) Who is the Next Prophet?

Which three prophets did we look at last week? Read 1 Chronicles 29:29 What happened to their books?

How is Solomon’s anointing different from David’s and Saul’s? Read 1 Kings 1:22-34. 2 Samuel 7:12-15, 26, 1 Chronicles 22:1-9

1.       Does God always do things the same way?
2.       Does God want us to always do things the same way?
3.       Is it okay if we make our own choices about what to do?

David instructs Solomon in the politics of succession, which in those days included killing your father’s enemies and any alternate claimants to the throne. What are the politics of succession in modern-day America? Should we hate what’s done? Should we hate what was done? Or should our focus be somewhere else?

We know David wrote lots of psalms, and people can often guess which ones were written at which points during his reign. His son Solomon wrote poetry and proverbs. What similarities are there, and what differences, between:
·         Prophecies and psalms
·         Psalms and Proverbs
·         Proverbs and Prophecies
·         All these and Prayer (Solomon prays at the dedication of the Temple, but he’s also “forth telling” God’s promises to his people. Is prophecy a part of his prayer? Read 1 Kings 8:33-36 – Does this relate to events in Elijah’s life?)

The world is changing, but God is still in charge. How hard is it to believe he’s in charge in our changing world? Who might remind us? Are they prophets?
1.       What happened to the function of prophet when the people got a king?
2.       What happens to the function of priest when the king builds a Temple? Read 1 Chronicles 25:1. Asaph is a son of Kohath (Levite – 1 Chronicles 26:1) and writes psalms.
3.       What image of prophesy do you get here?
4.       What happens to worship when the king builds a Temple? Read 1 Kings 3:2
5.       Does God necessarily disapprove of worship on High Places? Try to answer first, then read 1 Kings 3:3-5
Solomon’s kingship covers a time when the tribes of Israel become, very definitely, a nation, with cities, spectacular buildings, complex trade agreements, control of major trade routes, and multiple allies in the outside world. He builds a Temple and a palace, described as being very similar to others built at the time. He marries women from many nations, cementing political alliances. And he hears from God – how many times?—does this make Solomon a prophet?
1.       1 Kings 3:2-5 Solomon’s worshiping on the high places when God speaks to him. What is a modern equivalent of hearing God in the high places?
2.       1 Kings 9:1-3, 6-9 Solomon is probably in the Temple or palace this time. God offers a promise and a threat. Which do you think Solomon listens to more clearly? Do we listen more to God’s promises or God’s threats?
3.       Assuming (traditionally) that Solomon is the “Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem,” why might he have written Ecclesiastes? Read Ecclesiastes 1:12-19, 12:10-14. What is our modern attitude to “wisdom”?
4.       1 Kings 11:8-11. Tempted by his wives, Solomon mixed worship of God with worship of false gods. Tempted by the modern world, what do we mix worship of God with? Is have many wives the sin, or losing sight of God?
5.       Do you think there were other prophets (besides Solomon) in Solomon’s kingdom? What might define a prophet?
6.       The kingdom is under attack, from without and within. Jeroboam is a trusted official, but a prophet leads him to rebel. Read 1 Kings 11:28-32. Is that the sort of behavior you’d expect of a prophet? Why or why not?
Jeroboam escapes to Egypt. Solomon dies. And Rehoboam is anointed king. Jeroboam returns and leads Israel in making (very reasonable) demands, but Rehoboam rejects the advice of the elders and listens to young men instead. Read 1 Kings 12:8-10. Where are the prophets? Who is “forth telling” God’s word at this point?

Rebellion escalates into war. Read 1 Kings 12:22-24. How do you suppose the people viewed the prophet’s message? What makes us more likely to believe a message is from God?

Jeroboam is famous for bastardizing faith in God once Israel and Judah split. Politically, he’s afraid that people who go to Jerusalem to worship will try to reunite the kingdom. Read 1 Kings 12:28-31.
1.       Who do you think Jeroboam asked advice from?
2.       While calves have obvious Exodus significance, where else have they been used in worship? (1 Kings 7:44)
3.       While high places will become more and more “evil,” who did God speak to on a high place? (1 Kings 3:2-5)
4.       While kings are not supposed to become priests, who is Jeroboam emulating as a priest? (1 Kings 13:33) Is he more or less evil than the earlier king? Or is that the wrong question? How do we measure evil? How do we avoid losing sight of God?
5.       Were Jeroboam’s advisors deliberately disobeying God? How can we tell if we are using/listening to human wisdom or divine guidance?
The kingdom has split, but God is still active in both halves. Read 1 Kings 13:1-10. There are still true and false guides, true and false prophets (Read 1 Kings 13:18).  And Shiloh—the former home of the priests and prophets—is still a place devoted to God, even though it’s in Israel. (Read 1 Kings 14:1-5, 17-18) Who are our true and false prophets?

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