Love Came Down with Loyalty

2014-10-15 09.38.20Humility is the key to life in the Kingdom which opens the biggest door of all, God’s favor door.

Now, in this prevalent day of greased up grace, some Beloved may not realize that God, more than once, states, I oppose the proud and give grace to the humble.

It is one thing to have human opposition, but when God, creator of heaven and earth blocks your advance, trust me, it is not pretty.

In the days of the kings of Judah, the making and breaking of the nation depended on the heart of the king and his relationship with God.Webster’s Dictionary defines loyalty as

  • faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government
  • faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due
  • faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product[1]

Loyalty to God begins when a man or woman recognizes that without God, they are a bucket without straps, a vessel doomed to sink.  David, the prototype as worshipping king, led the charge in constantly reflecting back to God how much he depended on Him.  God rewarded King David with eternal generation impact. Not bad for a boy stinking of sheep with nowhere to go….

Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. [2]

Loyalty in the word is described as a life of obedience in relationship to God. Loyalty requires a humility which few kings embraced until national crisis pounded at the door. Plagues, drought and civil war, all national realities of forsaking God, plagues the kings of Israel and Judah. In 2 Kings 14: 22:

Now Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. [3]

After reigning as the preeminent wise king over all the known world, Solomon turned from God to idolatry, just two decades after the most glorious reign in history. Like yeast, witchcraft grew unabated and continued in Rehoboam’s reign when Judah was described as a place for perverts, where child sacrifice was normative religious practice. Because of Judah’s transgression, a massive army from Egypt marched towards Judah, intent on conquest:

Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah, who were gathered together in Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, ““Thus says the Lord: ‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.’ ” So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, ““The Lord is righteous.” Now when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, ““They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance. My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they will be his servants, that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of the nations.” ( 2Chronicles 12:2-8)[4]

20150525_140834-1Heartsick to see His nation turn away from worship and towards demonic idols, God lifted His hand of favor and the enemy marched against Judah.  Then the king and the leaders humbled themselves and moved God’s heart to mercifully keep Egypt from consuming Judah. All they lost was resources, gold and silver, and grimly Judah bent under Egyptian rule for the first time since Moses had brought them by the Hand of God out of Egypt, as the nation paid yearly taxation in exchange for freedom. Judah’s God-breathed destiny to rule as the nation of all nations was compromised by their idolatry and disloyalty to God Almighty.  That pattern of proud defiant independent sin, then hardship, then repentance, followed by mercy and deliverance, repeated decade after decade from Solomon’s reign right until Christ finally paid for all of our sins on the cross.

The next king of Judah, Rehoboam’s son Abijah, ruled proud and poorly for only three years, and the historian grimly recounts, “And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” [5]

After Ahijah, Asa ascended as king. Mercifully, Asa loved God and “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” ( 1 Kings 15:7) Asa’s heart was “loyal to the Lord all his days” (1 Kings 15: 14). As a loyal king to Almighty God, Asa banished witchcraft. He demolished the high places of idol worship and removed his grandmother Macaah from the throne since she had established an obscene shrine to Asherah. The perverted idol priesthood was banished from the land and all the idols his father had made were burned.

Then, three decades into his reign, Asa stopped seeking the Lord and leaned on his own authority in a crucial decision for Judah. Basha from Israel had built a stronghold at Ramah, blocking trade and creating economic pressure on Judah. Instead of crying out to the Lord, Asa made a treaty with Syria, paying them to protect Judah, instead of seeking God’s protection. God sent Hananai, the prophet to address King Asa. Hananai addressed the heart of the king, confronting him, that “ the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him”.( 2 Chronicles 16:9)

Furious, Asa jailed the man for his rebuke. Asa’s reign ended with a serious illness afflicting his feet. Unrepentant, Asa refused to seek the Lord, seeking only the aid of the physicians and in judgement, he died.

2015-04-03 10.09.31David, in handing the throne to his son Solomon, charged him with only one condition: Stay loyal to your God, saying “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.[6]

The book of 1 and 2 Kings shows the painful decent of a kingdom which clung to God who then were just identified with God, who then judged God and turned away to other options and paid dearly for their pride.  This week, I had had the honour to receive from giants of the faith in Canada at the Align/Propel School in Port Perry. God had been showing me my heart and I have been so grieved to see the sin and pride that has lurked within me.

Loyalty comes from a heart of humility.  Remember how Jesus had confronted the Pharisee when he rebuked Jesus for letting the prostitute weep and wash his feet with her tears and break open that alabaster jar of perfume upon his travel weary feet?  That image, of a worshipping, lamenting woman contrasted to the self-righteous indignant Pharisee is a power picture of God opposing the proud and giving grace to the humble.  I think about how tenderly Jesus confronted Simon, that furious religious man, with those words, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little “( Luke 7:40).  Loyalty breeds in the soil of a repentant thankful heart, as one whom has been forgiven much, loves much.

In our world, it is popular to be proud and it was the same in the courts of Judah and Israel.  Today, we label it independent, confident, self-starters.  We boast of our achievements, shine up our credentials and share our gifts broadly to seek man’s approval. In the Kingdom of God, humility, honour and servanthood trump the day.  Paul, writer of much of the New Testament understood this principle.  In his last letter, he states: “I know both how to be abased , and I know how to abound, everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry , both to abound and to suffer need.”

2014-10-09 17.28.10Loyalty to God is not dependent on circumstance.  May our hearts humbly cry, “Thank You, merciful God for Your great, great love” and worship and live as loyal sons and daughters of the Most High God.

Let’s pray:  Lord God, we ask You for forgiveness this day for when we have failed You and lived contrary to our confessed allegiance by our rebellion and idolatry. Father, may Your Face shine upon us.  Father, fill us with your Spirit that we may walk with daily love and serve You with all our hearts, soul and strength. Sweet Jesus, Faithful King, the most loyal Son who ever lived, help us take up our cross and follow You with faithfulness and joy. Most Holy Spirit, teach us how to live loyal. May all of us who reach for You, find You and live faithful and content in You and impact this Kingdom with grace. Amen

This Week’s Reading: 1 Kings 23 – 2 Kings 6

Next Week’s Reading: 2 Kings 7 – 2 Kings 16

Study Questions:

  1. How do you react when things don’t go your way?  Do you turn to other sources or do you stay steady before God and bring Him your need?
  2. Why did the kings move to idolatry? What practices would have kept them in loyalty to God?
  3. How do daily disciplines of reading the Word and prayer and confession keep your heart steady before God?
  4. What are you doing to actively advance the Kingdom of God this week?
  5. Why is loyalty so important that whole nations are affected by righteous rulers who love God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loyal

[2]The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Ki 15:3-5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3]The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Ki 14:22-24). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4]The New King James Version. 1982 (2 Ch 12:2-8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5]The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Ki 15:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6]The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Ch 28:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.