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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Solomon's Splendour - Why?

Solomon the greatest Old Testament Celebrity
The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon
Solomon is the Old Testament's biggest Celebrity - he had everything this world can offer. As king of Israel he received about $1 billion in annual tax revenues paid in gold (in today's money; out of which he made hundreds of ceremonial gold shields). His Palace took 13 years to complete. Six steps led up to his throne, each step had a lion figurine on either side. All household articles were made of gold, he owned some 12000 horses. His wisdom was world-reknown, he built cities, gardens, reservoirs, you name it........

When the Queen of Sheba came to visit him she was astounded by everything she saw.

But why?
But why was Solomon granted such wealth and such reknown?

We know it can't be a celebrity reason, "Look up to this kind of person", or "Become like this and you will be happy."

So why did God give him such wealth and fame?

Because he asked for something better
The Lord gave Solomon wealth because he didn't ask for it, and didn't seekt it. When the Lord asked him what one thing he wanted, Solomon asked for discernment, wisdom. And so the Lord gave him not only that but wealth and honour also. It's what Jesus taught, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

To teach us that you can have everything and still be empty on the inside
The great Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, in which he recounts his many journeys to the peaks of all human mountains, only to discover there was nothing to be found there. God gave one man the ability to climb every mountain and declare to the world, "There's nothing up here!" Everything in life without God is "Meaningless, meaningless, meaningless!" Only God can satisfy the human heart.

To teach us that with great wealth comes great temptation
1 Kings chapter 10, which describes the splendour of Solomon, is followed by 1 Kings 11, which describes his 700 wives and 300 concubines. Only a wealthy man can contemplate or keep 1000 women. Wealth can lead to temptation: for a man can now "do what he wants to do" - and that can be dangerous. "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." (Proverbs 30:8)

To show us that human splendour is nothing compared to divine splendour
Speaking about the humble wild flowers God has made, Jesus said that they were better dressed than Solomon in all his splendour! The greatest fashion houses of the world cannot compare with the creations God comes up with. Human ingenuity merely plays around in the lower foothills of God's Himalayan genius.

To teach us that true greatness lies in just-the-opposite-of Celebrity status
True greatness lies in humility and weakness. Jesus announced to the crowds that he was greater than Solomon. Jesus was poor, humble and "weak."  And this is where true greatness lies. The Jews missed Jesus because he wasn't like Solomon. Their vision of greatness was this-worldly. We too can all too easily miss the greatest events, the greatest saints, the greatest churches, if we see things in a worldly way.

Celebrity Judgements
We can falsely judge churches by their size, wealth or composition.

We can falsely judge Christians by their standing in the world.

And we can make wrong judgements about events in our lives because they are difficult.

 Jesus and the Gospel turns Celebrity Culture on its head.

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