This week, we are reading Chapter 14 in The Story, or 1 Kings 12-16. We will be spending most of the month looking at the Kingdom, but before I launch into those discussions, I wanted to go back and trace the Upper Story through Chapters 1-13. All of us have questions about the Lower Story that we read about, and it’s easy to get so caught up in some of the details that we lose sight of the main story God has been writing in history. So, let’s highlight the Upper Story.
While the CREATION story might not provide all of the details we’d like it to provide about the how of creation, the point is to show Who created. God creates humans to live and dwell on the created earth in unison with each other and with him. God establishes guidelines for their protection, but they rebel and choose their own way over his way thus introducing sin into the new world and separating them from their Creator. While separate from God, He banishes them from the garden, keeping the option for redemption open.
In CRISIS, we see humanity at its worst. When left to our own devices, brothers kill brothers, deceit is rampant, immorality rules the day and the chasm between humanity and their Holy Creator grows larger. God, in a paradoxical act of compassion, stops the downward spiral by whispering in the ear of a man named Noah. It’s time to start fresh, clear the slate and begin again.
After the flood subsides and humans begin new, they have not learned their lesson, so God reaches down and steps in again. His CALLING of Abraham initiates a new covenant agreement with humanity, specifically the Israelite nation. God is going to build a nation that will point all people to Himself, He will give them land and blessing so that the whole world will know they are His. Abraham’s great grandson is a young boy named Joseph, who is sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt. Through an incredible series of events, Joseph ends up in charge of the food supply in Egypt during a great famine that was wiping out the chosen family line of Abraham. God rescues his promise through Joseph in Egypt, but the people end up in slavery. After generations of slavery in Egypt, God steps in again to rescue his people. A young Israelite boy named Moses is born during a period of Egyptian genocide that would have taken his life, but his mother sends him down the river to Pharaoh’s daughter. God will use this change to raise up a boy who will become a man who will deliver his people from Egypt. God stepped in…again. Moses would lead the people of Israel right up to the Promised Land. God would speak to Moses unlike He had spoken to any man since Adam. But Moses disobeys God and believes his method is better than God’s and he is not allowed to enter the land. God raises up another leader to usher His people into Promise…Joshua. In what appears to be horrible bloodshed and taking of cities is actually God reclaiming this land that had been desecrated by the debauchery of the people currently living there. These were wicked people who needed to be expelled from the land that wasn’t there land in the first place. Joshua leads the people through the conflicts.
CONVERSATIONS usually involve back-and-forth dialogue or CYCLES of words and thoughts. As the conversation between God and his people deepened during these times, the people would fall into a certain cycle: following God, rebellion, wrong allegiance, repentance and back to following God. It would look a little like this:
The Israelites had abandoned their commitment to living under the Kingship of God and cried out for a man-king. God turned them over to their desires and they received their first king, Saul. What started out well, didn’t finish well – power does that to us. Even after Saul, the greatest man-king in Israel’s history, David, had his share of failure as well. However, God used David to reestablish His presence among the people. David’s son, Solomon, continues this restoration by building a permanent temple for God in Jerusalem.
This is the story we find ourselves in Chapter 14. So we move forward today. The best is really yet to come…really!