Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Transforming Perspective

We have to stop reading the Bible as a collection of stories about amazing or not so amazing people of God! The Bible is one story and the main character is God. If you have ever read the Bible from cover to cover (and I highly recommend it) you will see that the stories are not isolated. They all intertwine and many times, unless you know what happened earlier in the book, you will not be able to get the full meaning of a passage you are reading. Most importantly we have to recognize that God is the center of the story and all creation is used to proclaim his glory, even people.

I was reading in 1 Kings 3: 5-14 yesterday and had an interesting revelation. This is the beginning of Solomon’s reign as king over Israel. God says to him “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Instead of asking for money or fame, Solomon asks for a wise and discerning heart. God is so pleased with Solomon’s request that he decides to not only give him wisdom that will never be rivaled but he also gave him riches and fame beyond any king who ever lived. This all sounds great until in verse 14 God says “and if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” This phrase is what you call foreshadowing. As it turns out Solomon did not obey all the commands and statues of God, but was lead astray by multiple women.

Now here’s what makes that story hard to read. Solomon’s downfall is no surprise to God. He knew it was coming and yet he still lavishes all this wisdom, wealth and fame on Solomon knowing also that those very things will become stumbling blocks for him. Why would God do that? It seems like God is setting Solomon up for failure.

There actually is no “seems” about it, he most certainly is setting Solomon up. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sit well with me. Why? You see, I was looking at Solomon as the main character of the story. I was more focused on what he was trying to accomplish and where he was trying to go than I was God. If Solomon is the main character then he is the protagonist or hero and anyone who fights against him or plots against him is the antagonist. In this perspective the one who is ultimately plotting against Solomon is God, so He, in our minds is now the antagonist or bad guy. No body likes the bad guy.

Now let’s look at it as if God were the main character or hero of this story. He just lavished his son with wisdom, wealth and fame with the only condition being obedience. What does Solomon do? He continues to disobey God and fight against him for what he wants and each day plots ways to do it again. Solomon becomes the antagonist or enemy of God, but don’t miss what God does here.

Even though he knew Solomon would be His antagonist, He still blessed him with all that he asked for and more. Even though Solomon became God’s enemy, God used him by raising him up as proof for future generations that having all the money, fame and in Solomon’s case women (700 wives and 300 concubines) you could ever want, will never be enough to satisfy that emptiness inside. Only God is enough. Solomon learned this and in his repentance was privileged to be used by God to write Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes in which, with all his wealth and fame, he writes:

"Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecc. 2:11)

Solomon, the apparently main character of this story in the Bible, is revealed as merely a tool used by the true main character, God, to proclaim His own power, authority and glory. As you read through the Bible and come in contact with these famous characters, begin to train yourself to ask, “what am I learning about God, the hero of the Bible, through this persons life?” If you do this I promise you it will transform your relationship with God.

God’s story is not finished. We are in the middle of it right now. Are we any different than Solomon to God? Are you not a possible tool God can use to prove his glory to the world? Do you want to be?

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