Following the trail tightly, a large branch stuck out from the thick bush on the one side, my horse intentionally moved toward the bush and lowered his head to duck the branch which was just high enough to miss the saddle by inches. Next think I know I’m lying in the mud, tears streaming down my face, and hating horseback riding more then when I was first put on.
One of our guides – a middle aged rustic cowboy – rushed to my aid. He stood me up, placed his cowboy had on my head and told me:
“Son, you wanna be a real cowboy don’t you?”
I nodded a yes with alegator tears resting on my cheeks.
“A cowboy is not a cowboy if he can ride a horse. Did you know that? A cowboy is a real cowboy if he falls off the horse and gets back on.”
I wanted to be a real cowboy, so I stubbornly climbed back on and mastered the rest of the trail. Two years later I would win a first prize ribben in horseback riding among my peers. I loved horseback riding!
Last week I fell off the metaphorical horse. My blog was hacked. My bible reading was tied up in my blog-diary. I have not done any bible reading – not the 90 Day challenge – since last Wednesday.
Today, I’m claimbing back on the horse.
A Few Reflection Passages
First, as a matter of observation, after Solomon builds the Temple and dedicates it to God the Lord himself consequates it: “I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyse and my heart will always be there” (1 Kings 9:3). Sounds pretty absolute: God will forever be in the temple that Solomon built. But as you continue to read you will quickly discover the same Covenantal stipulations outlined in Deuteronomy 27-30: Blessings (=remaining in the land) for obedience and Curses (=exile) for disobedience. This means that God will abandon the temple if his people consistently move away in rebellion:
“Then I will cut off Israel form the land I have given themand will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name”. – 1 Kings 9:7
People don’t take seriously enough the conditions of the Covenant.
From here the story moves on quite quickly covering the divided Kingdom and scurrying on from one rebellious king to another – both in Judah and in Israel.
What I found odd at first as I read through the series of “rebellious” kings is how David was raised up as the ideal King, “Following all of the Lord’s statutes” and “obeying all of the Lord’s commands”. Really? His little shinbig with Bathsheba, the murder of his friend to cover his sin, his inability to parent his own household, his multipul wives and concubines – all of the Lord’s statutes and commands? Really?
But David was faithful to the Lord in one key area which distinguishes him from the rest of the kings in Israel. Dispite his sins and shortcomings, David only every served Yahweh – the one Lord – his entire life. It seems then that the scriptures reference to David following all of the Lord’s statutes and commands is to be seen primarly in regard to his faithful to worshipping only One God.
Abandoning the worship of the One God to worship other gods is the ultimate violation of the Covenant Charter outlined in the Torah – particularly in Deuteronomy.
If I can carry this into the New Testament context – as one who does not believe in “once saved always saved” – as you fall short of perfection in this life there is grace and mercy and forgiveness and so one. But if you choose to walk out of the Covenant relationship of God by deliberately and continually worshipping other gods (however that is conceived) only exile awaits you. Keeping in mind that by my reading, “land” “Covenant” “God’s presense” “Heaven” and the “New Earth” all carry the same idea as does “Exile” “Death” and “Hell”.
I know many will disagree with me on this point, and that is okay because I believe we need to show grace and mercy to one another as well.