For the past several months I've been doing a sweep of the Old Testament. I've come to the Book of Second Chronicles which is primarily focused on life in the Age of King Solomon.
The book stretches from Solomon's ascension to power through the fall of the southern kingdom of Israel (Judah) at the hands of the Babylonians in 586 BC. But it's cornerstone is the rule of Solomon and his continuation of the Davidic dynasty.
Solomon's reign is characterized by a time of unmatched peace and prosperity for God's people. He built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. He had peace on every side. According to Second Chronicles 1:15, "the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones."
So wise and prosperous was Solomon, that kings and queens the world over came to Jerusalem to inquire of his wisdom and to feast their eyes on his scientific and architectural marvels.
I see the age of Solomon as the high point of material success for the people of God.
But if you view the Bible from a historical perspective, it also represents a low point spiritually. Solomon begins as God's anointed and his reign follows suit, but at the end of his tenure and the end of his age (which I argue culminates in his people's enslavement in Babylon) they never to return to their Solomonic heights.
What does this teach us today?
I believe it's a caution and an invitation to adjust how we perceive our current age. At the moment, we are in what scholars call the "Church Age." That is, the era in time that arose with the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
More specifically, not only are we in the Church Age, but God's church (the people who make up the church) and people from all faiths or none at all, are in the jaws of a global pandemic. How should we view this time of turmoil and loss?
Let me offer some perspective.
I view the Bible as seven major movements that are book-ended by God's grace as follows:
Bookend Number One - Adam and Eve walk with God in sinless freedom in the Garden of Eden. They sin, but God's grace is there to keep them and to assure a future redemption (Genesis 3:15).
First Movement: Enslavement. God's people are enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years. They yearn for a savior.
Second Movement: Wilderness. God appoints Moses to lead the people out of slavery. But they delay entering the Promised Land through disobedience, and overstay their intended time in the wilderness.
Third Movement: Conquest. They enter the Promised Land under Joshua's leadership. Through many battles and hardships, they are largely victorious, but they leave some of the Promised Land unconquered in opposition to God's instructions.
Fourth Movement: Reign. They subdue much of the Promised Land, but enter a period called "Judges" in which they go through a repetitious cycle of turning away from God, only to be defeated by their enemies in the land, to be rescued by a God-appointed "Judge," and then to return to their sinful practices once the heat is off.
Fifth Movement: United Israel. King David unites the Kingdom of Israel, but his reign is characterized by wars and bloodshed. This disqualifies him from building God's temple in Jerusalem.
Sixth Movement: The Age of Solomon. This age is characterized by peace, material prosperity, and cultural advancement, but also grave spiritual decline. They build a grandiose temple for the world to see, but their inner temples are far from God. Solomon comes back to God at the end of his life, but he leads the people astray and they never permanently return to God.
Seventh Movement: Enslavement. This leads to the people's enslavement by a succession of hostile kingdoms, including the Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians and Romans. They yearn again for a savior.
Bookend Number Two - Jesus Christ's arrival as the Last Adam and true Savior (1 Corinthians 15:45) who seals the promised redemption to Adam and Eve, to anyone who will believe. John 1:12. In Him, would be found the final freedom to sin's enslavement. John 8:36.
As we face this global health and financial crisis, there's a tendency to reach back for the "good times"—the Age of Solomon—the time of financial prosperity and golden temples.
But what was the Age of Solomon?
A brief pause in a long history of enslavement—a temporary kingdom that could not stand because it was not anchored in God, but in man's accomplishments.
As you look backward at what was (before the pandemic) ask yourself: was I nearer or farther from God?
If this crisis has driven you back to (or deeper in) prayer and dependency on Jesus then you're far richer than you were. For the true believer, life in the Age of Solomon (times of material prosperity) is only valuable if that prosperity is spent serving God's purposes. Otherwise, it's all "meaningless" as Solomon would later say (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
I pray this article will cause you to look at the times we are in with new eyes. If you take the Bible as a whole, from my broad summary above, it begins and ends with the love of God.
Reflecting and living out that love with others is the best investment we can make at any age and in any Age.
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May God bless and keep you!
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