“So Solomon finished building the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had done before at Gibeon. The Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy – this place you have built where My Name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to My heart.
As for you, if you will follow Me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all My commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
But if you or your descendants abandon Me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor My Name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads in amazement. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
And the answer will be, ‘Because His people abandoned the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why the Lord has brought all these disasters on them’” (I Kings 9:1-9, NLT).
Solomon had been king over Israel for 24 years by the time “the Temple of the Lord” and “the royal palace” were completed. He had settled into his role as leader of Israel and, at this point, had achieved the greatest undertaking of his lifetime. And this was the time the Lord chose to appear “to Solomon a second time.” Why?
Solomon had reached the pinnacle of his glory days. His life had been focused on completing these projects. Now he’d have time on his hands and the Lord knew that Solomon needed to be very careful about where he next placed his focus.
Thus the “ifs” we see here: (1) “If you will follow Me with integrity and godliness…” (2) “If you or your descendants abandon Me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you;” and (3) “If you serve and worship other gods…”
First we see the blessing “if.” God would bless Solomon IF he remained faithful. Next, we see the cursing “ifs.” Should Solomon or his own descendants or the people of Israel or their descendants fail to remain faithful to God, nothing would go well for them. God’s blessings were conditional on His people’s obedience. They still are.
Jesus Himself warned: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33b). He also said: “But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33c).
To be centered in the will of Jesus Christ is to live with His strength to overcome temptation and walk in obedience to His teaching. To be centered in the will of Jesus Christ is to have His strength to endure the “trials and sorrows” we all must face from time to time. Being centered in the will of Christ also means missing out on unnecessary difficulties that come to those who choose to disobey God’s teaching.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates