“It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered the house of the Lord, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom.”
I Kings 14:25-28 NKJV
It had been centuries since the children of Israel had been liberated from bondage in Egypt. The Lord had sent Moses and Aaron to confront Pharoah and lead the people out to freedom under the leadership of God. Before they left, the Lord moved upon the hearts of the Egyptians to bless the children of Israel will vast treasures.
“Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”
Exodus 12:35-36 NKJV
The Lord God was making provision for His people, for His elect, for He was with them and would provide for them in their obedience.
As I read I Kings chapter fourteen this morning, I was reminded of the damage that sin can do. The children of Israel had gotten off to a great start, for they had the favor of God and man, and they were now free. They were no longer under the enslavement of the Egyptians, but they were now under the leadership of their God and His chosen representatives, Moses and Aaron.
There is much here for the follower of Jesus, for we too were in bondage to sin. Egypt is a type and shadow of sin, or more precisely, its power to enslave. Each of us, before we come to Jesus, is a slave to sin, and we lack the volition to resist.
It is only by the Jesus going to the cross that we can be freed. That same Creator God, Jesus preincarnate, Elohim, who met with Moses from the burning bush, is the same God, Jesus , God Man who went to cross for our sins, thus breaking our bonds and setting us free.
There is danger for the liberated follower of God, for the devil crouches at the door. He is waiting for the moment when those who have been made free forget that they are free, and begin to lust for halcyon memories of sinful life past. We seldom look back at our sinful lives accurately, for we only remember what we thought was good, and not the grievous destruction that was the reality.
“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!””
Numbers 11:4-6 NKJV
The bondage that we endured, appears pleasant in the rearview, and soon we found ourselves risking the treasures of such a great salvation.
In the passage in I Kings, we see Rehoboam, and we read of Shishak, King of Egypt, taking away all the treasure of the house of the Lord and the king’s house. He took one of the signs of great victory, as the golden shields that Solomon had made are stolen.
In a great picture of the price of sin, the golden shields, a symbol of the best God offers, are replaced by shields of bronze. Bronze in the Bible is a symbol bondage, of shackles and enslavement. As shattering reminder of such a great loss, the guards carry the shields, and the accompany Rehoboam wherever he goes in the palace. The cost of Judah’s disobedience is ever before him.
“For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.”
I Kings 14:23-24 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, we have been a wonder treasure, not of gold, sin ver and bronze, but something far more valuable: an inheritance in the Kingdom of God. We have made joint heirs with Jesus, sons of the most high.
Though this treasure cannot be taken away from us, we can lose access to its value and its benefits. The value that we have in Christ and present in our eternal treasures, are the fruits we have when we walk in the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV
With that fruit, we also have the great joy, that is not typical of one dealing the struggles of this present world. The joy gives us the strength to endure, and represent Jesus in all that we do.
When we have given into life in the flesh, we are opening ourselves to be pillaged by the evil one. We lose the access to the treasures of God’s joy, and begin to take on all the evil of the world, that rob us of our testimonies and inhibit our effectiveness in spreading the Gospel.
Instead of our lives being filled with the fruit of the Spirit, we are made rancorous and no different than the world.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV
Some of you might say, “Bernie, church people are not like that.” If that is your view, you have made yourself a liar. In my years occupying pews, and serving the Lord, I have seen all these things in and amongst the people of God. In most cases, those who are struggling, have opened themselves up to attack from the evil one, for they have forgotten that he is ever on the prowl.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
I Peter 5:8-9 NKJV
I can tell you my people, that being vigilant will come with a cost, for even now the falling away has begun. For many, this great treasure has been attacked, and a demonic alchemy is afoot as golden shields have been made bronze.
For those of you who endure, you will be rejected by those who have fallen, and your desire to follow Jesus will be questioned, as those who have long since given up on God, seek to draw you alongside them.
Hang on my people!
Now is the time that we must be about the Father’s business, going forth to all people about Jesus. No law will counter crazy, but the power of the Holy Spirit can change even the crazy, and make them sane.
Remember the great treasure that awaits you, and in then meantime, build up even more!
Have a fabulous Friday!