Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of First Kings, which not only describes the days of the reign of Solomon son of David and king of Israel, but also describes the days of the northern kingdom of Israel, the southern kingdom of Judah, and those kings who would rule over it. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters fifteen through seventeen of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of the book of First Kings you will find a downward spiral that would begin to take place in the midst of the heritage of the people of God. As you read and consider the words which are written and recorded in these chapters, however, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that you recognize that idolatry in the midst of the land of Israel—both the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the southern kingdom of Judah—did not begin with Jeroboam son of Nebat, nor did it begin with Ahab king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Upon reading the words which are written and recorded in the book of First Kings it is absolutely necessary and imperative that you turn and direct your attention back to the days of Solomon king of the nation and kingdom of Israel, for it was Solomon who introduced the idolatry and iniquity into the land. If you turn and direct your attention to the eleventh chapter of this Old Testament book of First Kings you will quickly discover that it would be Solomon son of David king of the nation of Israel that would introduce the idolatry that would so captivate the hearts and minds of the people of Judah. In all reality, it must be understood that Solomon son of David—that one who built the Temple of the LORD which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—was the king who introduced idolatry and wickedness into the land. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the same one who built the Temple for the LORD, and the same one who witnessed and beheld—not only the glory of the LORD filling the Temple, but also the fire of God coming down from heaven upon the altar and the burnt offering which was upon it, and yet it was this same Solomon who would allow his heart to be turned away in the latter years of his life. Not only would Solomon allow his heart to be turned away during the latter years of his life, but his heart would first begin to be turned away through his love and lust for many foreign women. If we are to understand the narrative of Solomon it is absolutely imperative that we recognize that his iniquity and transgression before and in the sight of the LORD didn’t begin with idolatry, but rather began with something which was at the very heart and foundation of that idolatry. Scripture speaks to it and reveals it as Solomon loving many foreign women, and yet what we must understand from Scripture is that Solomon was a man who allowed himself to be captivated by lust, by desire and by passion for foreign and strange women. Before Solomon ever turned his heart from following the living God as his father David did, and commit himself to idolatry he first allowed his heart to be captivated and gripped with lust for foreign women. Before Solomon would ever turn his heart after foreign and strange gods, he would first turn his heart toward foreign and strange women. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings beginning with the first verse:
“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites, And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8).
As we read and study the life and narrative of Solomon king of Israel it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that Solomon didn’t initially begin by worshipping strange and foreign gods. The idolatry that would be so pervasive within the heart and life of Solomon would have something that was much deeper and something that was much more sinister within his heart. It’s worth noting concerning the life of Solomon that before his heart was every turned away to strange and foreign gods, his heart was first turned away to strange and foreign women. Before he would ever worship and serve foreign and strange gods he would first love and cling to love for foreign women. If I am being honest with you who are reading the words of this writing I would dare say that idolatry within your heart and life might not begin as idolatry itself, but it might very well begin as something that might appear to be less obvious and less conspicuous. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think within my heart and mind that Solomon’s idolatry would be predicated and entirely based upon his love for strange and foreign women. This is important for us to think about and recognize, for more often than not we don’t initially or originally give ourselves to idolatry within our lives. More often than not idolatry begins as our loving something which the LORD had instructed and commanded us not to. It must be stated that before we begin giving ourselves to idolatry and to the worship of strange and foreign gods within our hearts and lives we first begin by giving ourselves in love to that which the LORD instructed us to avoid. Do these words resonate with you within the depths of your heart and soul? Have you found yourself loving—and not only loving, but cleaving in love to those things the living God has commanded and instructed you not to? For Solomon, his heart was immediately drawn to idolatry no more than the heart of his father David was drawn to adultery. SOLOMON’S HEART WASN’T IMMEDIATELY DRAWN TO IDOLATRY, DAVID’S HEART WASN’T IMMEDIATELY DRAWN TO ADULTERY! What we must recognize and understand is that Solomon’s heart was drawn to strange and foreign women before it was ever drawn to the strange and foreign gods those women worshipped. Similarly, we must recognize that David’s heart wasn’t immediately and automatically inclined to adultery, and it was only in the process of his remaining in Jerusalem during the time when kings went out to battle that he would begin to open up and expose himself to adultery. Moreover, when we consider the life of David we must understand that adultery would only be the first step in a downward spiral of iniquity before the LORD, for upon learning that Bathsheba was with child he attempted to cover it up by bringing her husband home to lie with her. When David realized that his sin would and could not be covered up through Uriah lying with his wife, he would resort to having Uriah the Hittite murdered on the battlefield. It would be after Uriah was murdered that David would take Bathsheba unto himself as wife, thus thinking and believing he had somehow covered up his sin. Of course we know and understand that his sin and transgression was known and visible before and in the sight of the living God, and the living God sent Nathan the prophet to expose and reveal his sin.
The narrative of Solomon’s idolatry doesn’t begin with idolatry, but rather it begins with his love and lust for strange and foreign women. This is important for us to recognize and understand, for in order to understand the narrative of Solomon king of Israel we must understand that it was his love for foreign and strange women which was found within his heart that ultimately led him into the place of idolatry before and in the sight of the living God. Solomon—the same one who had built the Temple of the living God, and who had experienced, witnessed and beheld both the glory and fire of the living and eternal God—would allow his heart to be carried and swept away in love and lust for foreign women. It would this love and lust for foreign women that would eventually and ultimately lead him down the dark and dangerous path of idolatry, for he would open himself up to idolatry through lust and clinging to those things which the LORD had instructed the children of Israel to avoid and stay away from. Oh that we would recognize and understand that more often than not we open ourselves up to idolatry first when we yield and give ourselves to those things which the living God has instructed and commanded us to abstain and refrain from joining ourselves to and aligning ourselves with. What we must understand is that the living God knew, recognized and understood that if the children of Israel gave themselves in marriage to strange and foreign women of the nations round about them, their hearts would be opened to the strange and foreign gods which were behind them. What’s more, is that the living and eternal God warned against worshipping idols and false images, for He knew that behind idols and images were strange and foreign gods, which the New Testament would refer to as demons, as principalities, and as spiritual wickedness in high places. It must be understood that Solomon didn’t begin by worshipping and following strange and foreign gods for the sake of engaging in idolatry, but he would gradually get to that point and place. Like a frog that is placed in a pot of lukewarm or cool water will ultimately face its death as the temperature of the water gradually increases to a boil, so Solomon would experience a gradual turning away form the God of his father David through his love of foreign and strange women. It would be his love for strange and foreign women that would ultimately set him down a path of opening his heart and his mind up to the strange and foreign gods which his wives worshipped. What’s more, is that Solomon would do more than just worship the foreign and strange gods of his wives, for he would also build high places and shrines for the false and strange gods of his wives in the hill that is before Jerusalem—perhaps even not very far from where the Temple Mount was and where the Temple of the living God stood.
With all of this being said about Solomon and his being that one to introduce idolatry and strange gods once more into the nation and land of Israel, it’s important for us to recognize and understand that this idolatry would be perpetuated in the northern kingdom of Israel by Jeroboam son of Nebat whom the LORD chose to be king over the ten tribes of Israel. As you study the pattern and progression of idolatry in the midst of the land of Israel—both in the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the southern kingdom of Judah—it’s important for us to recognize that what would begin with Solomon by building high places for Chemosh, and for Molech would spill over to an additional measure of idolatry that was committed by Jeroboam son of Nebat. In fact, if you come to the final portion of the twelfth chapter of the book of First Kings—specifically beginning with the twenty-fifth verse—you will find and discover that after Jeroboam son of Nebat was made king over the northern kingdom and ten tribes of Israel, he would conceive something detestable within his heart, and which would be detestable in the sight of the living God. We must recognize and understand that the living and eternal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob chose him to rule as king over the northern kingdom of Israel, and even invited him to walk perfectly and uprightly before Him in his sight, and that if he did, the LORD would establish a kingdom and reign for him in the midst of Israel. What we find, however, is that Jeroboam would disobey and rebel against the invitation and word of the LORD, and would engage in his own form of idolatry. When Rehoboam son of Solomon sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem there would be altars, shrines and high places that would be present within the city of Jerusalem, and it would be Jeroboam who would begin introducing idolatry in the northern kingdom of Israel. What we must recognize when considering the words which are written and recorded within this portion of Scripture is that it was insecurity within the heart of Jeroboam son of Nebat that caused him to introduce idolatry into the northern kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam son of Nebat would be specially chosen by the LORD to rule and reign as king over the northern ten tribes of Israel, and yet some of his first acts that were done as king over this new kingdom was setting up idolatrous images in the midst of the land. What’s more, is that if and as you consider the words which are found in this particular portion of Scripture you must also turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Exodus, for it is in the Old Testament book of Exodus that describes the first introduction of idolatry in the midst of the people of Israel. It would be in the wilderness before the mountain of God which was altogether on a smoke because of the consuming fire upon it the children of Israel engaged themselves in the setting up of a golden calf, and their subsequent worshipping this golden calf. Moreover, what was so grievous about this worship of the golden calf is that what they were essentially doing was worshipping God in the image they had made, for they not only acknowledge that God had brought them out of Egypt, but they also wanted gods set up for them which would go before them in their journeys. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded—first in the Old Testament book of First Kings, and secondly in the Old Testament book of Exodus:
“Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: IF this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn against unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on fate fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense” (1 Kings 12:25-33).
“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, Thse by thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed there unto, and said, These by thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wreath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation…And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the s testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, grave upon the tables. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear. And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses; anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies) then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’s side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel. Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out form gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about thee thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day” (Exodus 32:1-29).
What you find in the eleventh chapter of the book of First Kings is Solomon introducing idolatry into the land of Israel boy worshipping Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. In addition to worshipping Ashtoreth and Milcom you will find Solomon also building high places for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and Molech the abomination of Ammon. In the narrative of Jeroboam we find him not engaging in the idolatry which Solomon had introduced and brought into the land, but rather creating his own idolatry within the northern kingdom of Israel. In the twelfth chapter of the book of First Kings you will find Jeroboam worrying and fearing that if the people of the northern kingdom of Israel went down unto Jerusalem to worship the LORD and offer their gifts, their sacrifices, and their offerings unto Him that they would also return unto Rehoboam and align themselves with him. Jeroboam grew increasingly concerned and worried about the people of the northern ten tribes journeying down unto the city of Jerusalem in order to worship the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and he was worried that they would rise up against him to slay him. It was because of this fear, this anxiety, this dread, and this insecurity that Jeroboam would take a page out of the book of Aaron and would fashion—not one, but two golden calves in the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel. I have often heard it said that what one generation does in moderation another generation would do in excess, and this was especially true when you consider the narrative of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Whereas Aaron the brother of Moses would form and fashion a single golden calf before the mountain of the LORD in the midst of the wilderness, Jeroboam would form two golden calves, and would put each in a different place within the land. What’s more, is that Jeroboam son of Nebat would set up one of the golden calves in Beth-el, which literally means “House of God.” Pause for a moment and consider the fact that not only did Jeroboam the son of Nebat set up two golden calves, but he also set one up in the very house of God—the very place where the LORD appeared unto Jacob whose name would later be changed to Israel after he had departed from the house of Isaac and Rebekah. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of this, for what Jeroboam did during the days of his reign as king over the nation of the kingdom of Israel would be committed in generations since then in houses of worship throughout this nation, and even throughout the world. Ever since Jeroboam there have been men and women who have set up idols, images and false gods in the house of God. What’s more, is that not only have men and women set up false images and idols in the house of God, but they have also set up false altars and a false priesthood of ministers who minister before the false altar and the false god. There are churches, houses of worship, and congregations today that gather together week in and week out and do nothing more than worship God in the image(s) they have made as they come before a man-made altar which is nothing but a cheap imitation of the real thing. That which Jeroboam son of Nebat set out to do was not simply set up two golden calves, but introduce and implement an entirely new religious system in the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel.
When you think about and consider the iniquity, the transgression, the idolatry which Jeroboam son of Nebat introduced in the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel, you will find that what he was ultimately trying to do was to set up a false religious system that would appeal to men and women in the northern kingdom of Israel. Essentially what he was declaring unto them was that they didn’t need to go unto Jerusalem to worship the LORD their God, for they could worship the LORD their God right where they were. Jeroboam was declaring unto the children of Israel that the journey unto the house of the LORD, and the journey unto the true altar of sacrifice and burnt offering was too great and too much for them, and they didn’t need to journey all that way to worship the LORD. Ultimately what Jeroboam was declaring unto the people of the northern kingdom of Israel was that they could worship the LORD right where they were, and they didn’t have to journey unto the house of the living God. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this, for this has been something ministers and leaders within churches have been preaching to individuals for centuries. There have been (and there still are) men and women who would declare unto others that they don’t need to make the journey to the altar, nor make the journey to the sanctuary of the living God to worship before Him, for they can worship Him right where they are. What’s more, is these men and women have created and crafted a false image and a false representation of the God who delivered them out of bondage, slavery, and oppression, and who brought them into the midst of the inheritance. Even as I am writing these words I am convinced that one of the greatest lies the enemy and adversary has concocted and fashioned in this generation—as well as in generations past—is that we don’t need to go up unto the house of the LORD to worship before the living God. The enemy and adversary has spewed a horrific and terrifying lie that the journey unto the house of the LORD is too great and is too far for us, and that we can worship God right where we are. The danger and underlying problem with that is that more often than not when we open ourselves up to this lie, and when we open ourselves up to this deceit we also open ourselves up to worshipping God in an image we have made, or in an image someone else has made. Even during this present crisis which we are all in where men and women can’t go unto the sanctuary and unto the house of the LORD, one of the single greatest dangers we face is setting up and worshipping God in an image we have made out of our own imagination and our own inspiration. What’s more, is there is a tremendous danger during this time when men and women aren’t able to go unto the house of the LORD to open themselves up to a false image of who God truly is, and their worshipping that image rather than the true and living God who created the heavens and the earth.
While I believe that this current crisis and this current time of isolation is a strong and powerful call inviting men and women to return to the secret closet of prayer, I also hear in my spirit a tremendous and powerful warning given unto men and women that they be of wise and discerning hearts to recognize the god who is being preached to them, and the god who is being presented unto them. I can’t help but feel a tremendous warning in my spirit that while men and women cannot go unto the sanctuary and cannot go unto the house of the LORD, they must be incredibly cautious that they do not open themselves up to a false gospel, and to a false image of who the living and eternal God truly is. What’s more, is that I can’t help but get the strong sense that by the living God shutting down churches and houses of worship—it might very well be an act of mercy to deliver men and women out from under false gospels, false teachings, and false prophetic words. I believe that the living and eternal God is calling men and women into the secret closet, and it is in the place of the secret closet where they encounter the true and living God, and come to their senses as they realize they have been worshipping a false image of the God of the Bible. Moreover, as men and women spend time in the secret closet of prayer they will realize that they have opened themselves up to a false teaching and false doctrine. That has been spewed out in their hearing and before their eyes. Oh I believe with everything inside me that this isolation is a strong and powerful act of mercy and grace at the hand of the living God to deliver people out from under false teachings, and false doctrines that have been portrayed and presented in the houses in which they have gathered together to worship. I fully recognize and realize that we living in a digital and virtual age, and that churches and houses of worship can stream their services directly into the homes of millions of men and women, and with that being said I am convinced there is a powerful warning to beware and be careful what you allow to be brought into your home. I believe with every fiber of my being that we need to beware of what is broadcasted and streamed on our smartphones and onto our tablets. I believe that we need to be incredibly careful what we stream into our laptops and desktops, as well as into our television sets. We live in an age when we can literally open ourselves up to any type of false teaching, false doctrine, and false “prophetic” word with the click of a button. All it takes is one click of the mouse on your computer, one tap of the screen on your smart phone or tablet, and one push of the button on your television remote and you can find yourself coming face to face with a tremendous amount of false doctrine and false teaching as it is being pumped directly into your home.
As I sit here this morning, I can’t help but get the strong sense within my heart that this time of isolation and quarantine is a way for the living God to expose false teachers, false prophets, and false ministers who have made a living off the simple minds of those who have little if any discernment. I am convinced that during this time the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is exposing false teachers and false prophets, for how and what they speak during such a time as this can and will reveal who and what they truly are. Oh I do strongly believe with everything inside of me that during this time the Spirit of the LORD is graciously and will graciously deliver men and women out from under religious taskmasters who would seek to impose burdens upon them which they themselves are unwilling to bear. It is during this time when the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD will bring men and women to the place where they become completely and entirely dependent on him rather than any minister or preacher of the gospel. The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is delivering men and women through the secret closet of prayer from false forms and methods of worship, as well as false forms of prayer before and unto the living God. The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is calling and drawing men into the secret close of prayer to show and reveal to them who He truly is, and to show them that who and what they have been worshipping has not been the true and living God. The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is delivering men and women from their false ideas and false conceptions about the living God, and what has been presented to them by false ministers, false prophets and false teachers. What’s more, is that the Spirit of the living God is graciously delivering men and women from the false voices and false sounds of men and women who have not stood in his presence. Even popular evangelists and speakers whose books line the shelves of our bookstores are suddenly finding themselves no longer preaching to the masses and to the crowds in arenas, in stadiums, in coliseums, and the like. Oh how I can’t help but get the strong sense that the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is ripping off and pulling the veil from before false teachers, false prophets and false ministers of a false gospel who have deceived the hearts and minds of many. The Spirit of the LORD is shutting down churches and opening up closets in order that through the closet He might demonstrate and show men and women who He truly is. There are men and women who have entered into sanctuaries and houses of worship week in and week out and yet they have been worshipping nothing more than a false image of a God they know nothing about, nor even know personally and intimately. The Spirit of the living God is calling men and women into the secrete closet of prayer in order that in the closet—completely away from man, completely away from false ministers, and completely away from false sounds and false teachings—He might show Himself for who He truly is. This is a time when the Spirit of the sovereign LORD is calling men into the secret closet of prayer in order that He might show Himself unto them, and show them that what they have been listening to, what they have been believing is a complete and utter lie and delusion.
During this time there is not a doubt in my mind that we as the people of God need to carefully guard our homes, as well as our hearts from what we allow to be streamed and pumped into them, for the enemy and adversary can and will try and do anything and everything to keep men and women away from and outside the house of the LORD. Just as Jeroboam son of Nebat sought to keep men and women from going unto the sanctuary of the living God, so the enemy and adversary can and will seek to keep men and women from ever returning to the sanctuary. Oh there will be men and women in this generation who will find a certain comfort and a certain ease in not going unto the sanctuary, and as a direct result of this will open themselves up to false images of a god they were never intended on worshipping. There will be men and women during this time who can and will open themselves up to false teachings and false doctrines, as they will allow false doctrines and false teachings to enter into their hearts and homes since they are no longer able to enter into and go unto the sanctuary of the living God. There is a great and present danger during these days for men and women to grow comfortable and complacent in being away from the house of God, and if and when the time comes when the houses of God will be opened again—men and women will choose to remain home glued to their cell phones, glued to their tablets, glued to their laptops, and/or glued to their television sets. There will be men and women who not only will ignore the call to enter into the secret closet of prayer, but they will also ignore the call to return to the sanctuary. Oh, I do believe that there will be a call to return to the sanctuary, but it cannot and will not come until men and women have first responded to the call to the closet. How you handle and how you respond to the call unto the closet can and will determine how you respond to the call to return to the sanctuary. If you fail and if you heed to listen and respond to the call unto the closet you might very well find yourself failing to heed the call to return to the sanctuary when the doors are once more opened. Right now the Sovereign LORD has shut down churches and has shut the doors of sanctuaries and houses of worship, and He has instead unlocked and opened up the doors to countless closets of prayer, worship, and intercession. If you are wise during this time and if you heed the call to enter into the secret closet of prayer and intercession you will most certainly and most definitely hear the call to return to the sanctuary. In all reality, I would dare say that when the doors of the churches are once more opened, there will be men and women who will have an entirely new perspective and view on the sanctuary and house of the living God, and will no longer depend and rely upon man, but will instead rely upon the living and eternal God, and Him alone. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely astonishing reality, for to do so would be to miss and lose sight of that which the Spirit of the LORD is doing and speaking unto us in this generation.
I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by the fact that there is a strong and powerful warning and word of caution that is being issued to this generation in the midst of this crisis. It’s a warning to be careful and be cautious about what we allow to be broadcasted in our homes via our smartphones, our tablets, our computers, and even our televisions sets. During a time when the doors of most of our churches are shut many people will resort to virtual services and digital teachings that can be broadcasted before them with a click of a button the tap of a screen. I firmly believe that during this time the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD desires to and will expose countless false teachers and false prophets for their false teaching and false doctrine. I am absolutely and completely convinced that there will be ministers and preachers of the gospel whose messages will prove to have little value and no worth, and who will prove to be nothing more than shallow and muddy waters. There will be preachers and ministers of the gospel who might very well have had a voice in times past, but in the midst of this crisis will find that they are either losing their voice, or will find and discover that they never had a voice in the first place. There will be teachers and preachers alike who are going to be exposed as false teachers and blind guides leading the blind astray and into ditches of destruction and gloom. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize that during this time when the doors of the churches and houses of worship are shut we need to hear very clearly the clarion call of the Spirit to enter into the secret closet of prayer and to hear the One voice that truly matters—the voice that not only calls the dead to life again, but the voice that calms the storms, and the voice that forgives sins and brings healing. There is not a doubt in my mind that during this time men and women are being called and have been called into the secret closet of prayer in order that they might hear and discover the voice of the Savior once more. Oh that voice was once heard within the depths of their spirit and within the depths of their heart, however, as time progressed that voice has become virtually silent—almost to the point where they no longer recognize it. I believe that during this time men and women are being called into the secret closet of prayer, and perhaps for the first time, perhaps for the second time, or perhaps more times than they care to admit will rediscover the voice of the Savior and the voice of the living God. There will be those who during this time will find themselves running into and turning to the only place that is available to them, and that place is and always has been the secret closet of prayer.
The more I read and the more I study the narrative of Jeroboam son of Nebat the more I can’t help but be confronted with and by the awesome reality that just as Jeroboam sought to erect two golden calves and institute an entirely new religious system and form of worship in the midst of the land, so is and so has the same thing happened during this day and in this generation. Jeroboam’s message to the children of Israel was that it was too difficult, too far, and too much for them to journey to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem and that they could simply worship within the northern kingdom of Israel. Moreover, Jeroboam used the same language that was used during the days of the wilderness when Aaron declared unto the children of Israel that the god before them was their God who delivered them up out of their bondage and slavery in the land of Egypt. When Jeroboam introduced these two golden calves he used the same language with the noticeable difference that instead of there being one golden calf, there were now two golden calves. Jeroboam used the very same language when speaking unto the children of Israel, and declared unto them that these were the gods who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt. Oh please don’t miss this, for I am convinced that during this current crisis and during these days the enemy and adversary is seeking ensnare men and women, and to keep them from returning and going up to the sanctuary. The enemy and adversary will seek to cause men and women to grow comfortable and complacent in their homes and to persuade them that it’s too much for them to go up to the sanctuary of the LORD. The enemy and adversary will seek to cause men and women to believe that they can worship the LORD right where they are, and that the house of the LORD is obsolete. What’s more, is that the enemy and adversary can and will cause men and women to engage themselves in a new form of worship and a new form of interacting with the LORD their God, and will seek to sweep them away in a flood and cascade of false doctrine and false teaching. The enemy and adversary can and will cause men and women to remain in their homes completely numb, completely indifferent within their hearts and spirits, and will seek to cause them to become completely and utterly complacent. Moreover, the enemy can and will set up false priests and false ministers of the gospel during this period of time who will cater to those who have grown and become complacent in their hearts and complacent in their spirits. The enemy and adversary can and will cause men and women to to choose to allow themselves to be swept away in this new form of worship, and this new form of idolatry that will become so pervasive during this time. Oh how I can’t get out of my spirit that during this time there is a clarion call to the secret closet of prayer and to the altar within our hearts and homes, but how the time will come when the doors of the houses of worship will be opened again, and those who enter into the midst of them might be very different from before. This is particularly and especially interesting when you consider one of the main and underlying concerns during this time has been “social distancing” and keeping yourself from others. During this time men and women have been encouraged to keep six feet in distance from others, and many have been afraid to get close to anyone else for fear of somehow contracting this virus that has spread across and throughout the world.
HOW DOES THE CHURCH RECOVER FROM A TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING? HOW DOES THE HOUSE OF GOD COME OUT OF SIX FEET APART? If there is one thing I can’t help but think about and consider when reading these words found in the book of First Kings, it’s that men and women have grown so accustomed and so used to keeping their distance from others that this can and will spill over into what might become the new norm and “recovery” period after this virus has essentially passed. There is not a doubt in my mind that there can and will be men and women who will still be afraid of fellowship and afraid of relationship with others, and will still work and strive to keep their distance. I firmly believe that there will be a period of time when even going to the house of the LORD will seem much different as there will most likely still be a sense of fear and anxiety over getting too close to others. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if worship itself can and will be transformed in the house of the LORD, and if worship will transition into something entirely new as men and women might not be as open to sharing personal space with others. I can’t help but wonder what going to the house of the LORD is going to be like once “social distancing” is relaxed within the nation, and once the doors of our churches are in fact open to believers and congregants alike. I have to admit that I do in fact wonder whether or not men and women will be as open to interacting with brothers and sisters in the house of the LORD as set against and compared to how they previously interacted with others. Will men and women be willing and open to embracing fellowship with one another, or will they continue to allow themselves to be consumed and overwhelmed with the fallout from the current pandemic that has rocked the globe? We would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider the fact that life will immediately and automatically return to normal once this crisis.begins to let up. It would be incredibly foolish for us to think that once this crisis rises and lifts from the nations of this world that things will somehow automatically and immediately go back to the way it used to be. In fact, I would dare say that in the house of the LORD specifically it would be quite intriguing to see how the brethren respond to each other in the midst of the aftermath of this pandemic. Going to church is going to be drastically and completely different, and I am convinced that we as the body of Christ must be prepared and ready to deal with and confront the changes that can and will take place as a direct result of this crisis. Oh how I can’t help but wonder what church is going to be like after this crisis has passed—after social distancing restrictions begin to ease up, after church doors begin to be opened once more, and once men and women are free to enter into the house of the LORD.
As I sit here today and think about the words which are written and recorded within the book of First Kings concerning the days of Jeroboam son of Nebat, I can’t help but come face to face with a religion of convenience and compromise that was introduced during the days of his reign. It would be during the days of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat when this religion of compromise and convenience would be introduced, as no longer would men and women need to make the journey unto the house of the LORD in Jerusalem to worship the LORD. No longer would men and women need to journey to the city of Jerusalem and unto the Temple of the LORD in order to come to the altar, for they could bring their offers unto the altars which were located in Dan and Beth-el. What’s more, is that you will find that Jeroboam worked incredibly hard to pass this new religion of compromise and convenience as legitimate, for not only did he use the same language as Aaron did in the wilderness concerning these being the gods which delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, but he also ordained priests and ministers who were appointed for this religion, and he ordained a feast unto the children of Israel—one that would be patterned after the feast that would take place in Jerusalem. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that Jeroboam set up two golden calves at two opposite ends of the northern kingdom of Israel, he set up a house of high places in the midst of the land, and he even set up an altar whereby and where on the children of Israel could offer sacrifices, and even burn incense. On the surface this might have looked like a legitimate worship of the true and living God, for there was an altar, there were priests, and there was even a designated house of high places. What’s more, is that there were actually physical and tangible images which the children of Israel could come to in order that they might worship at home rather than going unto the house of the LORD. While I do in fact believe that this crisis is a strong and powerful invitation for men and women to enter into the secret closet of prayer, I do believe the enemy and adversary will use it to promise a religion of convenience and compromise as men and women will abandon the house of the LORD altogether, will worship at a false altar that has absolutely nothing to do with the true altar of the LORD, will worship God in the image they have made, and will completely and utterly neglect all manner and all form of fellowship with the body of Christ. Essentially and effectively what Jeroboam son of Nebat was doing was cutting the northern kingdom of Israel off from the southern kingdom of Judah, from the city of Jerusalem, and from the Temple and sanctuary of the living God. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this absolutely astonishing reality, for to do so would be to miss out on what can, will and is in fact taking place within our nation—yea, even the world today in this generation.
As if the two golden calves, the house of high places, the feast that was implemented and the offerings and incense burnt on the altar weren’t enough, we also find it written and recorded within these chapters that Jeroboam set up a new priesthood in the midst of the land. When the twelfth chapter draws to a close you will find that the two golden calves which Jeroboam son of Nebat set up in the northern kingdom of Israel became a sin, for the people actually went to worship before them. What’s more, is that when Jeroboam son of Nebat began noticing that these two golden calves were having the desire effect on the hearts and lives of those in the northern kingdom, he made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the son of Levi. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous and astonishing reality, for it would be repeated again in the thirteenth chapter. Even after a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Beth-el and cried against the altar of the LORD, we find that Jeroboam did not allow himself to be rebuked and corrected by the word of the LORD—even the very altar which he had set up in Beth-el splitting in two and the ashes falling to the ground. Moreover, Jeroboam would make the lowest of the people priests of the high places. In addition to this he would consecrate whosoever would serve as priests in this false religion—so much so that this thing would become sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from the face of the earth. It’s important for us to recognize it, for not only did Jeroboam institute and implement this false religion of convenience, comfort and complacency, but Jeroboam would also set up and establish a false priesthood in the midst of the land. During the days of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat he would set up a false religion of convenience and complacency which would worship a false god before a false altar, and he would establish and set up false priests who weren’t Levites—those who were consecrated and set apart by the living and eternal God. I can’t help but see a strong and powerful picture of priests who will emerge and rise up during these days—priests and ministers who are not after the order of the Levites, and priests who have not been and were not consecrated by the living God. I would dare say that even now there are priests among us in this generation who are of the false order of Jeroboam and who cater to a false religion of comfort, complacency and convenience, as men and women worship a false god before a false altar that is absent the true fire of the living God. Oh that in the midst of this current crisis—and even when we emerge on the other side of this crisis—these false, these unholy, and these unconsecrated presents would be exposed for the fiends, for the frauds, and for the fakes that they are. Oh that the Spirit of the living God would expose this false religion of comfort, convenience and complacency that is so pervasive in the midst of this current crisis, and that the hearts of men and women would be exposed and revealed. Oh that man women women would encounter and come face to face with the fact that this current crisis has a tremendous spiritual application that is connected to it, and that the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is going to expose and reveal the hearts and lives of men.
What I find to be so absolutely incredible about the words which are written and found within these chapters is that not only do they describe a continual pattern and downward spiral of the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel who did evil in the sight of the LORD, but you will also find that these days would prepare the way and set the stage for a powerful Hebrew prophet to emerge on to the scene. It is absolutely and utterly fascinating to think about and consider the fact that although these years describe a dark and dangerous period of time that would completely and utterly engulf the northern kingdom of Israel, but it would set the scene and set the stage for one of the most powerful prophetic voices to break through the scene. So powerful was this voice that it would be the voice that would prepare the way for Jesus the Christ to be manifested within the earth. What’s more is that this voice would be so powerful that the ancient Hebrew prophet Malachi would prophesy and foretell that the strength, the power and the might of this voice would emerge on to the scene before the second coming of Jesus the Christ. Perhaps one of the greatest questions I can’t help but ask and which I find myself asking as I read these words is that with the absolutely dark and dangerous days we have been living in, and the dark and dangerous days we are still living in if we cannot expect the prophetic voice and ministry of the ancient Hebrew prophet Elijah to be manifested in the earth. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder and think about the strong and powerful reality that in the coming days the Spirit of the living God is not preparing to raise up the prophetic voice of Elijah—not only within this nation, but within the nations of the world. I firmly believe that during these dark and dangerous days, and especially during these days where the doors and pews of churches are closed and shut off, the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD isn’t calling men and women into the secret closet of prayer, and into a place where they get alone and stand in the presence of Almighty God. I am absolutely convinced that the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is calling men and women into a secret and quiet place of solitude and silence where they truly stand before Him in humility and surrender. What’s more, is that while I do believe that prayer is going to be one of the greatest tools and weapons during these days—as well the coming days—I also firmly believe that one of the greatest things those who are called into the secret closet of prayer can indeed and can in fact do during these days is to stand alone and silent in the presence of the living God. There are a lot of people who enter into the presence of the living God and do more talking, more speaking, more praying, offer more petitions, and offer more requests than they do actually listen to the voice of the living God. If there is one thing I can’t help but get the strong sense during these days—it’s that men and women are called to more than simply a time of prayer, but are called to be still and to stand in silence in the presence of the living God.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the absolutely tremendous reality that perhaps the single greatest thing men and women can do during these days of isolation, quarantine and solitude is to truly seek the face of God and truly hear and listen to Him speaking unto them. I am absolutely convinced that one of the greatest needs during this period of solitude and isolation is for men and women to get alone in the secret closet of prayer with the living God, and to truly listen to the voice of their Heavenly Father. Jesus heard that voice of the living Father as He came up out of the waters of the Jordan River. Jesus would again hear the voice of the Father on the mount of transfiguration when He took Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain and was transfigured before them in their presence. Moreover, Jesus would hear the voice of the Father again when the Father would declare that He had indeed glorified His name in the earth. In these days, I am absolutely convinced that there is perhaps no greater asset and tool we can emerge from this isolation, solitude and quarantine than a refined and incredibly tuned sense of the voice of the Father speaking unto us. I believe with everything that is inside me that perhaps the single greatest manifestations within our hearts and lives during these days is to emerge from the closet—not only with a word from the LORD, but also with the sense that we have heard from the LORD and that we have heard the voice of the Father speaking unto us. Moreover, we must emerge from these days with our spiritual senses having become more fine tuned and more aligned with the voice of the Father as we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have heard and that we do hear from the living and eternal God. During these days men and women have spoken of how bored they are, how there is only so much television and movies they can watch, and how there isn’t really that much they can do as they are pretty much forced to remain inside and cutoff from the outside world. With that being said, however, I am convinced that the man of God or the woman of God should never make the statement that they are bored, or that they are lonely, or that they feel isolated, separated and alone. You might wonder how and why I could and would make such a strong and powerful statement, and yet I am convinced that so long as the prayer closet remains open, and so long as we have the ability to get alone in the presence of the living God and spend time before and with Him, we should neither be bored, nor should we be alone. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is whether or not the living and eternal God is enough for us, and whether or not He is truly and indeed sufficient for us.
I sit here this morning and I find myself coming face to face with the absolutely tremendous and astonishing reality that during these days—days when most, if not all of our creature comforts have been shut down and closed—we are being forced to confront the reality of whether or not Jesus is truly sufficient for us. There is not a doubt in my mind that during these days when everything from bars to restaurants, from movie theaters to bowling alleys, from outlet stores to shopping malls, from parks to playgrounds, and the like are closed and shut off to the public, we aren’t being brought face to face with whether or not Jesus the Christ is truly sufficient and truly enough for us. I would dare say that for the longest time the equation and math in the lives of countless men and women is Jesus + __________, and you fill in the blank. What about you? Does that describe you and your life? Have you spent your days and your life living in the reality that it has been Jesus plus something else, or Jesus plush someone else? Have you spent your days living as though Jesus isn’t and hasn’t been enough for you? I am reminded of the words of that old familiar song which cries out “Take the world but give me Jesus.” I am also reminded of the words of the song “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” as the song literally invites men and women to turn their eyes upon Jesus, to look full into His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. I am reminded of the words of the song “I Have Decided,” and how the song literally cries out, “I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back. Though none go with me, still I will follow. The cross before me, the world behind me.” I fully realize that these songs and the words that are contained therein might not be what our generation is used to hearing, and what this generation typically sings when they worship the LORD, however, they bring us face to face with the single and undeniable truth—namely, whether or not Jesus the Christ is truly and is indeed enough for us. Have we truly decided to walk with and follow Jesus though none go with us, though none will follow, and though we might very well do it alone? Is Jesus truly enough and all sufficient for us during these days? I am absolutely convinced that during these days the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is exposing all those who have been living their lives with a “Jesus plus” mentality—those who have been showing and demonstrating with their lives that Jesus isn’t really enough for them, and that they do in fact need the things of this world as well. This reminds me of the words which James wrote when he spoke of friendship with the world is enmity with God, and the words which the apostle John wrote concerning those who love the world demonstrate and show that the love of the Father is not in them. One of the strongest and most powerful calls during these days is the call to abandon any and every pursuit that is out of alignment with the Word and will of the living God. There is a strong and powerful call during these days for men and women to abandon this “Jesus plus” mentality which allows them to live in the place where they walk with Jesus but still hold on to the things of this world.
The question I am finding asking within the depths of my heart, and the question I will ask you is whether or not Jesus is enough for you. During these days is whether or not Jesus is truly and is indeed enough and all sufficient for you. Is Jesus the Christ truly enough for you, and is He enough to satisfy your every need, your every desire, and your every longing? Is the voice of the Father, the voice of the Savior, and the voice of the Spirit enough to sustain you during these times? In times when men and women are relying so heavily on stimulus checks, on additional funds during periods of unemployment, and the like, we must indeed ask ourselves whether or not Jesus the Christ is truly and is indeed enough for us. I believe that during these days the Spirit of the LORD wants to completely destroy the math we have been living and completely rewrite the equation. I am convinced the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD wants to completely eradicate the math of “Jesus + _______,” turn it on its head, and completely transform it to “Jesus – is everything.” Before you shoot this statement down, please note and please understand that I am in no way suggesting that fellowship, that community, that relationships aren’t necessary within our lives. Please note that I am not in any way stating and declaring that we should abandon such realities, and should neglect fellowship, relationship and community. When I make the statement “Jesus – ______ equals everything,” what I am emphatically stating is that Jesus minus the things of this world is not only enough, but it is everything. It is my prayer that during these days, men and women need to emerge from the secret closet of prayer being able to emphatically declare and emphatically state that Jesus is all they need and that they don’t need anything else. When they once lived their lives with Jesus plus the things of this world, they have reached the point and the place where they are now living in the manifestation that Jesus is truly and Jesus is indeed enough for them. Not only this, but during these days men and women need to find that the voice of the living God—the voice of the Father—is not only enough, but is everything they need. Oh that we would emerge from these days having truly gotten alone with Jesus in the secret closet of prayer, having found all the encouragement, strength, support and hope we need, and having not only heard the voice of our Father, but also reaching the point and place where the voice of the Father is absolutely everything we need within our hearts and lives. Oh that we would emerge from these dark, chaotic and confusing days with a strong sense of the presence, power and person of the Holy Spirit, and a fervent ability to walk in the strength and power of His might within our lives in the days which are ahead. What’s more is that we must be ready and prepared for the reality that even though this pandemic and viral crisis might be over—that does not mean that dark and dangerous days are not on the other side. Men and women are looking to emerge from these days to life going back to normal, and life as they knew it being restored, and yet the question we must ask ourselves is what will we do and how will we respond when life doesn’t go back to the way we knew it, and is in fact completely and utterly different from what we knew and expected. Oh that we would prepare ourselves for the days which lie ahead, as the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is revealing unto us that life might not go back to the way we expected it, and as we knew it, and that what’s on the other side of this pandemic might be something no one expected—something that has a far greater impact on us than any viral outbreak and pandemic every could. What if this viral outbreak and pandemic is only the beginning, and is actually simply an open door to something much more drastic, and something much more sinister and severe that countless men and women aren’t ready for, nor are expecting?