Sunday, 9 January 2022

Ask for Wisdom - 2 Chronicles 1

How does it work in your family regarding Christmas presents? Do you all make lists, or do some of you like surprises? In 2 Chronicles 1 Solomon seems to be invited by God to make the mother of all Christmas lists - 'Ask for anything you want!'.

Solomon could have asked for wealth, or possessions. For honour (or perhaps popularity), or the death of his enemies (useful, if you are a king!). Or he could have asked for long life and thus long reign. All of these would be natural asks for a king. Maybe they are natural asks for us?

Yet Solomon asks for none of these. In his request he first rehearses what God has already done (showing something of who God is), and also rehearses the promises God has made. He uses these as the basis of his request ... for wisdom.

Solomon is smart enough to know that his task of being King, of leading these people in God's ways ... requires supernatural wisdom & knowledge. In other words he realises that it is only God who is up to the task of ruling the people - Solomon needs God's help! This is bang on - for Israel is to be a theocracy, not a monarchy. That is a people who seek God's direction and rule. It is the same for us as Countess Free Church. We seek Jesus for direction and rule, which is why we gather for church member's meetings etc.

But we can dig deeper into what Solomon is asking for. When he asks for 'wisdom & knowledge', is he asking to just be that bit more clever? Or asking for good advice - perhaps hoping for the best scientific advisors to pour over the data and suggest the best way forward?

Turn to Job chapter 28 - the 'interlude' in the story of tragedy and pain. This poetic section asks 'Where can wisdom be found?. It describes how man can search high and low, and can excavate deep mine-shafts to find precious metals, diamonds etc, but in none of these exploits can man find wisdom ... only God knows the way to it! The poem says that out of all God's creation, with power of wind, waves, thunderstorms ... God then looks at wisdom alongside these and says 'the fear of the Lord (i.e. knowing God), that is wisdom!'.

Wisdom is something beyond us, beyond creation ... found only in God.

Turn to Proverbs ('Wisdom Literature') chapters 4 to 9. In ch 4 it says 'Get wisdom, get understanding' and then 'Cherish her, and she will exalt you ...'. Profoundly we see wisdom personified and written up as female! Chapter 8 says 'Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?'. It goes on 'Counsel and sound judgement are mine ... by me kings reign, rulers issue decrees that are just'. And then 'The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works' (or 'I was with God in the beginning'), '... I was there when He set the heavens in place'.

Who or what is Proverbs 8 describing? Maybe, just perhaps ... that Wisdom ... she is the Holy Spirit?

Perhaps Solomon was asking for the Spirit of God ... and God was pleased to answer this request. But what about us? Does God say 'Ask anything' to us? Jesus is recorded in Luke 11 saying about the good father giving good (not nasty) gifts, and concludes 'how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?'. Hence our key question and challenge:

Key Qn: [UP] Do you live by your own wisdom, or the wisdom of the Spirit?
Challenge: Regularly ask for His Holy Spirit wisdom

Do you get clever people around you, or look for clever answers as you start 2022? Or do you ask the Spirit to guide and help? Whether it is workplace, exams or whatever, do you just rely on human knowledge and ability, or do you seek God for His ability? The challenge is obviously to ask, but not just as a one off. Regularly ask!

As we work through 2 Chronicles we will ask whether kings like Solomon maintained their call on God, and remained faithful. Note that Proverbs 4 - 9 portrays unfaithfulness with the very graphic image of adultery. To remain faithful is definitely not simply 'living by these rules'. It is not even 'keeping up the good discipleship habits/practices' - though these do us good and therefore are certainly good to keep going this year.

Put simply - faithfulness is ultimately to live by the Spirit, to hold a proper Biblical 'fear of the Lord', starting at each turn with God and going with God from there. Let us ask God for His Spirit.

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