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Real People Real Savior: Part 9: Zerubbabel

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Facing a desperate and hopeless situation? God has power to bring life!

Thomas D. Kock

Perhaps it was the most amazing day of Ezekiel’s life. God set him into the midst of a valley that was full of dry bones. Then God asked what sounded like a crazy question: “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). The answer would seem to be patently obvious: “Of course not!”

CAN YOUR DRY BONES LIVE?

Sometimes you and I are faced with “Ezekiel moments.” I mean, there are times when life can feel oh-so-hopeless. Perhaps it’s a health issue, or a job loss, or the death of a loved one, or some combination of the above—and more. It can feel like we’re in the middle of the valley of dry bones. I can almost hear: “Son of man, can these bones live?” To put it differently, “Son of man, can I bring blessing to you in spite of the current circumstances or even because of the current circumstances?”

I fear that often our answer is, “Of course not!”

Ezekiel’s answer was amazing: “Sovereign LORD, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3). The answer is profound! And, it’s true.

DRY BONES LIVE!

In Ezekiel’s case, God caused that valley of dry bones to come to life. Bones reconnected to form skeletons, flesh and skin covered them, eventually breath entered into them, and they stood on their feet! Could those dry bones live? Oh yes, they could!

And so God can cause your “dry bones” to live too. In other words, yes, God can bring blessing to you no matter what your circumstances.

But there is more. God had a specific reason for giving Ezekiel this vision. The prophet served the exiles who lived in Babylon, far from their homeland in Judah. They thought their hope was gone and their bones were dried up. But God promised, “My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. . . . I will settle you in your own land” (Ezekiel 37:12,14).

And the man who would be the primary leader of those returning exiles? Zerubbabel! He would play an important role in leading a group of exiles back to the land of Judah and rebuilding the temple. In short, Zerubbabel was God’s instrument in a “resurrection,” as God brought his people out of their “graves” in exile in Babylon and back to the Promised Land. (Read more about Zerubbabel in the Old Testament books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah.)

What a critical promise! Why? Because the Savior was to be born in Bethlehem, in the land of Israel! He can’t very well be born there if there were no Jewish people living there. Jesus was born of the line of David. If the Jews didn’t have a recognizable nation, it would have been very hard to ascertain Jesus’ descent.

I doubt that Zerubbabel will take center stage in many churches this Easter Sunday. But Zerubbabel set the stage for the greatest event of all time, when Jesus rose from the dead. God brings life! He brought life to his exiled people; Jesus came to life; we have life too. It’s just as he promised.

The real people Matthew mentions in his opening chapter were all part of God’s plan. All God’s promises are amazingly and graciously fulfilled. And he did it for real people like you and me.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This is the final article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 103, Number 4
Issue: April 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real people. Real Savior: Perez : Part 8

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Perez

God is willing to be part of a family that includes the worst of sinners—including you and me.

Thomas D. Kock

Judah, fourth son of Jacob, went off to live with a friend named Hirah, an Adullamite. There Judah married a Canaanite woman, and had three sons. When his oldest son Er came of age, Judah got a wife for him. Her name was Tamar.

A SHOCKING STORY

But God put Er to death because he “was wicked in the LORD’s sight” (Genesis 38:7).

So Judah asked Onan, his second son, to marry Tamar in order to provide a son that would be considered the son of Er, his dead brother. It was a proper request even if it seems strange to us. But Onan didn’t want to provide a child who would be considered his brother’s, so when he and Tamar had relations, “he spilled his semen on the ground” (38:9). What he did was also “wicked in the LORD’s sight” (38:10), and God put him to death too.

With two of his three sons dead, Judah told Tamar to live in her father’s house as a widow until Shelah was old enough to be married.

After a long time Judah’s wife died. After a time of grief, Judah went to where his men were shearing his sheep. Tamar was told that her father-in-law was going to visit the sheepshearers; she dressed up as if she was a shrine prostitute.

Judah saw her and wanted to pay her to have sexual relations with him. He promised that he’ll give her a young goat as payment; she wanted something to keep as a pledge. So he gave her his seal, cord, and staff, all of which would have identified him.

Later when it becomes obvious that she was pregnant, Judah wanted to burn her to death as a prostitute! He still did not know that he was the father of the child. She produced the evidence (seal, cord, staff), and Judah recognized his own sinfulness.

From that sinful alliance, Tamar bore twins, Perez and Zerah. Amazingly, Perez was one of the ancestors of our Savior.

GOD’S AMAZING LOVE

If you haven’t heard that account before, perhaps you are surprised by its graphic sinfulness. But if we’re honest as we look at our own hearts, it’s not much of a surprise. Lent—spring and sheepshearing time—gives us that opportunity to examine our hearts. But Lent is so much more. It’s about the Savior who came for us. He was willing to be part of a family that included Judah, Tamar, and Perez!

He is willing to be part of a family that includes you and me too. That’s amazing! The holy God was willing to suffer and die so that you and I could be part of his family. That’s even more amazing! The holy God made sure that you and I heard about what he did for us, and he led us to trust it. That too is amazing! And thankfully, it’s also true.

So, goodbye to regret and sorrow. Hello to Jesus and his gracious victory for us.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This is the eighth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real People Real Savior: David: Part 7

Real People Real Savior: David

Because of Jesus, we, along with King David, get to wear the crown of life.

Thomas D. Kock

Not too long ago we crowned the college football champions. A Super Bowl champion is about to be crowned. Soon after that we’ll crown an NCAA basketball champ. It’s crowning time!

DAVID WORE A CROWN

David is the first person in Jesus’ line who wore a crown. That may be why Matthew lists him as “King David” in chapter 1. He’s the only person in the list who’s called “king,” even though more than ten other kings are listed.

So, what would be the “jewels” in David’s crown? Perhaps one jewel is that he’s the shepherd boy who became king, the classic underdog who became great. A more likely jewel is that he’s the giant-slayer who, trusting in God, took on and defeated Goliath. Or perhaps we’d point to when he honored the kingship—and more important, honored God—by refusing to kill King Saul when given a chance. Awesome work, David! Those are shining jewels in that crown!

Oh, but there was the affair with Bathsheba and the attempted cover-up. Then David arranged the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. Not exactly what we think of as jewels in the crown. But those are key events in the life of David, the king. Even these chunks of asphalt or pieces of gravel are “jewels” in his crown.

WE HAVE ALSO BEEN CROWNED

In amazing grace, God counts you and me to be kings and queens. Yes, in the eyes of God you and I are royalty, and we will be forever, as God will give to us the crown of life (cf. Revelation 2:10). That’s amazing! God has put a “crown” on our heads, and you and I will wear a crown forever.

So let’s consider the jewels in our crowns. Surely there are times when we serve God well. There are times when we practice hospitality, when we show unselfish love, and when we willingly and freely help our neighbor. Yes, those are wonderful jewels in our crowns!

But then there are those other times when we’re selfish, refuse to love, and serve ourselves rather than serving God or others. Perhaps, like David, we’ve committed what the world would call “big” sins—murder or adultery. Unfortunately, those ugly big or little chunks of asphalt are in our crowns too. It sounds like we’re a lot like David. It sounds like we’re kings and queens whose crowns are incredibly flawed.

And so we rejoice that David, the king, is one link in the chain leading us to Jesus, the King. Jesus, the King of all, has a perfect crown glittering with flawless jewels as ruler of the universe. He exchanged that crown for David’s flawed crown—and for ours—when he wore a crown of thorns. He was willing to lay aside his crown to take our punishment.

And now? Now you and I get to be kings and queens! Because the King laid aside his crown, he places eternal crowns on the heads of sinners like you and me.

And that’s why David was really a king.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the seventh article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 103, Number 2
Issue: February 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real People Real Savior: Rahab: Part 6

Real People Real Savior: Rahab

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Thomas D. Kock

In Jesus, we have a fresh start every day.

A fresh start. Wouldn’t that be great?! Perhaps the turn of the year is a time when having a fresh start might be particularly on our mind. Whether 2015 was a great year or a rough year for you, as the new year turns, it is, in a sense, a fresh start.

RAHAB’S FRESH START

Perhaps Rahab would have appreciated the concept of a “fresh start” as well as any of us. Rahab lived in Jericho at the time when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Joshua sent spies to Jericho on a reconnaissance mission; they stayed at Rahab’s house.

From a strategic point of view, it made sense for them to stay there. You see, Rahab was a prostitute. So seeing strange men coming and going wouldn’t have raised much suspicion.

But life was about to change for Rahab. She said to those spies: “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. . . . When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:9-11). That is remarkable! The Red Sea event had taken place 40 years earlier! Yet, it was remembered.

Next comes the plea for the opportunity to have a fresh start: “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death” (Joshua 2:12,13).

The spies gave their word; she was to hang a scarlet cord in the window of her dwelling. She did, and all in her dwelling were spared (see Joshua chapter 6).

And then? Then Rahab married into the Israelite family—and not just any Israelite family. She married into the family that carried the line of the Savior. Talk about fresh start! The former prostitute became an ancestor of the Savior!

OUR FRESH START

Why in the world would God want someone like that in the line of the Savior? Just as valid a question would be, “Why in the world would God want someone like you or me in his family?” Yes, Rahab’s sins were damning; your sins and mine are just as damning. And yet Jesus, in wonderful grace, has forgiven Rahab as well as you and me. He has adopted us into his family. As Rahab was given a fresh start, so are we.

Day-by-day we get a fresh start as we remember our baptisms and as we hear God’s words of peace. Our sins are forgiven, washed away. At the altar we get a fresh start as Jesus gives us himself, his true body and blood. Each day, each year, a new start—a renewed me—because of God’s grace.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the sixth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 103, Number 1
Issue: January 2016

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real People Real Savior: Hezekiah: Part 5

Hezekiah

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Though the terminal illness of sin affects us all, God uses daily events to draw us closer to him until we see him in heaven.

Thomas D. Kock

All I want for Christmas is . . . a terminal illness.

Wait. He wants what?!?

Yeah, I’m guessing that a terminal illness isn’t likely to hit the wish list for any of us this Christmas season. But that’s the situation in which Hezekiah found himself.

HEZEKIAH’S TERMINAL ILLNESS

Hezekiah was a young man, probably 39 years old (compare 2 Kings 18:2 and 2 Kings 20:6). He became ill, and it was clear that his life was in danger. Isaiah was sent to him with the message, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” (Isaiah 38:1). We’re told that Hezekiah wept greatly. We’re told that he prayed, reminding God that he’d done his best to serve God faithfully.

Interestingly, we’re not told that Hezekiah asked for a longer life. Perhaps he desired that. Perhaps he even did ask for it, but we’re not told that he asked for it. Regardless, God chose to add 15 years to his life, and Isaiah was sent back to deliver the message.

After his recovery, Hezekiah wrote, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17; read all his thoughts in Isaiah 38:9-20). As Hezekiah looked at that illness, he could see God’s hand of grace. God intended the illness for Hezekiah’s benefit. He doesn’t detail how the illness was for his benefit. We don’t know, but we do know that Hezekiah’s focus became “you have put all my sins behind your back.”

OUR TERMINAL ILLNESS OF SIN

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Ultimately we need a God who is willing and able to put all our sins behind his back. To put it more bluntly, we need a God who is willing and able to forgive us. And as we gaze at the babe of Bethlehem, a descendant of Hezekiah, we see the God who was able—and willing—to come to this earth to win forgiveness of sins for us. That’s what we really need!

Because whether we want it or not, we all have a terminal illness—the terminal illness of sin. Death will happen.

Yes, it’s true that Hezekiah was blessed with 15 more years of life on this earth, but that only delayed the inevitable. Fifteen years later, he died. But every indication we have is that Hezekiah was a believer and went to heaven. So, he didn’t really die! While his body ceased to live, his soul lived on as he entered the glories of heaven!

And someday so will you. You too will enter the glories of heaven because of the Babe of Bethlehem, who lived, died, and rose for you. And as God postponed Hezekiah’s terminal illness to draw him closer, so God will use the events of everyday life to humble you and me, to refocus us, to focus us on the Word, and ultimately to draw us closer to him.

Even if it takes a terminal illness to draw me close to him forever, then I’ll add it to my Christmas wish list. Or a gracious God will add it for me.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the fifth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 12
Issue: December 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real People: Real Savior: Josiah: Part 4

Josiah

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Our physical blessings pale in comparison to the eternal blessings that Jesus won for us.

Thomas D. Kock

“King Josiah is dead!” That would have been the sad announcement to the nation of Judah about the year 609 B.C. I wonder how the people responded.

Fast forward 2,600-plus years. We have so much for which to be thankful, don’t we? We enjoy a standard of living that is amazing. Although the culture of America is decaying, we still freely worship God and can study and share his Word. Most important, we have full and free salvation! How will we respond? I trust that we will respond with humble thanks to God.

But I’m guessing that some who are reading this are thinking, “I don’t feel like giving thanks. I don’t see much for which to give thanks.” Perhaps many of the Israelites felt like that when Josiah died.

JOSIAH’S STORY

Josiah was one of the more remarkable kings. He ascended the throne at age eight—yes, that’s right—after his father, Amon, had been assassinated. Amon had been a wicked, short-lived king. Josiah’s grandfather had for the most part been wicked too. Perhaps we would have expected that Josiah would continue in their ways.

But he didn’t. In fact, the Bible makes this dramatic statement: “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did” (2 Kings 23:25). Wow! High praise!

Josiah put his faith into action. He made major efforts to get rid of the pagan altars. He even went into Samaria and destroyed the altar that Jeroboam had built at Bethel. He traveled throughout Samaria destroying high places (cf. 2 Kings 23:15-20).

When Josiah was 26, he launched a project to repair the temple in Jerusalem. As they worked on the reparations, the workers found a book—the book of the Law! (Most likely it was the book of Deuteronomy.) Can you imagine how evil the land had become that they could lose the Bible, or at least part of it!

When Josiah heard the words of the book, he mourned. How they’d sinned against God! He urged the people to repent. They celebrated the Passover with dramatic zeal (cf. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19). It seemed as if the Israelites finally had a king who would lead them faithfully back to spiritual truth.

And then he died; he was only 39.

Pharoah Neco was marching through Israel to fight the Babylonians; Josiah went out to try to prevent Neco’s advance. Neco said, “I have no quarrel with you.”

Josiah fought anyway. He was mortally wounded. How the people of Judah mourned (2 Chronicles 35:25). Did any of them give thanks?

I’m fairly positive that Josiah gave thanks. He went to heaven! There before the God of grace, I’m guessing he gave thanks more fervently than ever before.

OUR ETERNAL STORY

At Thanksgiving we rightly give thanks to God for his rich physical blessings. That’s appropriate.

But those physical blessings pale in comparison to the eternal blessings that Jesus won for us. You have the forgiveness of sins! You have the sure promise of heaven! You have God’s promise that all things will work for your good! None of those things would have been yours if Jesus hadn’t come.

So as you read the genealogy of Jesus, read it with thanks. Through those real people, God brought our very real Savior to this earth, your Savior, the one who conquered death for Josiah, for you, for us all. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!” (Psalm 118:1).

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the fourth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

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Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real People: Real Savior: Ruth

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Thomas D. Kock

Even though you may think you have been dealt a bad hand, God knows exactly what he is doing.

What a bad hand Ruth had been dealt! She’d taken a chance; even though she was from Moab, she had married into an Israelite family, a family which was already struggling. Her husband’s family had left Bethlehem because of a famine, hoping to find better fortunes in Moab. But then his father had died! That meant that Ruth’s husband had a double duty—to care both for his mother, Naomi, and for her. But that was okay. Love conquers all, right? Her husband had one brother, and he also married a Moabite woman, Orpah.

But then . . . ugh. Both her husband and her brother-in-law died! So there she was, a widow. And both her sister-in-law and mother-in law were widows too! What a bad hand she’d been dealt!

GOD’S PLAN FOR RUTH

Except for one thing. Through all of this Ruth became a believer in the true God. So when her mother-in-law Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem, Ruth wanted to go with her. Naomi tried to dissuade her, but Ruth said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). So the two women traveled to Bethlehem.

Now put yourself into Ruth’s shoes. She’s a widow and left her homeland to go to a place where she knows one person: Naomi. It’s a different culture, and since she is Moabite, it will likely be difficult for her to break into that culture (cf. Deuteronomy 23:3,4, where God says, “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you”). Her life was filled with difficulty, even tragedy.

And how did she respond? She worked hard and faithfully! She was willing to listen to advice from her mother-in-law. She was willing to move forward, not to continually look back!

Long story short, she ended up marrying Boaz, who was a relative to Naomi. In doing so, she became not only part of Israel but also one branch in the family tree of the Savior! Ruth became a believer in the true God and part of the line of the Savior through famine; the deaths of her father-in-law, brother-in-law and husband; and a journey that uprooted her from her homeland and family to move to another culture. Wow!

GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU

Yes, sometimes we feel like life has dealt us a bad hand. That doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us or that God doesn’t know what he’s doing. God knew exactly what he was doing every step of Ruth’s life. He was making sure that Ruth became a believer in him and that the line of the Savior was extended.

Lest we forget, that’s your Savior and mine whose family history extended through Ruth! Yes, God was working every step of the way—through what looked like a really bad hand—to make sure that the gates of heaven would be opened to you and me! He was working for your benefit, way back then! And he’s working for your benefit today too.

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the third article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Do you have a manuscript, idea, or story from your own life you’d like to share for use in Forward in Christ or on wels.net? Use our online form to share it to our editorial office for consideration.

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Get inspirational stories, spiritual help, and synod news from  Forward in Christ every month. Print and digital subscriptions are available from Northwestern Publishing House.

 

Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 10
Issue: October 2015

Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2019
Forward in Christ grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be printed for use in a WELS church, school, or organization, provided that it is distributed free and indicate Forward in Christ as the source. Images may not be reproduced except in the context of its article. Contact us

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Real People, Real Savior: Solomon

Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.


Solomon

Like Solomon we find ourselves chasing after great projects, pleasure, or wealth instead of pursuing God’s kingdom first.

Thomas D. Kock

There are a lot of smart people in the world, aren’t there? I think of the people who built the first rocket to the moon. Wow! What a collection of brains that must have been! Or how smart does one need to be in order to invent a computer or a cell phone?

There have always been really smart people. The Great Pyramids in Egypt are just one of many testimonies to that fact.

SOLOMON’S UNWISE DECISIONS

One of those really smart people was Solomon. He was a builder; he constructed God’s temple, a magnificent palace, and other buildings. He wrote songs and proverbs. He described plant life—so we could say he was a scientist—and he was a teacher. In Ecclesiastes he’s called “the Teacher.” In fact he was so smart that God makes this amazing statement: “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart” (1 Kings 10:23,24). Wow! What a statement!

But we also read this tragic statement: “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women. . . . He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines. . . . As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. . . . So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (1 Kings 11:1-6). He was so smart, and yet at the same time he was, well, so dumb. He rebelled against the One who had given him his great wisdom and even turned his back—at least partially—on that wonderful God. Dumb!

And what a price he paid! In Ecclesiastes Solomon describes life apart from God. He says he pursued great wisdom, attempted great projects, poured himself into pleasure, amassed great wealth! The result? “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

GOD’S PERFECT PLAN

Is Solomon different from you or me? The all-wise, all-knowing God says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Wouldn’t it be smart to listen to the all-wise, all-knowing God? Sure! And yet like Solomon we find ourselves chasing first and foremost after great projects, pleasure, or wealth. The pursuit of God’s kingdom gets pushed to the background. We find ourselves stressed and struggling. And yet like hamsters on a wheel, we continue to chase after those earthly things. Sounds like we’re a lot like Solomon!

But Jesus doesn’t abandon us. Instead, he chose to enter our oh-so-foolish world, so that he, in whom all wisdom resides (cf. Colossians 2:3), could look oh-so-foolish as he died a criminal’s death, all in order to win life eternal for us humans. Yes, he chose to enter our world as a descendant of Solomon. He put our needs before his, pursuing God’s kingdom first so that we who so often fail to put the kingdom of God first will someday inherit the kingdom.

That doesn’t seem wise to us, but it was wise to God.

And God is much wiser than anyone, even Solomon!

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the second article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.

 

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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 9
Issue: September 2015

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