Read – 1 Kings 4
Focus on verse 2
Despite the negative media coverage, compared to many other places in the world, we are blessed to live in America. Certainly, we have some problems, no nation in the world is unaffected by corruption and greed, but for the most part, the majority of the people who live in America would be considered wealthy by world standards.
In today’s reading we find a description of Israel at the pinnacle of national glory.
Solomon’s reign over Israel was the golden age of Israel’s history. Everyone “lived in safety throughout the land, each man under his own vine and under his own fig tree”. What a wonderful time to live in Israel. Under David’s rule the kingdom prospered, but there always seemed to be some struggle for power going on, some battle or border skirmish that had to be dealt with.
And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon. (v. 25)
Under Solomon there is peace and prosperity, after Solomon is gone…things begin to decline rather quickly. Solomon’s son Rehoboam listens to the wrong advice and the result is a revolt and a divided kingdom.
Apparently empires have a shelf life, and the pattern is often similar. A strong and wise leader rises to power, the people prosper under his leadership and the empire grows strong and large. Eventually this leader dies and a new leader rises in his place. If this new leader is equally wise and benevolent, the empire continues to grow, if he is a selfish fool as is too often the case, it does not take long for the empire to crumble. Interestingly, history would indicate that the average life span of major world empires seem to fall in the neighborhood of two hundred years. If this is true, then we are in the twilight years of the American empire. Current events unfortunately would appear to verify this trend.
The one thing that might yet delay it another generation or so would be a wholesale revival and a national repentance from top to bottom. A genuine change of heart, beginning within what we call the church, verified by a putting away of our idols and a return to genuine worship and obedience to God. Validated further by people genuinely beginning to love and care for one another regardless of race, religion, or political ideology.
The final demise of ancient Israel as a nation came shortly after God visibly left the Temple. In that moment however, God did not abandon the people who continued to trust Him. It was a brutal time for those who lived in the nation at that time. Many people were brutally murdered by the invading Assyrian army. I do not pretend to know what God has in mid for the future of America.
I do believe that God’s Spirit is currently as present as He has ever been in America, and His blessing and protection continues to cover those who truly know and love Him. What sometimes makes us think that God has abandoned us, is that when we are blinded by our prosperity and subsequent selfishness, we often refuse to submit to Him, and we misunderstand what His blessing looks like. We assume it comes primarily in material form because that is how we desire to experience it, but we forget that the greatest fulfillment comes not the prosperity of His blessing, but in presence of His being!
I wonder if perhaps the church in America has reached a point where our material blessing has become an obstacle to our relationship to God, requiring that He must remove our prosperity in order for us to experience Him unhindered. Perhaps the greatest blessing for the church in America would be to have all the things of the world that entangle us, stripped away in order to learn to fully rely on God alone for our every need.