Partial script for the May 27th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the May 27th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is in 2 Chronicles 1-3 and John 10. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

2 Chronicles 1

King David is now dead. Israel’s third king is now ruling on the throne. It has gotten off to a great start.

2 Chronicles 1:1 (CSB): “Solomon son of David strengthened his hold on his kingdom. The LORD his God was with him and highly exalted him.”

In America, there is a generally held understanding of the separation of church and state. It is rooted in the concern, maybe even fear, that some religious group may choose to force their religious convictions upon the nation. That doesn’t seem so much of a problem if it’s your religious views that are being implemented, but it would be utterly abhorrent if another religion’s views were being forced upon us. So, we can understand that there is some benefit to keeping government from recognizing and affirming one particular religion in a land where we experience so much religious freedom.

Yet, in Israel, there was no such separation between religion and government. They were not like any other nation on planet earth before or after them. They started as a genuine theocracy with God as their leader and king. Then, even when they selected kings for themselves, those kings served at the pleasure of the Lord. So, God was still their ruler, and the king was not only a governmental leader but a religious leader of sorts. That’s why we aren’t surprised in verses 2-6 when Solomon leads the people of Israel in worship as they sacrifice offerings to the Lord.

As Solomon went back home, he would experience the Lord that evening and would receive a promise that he would never forget until his dying day.

2 Chronicles 1:7 (CSB): “That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask. What should I give you?’”

I have periodically thought about what I would ask for if the Lord had asked this question to me. I know what Solomon asked for but I’m concerned that I probably wouldn’t have asked for that.

Why is it so important to seriously consider this? Because our answer tells us what is most important to us. If I ask for wealth, then money is the most important thing to me. If I ask for those who have mistreated me to be punished, then judgment or vengeance might be very important to me. On and on we could go.

I would encourage you to consider hitting pause right now and seriously thinking about what you would ask for if the Lord offered to grant your request. What is most important to you right now? Is your answer comforting or does it reveal a need to focus on a troubled area of your thinking?

Let’s listen to Solomon’s answer:

2 Chronicles 1:8-10 (CSB): “8 And Solomon said to God, ‘You have shown great and faithful love to my father David, and you have made me king in his place. 9 LORD God, let your promise to my father David now come true. For you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Now grant me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people, for who can judge this great people of yours?’”

As we hear Solomon’s request, we realize that the most important things to him were the well-being of the people he led and his own ability to lead them well. This was incredibly noble. It is no wonder that the Lord was pleased so that He promised to give Solomon wisdom and the other things that he could have asked for but didn’t.

In verse 13, Solomon went to Jerusalem from Gibeon. I imagine that he had a pep in his step and hope in his heart. He had experienced the Lord and would not be the same.

Friend, I want you to realize that Christianity is more, so much more than merely following a bunch of rules. At its essence, it is growing in our experience and enjoyment of God and then obeying and serving Him out of the overflow of that relationship. Don’t settle for so much less than God is offering to You. He is offering Himself. Enjoy Him!

In the final verses of this chapter, we read of Solomon’s wealth. While Solomon built his kingdom on the backs of his citizens who would request his son to lighten the load, there is no doubt that this kingdom was glorious. Leaders from other nations came to Israel just to be captivated by all that Solomon had done. God was graciously blessing His people and their leader.

2 Chronicles 2

2 Chronicles 2:1-2 (CSB): “1 Solomon decided to build a temple for the name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself, 2 so he assigned 70,000 men as porters, 80,000 men as stonecutters in the mountains, and 3,600 as supervisors over them.”

Go big or go home, right? His father had prepared for this moment, and Solomon was ready to get started. It was time to build the Temple!

King Solomon sent word to King Hiram of Tyre and prepared to get the project started. King Hiram had previously helped King David build his palace, and now Solomon would ask him to help build the Temple.

But King Solomon wanted King Hiram to know that this was no ordinary project. This was ambitious, and it would be awe-inspiring.

2 Chronicles 2:5-7a (CSB): “5 The temple that I am building will be great, for our God is greater than any of the gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain him? Who am I then that I should build a temple for him except as a place to burn incense before him? 7 Therefore, send me an artisan who is skilled…”

This Temple would be like no other on earth. It would be the place where the God of all Creation, who was so immense that the highest heaven couldn’t contain Him, would dwell among his people. So it required the most skilled of workers and the most artistic and ambitious of minds to make it so incredibly impressive.

Solomon’s message also made it clear that Israel would give him an enormous amount of grain, wine, and oil, in exchange for the work.

King Hiram’s response to Solomon made it clear that this was not merely a building project. This was a project and agreement between two men who respected each other.

He started his letter by expressing his admiration and affirmation of Solomon…

2 Chronicles 2:11 (CSB): “Then King Hiram of Tyre wrote a letter and sent it to Solomon: Because the LORD loves his people, he set you over them as king.”

Then, Hiram’s correspondence celebrated the fact that Solomon was a very wise son of David who desired to build a Temple and another palace. He agreed to Solomon’s deal of an exchange of grain, wine, and oil, for the work to be done.

So, Solomon checked that off his to-do list. Hiram was going to do the work and the deal had been struck. Now on to the next item.

In verses 17-18, we read that Solomon took a census of the resident aliens in Israel. He gave them specific assignments in regard to building the palace and Temple. We are not told that a deal was struck with them. He simply made 70,000 of them porters, 80,000 stonecutters, and 3,600 of them supervisors to make the people work.

2 Chronicles 3

Solomon’s to-do list for getting the project started is complete. Materials have been collected. People have been assigned their duties. Skilled workers have shown up for their first day of work.

2 Chronicles 3:1 (CSB): “Then Solomon began to build the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the site David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”

Verse 1 is so utterly profound. It is a verse that connects some powerful dots. The Temple was being built on the site where Abraham was prepared to offer his son, Isaac, to the Lord on Mount Moriah. It is also the place where King David offered up a sacrifice to the Lord to stop the plague against the Israelites.

So, the Temple was built on a site where God had previously demonstrated that a sacrifice to the Lord can appease His wrath against sin. It is in this place that sacrifices would be offered for about 1,000 years until Jesus arrived. The Temple that Jesus visited during His time on earth was the second Temple. It was also built on this site, but it was constructed under Zerubbabel’s supervision and then was later upgraded by Herod the Great. Yet, it was still on this location. So, in the place where sacrifices were offered to appease God’s wrath and satisfy His justice against guilty sinners, Jesus would be the final Lamb of God that was condemned and offered up for the forgiveness of anyone who will look to Him in faith.

Now, in many of our minds, we think that in order for something to be breathtaking, it needs to be big. It needs to be massive. If you’ve ever been to Washington D.C. and looked at all of the government buildings near the National Mall, you realize that none of them are small. They are massive. They were built to impress dignitaries that come from all around the world.

Yet, the Temple’s glory wasn’t necessarily in its size. It wasn’t that big.

2 Chronicles 2:3 (CSB): These are Solomon’s foundations for building God’s temple: the length was ninety feet, and the width thirty feet.”

So, the Temple was ninety feet long and thirty feet wide. But if its size wasn’t overly impressive to those of us who live in the 21st century and have seen massive buildings, the beauty and glory of Solomon’s Temple was beyond words.

In the following verses, we understand that the front two-thirds of the Temple was called the Holy Place. The back one-third, forming a perfect square, was the Holy of Holies. It’s where the Ark of the Covenant was. Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was a thick veil that might as well have been an iron curtain because it was there to keep anyone out of the presence of the Lord.

One other item I want to highlight is the two large pillars in the front of the Temple. These were not merely for decoration. They also illustrated the steadfastness of Israel’s God. When one of Israel’s kings wanted to make a holy covenant to the Lord and demonstrate his resolve to obey the Lord, he would stand beside these pillars to demonstrate his own resolve.

John 10

John 10 is one of those chapters that we could camp out in for a month of Sundays and still not do it justice. Jesus speaks truth and reveals much about Himself. So, I will summarize much of it and highlight a few key points.

In verses 1-6, Jesus tells us that someone who is not a spiritual leader from the Lord will come into the position of leadership in a way that is not right. The good spiritual leader will come into his position of authority legitimately, “entering by the gate.” He won’t force his way in. He won’t connive to get into the position of power. He won’t be like Absalom as he undermined the true leader and exalted himself. Instead, the good spiritual leader obtains his position of leadership with utmost integrity.

We are also told in these verses that the genuine shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” This means that he genuinely cares about those he leads. He doesn’t lead for his own self-centered purposes at the expense of his people. Instead, he leads for the benefit of his people, sometimes at his own expense.

Then, we are told that the sheep follow him. This means that the people who are under the spiritual authority will follow their leader. They trust him and know that he is leading for their benefit.

Then, in verses 7-10, we expect Jesus to tell us that He is the good shepherd. He will do that momentarily but only after He gives another illustration for Himself. He calls Himself “the gate for the sheep.”

As we read verses 7-10 momentarily, realize that Jesus is saying that He is the only doorway to the Father. No one comes into a relationship with the Father except by trusting in Jesus. Yet, even as we step through that doorway and are saved, Jesus is the one who leads us in this life to enjoy all that the Father has for us as we await the time when we will be with the Father in Heaven forever.

So, listen as Jesus speaks…

John 10:7-10 (CSB): “7 Jesus said again, ‘Truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. 9 I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.’”

Then, in verses 11-18, Jesus tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. He loves us and is willing to lay down His life for us, something that He has already done on the cross. But as a Good Shepherd, He knows each one of us intimately.

Listen as Jesus speaks these words…

John 10:11-18 (CSB): “11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. 13 This happens because he is a hired hand and doesn’t care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

As Jesus said these words, there were some that accused him of being crazy, or worse yet, being demon-possessed. Others, however, were fascinated by Him.

On another day, Jesus was in the Temple when he was surrounded by a crowd.

John 10:22 (CSB): “Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was winter.”

The Feast of Dedication was also known as Hanukkah. It was to celebrate the deliverance of the Jews from the Syrian leader Antiochus Epiphanes who had so horribly desecrated their Temple. The desecration was called “The Abomination of Desolation” and it is when Antiochus Epiphanes had intentionally sacrificed a pig on the Temple altar in 167 B.C. The Festival of Dedication was a celebration of the Jewish victory over Antiochus Epiphanes.

So, during this time, Jesus was walking in the Jerusalem Temple when he was surrounded by a crowd. They wanted to know if He was the Messiah. They told Him essentially to not beat around the bush but give them a “yes” or a “no.”

John 10:25-30 (CSB): “25 ‘I did tell you and you don’t believe,’ Jesus answered them. ‘The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.’”

Jesus made it clear in His answer that He had been so utterly clear before. The reason they still didn’t know was because they chose not to believe what He said.

Then, He told them that they didn’t believe because they didn’t belong to Him. They weren’t His sheep. His true sheep would “hear his voice … and follow (him).” Friend, this is one of the tell-tell signs that we know we’re saved. Do we long to hear from the Lord? Do we spend time in His Word, wanting to understand and obey it? If we do, then we are His sheep. We’re saved.

He finished up his comments to them by assuring them that when someone belongs to Him, they are forever His. No one, not even Satan, is powerful enough to snatch them out of His hand. Besides, those who are saved aren’t merely in Jesus’ hands, as wonderful and powerful as His hands are. We are also in the Father’s hands. We’re safe, my friend.

Did the Jews understand Jesus’ answer? Yep. We know they understood and that they weren’t believers because of how they responded.

John 10:31 (CSB): “Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone him.”

But Jesus doesn’t run away. There were times when He miraculously disappeared out of the sight of those who wanted to kill Him. But in this instance, He stood His ground. He didn’t so much want to defend Himself. Instead, He appears to have wanted to confront their sinful hearts.

John 10:32-33 (CSB): “32 Jesus replied, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me?’ 33 ‘We aren’t stoning you for a good work,’ the Jew answered, ‘but for blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God.”

We want to reach into the pages of Scripture, grab them by their robe collar, if their robes even had a collar, and shake them. Hard! We want to say, “He’s not MAKING Himself God! He IS God, you knucklehead! Shut up and bow down before Him!”

But there was no one to bring them to their senses. And we can take it to the bank that Jesus was so wise and a master communicator that He would tell them exactly what they needed to hear.

But what He says first needs a bit of explaining. They would have understood the logic, but we might not. So, let’s listen to His words and then I’ll provide a brief explanation.

John 10:34-36 (CSB): “34 Jesus answered them, ‘Isn’t it written in your law, I said, you are gods? 35 If he called those to whom the word of God came “gods”—and the Scripture cannot be broken—36 do you say, “You are blaspheming” to the one the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God?’”

So Jesus begins by referring to what was “written in your law.” He was saying that the Old Testament was “their law” and they should submit to it, whatever it says. Then Jesus quoted from Psalm 82. Here are the verses…

Psalm 82:1-2 (CSB): “1 God stands in the divine assembly; he pronounces judgment among the gods: 2 ‘How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?”

So, in Psalm 82:1-2, we read that the word “Elohim” which is translated “gods” is actually referring to judges. Then we read the verse that Jesus quoted from a few verses later.

Psalm 82:6 (CSB): “I said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.”

So, the logic Jesus is using is this: “The Bible calls judges “gods.” It’s the Bible so it is perfectly right for God to refer to them that way. So why in the world, if the Bible calls judges “gods” do you get upset at me for saying I’m the Son of God?”

And then He tells them to look at His life. If He is violating His claims of being the Son of God in how He behaves, then they shouldn’t listen to Him. But if His life matched His claims, they needed to believe in Him.

How did the crowd respond? Did they fall down in repentant worship?

John 10:39 (CSB): “Then they were trying again to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.”

Good grief! Friend, this is why God has to do a work in a sinner’s heart to prepare it to receive the message of the Gospel. Apart from God’s tilling up our hard hearts, we could be just like those folks.

Well, this chapter ends as Jesus leaves a place where He is being actively rejected. He will go to a place where His message will be listened to.

John 10:40-42 (CSB): “40 So he departed again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41 Many came to him and said, ‘John never did a sign, but everything John said about this man was true.’ 42 And many believed in him there.”

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we don’t want to be a Pharisee by looking down our noses at the folks who did not believe in You and refused to follow You. Except for Your acts of grace in our own hearts, that could easily be us. So, Lord, please give us the grace to desire You, to study Your Word, and to obey You wholeheartedly. The times are dark, Lord, and You are looking for people that You can use to demonstrate Your glory through. May we be those people. We pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!