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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Keeping Up Appearances (1 Kings 14:25-28)

 "In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam make bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to the Lord's temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom."

Years ago after a phone interview with a sharp sounding woman I scheduled a face-to-face interview with her over Iunch. When asked for a description so that I would recognize her she described her luxury vehicle. I politely said that I would be waiting for her inside and needed a personal description. Later in the process as I did a credit check I was surprised to discover that her luxury vehicle and home were far beyond her and her husband's financial means and that she was in arrears on both. I had to hand it to her, she did a good job "keeping up appearances". We all are good at that.

Bronze shields, though shiny and bright, may fool a lot of people but both the Egyptians (the enemy)and the commanders of the guard knew that the shields King Rehoboam now had were imitations of the real thing. The shiny bronze shields fool no one. The enemy knows, the king knows, and the people know. Pride causes man to keep up appearances--to pretend that things are better than they really are.

Rehoboam flirted with disaster long before he had bronze shields when He abandoned the Lord and His Law. He discovered that the Lord loved him too much to allow him to get away with sin. God judged Rehoboam through Shishak; but because Rehoboam had an image to maintain he had new shields made of bronze and paraded them as if they were gold.

Those who live to impress neighbors, friends and important people do a lot of foolish things to keep up the appearances of success. But people know. Few are fooled by our efforts to keep up appearances.

Keeping up appearances prevent us from getting genuine help. We "keep up appearances" in our marriages, child-rearing, finances, ministries, and jobs as we pretend to be more successful than we really are. All because of pride. May we drop all pretence and be the people we really are. People who need the grace and mercy that God offers us through Jesus Christ.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
1 Kings 14:1-18
  • What does Jeroboam's sending his wife to the prophet tell you about Jeroboam?
  • How does the prophet Ahijah respond to Jereboam's wife?
  • What does Jeroboam's sin cost his family and people?
2 Chronicles 11:5-12, 18-23; 1 Kings 14:22-28; 2 Chronicles 12:1-12
  • Describe Rehoboam's activities during the early years of his reign.
  • How does his interaction with the prophet Shemaiah differ from Jeroboam's interaction with Ahijah?
  • How do the two kings differ in how they handle trouble?
Psalm 89
  • What does this psalm teach about the sons of David? About God's relation with the sons of David?
  • How does this psalm portray the Lord and his relationship with Judah?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to pinpoint areas in your life where you "keep up appearances," where you pretend to be something you're not in order to please or fool others.