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December 16, 2018   “Who Is Jesus? The Son of Solomon”     Matt.1:1

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Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,

This is the 3rd & the last Sunday of our little Advent series, asking the question:

Who is Jesus?   We’ve use Matthew chpt.1 for our answers, as he begins his gospel account this way: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

He began that way because he wanted to establish Jesus’ credentials & pedigree. The promise to Israel was that The Christ would be in the lineage of both Abraham and David. If you read Matthew chpt.1, you see that Matthew makes a complete list, showing the 14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 generations from David to the exile into Babylon, and 14 generations from Babylon to The Christ.

2 Sundays ago, we observed that Jesus is the son of King David, but Jesus was more than a king, he is THE CHRIST = the ultimate anointed one; the one promised messiah whose kingdom is established eternally because he is compassionate, was rejected, but is victorious.

Last week we talked about Jesus as the son of Abraham. It’s thru Isaac that we observe Abraham as the father of The Faith, who -in obedience to God’s command- offered up Isaac as a sacrifice.   Altho Abraham was stopped by God from killing his son, the Father of Jesus did not stop himself from offering His Son as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.

By comparing to these people-of-God =not perfect, but people of faith= we learn to know the Son of God in all His perfect goodness & glory, so that we would put our complete trust in Him as the perfect Savior.

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We’ll conclude today by picking one more name out of Matthew’s list. In vs.5&6,     we read this: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,   Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife.”

Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of Solomon.    ……   *What does that mean?

Some commentators summarize Solomon’s life with these words: easy~beginning, tough~ending.(repeat)   Things for Solomon seemed pretty easy to begin with. By the time his father David died, challengers to the throne included his half-brothers Amnon, Absalom, & Adonijah.  The Lord easily cleared them out of the way for Solomon.

Solomon’s enemies included Joab, Abiathar,& Shimei; they were put down, no problem. Anointed by Zakok as king of Israel at the Gihon Spring, Solomon was launched as the heir & chosen one, even though he was the 10th of David’s 17 sons.

In 1 Kings 3:7, Solomon calls himself =in Hebrew, a naar= just a kid. But it seems he was more like a ‘wonder-kid’; filled with wisdom & knowledge. He spoke 3,000 proverbs, and wrote 1,005 songs.  Solomon described plant life from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He gained control of the two main international trading routes, called the Via Maris along the Sea, and the King’s Highway from Elath to Damascus.

Because of this, 1Kgs 4 says, “From Dan to Beersheba, Judah and Israel lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree.” This is an OT way of saying that there was a chariot in every driveway and a chicken in every pot; the stock market was up; unemployment was down; and everyone was living high on the hog.

Early on, Solomon was a good witness of the wisdom, knowledge & faith of the one, true God. By grace, Solomon was the wisest in theology, biology, psychology = or human nature = as demonstrated when he solved the problem of those two mothers fighting over the one child. He said, “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.” (1 Kgs 3:25). Problem solved, because the real mother was revealed.

With wisdom in nation~relations, Solomon said to Hiram, King of Tyre, “My people will talk with your people.” This ‘corporate merger’ results in many building projects: the Jerusalem temple, the royal palace, and the cities of Hazar, Meggido, and Gezer. For the first 10 chapters of 1Kings, we’d say that there’s no way that Solomon doesn’t get Israel’s

‘man of the year’ award.   He’s the golden-boy, what ever he does succeeds.

     UNTIL we get to the 11th chapter, when we read these words in vs.3 : “Solomon had seven hundred wives of royal birth, and three hundred concubines, ….and his wives led him astray.”

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One summer night, a man & his wife were sitting outside in their backyard, and in the background, there was a constant, “Zap! Zap! Zap!” It was the sound of bugs hitting a bug

zapper. The light attracts them, they fly in, and get they get zapped dead. The man ponders this activity, and comments to his wife, “You’d think the later bugs would see that tray full of the carcasses of those impulsive foolish bugs.

     You’d think one of them would say, ‘Hey, wait a minute! I know I’m attracted to that light, but I don’t want to end up like those dumb bugs!”   And his wife responds, ‘Well, bugs don’t think that; bugs can not resist their nature.’   Even the world’s wisest man had an old, sinful nature, which he had a hard time resisting; …. as do WE.

Solomon had heard -but forgot- his father’s Psalm 27, “The LORD is my light and my

salvation,”  And instead, he flies toward other lights …about a thousand times. And, ZAP! ‘His wives led him astray.’   1 Kings 11:4 says, “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.”

‘Thou shalt not put other gods alongside Me.’= commandment #1.   They turned his heart to tolerate Ashtoreth the awful goddess of the Sidonians, / & Molech the horrible god of the Ammonites,/ & Chemosh a repulsive god of Moab.  With every Zap, Solomon loses some glory, respect, & good leadership, until his kingdom is cut in two = Israel to the north & Judah to the south. Disobedience, sin & weakness has its consequences.

A seminary professor describes The Christian Faith like this: It’s easy as pie to begin well; it’s tougher than nails to finish well.  A lot of Christians are like Solomon = great at beginning. They begin with great enthusiasm, high energy, a willing attitude. But Christianity is not a sprint, it’s a marathon; it’s a lot of training, a long race, with a lot of opposition = which takes its toll. At the beginning, we jump into new projects, new avenues of service, new books, new devotionals. We want to do it ALL.   And we often misjudge the strength of our enemies.

As time goes on =if we’re not careful= our old nature begins to show; we can get weary, fatigued, impatient & bored. Some think that all they need is something new, some bright lights to go to. And *what do people find? Every new place eventually gets old, new activities become less exciting, & all those new people we meet have their own struggles & weaknesses we didn’t notice in the beginning, & people disappoint us.

Then ‘zap’ goes some of the joy of our salvation; / zap goes the desire to reach out to the lost & erring; / zap goes our resistance to the world’s easier ways of doing things; / zap goes our zeal for the Lord’s House, His Word & His family.    IF the wisest man in the whole world could be pulled aside into foolishness, and fly toward godless, dangerous lights, *what hope do we have?     *What hope did Solomon have when he became a fool?

Honest, humble sinners know what it’s like to fly toward those tempting godless lights, when we know we shouldn’t; only to get zapped & end up feeling like a huge failure.   *What’s the use? We deserve to be in the tray with all the other dead bugs.

BUT, have you ever read Matt.12:42 ? It says, “and behold, one greater than Solomon is here.”  It took 28 generations, but God’s promise of hope was fulfilled =…in Jesus. Jesus is the son of Solomon, but Jesus is far greater than Solomon. Jesus was also tempted in every way as we are, but without sin. The devil reminded Jesus in the wilderness of how many bright worldly lights he could pursue: /his own desires, /his own fame, /everything the world can offer.

Even Jesus’ beginning was kind of easy; a simple, hay-filled manger bed. But His ending was very tough = tough as nails. Yet, Jesus not only began strong, Jesus finished strong. In addition to the nails, there was /scourging, /mocking, /beating, /sweating, /bleeding, and crowning with thorns.  Still, Jesus finished the marathon-of-salvation for us.  In spite of his disciple-betrayal, & his friends running for cover; & his own people clamoring for his death. In spite of his Father’s abandonment. Jesus wisely trusted his Father’s will,& He finished strong

In a loud voice He said: “It is finished!” The veil is torn, the blood is poured, & the curse is removed. The sacrifice is complete; death is defeated, & Paradise is restored.    Greater than Solomon, it was easy as pie to begin with, & tough as nails to finish;   but He finished for us.   Now Jesus becomes the Light-of-the-world that outshines all others; the only light that’s safe to go to.

Even tho Solomon barely finished his race, he’s still an example for us = a witness to the Way, the Truth, & the Life = to the serious Law & the gracious Gospel of God.   ALL our biblical witnesses show both strength & weakness.     Hebrews 12 says:   “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, {like Abraham, David & Solomon} let us run with endurance the race marked out for US.   Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Beginner and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

We will not imitate Solomon, but we should learn from him. In this cloud of witnesses from Hebrews 11 is Moses. Moses began tough, but finished strong. He was raised with Egyptians, murdered a man, ran away & worked for his father in law for 40 years.

But Moses finished strong. Deuteronomy 34 says, “Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.”

Also in this group of witnesses is Joshua who had to endure being around 10 other spies who were weak, doubtful, pitiful; which caused him to have to wander around in the Sinai desert with unfaithful Israel for 40 years = that was a tough life. But Joshua finished with these powerful words, “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house we will serve the LORD.”  

How about in the NT; *do we have some good witnesses who finished strong?

How about that Saul-guy who began terribly, but finished strong as Apostle Paul? We read in 2Cor.11: “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea.”    Paul finished strong as he told Timothy, “I have fought the good fight,

I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

The entire cloud of witnesses demonstrates that endurance is the key; the faith is a thing of stamina & fortitude, / of patience & resolution, / of persistence & tenacity, / knowing & holding to The Word, knowing that the Lord never breaks his Word; and the God of Abraham, David, Solomon, Moses, Joshua & Paul, He never abandons His people.

Finishing strong doesn’t mean finishing first; / it doesn’t mean trying to avoid the hard things = like controversy, opposition or disagreements; / it doesn’t mean giving-in to get-along; / it doesn’t mean finding the level of minimum effort so that it we ‘look’ like a Christian. John-the-Baptist said, ‘produce fruits in keeping with repentance’.

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Be a good witness, & let no one lead you astray. Running the race & keeping the faith is often blood, sweat, & tears = tough as nails; so encourage one another. Thanks be to God that the key witness, the chief witness before the throne of God, is God’s only begotten Son, who knows our needs & pleads on our behalf.

Our finishing strong means daily fixing our eyes on the world’s only true Light = Jesus; the Son greater than Solomon. In Him we have the promise: “He who began a good work in you, will finish it on the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6).

Amen.