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Bruce Wilkinson has given a famous illustration of discipleship called the three chairs. In the first chair sits a Christian who came to belief in God through a radical transformation, from great sin to blessed redemption. The first chair’s personal experience of deliverance fuels a lifelong devotion. Their child grows up surrounded by the observance of faith, with Bible lessons, prayer, and attendance at worship services, but because they never have a personal experience of transformation their religious life is only one of habit rather than devotion. They sit in the second chair, and their child grows up and witnesses their tepid faith, their religiosity without conviction, their sometimes hypocritical actions, and this third chair child rejects the faith.
Substitute three thrones for the three chairs and you have the story of this week’s chapters. David sits on the first throne. His personal experience of God’s repeated acts of deliverance produces a lifelong devotion. Though far from perfect, and famous for certain failings, he truly was a man after God’s own heart. He was wholly given over to the worship of Jehovah. Near the end of his life, he proclaimed the following psalm as he made preparations for his son to build the temple:
Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all. I Chronicles 29:10-11
Solomon sits on the second throne, and though blessed by God with great wisdom, and used by God to build the temple, he falls far short in his devotion. He holds on to the trappings of Jehovah worship, but his heart is turned away to worldly pursuits and idol worship. Chronicles highlights his accomplishments in order to further its goal of inspiring the discouraged returning exiles, but we can find better accounts of his worldliness in Kings.
He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 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. I Kings 11:3-4
Solomon’s son Rehoboam sits on the third throne. No doubt he had observed the hypocrisies of his father, and we can only speculate what discipleship, if any, he received from his father. Chronicles sums up his relationship to God in this way:
He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord. II Chronicles 12:14
The lesson I learn from these three kings and Bruce Wilkinson is the importance of discipleship. Training in godliness must include personal experiences of God acting to deliver. We need to teach our children or those we mentor the truths of God’s word, but we also need to guide them through situations where they must depend on God in order to see God deliver them. Then God will become real to them, and their faith will not suffer the fate of the three chairs.
About this blog
During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12. Next week I will write about II Chronicles 13 – 26. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12.