Is God really unconditional?

1 Kings 9

Here’s a thing about Kings.

God isn’t that big a character.

Well, he is. Really. However, he rarely shows up and speaks for himself. We mostly see stories about people and hear about their relationship with God. Whether they followed God or not. But God rarely shows up.

But here in chapter 9 he does. For the second time in the story. And I’m pretty sure for the last time. We’ll get prophets like Elijah and Elisha in a little bit.

So, I think this should clue us into something. This is probably really important. Really, really important. If God shows up and speaks, without any kind of mediation, we might should stop in our tracks (like Moses-burning-bush-whoa kind of pay attention) and consider what’s going on. This probably gives us clue about what the whole story of Kings is all about.

We’re given a little bit of setup background detail: The temple is finished. This God’s second conversation with Solomon. And a pair of words jump out to me like a neon sign. And they show up twice. You see them?

If… then…

Grammar nerds, like me, call this a conditional statement. It illustrates a cause-and-effect relationship. Two statements, and one is true only when the other is true. Life is full of conditional statements.

If you change your oil every 3,000 miles, your car will last a long time. If you don’t, your engine will eventually explode.

If you study, you’ll ace the test. If you don’t, you’ll probably get a bad grade.

If you shower and practice good personal hygiene, people will find you attractive. If you don’t, the practice of friend-making will be a challenge.

That God presents Solomon with a conditional statement like this tells us two things.

#1. God is in charge. Solomon may be an ancient near eastern king at the top of his game, but God is the one ruling the cosmos. It’s Solomon who owes loyalty to God, certainly not God who owes any favors to Solomon. Solomon might need reminding of this.

#2. Solomon has a choice to make. He has a free will. God has led him to a fork-in-the-road. If he and the people choose loyalty to God, good stuff will happen. And if they don’t, bad stuff. Lots of echoes to Deuteronomy 28 here. Now, in their favor, they have the example of David to look to. While David may have made a mess of his life (and if you forgot just how messy, review the book of 2 Samuel), but one thing about David—he always remained faithful to God.

God’s love for us may be unconditional, but his blessings and favor depend upon our obedience and faithfulness to him.

Question: What do you think loyalty to God like this looks like today? Or not look like?

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About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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