Series: King David: Man of Passions & God of Grace
Family Devotional, Week 1: Building an Unburnable House
Yesterday marked the 12-year anniversary of one of the most terrible tragedies in American history, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Iconic of those attacks is the collapse of what had hitherto stood as the towering symbol, twin symbols in fact, of global economic dominance, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
2 Kings 25 records a day that would be burnt into Israel’s memory much in the way 9/11 has been burnt into America’s. It is the day of the terrorist attacks of Babylon, when King Nebuchadnezzar sent his troops into the heart of Israel’s capital city and “burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned to the ground” (1 Kgs. 25:9).
Much like the collapse of the Twin Towers, the house of the Lord (the temple) and the king’s house were the twin symbols of global dominance, icons of supreme power of a nation blessed by God. But there is another similarity between these to events, one that demands both attention and reflection, and that is: both events could have been prevented.
According to some analysts, the Twin Towers didn’t collapse simply because they were attacked. They collapsed because they had not adequately prepared for such an attack, that is, according to the New York Times’ initial report on the disaster, because of “faulty fireproofing.” The external attacks succeeded because of an internal compromise.
Faulty fireproofing might be said to have been the main cause of the collapse of the twin symbols of Jerusalem’s power, as well. By all appearances, the house of the king was inhabited by the world’s greatest man and the house of the Lord was inhabited by the world’s greatest God–but only by all appearances. The kings of Judah had long sold out to the ways of the world around them, and the God of the temple had long been rejected by a people who incessantly turned to the world’s idols, so that their symbols of seeming invincibility turned out to be filled only with desolation. Their veneers of power, indeed, had faulty fireproofing. God sent Babylon into the heart of Israel because Israel had already welcomed Babylon’s gods into her heart. The external attack succeeded because of an internal compromise.
This would be the destiny of David’s kingdom, a kingdom constructed in God’s name that God himself deconstructed because it failed to reflect His character. So we begin this series with the end in mind, so as to be reminded that no kingdom can reign, no house can stand, unless it is the Lord who is seated in the center at its throne, even (or perhaps especially) when by all appearances the Lord’s name is written all over the veneer. So as we move forward into the life of David, we must always remember that “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain!” (Ps. 127:1). David’s throne was, in fact, God’s throne (cf. 1 Sam. 12). And it wouldn’t be until God himself came to take back his throne that we would see what a true King looks like, not to mention what a true throne looks like, the splintered throne on which the symbols of God’s power were splayed and splattered in the event that would become the icon of global salvation–his body broken for you, his blood shed for you–the twin symbols of an unburnable house, because love cannot be burned (cf. 1 Cor. 13).
Reflection Questions / Challenges:
- The more powerful Israel got as a nation, the less they had to depend on God. So while they had all the symbols and rituals of a godly nation, their symbols soon became empty and their rituals mere ritualism. They appeared on the outside to be an indestructible tower of faith, while on the inside they became infested with the hollow values and beliefs of the world around them–internally compromised while externally polished.
- Is the Church in America vulnerable to that same threat?
- What areas, if any, do you think the Church has compromised?
- How as a family are you staying guarded from falling to the same compromise?
- How does the cross of Jesus Christ challenge the values of our culture that center on personal success and self-preservation?
- As a family, consider what you can put in place as your foundation–your family’s core convictions–as you seek to build an “unburnable house.” Perhaps Word, Worship, and Witness mark the core convictions of your home. Perhaps your family is uniquely gifted with compassion, or hospitality, or acts of service. What is it that God seeks to do in and through your home.
Psalm of David:
- Psalm 51
- Pray for God to reveal to your family the external threats of the surrounding culture and the internal threats of sin–asking for forgiveness, if needed–knowing that God is the one who preserves his Church and freely gives grace to the contrite of heart.