Section Five: Kings-Chronicles, True Believers are the Remnant Following the Way
A small quantity of something leftover
synonyms: remains, remainder
A piece of cloth left when the greater part has been used
synonyms: scrap, piece, fragment, shred
A surviving trace of something
In Christian theology, a small minority of people who will remain faithful to God and so be saved
The word “remnant” has four definitions above. In noting the above related definitions, this chapter is most certainly not about leftovers from a Passover Feast or about some scrap of fabric from the Tabernacle. The idea of a “remnant” is quite important in the Old Testament and the New Testament. This chapter will be focusing on the remnant of God as it is seen in the books of Kings and Chronicles. In the Old Testament, the remnant are those that went God’s WAY and joined Him in what He was already doing. We have already seen that God is LIFE and He is drawing people to Himself to be in Him (redemption). Those who respond to this drawing are believers.
Solomon son of David…Remnant Material
In terms of the overall narrative of Scripture, we move from the life of King David to a time when faith, practical life, and the covenant of God are tested. Solomon, David’s son and chosen successor, takes over the kingdom from his father and expands on what David accomplished. In Solomon, we see the remnant alive and well and someone who follows after God in the WAY.
First, we see Solomon choosing God and His path when he could have chosen anything. God Almighty comes to the newly minted king in 1 Kings 3 and offers to give him whatever he wishes as he begins his reign. He could have chosen power, armies, influence, gold, bustling trade routes, or a number of different things. He chose wisdom (which ironically is a wise choice). 1 Kings 3:8-9 records for us, “And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. 9 So give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Thine?” What did Solomon ask for? He asked for wisdom in leading the people in God’s WAY. God responds approvingly and gives Solomon wisdom beyond any person who has lived before or since (1 Kings 3:12). God responds approvingly and gives Solomon riches, honor, fame, and security (1 Kings 3:13).
At this point, we would think that Solomon has made it! He is now set for life, but let us not forget our sinful nature. Solomon’s sinful nature. Right after the great promises of verses 12 and 13, the huge word “if” is used by God. 1 Kings 3:14 says, “And if you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days” (NIV 1984, emphasis added). What is God saying in verse 14? God says to Solomon, ‘walk in My WAY.’ God says to Solomon, ‘do not stray from the path of LIFE that leads to redemption.’ God says to Solomon, ‘do not get duped by something that is not the TRUTH.’ Being part of the remnant means keeping to the faithful path towards God in all of life’s situations.
Secondly, we see Solomon being part of the remnant in his prayers. In 1 Kings 8, he invites God to be part of life in Israel. How does Solomon do this?
He gathers his fellow servants of God (8:5)
He sacrifices according to the laws (8:5)
He brought the holy of holy relics to be displayed and stored in the temple (8:6)
He installed the priests in the temple to do their duties (8:10)
God responds positively in 1 Kings 8:10-11 as it says, “And it came about when the priests came from the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (NIV 1984). Solomon not only chose God, but invited Him in. This is the WAY in which God works. He does not force Himself on people, but rather offers His WAY and TRUTH, which leads to LIFE, and anyone can gain life. Solomon, as we will see, is firmly in the remnant camp…not so much with his son.
Rehoboam son of Solomon…NOT Remnant Material
As we move further from King David, a split happens in the life of the people of God in Israel. A once unified country becomes splintered in two. The splinter-er was King Rehoboam son of Solomon.
1 Kings 12:1-4 shares with us, “Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you’” (NIV 1984). King Rehoboam is just starting out his reign when he, like his father, has a decision to make. For King Solomon, his decision was about answering God and following the WAY. King Rehoboam is facing a decision as well, but not in the same way as his father. The whole assembly of Israel comes to Rehoboam and asks him what kind of ruler he would be. They ask him to lighten all of the public works and labors with which Solomon had tasked them. They ask him to be a kinder and gentler king. Would he walk further in the WAY of God or further out of the WAY? Will King Rehoboam continue to be a king like his father and work the people at his will with all of the public building projects or will he lighten to load and listen to their request? What will he do? How will he reign? How will he treat the people?
Now you see the decision that King Rehoboam has to make. This is a reign defining decision presented to him as he begins to be the king of God’s people. The next portion of the passage details how King Rehoboam made his decision in answering the people. The progression of events in this passage:
Verse 6 Rehoboam asks the elders for their advice.
Verse 7 The elders give their advice.
Verse 8 Rehoboam rejects their advice.
Verse 9 Rehoboam asks the friends he grew up with.
Verses 10-11 The friends give their advice.
Notice the progression of the events. Rehoboam did ask the elders their advice, but he rejected it right away. I do not think he wished to take their advice in the first place and perhaps he felt obligated to ask them. He moves on to his friends. What are his friends going to say? Are they going to give their friend who just ascended to the throne advice he doesn’t want or like and get on his bad side? My point is, Rehoboam already knew what he wanted to do and was just going through the motions of asking for advice. He was not really listening. He should have honestly listened to all the advice and then made his decision. Rehoboam had an agenda and it was not following the WAY. He had made up his mind.
How can we say that Rehoboam had an agenda and it had nothing to do with God? What do you notice is absent from King Rehoboam’s decision process? What has Rehoboam failed to do which is critical for any of us when making a decision?! There is not one single instance in Rehoboam’s thought process that he once consulted God in prayer for His opinion! Not once did Rehoboam ask that God help him make the decision or invite Him into his life. Not once did he ask for divine help in sifting through the advice. He did not ask for the answer to be obvious or a sign or anything. Rehoboam left God out of his decision process completely!
What was the result of Rehoboam’s decision? 1 Kings 12:16-19 tells us:
“When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’ So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. 18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
Verse 19 says it all doesn’t it? The results of King Rehoboam’s decision was that 10 tribes split from God’s nation and went down a path of self-destruction…that is, away from God by the way. Now in terms of the narrative of the people of God, the Kingdom of Israel (not the remnant) in the north follows their own way and the Kingdom of Judah in the south struggles to be the remnant.
Be Remnant Material
Abel, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and Caleb, David, John the Baptist, and even Jesus Christ and His apostles…what do these people have in common? They are those who are part of the remnant of God who continually seek after the WAY. They have followed the WAY and have received LIFE.
In describing “remnant material” or those who follow God, the Bible is full of passages that aid us. For example, Psalm 24 presents a wonderful picture of what the remnant actually entails. Psalm 24 explains to us that only those who confess God can stand in His presence and receive LIFE from Him.
The remnant are those who have clean hands.
The remnant are those who stand in the presence of God and invite Him into their lives.
The remnant are those that wholeheartedly believe and seek God.
The remnant are those who are true worshippers in spirit and in truth.
Psalm 24 says:
“The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the rivers. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Thy face—even Jacob. Selah. 7 Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! 8 Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory” (NIV 1984).
Another example passage comes from the New Testament in Romans Chapter 9. The Apostle Paul explains that those who are of God (the remnant…the word is used in verse 27) are adopted into the covenant (verses 4-6), have received His mercy (verses 15-18), understand their place as the clay of the potter (verse 20-21), considered the people of God (verses 25-26), and receive righteousness by faith (verses 30-33). As we reflect on the Apostle Paul and the work of Jesus Christ, we come to understand that Jesus and those who have placed their faith in the faithfulness of Jesus are fully part of the people of God (remnant). Jesus Christ, by actions of grace, opened a door to the Father through His faithfulness to a New Covenant. It is only through Jesus that people can join the remnant and participate in what God is already doing.
Those of us in the remnant know that we are not always successful. Certainly as we look back on the history of the Kingdom of Judah in 1 Kings – 2 Chronicles, not all of those in the remnant were successful. They failed. They sinned. They walked away from the WAY. Besides Jesus of Nazareth, all have stumbled and fallen short. Being part of the remnant, however, means that those who seek to be true to God stumble forward towards the promise of God. Fearing God, they meet wisdom face to face and then risk themselves (live by faith) for Gods purposes. The remnant is marked by the belief that God loves them and is their King.
In the Old Testament, the remnant is always marked by those who have their faith in God. In the history of Israel in 1 Kings to 2 Chronicles, we can see that God always has a true faithful people who embody seeking Gods face. In the New Testament, the remnant is always marked by faith in Jesus, or perhaps better put, faith in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Those who seek His will are His people. To be honest, everyone else is lying.
Faith and Actions of the Remnant
What does living in the remnant look like in a New Testament believer? To be honest, that is what this entire theological treatise is about! Being part of the remnant is not just thought life, but also actions that accompany our faithful hearts to God. So many passages could be discussed (for example Psalm 15, Matthew 5, John 4:23-24) which engage the reader of Scriptures in actual faith living.
Matthew Chapter 5 will serve us well as we think about the remnant. Jesus describes with many descriptive verbs the remnant in action:
Matthew Chapter 5 records the Sermon on the Mount, which includes sections like the Beatitudes, being salt and light, and coping with temptations such as anger, lust, and division. Let us not forget the section on loving our enemies. It is safe to say the remnant are those that respond to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in faith and obedience. Those who act in faith and obedience are on God’s agenda. Jesus Christ speaks of such people later in the Gospels when He says in John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” It is the spirit and truth of Christ that needs to be setting our agenda, our Way, our Life.
Please take considerable time to prayerfully consider the following items. They are key questions that get to the heart of faithfully living as the remnant.
#1 Do you have clean hands before God Almighty and diligently seek forgiveness?
#2 Do you actively try to stand in the presence of God and invite Him into your life on a daily basis?
#3 Would you describe your faith as “wholehearted?”
#4 Are you someone who worships God in spirit?
#5 Are you someone who worships God in truth?
Again, these above 5 questions are not to be taken lightly. In a world that is slipping further and further from God’s design, people who live as the remnant will be harder to find. Will you be counted among them?
Our story centers on a man named Lost. You can imagine with a name like Lost that in his younger years he was the butt of many jokes. He got a GPS for his fourth birthday. Lost, like most of us, was searching for the meaning of life. He wanted to know what life was all about. He wanted to know who he should marry. He wanted to know what his life’s work should be. He was searching. No matter how hard he looked, Lost could never find himself or his purpose.
One day, Lost was invited to a church by his friend Fan. He had known Fan for a little while and was not opposed to attending a church with her. Lost walked into the church one Sunday with Fan and he sat next to Fan. Fan seemed so excited to be there. Fan knew Everyone. Everyone knew Fan. The service started and Lost did not know what to expect, so he decided to watch Fan. The music started and Fan knew all the words to the first song. Fan knew when to clap and when to sit and stand. Fan raised her hands in the second song and Lost wasn’t sure why; Some were doing it and Some Others were not. All of a sudden, Lost realized what Fan was wearing. Fan always wore a “Jesus is Lord” t-shirt, a “Turn or Burn” hat, and even the car they drove in had a fish sticker on the back. Wow. Fan knew all about church and Jesus. Fan even knew where in the Bible to flip when the Preacher started talking.
After the service, as they were walking to the parking lot, Lost had to ask more questions of Fan about church. Lost asked, “How many times do you go to church?” Fan of course told him that she was there any time the doors were open…as long as it fit in her schedule or as long as she didn’t stay up too late the night before or as long as she felt like it or as long as her family wasn’t in town or as long as they were having a church dinner. Lost asked another question, “What do you do at church besides go to the services?” When Lost asked this question, Fan got a funny look on her face. Fan explained that she comes to all the services and sings all the songs and looks the part and sounds the part. What else is there? They talk about tithing, but she doesn’t do that. They talk about serving in the community, but she skips those things. They talk about going on a mission’s trip, but that isn’t her style. What else is there?
As they reached the parking lot, Lost was stunned to see his co-worker Faker getting into his car with his family. He worked with Faker. Faker was here at church! Faker was the first one in the office to tell the latest dirty joke. Faker even skimmed off the profits at work, but no one could catch him. Faker was the first one to blow up in anger at the littlest problem. Faker went to the bar with his friends every day after work. They had some of the same friends! Sometimes Lost went with them. It was a fun time. They drank, flirted with the waitresses, laughed, and watched sports. Faker had a family, but hey, that is Faker’s business. And now, here was Faker in the parking lot coming out of the church dressed in a suit!
Fan saw Faker. Fan waived her hand excitedly. “He’s my Bible study leader. He is such a good family man. He’s here every Sunday and loves the Lord.” Lost’s jaw about dropped on the ground. He couldn’t believe it. Lost and Faker had a lot in common. They did the same things. They talked the same way. They seemed to be a lot alike.
Faker saw Fan and Lost. His eyes grew big for a second and then he stopped. Faker came over to Fan and Lost. “Sister Fan…so good to see you.” Lost didn’t know what to say. He was still in shock. Is this what Christianity was about…living one way for six days and then changing for Sunday? Faker shook his hand. Faker’s wife came up and hugged him. She mentioned something about praying for him, but Lost couldn’t really focus and didn’t really understand. He didn’t understand how Faker could be one way with his buddies and at work and then be a totally different person at church. His wife obviously had no clue. It soured Lost on the whole experience.
Fan drove Lost home. They chit chatted a little. Fan told Lost about all the activities at the church. Fan told Lost about how great the church was. The funny thing was…she didn’t mention much about Jesus…which is what the Preacher had talked about. Lost was confused. Lost was unsure. Lost was mystified.
Fan dropped Lost off at his house. Lost noticed that his neighbors were getting home at the same time. His neighbor’s name was Follower. He had talked with Follower a little. They had even invited him over when he moved in. Nice people. He remembered that they went to church too. Follower noticed Lost staring at him and waved. Follower walked over and mentioned that it looked like Lost was thinking hard.
Lost couldn’t hold in his frustration. The two men stood at their yard fence as Lost recounted his experience with Fan at the church. He also mentioned meeting Faker in the parking lot. He did not spare any detail. As Lost talked, Follower had a smile on his face because he realized that Lost had been in church. Lost did not know it, but Follower and his family had been praying for an opportunity to share the Gospel with Lost. As Lost told his story, a sad look replaced the happy one on Follower’s face. As Lost told more, Follower hung his head.
Lost could not help but notice that Follower did not like what he was saying, but he was not surprised either. Lost ended his story with a question that he thought Follower could answer, “Are Fan and Faker what church is all about?”
Follower had a small tear in his eye. Lost wasn’t sure what he was going to say. Follower just stood there for a minute. Lost wasn’t sure what he was doing exactly. Follower then shared these words with Lost: “No, Fan and Faker are not what church is all about. Church is about Jesus Christ and the relationship that you can have with Him. Following Jesus Christ is the most important decision you can ever make. I am sorry that you went to church and found people like Fan and Faker, but to be honest, there are Fans and Fakers in every church. There are different levels of commitment to God in every church. Jesus is not about how you dress or how you sing or what bumper sticker is on your car. Jesus is not about living one way most days and appearing to be something else the next. Jesus is about following Him as a heartfelt, genuine, and faithful disciple. That is what I try to do and who I try to be.” Lost just stood there. Follower just stood there. After a minute of thinking hard, Lost walked into his house.