The first obstacle to overcome is whether one is willing to accept that the Bible in its’ entirety is scripture, divinely inspired scripture. If one is willing to take a peek into the history of the Bible and how it has progressed into the form that it now is, one would be hard pressed to deny even one word of God’s holy document. The only requirement for an honest evaluation is an open heart--and an open mind.
God in his infinite wisdom included a little verse in II Timothy 3:16 that settles the question of which part of the Bible takes precedence over another. It says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” A reading of the next verse tells why it’s important to study all the scripture.
This brings us to a study of something Jesus said to his disciples. In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus tells them to take up their cross and follow him. It’s the their cross that hooks one into thinking. We know what Jesus’ cross was. His cross was to bear the sins of mankind. He came to this earth in the flesh to redeem mankind from their sins. He also overcame death and offered the human race eternal life. All that is required is to believe it is true--the hook, line, and sinker belief.
So, what is the disciple’s cross? Wanting to know more, this launched a trip into the Old Testament. We know that Jesus came to the nation of Israel to be their king. Israel refused him as their messiah that they were looking for. And, according to scripture, he was hung from a tree (crucified).
Back in I Samuel 10:19 Samuel berates Israel for rejecting their God. This is when the nation wanted kings as rulers. It’s about 1100 B.C. and Saul becomes the first king of Israel. It doesn’t go well. Saul creates his own doom by refusing to wait for Samuel to make burnt offerings to the LORD. He did it himself. Samuel tells him that he has been foolish by not keeping the commandment of God. (I Samuel 13:12,13) This brings us to David.
David is more of a spiritual leader, loves God, and things are good for his 40-year reign. It’s well-known that David is not perfect but he does love God. (I Kings 9:4) Solomon’s reign is won through trickery but God does bless him. He dominates as ruler for forty years. During that time God warns him that if he turns from following Him, He will cut Israel off. (I Kings 9:6-8) It’s well known that Solomon followed other gods. (I Kings 11:33)
After this Israel split with only the tribe of Judah and Benjamin remaining during the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. The other 10 tribes left and went with Jeroboam. Rehoboam reigned for 17 years in Jerusalem. (II Chronicles 12:13) The next little verse says it all, “And he did evil, because he prepared (fixed) not his heart to seek the LORD.”
Abijah the son of Rehoboam becomes the ruler of what is left of Jerusalem and Judah. His reign lasts only three years. It seems he might have been two-sided. In I Kings 15 it says the he was sinful like his father. And, in II Chronicles 13 it says that he is a defender of God. He died after only three years. It says in I Kings 15:4 that even though Abijah (or Abijam) was like his dad, God allowed him to reign a short time in order to set up his son.
Now we have Asa who will be king for 41 years. For most of those years he did that “which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD…” (II Chronicles 14:2) Then in the thirty-sixth year Asa, instead of calling on the LORD, he goes to the king of Syria for assistance. Hanani, the seer, tells him what he has done and Asa throws him in prison. He goes into a rage and lashes out at others, too. Then in his thirty-ninth year he develops a disease in his feet. Again he doesn’t call on the LORD for help but, instead turns to physicians. What happens? He dies.
So, what is the cross that Jesus is telling the disciples to take up? David stands out as an example. He loved God, believed what He said, and served Him. In return, David’s reign is referred to as the ‘golden age of Israel.’ The others, for whatever reason, lose their way. Sometimes a study of what went wrong makes a deeper impression. Remember, while we bear our cross, “…the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (II Chronicles 16:9)