First Kings, chapter 14, and I'm going to read verses 25 to 28. “And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house. And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.”
Heavenly Father, I pray that this morning you will speak. I pray that you will strengthen my heart and mind that I might be able to speak the message of the living God today. And oh, Father that I might be able to preach truth and faith, and that it might sink deep into the hearts of your people. Amen.
Now, we read here of an event that occurred in the fifth year of Rehoboam, king of Judah. Rehoboam was the son of Solomon. Solomon was the great king who reigned over all Israel, and who subjected all the nations round about, so that they paid tribute to him. He was the great king who had glory and honor and wealth such as no other king on earth possessed. He was the king who had the blessing of God. And five years after Solomon died, with his son reigning on the throne, with only two of the twelve tribes left under him, the king of Egypt came and took away all.
Now I'm going to speak to you about spiritual things this morning, that are represented to us here under these physical things that took place in the Old Testament days. All that great glory of Solomon's reign was gone in five years after he died. He had such glory as has rarely ever been possessed by any man in the history of all the world. He made silver like the pebbles in the streets in Jerusalem. It was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. All his drinking vessels were of gold. The fame of his wisdom was heard to the ends of the earth. Kings and queens came to Jerusalem to hear Solomon's wisdom, and when they heard his wisdom, and when they saw his great glory, saw his great wealth, saw the happiness of his servants, there was no more spirit left in them. And that glory was lost, carried away—as soon as Solomon died. All the treasures that he had gathered up in heaps in Jerusalem were carried off into Egypt.
Now this is a thing that happens spiritually in the church of God over and over. God raises up a man like Solomon to be the leader of his people, fills his hands with the glory of God, with the power of God, and great glory rests upon the people of God while he lives. And when he dies, the people somehow turn away or turn aside, and all the glory is lost. I want you to turn back with me for a minute to the book of Joshua—the last chapter of the book of Joshua. In Joshua chapter 24, and verse 31, we read, “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.” Now this implies something beyond what's stated. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, but then they turned away from the Lord, and the glory was departed. And so over and over throughout the book of Judges. God raised up a man to lead the people, and the people served the Lord while that man led them, and then turned away.
Now back to I Kings, chapter 14. We read that Shishak king of Egypt took away all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house. “He even took away all.” There was none of the glory left. And he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. Now I want to talk to you about gold. Gold is the most precious of metals. It's rare. It's valuable—precious in itself, and beautiful. It doesn't tarnish like base metals. It doesn't rust away. Valuable, beautiful, and rare. And God takes up this most precious of all metals and uses it in the Bible to represent the glory of God.
Now if you turn with me to Revelation chapter 3, the Lord is dealing here with a lukewarm, powerless church, which has none of the glory of God. He says in verse 17, “Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I counsel thee to buy of me GOLD tried in the fire.” Now the Lord doesn't say what that gold is. It's a figurative expression. What is it? It's the glory of God. It's the power of God. It's everything that this wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked church needs. Something from GOD! They don't have it. They've got an empty shell with no kernel in it. They've got a name to live, and are dead. He says, “I counsel you, buy of me gold tried in the fire,”—something fromGod.
Now this is what Rehoboam, Solomon's son, ought to have done. But he didn't do it. When the glory was all lost and carried away into Egypt——-(And I should say here, Egypt in the Bible is everywhere a type of the world. That's what takes the heart out of the people of God and destroys the glory and the power of God that rests upon them: just worldliness. Shishak king of Egypt comes in. The Methodists once had the glory of God upon them as few other peoples ever have had in the history of the church, but they lost it. They didn't lose it by false doctrine. They lost it by worldliness.) Anyway, Rehoboam was left in that position after Shishak king of Egypt came, and all the treasures of the house of the Lord were carried away, all the treasures of the king's house were carried away, all the gold was carried away. They didn't have anything left. They were destitute. They were left like that lukewarm church in the book of Revelation, that was wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. At that point, the Lord might have come to Rehoboam, and said, “I counsel thee, buy of me gold tried in the fire.” But Rehoboam didn't do that. He did something that was easier.
It says in the end of verse 26, “He [the king of Egypt] took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields”—that is, shields of brass—“and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house.” Now I suppose that deep down in the bottom of Rehoboam's heart, he would undoubtedly rather have had shields of gold than shields of brass, but gold is hard to come by. It was an EASY thing to make shields of brass. It would have been an extremely difficult thing to replace the shields of gold. And I want to tell you, what I'm preaching about this morning is shields of brass, brasen shields, and the temptation everywhere throughout the church of God is to make shields of brass, and replace the shields of gold which have been lost. Now there are some folks that do not even know the shields of gold are lost. They build with wood, hay, and stubble, and think it's gold, silver, and precious stones—don't even know there's any difference. But some folks do know there's a difference. And undoubtedly in the depth of their souls they'd rather have shields of gold than shields of brass, but here a problem arises. They don't have any power to get the shields of gold. IT'S TOO HARD. IT TAKES TOO LONG. And meanwhile, they're in great reproach: “Why aren't you doing anything? Why aren't you accomplishing anything? Let's see some fruit of your ministry.” And the temptation just becomes too strong to make shields of brass, and they go ahead and do it.
You know what those people need? Oh, they need a prophet. I wish there had been a prophet of God in Rehoboam's days. Look what happened here in this next verse with these shields of brass that king Rehoboam made. He made shields of brass instead of the shields of gold and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house. “And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord the guard BARE them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.” Keeping up the FORM, but with brass instead of gold. Once upon a time, there were some rescue missions, like the Mel Trotter Mission in Grand Rapids, that had the power of God. The lowest wretches of humanity congregated there and were converted night after night after night. They keep up the form today, but without the power. The same thing is true of whole denominations.
I said, I wish there had been a prophet of God there in Rehoboam's days. When the king went into the house of the Lord, just as his father had done, who was the man of God, into whose hands God had given all this gold—and when his father had gone into the house of the Lord, the guard came out with shields of gold in their hands, every man with a shield of gold, and stood in their rank, every man bearing a shield of gold to keep guard. Now when Solomon's son came out to go into the house of the Lord, exactly the same thing happened, but every man was bearing a shield of brass. Now I have a very strong suspicion that these shields of brass were very highly polished. You can make brass look like gold, or very close, and I'm sure they spent a lot of time keeping them polished. So, to the eye of a casual observer, when Rehoboam walked to the house of the Lord, between the rows of guards, every man bearing his shield of brass, it looked just like the same thing that had happened in the days of Solomon, when he walked between shields of gold. But it wasn't gold. It was brass. I wish there had been a prophet of God there to walk up to the house of the Lord alongside Rehoboam, and point to the guard, and say, “What's that in your hand?” And the guards say, “Well,… umm,… it's a shield.” And the prophet says, “No, it's a sham. You have a lie in your right hand.”
You know, we live in an unfortunate day. We live in a day when the church of God has never seen a shield of gold. And every man can stand in his place, bearing a shield of brass, and nobody knows the difference. You couldn't have gotten away with it in the days of the early Methodists. If some of our dry, intellectual, lukewarm preachers had gotten up in the midst of the early Methodists and tried to preach, they would have been laughed to scorn, or pitied. The people would have said, “YOU DON'T HAVE ANYTHING FROM GOD. SIT DOWN.” But every man can stand in his place with his shield of brass today, and nobody knows the difference. They've never seen a shield of gold. If one man had come forth into the ranks of the guard in Solomon's day with a shield of brass in his hand, everyone would have immediately pointed him out. They would have said, “There's something wrong with your shield. There's something different. It's brass, not gold.” But when every man has a shield of brass, and we live in a generation that's never seen a shield of gold, nobody knows the difference.
Well, as I said, it's easy to make shields of brass. It's hard to make shields of gold. Actually, you don't make a shield of gold: you get it from God. You get it in the backside of the desert. You get it in the school of affliction. You don't go to college for four years, and get a diploma with your name on it, to hang in your study, and become a man of God. You can get a shield of brass that way, but not a shield of gold.
But an unfortunate thing has happened in our day. Actually, I think it started out with a very fortunate thing. A generation ago John R. Rice began to preach, “We can have revival now.” He set out to provethat we can have revival now. He set out to preach that we can have revival now—to preach the promises of God, and to preach the power of God—to preach the power of the Spirit of God—and to convince a lazy, lukewarm, unbelieving church that WE CAN HAVE REVIVAL NOW, the same way they used to have it. And he convinced a lot of people, and a lot of people took up the cry and began to preach, We can have revival now, and began to labor for it. But revival never came. They thought to get it too easily, without paying the price for it, and they never saw revival. There is something wrong—too much wrong—with this modern, lukewarm, worldly church, that can't get revival when it's trying to. Now, at that point a lot of fundamentalists went astray. They did exactly the same thing that Rehoboam king of Judah did. Instead of listening to the Lord's advice, when he said, “I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire,” instead of getting down on their faces before God, and saying, “We are nothing, and we have nothing. We're powerless and wretched and miserable, and poor and blind and naked. [Preacher weeping, choked with emotion.] Give us shields of GOLD.” Instead of doing that, they made shields of brass—built grand cathedrals on the boulevard, put a fleet of buses into operation, had games and contests, gave out prizes, and got some crowds coming, so that they made it look like a revival. (I'm not accusing anyone of hypocrisy in this, but only of lowering the standard—perhaps ignorantly, perhaps honestly, failing to understand that all that glitters is not gold.) One of the signs of revival, you know, is that the crowds are drawn to the preaching of the word of God. But there's a difference between a shield of gold and a shield of brass. Brass may look like gold, but it isn't. They may have crowds coming, but in a real work of the Spirit of God, the crowds are drawn by the power of God, and by the word of God. They're not drawn by hamburgers and bubble gum and kites and balloons and games and contests and prizes.
I want you to turn with me to Luke, chapter five, for a minute. In verse 17 it says, “And it came to pass on a certain day, as he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.” Now here are folks being drawn, coming out of every town in Galilee and Judaea, and from Jerusalem. Why? Because the power of the Lord was present. That was the only drawing power—the power of the Lord. The Lord Jesus wasn't giving away hamburgers and balloons and kites and bubble gum. He wasn't giving prizes to the people who brought the most visitors. He wasn't running any fleet of buses. He had the power of God with him and in him and on him, and the people were drawn to the power of God.
Now, it says in verse 18, “Behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy, and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the house top, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.” The power of the Lord was present, great multitudes were drawn by it, and when the men came to bring a sick man to be healed, they couldn't get near the Lord because of the multitude that were there, drawn by the power of God. Now you know, I heard a sermon on this verse one time. I only ever heard one sermon on it in my life. I've preached several on it, but I've only ever heard one. It was from an Independent Baptist pastor, who was trying to run what they call a “super-aggressive church.” He preached on this word “means” in the eighteenth verse: “they sought means to bring him in,” and he used this verse to justify running a fleet of buses, carpeted aisles, grand pianos, air-conditioning, padded pews, kites and bubble gum and balloons and contests of every sort—to use these means to bring the people in. And I tell you, that sermon was a directcontradiction of the text that it was preached from. The word “means” isn't even in the Greek. You'll see it in italics in your Bibles. All it says is, “They sought to bring him in.” They didn't seek means—kites and balloons and bubble gum and stained glass windows and padded pews and air-conditioning and grand pianos—to draw the crowds. They already HAD the crowds. They were drawn to them by nothing other than the POWER OF GOD. Therefore they had to seek by what means they might bring the man in. They couldn't get near the Lord, because of the crowd that was there. I tell you, the sermon that I heard from that Baptist preacher was a direct contradiction of what this Scripture teaches.
Well, what are all those means that he preached to defend? They're shields of brass. That's all, shields of brass. They don't have the power of God—don't have the men flocking to them as they flocked to the Lord Jesus Christ, and John the Baptist before him, or as they flocked to John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield, and D. L. Moody, and Charles G. Finney, and R. A. Torrey, and Billy Sunday. Those men had the power of God upon them, and it drew the people to them. Men who don't have the power of God upon them are seeking means to draw the people, to get up the appearance of a revival when they don't have any revival—to get up the appearance of the power of God when they don't have the power of God. That's what Rehoboam, king of Judah, did. He didn't have any shields of gold, so he got up the appearance of shields of gold, with finely polished shields of brass.
Now let me tell you, there are some very deep spiritual problems at the root of this propensity to make shields of brass. I think the first one is pride. If people were more concerned to be what they ought to be, than to appear to be what they ought to be, they would never make a shield of brass. They would say, “I'll have a shield of gold, or no shield at all.”
There is another problem, which I believe is simply unbelief. You know, if people really had faith in the power of God, and really believed that God was both able and willing to put a shield of gold into their hands, they'd never be content with a shield of brass. But they don't have faith, so they make brasen shields.
Another problem is the lack of patience. The Bible says, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” Folks are not willing to wait for God to do his work, but run ahead, as Abraham did when he begot Ishmael. His faith was faltering, and he made haste. When folks have to go some months or years without a shield of gold, they lose their patience, and run ahead of God, and say, “Well, God, if you're not going to do anything, I am.” That's fine, if you want to do something—indeed you ought to be doing a good many things, and “always abounding” in them—so long as you do what God has told you to do, and he hasn't told you to make shields of brass. We by faith and PATIENCE inherit the promises of God. Lack of faith moves men to make these brasen shields, and so does lack of patience—not willing to wait for God to work.
But there's another problem, which I think may be beneath some of these others, and that is simply, lukewarmness. If God comes to a man, and says, “I counsel you to buy of me gold, tried in the fire,” the man is naturally going to inquire, “What is the price? Lord, you say, `BUY of me gold tried in the fire.' What is the price?” And the Lord says, “Years of hardship, self-denial, and reproach—taking up the cross—dying to self—walking in the lonely path of faithfulness—being despised and rejected of men—being rejected of the builders”—and men turn away, not willing to pay that price. People are always looking for a quick and easy way. It's easy to make shields of brass. Brass is easy to come by. Even silver is easy to come by, compared to gold. In the days of Solomon, it was nothing accounted of. Solomon could have paved the streets with silver. Gold isn't so easy to come by. Brass anybody can get. You don't need to be a man of God—don't need to be a Solomon or a Wesley or Whitefield to make a shield of brass, but what is it worth? You can make your shield of brass so big the whole army can't carry it, and it still isn't worth what a shield of gold is.
Now, I will tell you, for my own self, I am absolutely committed to getting shields of gold from God. That means I would rather have no shield at all than a shield of brass. That means I would rather appear before the church of God and before the world as a failure, accomplishing nothing, than to go out and make shields of brass, and do the work of the flesh and call it the work of God. This is the healthyplace to be in. If Rehoboam's guards had been compelled to stand in their places with no shields at all, they and their king would have very deeply felt their low condition, but when every man has a shield of brass in his hand, they cease to feel their need for gold, and sighing and crying to God gives place to smug and complacent lukewarmness.
Now there's one thing you need to walk in that path, and that is faith. Your faith may be tried. Abraham, you know, waited at least twenty-five years for the child of promise—waited beyond the point at which it even seemed possible that he should ever have that child. Sarah was already past the age of child-bearing, and he waited on, and waited on, and endured all the reproach of being childless—and if he had been imprudent enough to open his mouth to anybody else, and let anybody else know the promise that God had given him, he no doubt had to bear their reproach and their mockings: “Say, Abraham, where is that child that God promised you? Hasn't it been a few years now? Are you sure that promise isn't some idle dream of your own head? Look at me. I don't have any promise of God, and I've got ten kids.” Well, you know, there's a lot of reproach to bear for waiting, for waiting upon God, but it all resolves itself down to this: Do you really want shields of gold, or are you content with shields of brass? If you really want shields of gold—in other words, if you're not lukewarm—IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE PRICE IS! The Lord comes to you and says, “I counsel thee, buy of me gold tried in the fire,” and you say, “God, I will buy, no matter what the cost. No matter how many lonely years of hardship and suffering and reproach I have to go through, I will buy. No matter what the self-denial is, I will buy. [Preacher weeping.] I will never be content till I have gold from God.”
There's a strong temptation from many quarters, within and without, to make shields of brass. Faith will not yield an inch to that temptation.
A Sermon Preached on July 17, 1994. Recorded, Transcribed, and Revised.