We are all familiar with the allegory of Galatians 4 which compares the tension between Isaac and Ishmael with the persecution of the church by some of the Jewish rulers in the first century. We are also familiar with the many references to the Son of David in prophecy. There was coming a time, we are told, when a descendant of David would sit on the throne in the last days and bring about a second Exodus.
David’s immediate son, Solomon, reigned on the throne in Jerusalem for forty years. Within those forty years, he brought the people back into Egyptian bondage in a different way than one may suspect. Jesus, in a forty year period that answers Solomon’s reign (called the “thousand year reign”) freed the people from this bondage by deconstructing Solomon’s version of the kingdom and reconstructing, in its place, a heavenly kingdom in which there is no Jew or Greek, bond or free, and male or female.
A few quotes about Solomon:
Now this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.1 Kings 9:15
So, in this first passage, Solomon uses forced labor to build a house for the LORD, which is the name that God uses to announce that He hears the cries of the oppressed and frees slaves. He used forced labor to build his own house (like Pharaoh). He builds a wall around the city that is to be the light of the world and a place for all nations to come and worship. And he builds three military bases. One of these, Megiddo, is of course where we get the name Armageddon.
So, in just a few generations, the oppressed become the oppressors.
Now Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen; and he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, and he stationed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamore trees that are in the lowland. 28 Also Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king’s merchants procured them from Kue for a price. 29 A chariot was imported from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver, and a horse for 150; and by the same means they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of the Arameans.1 Kings 10:26-29
Psalm 20:7 says, “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.” It seems that Solomon trusts in chariots, huh? Chariots. That should remind us of a location: Egypt. In fact, the text goes on to say that he imported horses from Egypt (more on that later). So, Solomon used, in his position as king, slave labor to build the temple, his palace, the walls of Jerusalem, and military bases. Now, he is rapidly expanding his military and providing horses and chariots to other nations.
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away.1 Kings 11:1-3
Not only did Solomon use slave labor and increased his military, he also took many wives and concubines from foreign nations. These led him to quickly break the first of the ten commandments. Solomon has broken covenant. Solomon is the new pharaoh. Jerusalem is the new Egypt. This is exactly what God had warned them about through Moses:
“When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. 16 “Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ 17 “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.Deuteronomy 17:14-17
These decisions, among others, caused the people to go into Babylonian captivity. This event led the prophets to talk about a future in which another descendant of David would sit on the throne and bring about justice and peace for all nations, tongues, and peoples.
As Jesus said of Himself, “Behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).
Just a few quick points about Jesus:
While Solomon used forced labor, Jesus became a Servant Himself (Philippians 2:7).
While Solomon used forced labor, Jesus’s followers claimed that there is no slave or free in Christ (Galatians 3:28).
While Solomon participated in an arms race with neighboring countries and even imported and exported tools of war himself, Jesus claimed, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:31).
While Solomon increased his military, Jesus encourages us to not practice war: “And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war” (Isaiah 2:4).
While Solomon built a temple for God. Jesus and His followers claimed, “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands” (Acts 7:48). And, “We are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:12).
As a side note, America claims to be a nation that trusts God and is “one nation under God.” With its history of slavery, military expansion while many veterans are homeless, building of walls, and leaders who have many wives, one would wonder if Christians today would vote for Solomon (who focused on the economy and military) or Jesus (who had no place to lay His head and spent His days providing healing and food for the poor) for President if given the chance. “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God” (Psalm 20:7). I love my country, but something seems very Egypt-like about some Christians today.
Now, in Revelation, there is a battle between those who wield the sword, and the One Who’s sword comes out of His mouth:
If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.Revelation 13:10
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.Revelation 19:15
This city, with whom He fights, is spiritually called Egypt, and it was the city who was guilty of crucifying the Lord (Revelation 11:8).
One of the main enemies in the book bears the number 666 (Revelation 13:18).
Solomon became the new Pharaoh. Jerusalem became the new Egypt. And Solomon brought in, in one year, 666 talents of gold:
Now the weight of gold which came in to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold,1 Kings 10:14
The group that trusted chariots instead of God, the group that persecuted the saints and rejected Jesus, the group that took up the sword, the group that put all their stock into an earthly city with a physical temple is given the designation 666 – a call back to Solomon’s wealth that he accrued from increasing his military and using slave labor.
Jerusalem became the new Egypt.
David had two sons. One emphasized the flesh while the other emphasized the heavenly. Which one do you follow?
Note: a lot of credit goes towards Tom Holland (author of two major books on Paul: Contours of Pauline Theology and Romans: The Divine Marriage). Another book, based largely on the work of Tom Holland, called Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden has also been helpful to me. Finally, Holger Neubauer pointed out the mention of 666 in 1 Kings 10:14 several years ago, but I had yet to see the connection between the focus on the earthly by Solomon in contrast to the emphasis on the heavenly by Jesus.