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Seek The Cure, Don't Treat The Symptoms

My lower lip felt dry. And tight, like it was being turned inside out. In the middle of the night I got up and walked to the bathroom, shocked by what I saw in the mirror. I woke up Karen and demanded she look at me. My lip was swollen so badly, well, I thought I kind of had that James Dean pout from “Rebel without a Cause,” but Karen thought I looked more like Roddy McDowell in make-up for “Planet of the Apes.” Do you think I should put an ice pack on it to reduce the swelling? Should I just go to bed and forget about it? She took me to the ER, keeping an eye on her husband who could well become the missing link between primates and man. Allergic reaction, the doc says. What you taking? Motrin. Don’t take it any more. Here’s some pills.

Seek the Cure, Don’t Treat the Symptoms
1.We are allergic to sin.
2.Seek the cure of the Savior.

What did King Solomon see, when he looked in the mirror of power politics? We like to think of King Solomon as a man of peace, but if we look at the Biblical record, he had his troubles. He could see trouble on the southeast border with Edom. Although his father, King David, in unrelenting war against a people who would not stop attacking God’s people, almost demilitarized the nation of Edom in a six-month campaign, a young boy from the royal family of Edom had escaped. “Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. Pharaoh king of Egypt, gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food (1 Kings 11.18).” And he did more. He married him into the royal family and permitted him to go back to Edom to cause trouble for the now powerful house of David, ruled by King Solomon. And you thought we invented the CIA and covert missions.

To the northeast Solomon could see a new power arising in Damascus, today’s Syria. The remnants of the army David and Joab had smashed reformed in the ungovernable hinterlands and, when they had grown strong enough under their leader, Rezon, they “went to Damascus, where they settled and took control. Rezon was Israel’s adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel (24-25).” And we thought Hezbollah was a modern phenomenon.

After my pills were gone, a storm front was moving in. My sinuses, blown out by years of stifling sneezes my mother says, were killing me. Can’t take Motrin. I reached for the aspirin. My headache would be gone before chapel was over. After chapel my throat felt dry. I take a bottle of water for my trip to drop off a marriage license at the county building. As I’m driving back I can feel that little thingy in the back of my throat that hangs down—it was really hanging down, like an Alabama hound dog hanging his head on a summer’s front porch. What if I can’t breathe? I was driving past the hospital. Let’s drop into ER. Allergic reaction, the doc says. What you taking? I didn’t take Motrin! I took aspirin. Same stuff, he says, don’t take it any more. Here’s some pills and see your doctor.

Why was this happening? Why is unexpected trouble popping up? What new horrors await me tomorrow?
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we know exactly why Solomon was suffering these symptoms. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Busy fellow. To make matters worse, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites (4-5).” Not only did he worship these false, disgusting idols--Ashtoreth worship, together with Baal, was so filthy the Lord had demanded that Joshua and the Children of Israel drive it out of the Promised Land, and Molech was worshipped with child sacrifices—not only did Solomon worship these false gods, he even built temples for these false gods. And he did not completely follow the Lord his God, the true God who had appeared to him, not once, but twice in visions laden with blessings and promises.

There’s the cause.
The doc scheduled me for an allergist. You wait a long time for an allergist. My pills ran out. I felt tense. Maybe a nice glass or two of wine. The opened bottle goes bad after three days, you know. Before I went to bed that night, I felt it, my upper lip. Sulpha sensitivity the allergist said. No sulpha based drugs, aspirin and motrin, easy on foods with sulphites in it. Here’s an emergency pack of drugs if you get in trouble with a bad salad bar.
Every bottle of wine in America has sulfites in it. One glass, I’m fine. The second glass, pow, back in the monkey cage or worse. It’s like I’m allergic to sin.

But I am allergic to sin. And so was Solomon. And so are you. It will kill us. It complicates our lives. The troubles we face are not money problems, they are greed problems. They are not marriage problems or boyfriend and girlfriend problems, they are lust problems. They are not medical uncertainty problems, they are doubt problems. We are all allergic to sin and if we only work on living without debt like the evangelicals are pitching or knowing what our wives wish their husbands knew like the mainline Protestants are pitching or a healthy soul in a healthy body like the Transcendental meditation Hindus are pitching, we’d still be dying, eternally dying, because we are allergic to sin. Don’t treat the symptoms. Seek the cure.

That cure is near to all. That cure for sin is the Savior.
The sacred historian doesn’t come out in so many words and says it. Solomon is going to have a lot of wasted years he’s going to have to slug through and we won’t know if he’s going to make it until we read the ending of his Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. But the sacred historian who knows Solomon is going to end up repentant and in heaven, gives us some clues. He talks about the LORD, the Savior God, who had appeared to Solomon twice and now appears to him once more to warn him! Even when the LORD tells Solomon he is going to tear the kingdom away from David’s royal family because of Solomon’s sins, for the sake of his promises to David (and Solomon cannot help but remember the biggest of those promises was the promise of a Savior whom we know as Jesus Christ) and for the sake of his choice of Israel (and when we are talking choice we are talking God’s Gospel choice of bringing that Word of God into our lives and creating faith in our hearts) the kingdom will partially be torn away from David’s royal family after the death of Solomon. Our saving God tempers his judgment in light of the work and promises of the Savior.

Jeremiah’s words from last week’s Old Testament reading come to mind. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail (Lamentations 3.22).” Is our life tough? Are we beset by problems we can’t get free from? Does there appear to be no hope? How much worse would hell be? Because of the Lord’s great love we are still here. Because of his unfailing compassion we have hope for a brighter tomorrow, if not in this world, then in the world to come.

That unfailing compassion, that great mercy, is only possible because of the work of the Savior. Where Solomon, you and I have failed in always putting the Lord first in our lives, Jesus succeeded. In the face of opposition in his home congregation, he still preached the Word of God, rather than saying, “Oh, forget about it.” When tempted to avoid the cross, he prayed, “Your will be done.” Even when he was bearing the shame and disgrace, the punishment and torment of all the world’s sins, he still entrusted his cause to a loving God—“Into your hands, I commit my spirit.” Because he pleased God the Father so, our heavenly Father has graciously forgiven us our many sins and sent his Holy Spirit into our hearts to display the fruits of that forgiveness in our lives.

Seek the Cure, Don’t Treat the Symptoms
1.We are allergic to sin.
2.Seek the cure of the Savior.

So, what’s it going to be with you? Going to spend the rest of your life trying to treat the symptoms of sin? You’re going to have to go to the spiritual ER room a lot, all those preacher celebrity seminars and highly publicized interdenominational rallies. Maybe you’ll have to get a couple of new beginnings in your life, get rebaptized once or twice, get saved again and again and again. Lots of people in our town doing it and boy, are they keeping busy! You can read about it in the headlines. Or you can do what I’ve done—realize I have a deeper sickness that no human can heal, no behavioral change can beat. Only in the arms of my Jesus can I find rest and healing and there is where I will stay.

By: Rev.Don Pieper

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Rev.Don Pieper is a minister in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. He has devoted his life to sharing the Gospel of Christ to all of Gods people. For more information about the Green Valley Evangelical Lutheran Church visit us at or call 702-454-8979 . Ask for Pastor Don or Pastor Matt.

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