I'm making my way through the first generation of leadership following the division between Israel and Judah. We took a closer look and Israel and Jeroboam in previous posts; and a cursory look at Rehoboam of Judah. But today we'll take a deeper dive into the reign of Rehoboam in II Chronicles 11-12.
Chapter 11: A Strong Beginning
Verse 1-4 review what we knew previously, that Rehoboam went back to Jerusalem, since there was no more need to try and rule from a more neutral city. He got a huge army together and was preparing to attack when God sent a message telling him not to attack family.
It's worth noting, to me, that God used a messenger. David would have sought God and God would have responded "in person" or through a messenger; but it was a reply to David seeking the Lord's guidance. There doesn't seem to be evidence that God's message came because Rehoboam wanted it; rather God proactively sent the warning.
What could Rehoboam have accomplished if he sough the Lord?
Next in verses 5-10 we learn that Rehoboam then began fortifying hi portion of the nation in the south and west against a growingly hostile Egypt.
Maybe I'm reading too much into it; but one of the fortified cities he built up to defend from Egypt was Bethlehem- from where a child would be born to save us from "Egypt".
Another thing that happened in Judah after the big split, was that Levites from all over Israel had to leave their lands and flocks and come to Judah. First, to be obedient in their service; but also because Jeroboam EXCLUDED them from service, since he was starting his own religion. It was only members of other tribes that could serve. Which makes sense, but I hadn't caught that before.
So as the Levites came, the other faithful followed so that they could bring their approved sacrifices to the Lord.
This is a really big deal. This society ran on ranching and farming. To move away from the land given, by God, to your tribe and to go to Judah would have been a massive undertaking for a (probably) multi-general family. Where do they relocate to? God must have made room for everyone; but what a giant migration that would have been. My goodness.
It says that they walked in the way of the Lord for three years. Which is more than I knew from I Kings. So I guess there is something to be said that he must have had some wisdom come from the split. He must have repented, or at least, did enough to make the people feel led to follow the Lord.
Then he took a wife and it explains her background (via David) and the children he had. Plus all of his other wives and concubines.
He did groom the son from that wife to lead. He wisely distributed his sons through the land and fortified cities.
Chapter 12: Deep Sigh...You Know What Happens Next...
It tells us only that he and all of Israel forsook the law of the Lord.
Interesting that it says Israel and not Judah; as Israel is under Jeroboam.
And so, in the fifth year, the same Egyptian that ransacked Jeroboam attacks Rehoboam. Shishak (the Egyptian), his chariots, and all of the other nations he combined, went right through Rehoboams fortified and cities and made it nearly to Jerusalem.
So Rehoboam and his sons/princes had congregated in Jerusalem because of the attack and God sent his prophet, Shemaiah, to them to explain that they forsook God so He forsook the to Shishak.
In verse 6 the princes humbled themselves and acknowledged that the lord is righteous.
Because they humbled themselves, God spared them destruction. He allowed Shishak to make them slaves so they could compare the burden of being God's servant and that of the world/Egypt.
That strikes such a cord. In the previous post on Rehoboam and Jeroboam I came face to face with all of the high places I've built to meet my needs in lieu of trusting God. I can see now that He's given me over to them at times so I can compare. Whose burden to I want to bear? In whom do I want to put my trust. Who do I really want to serve?
Please Lord- help me. I can see my own corruption and weakness and don't want to stumble around in the dark anymore offending you while I seek my own. I'm so so sorry. I am humbled and afraid I'll just keep making these same mistakes. I want to serve you and be blind to any high places meant tp deceive and enslave me. Amen.
This is when Shishak plunders the temple, the King's palace and takes the ridiculous golden shields.
Having learned nothing, Rehoboam goes about replacing the shields but has to resort to bronze.
In verse 12 it does say that "And when he humbled himself, the anger of the lord turned away from his, as to not destroy him completely; and also conditions were good in Judah.
So this makes it seem like he humbled himself later than his princes; but that God did turn things around for him at that point.
In verse 13 it says that he then strengthened himself and reigned.
His life wraps up with a series of facts:
- He was 41 when he took the throne.
- He reigned 17 years
- He did evil in the sight of the Lord because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
- There were constant wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. this is mentioned in I Kings as well.
- He died and his son, Abijah became king. Also spelled Abijam in I Kings. Wiersbe theorizes that the change in the name is to eliminate the reference to God in an ungodly man (Jah= Jehovah).
Wiersbe also connect the turning away in the fourth year to the verse, He did evil in the sight of the Lord because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
We have to actively seek the Lord. We don't sign up for the club and then come when we feel like it. This life with God is day by day. He's a God of cycles and we have to keep coming back. Rehoboam had as much evidence of God than almost anyone on earth. And he turned away.
Wiersbe points out that his mom was an Ammonite and so may she led him astray. or one of his many, many wives or concubines. Or maybe remembering his father's example.
It doesn't matter.
if you're eyes are on God, nothing else can grab your attention. He shines too bright and hi character is too strong.
But if we let our eyes wander...it's just too easy.
Lord- Please help me.
And why is this so important, Wiersbe points out that Judah and Israel's lights have gone out. They were supposed to be his priestly nation shining His light to draw the world. Now they were just as perverted and corrupt as everyone else.
It doesn't take much effort at all to apply that to our own lives. If the world cannot see any light in me than they already have of their own...and if they can see their own darkness in me...how can I be a light that draws them to the Lord.
The church should look different than the world in this pandemic.
I should different to my co-workers than the world.
Do we? Do I?
Lord- please cleanse me and shine Your light. Cleanse me of my anger and my worldly words. My laziness and selfishness. May I die to self so that I can live for You- shining Your light. Being a part of Your plan. Amen.
Rehoboam was under a covenant. As was Jeroboam. As was all of Israel and Judah.
As are we.