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More Goin’ Back to Go Forward

Continued refresher, as I am going back through some of I Kings and II Chronicles that I've already reviewed before resuming my attempt at chronologically reading the Old Testament.

I Kings 12

This is the painful scene when Rehoboam fails his first attempt at leadership. Solomon is dead and his son, Rehoboam travels to Shecem, along with all of Israel's leaders to make him king.

Jeroboam comes out of hiding in Egypt at the request of the people to be their spokesmen before the coming king. The people make the case that Solomon worked them hard (against his mandate from Deuteronomy.) They promise to serve him if he lightens their yoke.

Rehoboam asks for three days to think about and goes to get guidance first from the wise elders of Solomon's time and then from his buddies. Of course, the elders see how Rehoboam can make himself a beloved hero of the people and tell him to make the deal. And, f course, his sycophants tell him to flex his muscles and not only don't make the deal but threaten them and put them in their place.

This response from Rehoboam makes it clear to the ten northern tribes that they are no longer tribal brothers with Judah but a workforce and tax base, so they leave-refusing to acknowledge the new king. Rehoboam, still completely reading the situation poorly sends the guy who was over the forced labor to bring them back- maybe thinking they would dutifully respond to their previous overlord. Instead they stoned the guy to death and Rehoboam finally got the message and beat foot back to Jerusalem.

Rehoboam organized an army to fight the northern tribes, but God sent word through a prophet tell Rehoboam to stand down. Do not fight your brother. And Rehoboam complied.

Judah remains loyal, fulfilling God's vision for Israel's future.

The ten northern tribes made Jeroboam king of "Israel". Right away he sinned out of fear. He worried that, when the ten tribes went to Jerusalem for their religious ceremonies three times per year, they would have a change of heart and return to loyalty to Rehoboam and the House of David. So he made two golden calves (yes, really! golden calves AGAIN) and placed them where the tribes could get to them without every going to Jerusalem. Then he made new priests and high places and explicitly excluded the tribe of Levites as priests. Finally, he established new feasts, so the people would still have tradition, but not be drawn back to Jerusalem.

I Kings 13

Now Jeroboam is standing by his fancy. new evil altar to burn incense to his fancy new religion and God sends a man of God (prophet) to decry this abomination. He prophesies against Jeroboam and offers a specific sign to verify the word. Jeroboam tries to have security seize the man and his hand shrivels. The sign is confirmed. Jeroboam begs for the man to ask God for healing; he does; and Jeroboam's hand is healed.

Jeroboam now tries to entice the man of God to come home with him and the man says no and explains he has strict instructions he must follow from God. He does leave by a different way; but gets conned into stopping and eating with an old prophet that lied to him.

A lion kills the man of God and leaves his body for the old prophet who lied to come and tend to his burial.

None of this disabused Jeroboam of his evil ways. He kept sinning and adding false priests to the his purposes.

I Kings 14

Jeroboam

Next, Jeroboam's son becomes ill. Rather than dealing with his own sin; or dealing directly with God, Jeroboam sends his wife to the prophet that originally prophesized about Jeroboam becoming king. She was disguise herself as a poor person and bring a poor person's offering to find out what would happen to the boy.

Of course, the Lord tells Ahijah who was coming and what to say to her...and it was not good. God is very specific in all the things Jeroboam has done wrong and all of his evil idolatry- worse than all who came before him. He says He is going to make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, like one makes a clean sweep of dung... Very visual and clear to understand. You sweep until n o dung is left at all. Also , these dead will be humiliated without burial and eaten where they lie.

The boy who was ill would die as soon as the wife returned home and the people would mourn. He would be buried properly, as good was found in him toward the Lord.

The Lord also promised to raise up a king to cut off the rule of Jeroboam. And eventually, cut off all of Israel. This wraps up the reign of Jeroboam. More about him in Chronicles, if I remember correctly. He reigned 22 years and was replaced by his son, Nadab.

Rehoboam

Starting in verse 21, this chapter also describes the parallel reign of Rehoboam in Judah. He was 41 when he took over and reigned 17 years in Jerusalem.

There's an interesting phrase I've seen before in the middle of verse 21:

...in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there.

I Kings 14: 21

I wonder if that means on the Temple or something even more basic than that before the Temple was built. I looked up "name" in the Blue Letter Bible and it has a connotation of fame or memorial. Maybe it means something like, where He placed His renown? I know in ancient time every region had it's god. Maybe it means this was was these people in whom He placed his reputation.

Starting in verse 25, the King of Eygpt, Shishak, attacked Rehoboam and took away all of the treasures of both the house of the Lord and the house of the king, including the conspicuous consumption golden shields from Solomon.

In response, would you guess that Rehoboam fell on his face before God and asked where God's favor had gone? how he had sinned? how he could get right again with the living God?

Nope.

He put his effort into replacing the gold shields with bronze shields that locked up tighter than a haram and he brought them out only for the exact time he was in the house of God.

I think I go on an on about this in the original post, so I'll keep it to a minimum; but this is what Solomon's vanity wrought. A king who did not know how to walk with God, so he didn't know how to address the needs of his people, defend his kingdom or even his own treasures, and didn't know how to respond to the kind of lessons the Lord sent to draw him near.

Then the standard summary for a king starts on verse 39

  • No more acts of Rehoboam written here; but more in the Chronicles
  • War between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually
  • He was died, buried, etc
  • His mom's name
  • Abijam, his son, became king

II Chronicles 10

Just a reminder that the Chronicles was a compiling of the Old Testament background for the people as they were coming out of the Babylonian captivity and returning to life in Palestine. This was their chance to do right by God and Ezra, the presumed author, emphasized the good in their forefathers and tried to present the law and right loving before God.

That means a couple of things. First, he tells mostly positive accounts and leaves out much of the bad news about their historical figures. And second, he focuses largely on the kings of Judah, as they were returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.

As a matter of fact, my Ryrie Study Bible even adds a sub-section header starting in Chapter 10 titled, The Kings of Judah.

Chapter 10 is a retelling of Rehoboam heading to Shechem for his coronation and the people sending Jeroboam to plead their plight, Rehoboams counsel from the elders and his friends, his catastrophically bad choice of which advise to follow, and the 10 northern tribes losing faith in their portion of the house of David. Judah stayed, the other 10 tribes left, Rehoboam sent the exact wrong messenger to get them back, whom they stoned, and Rehoboam got the message that he should hustle back to Jerusalem to safety.

II Chronicles 11

Chapter 11 starts with Rehoboam assembling troops to fight the ten northern tribes, now known as "Israel" and a man of God bringing a message to stand down. To Rehoboam's credit, he obeys. Which already shows a clear difference between these two kings when God sends His Word directly to them.

Verse 5 tells us that Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem and build defensive cities. Verses 6-12 goes on to list the cities built and the fortification made to get them battle ready. From my very amateur ancient history knowledge, this is a plus and a minus to his credit. First, good on him for building things that might benefit the people and not just making sure everything he owned was covered in gold, as his father was doing by the end. However, the need to do this was a sign of a change in God's favor. Solomon hadn't had to think much about defense because David had given him a secure land and peaceful time that had been earned through bloody war, planning, and mostly, God's favor so Solomon could focus on the Temple. Rehoboam, if he had been raised to walk with the Lord, could have sought God for what to do and how to do it.

Any time we undertake a massive building and fortification project in our lives, one of two things is true- either we've received Word from the Lord and we know He'll provide for what He has asked us to do; OR we've drifted far enough from God that we feel unsafe and we start trying to make ourselves safe in our own strength.

It's worth checking regularly to see if we are acting out of fear or faith, because it, literally, makes all of the difference.

Verse 13 is very interesting. It states that the priests and Levites who were in all Israel stood with him from all their districts. That's profound. We see why from reading about Jeroboam starting his own cult and drafting non-Levites as new priests. But it uses the word "all" twice. that pretty through rejection of Jeroboam and support for Rehoboam.

Verse 14 goes on to tell us that the Levites in Israel left their pastures and property and came to Judah. that's real commitment to the Lord. I pray and hope that I would have that kind of faith in and commitment to the Lord in similar circumstances. And from all of the northern tribes, those who still set their hearts on the Lord brought their sacrifices to Jerusalem not the fake altars of Jeroboam.

Interestingly, in verse 17 it specifies that this support for Rehoboam from the faithful in Israel lasted three years, until he married? I wonder if I'm misreading or misinterpreting what's being said there.

Starting in verse 18 we learn more about Rehoboam's family life. His wives, daughters, concubines, sons, etc.

He had a favorite wife, whose son was his favored son for becoming the next king, Abijah. However, he wisely distributed all of his sons through the various districts so that he had an eye on things and they gained experience in real leadership.

II Chronicles 12

It took place when the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong that he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord.

II Chronicles 12:1

This probably seems like a strange verse to highlight. Not the kind of thing you want prominent on your refrigerator or "Verse of the week" board. However, it should be. At least for many of us in this country. We have so much and we have so much going for us...we have so much to lose. and when that's true, we start trying to fit God's word into our lives instead of molding our lives around God's Word.

Write that verse on your heart. The Temple Pillars, Boaz and Jachin, tells us that GOD establishes and GOD strengthens. If you get that far and walk away from HIM, not only does your story often take a dark turn, but you can take many others with you away from the Lord.

Verse 2 tells us that it was because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that in Rehoboam's fifth year, the king of Egypt, Shishak, came up against Israel.

Verse 4: Shishak had chariots, horses, and countless men from other tribes. He captured all of those fortified cities that Rehoboam thought would protect him and Shishak made it to Jerusalem.

Next the Lord send word, through His prophet Shemaiah, to Rehoboam and his princes, all gathered in Jerusalem:

This says the Lord, "you have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak."

II Chronicles 12:5b

Note to self.

Then they humbled themselves before the Lord. When He saw that they had humbled themselves he informed the prophet that He would spare them with a measure of deliverance.

Another note to self.

If you see your sin and turn back to God, He is faithful to forgive; HOWEVER, there may only be a measure of deliverance from the consequences you brought on yourself.

Verse 8: The Lord tells the prophet that, instead of losing Jerusalem completely to Shishak, instead they would be Shishak's slave so they could understand the difference between My service and service to the kingdoms of the countries.

Note to self.

Learn the lesson. He wants you to be ready for eternity. If you're going to suffer- learn and grow, and be changed by it for the better, for eternity. It's better His way.

Here's how Rehoboam handles it: In verse 9 we learn that Shishak came and cleaned out the house of God and the House of the king. He took everything, including Solomon's precious golden shields.

And just like that, everything Solomon had accumulated on the backs of his people...was vanity. Like vapor in the wind. No amount of accumulation is safe if you turn your back on God. And especially turn your heart to idols.

And what did Rehoboam decided to do, in response to all of this? As noted from the same info from I Kings, he put his time and effort in recreating the shields in bronze. And then protecting them as a prized possession. Astounding. I guess once you get that far from the Lord, even when the Lord is sending personal messages via prophet, it changes the filter you see through. It changes your worldview.

He does humble himself in verse 12, and the Lord's anger turned away from him, mercifully. It says the conditions in Judah were good. In verse 13 he strengthens himself in Jerusalem and reigns.

The next few verses are the king's summary, ending in the reign of his son, Abijah, after his death.

I think, next up we'll look at Abijah in both books.

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