March 18, 2018
The Divided Kingdom – Week 7 – Trading Blessing for Judgement
The Divided Kingdom – Week 7 – Trading Blessing for Judgement
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 11:5-12:16; 1 King 14:21-31
Today we will finish the story of Rehoboam. We have not talk about Ray for a few weeks so let me quickly remind you of who he was. He was the first king in the south after the divided Kingdom. He was the son of Solomon. Remember when he came to power he was challenged to lessen the burden on the people but instead he listened to bad counsel of his friends and threaten to make their burdens even heavier. He send in a guy to force his way they kill Him and he runs back to Jerusalem raises and army to fight His with his brothers and God tells Him to stop. When I read that first part of the story I developed a picture in my mind of who Rehoboam was. I am sure I am not alone. The picture I developed was that of a spoiled little rich boy who only wanted to listen to His friends and decided to flex his muscles to over compensate for his immaturity. Does that sound familiar?
Well today we are going to read out of Kings and Chronicles to tell the rest of his story. Hopefully we will get a much better picture of who he was and how we can keep from following in the path of Rehoboam. Usually we start with reading through the whole passage but today I want to try and just tell the story and try and blend the two passages together so we get the full context of the story in chronological order. You see as we said before Kings and Chronicles are not really step by step history but more a retelling of the accounts with a purpose of teaching a lesson. If you had that young punk image of Rehoboam in in your mind 1 Kings 14:21 will shock you as it did me.
21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.
The first thing we see is that when he comes to power he was 41 yrs old. Now that is not old! I claim that in the name of Jesus because I am 47 now. But that is quite a different image than I had in my mind of who Ray was. Notice he reigned for 17 yrs. If you will remember Jeroboam His rival in the north reigned for 22 yrs so there is some over lap with Ray and His son’s reign in the rule of Jerry.
The second thing we see is that Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, an Ammonite. Naamah means beautiful and knowing who Solomon was that must have been an apt description for her. But the more important description of her is that she is an Ammonite. The Ammonites were traditionally arch rivals of the Israelite and had their own customs and religious practices that were ungodly and an abomination to God. They worshiped Molec one of the demononic deities related to child sacrifice.
We will jump over and look at a brief overview of his reign in 2 Chronicles 11 starting in verse 5
2 Chronicles 11:5-12:16
5 Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem and built up towns for defense in Judah: 6 Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth Zur, Soko, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9 Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon and Hebron. These were fortified cities in Judah and Benjamin. 11 He strengthened their defenses and put commanders in them, with supplies of food, olive oil and wine. 12 He put shields and spears in all the cities, and made them very strong. So Judah and Benjamin were his.
First we see that Rehoboam built towns of defense. Here is a map if the area
Rehoboam was not leaving anything to chance. He fortified HIS kingdom. He was just as worried about losing power as Jerry was. The warning of of Psalm 20:7-9 by David (his grandfather) was not he had learned obviously.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. 9 Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
This brings me to my first point we should learn to keep from following after the path of Rehoboam. Our strength is found not in physical things but in our relationship with God. Our strength is not in guns or money or influence or power, it is found when we trust God and rely on Him to work on our behalf.
13 The priests and Levites from all their districts throughout Israel sided with him. 14 The Levites even abandoned their pasture lands and property and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them as priests of the Lord 15 when he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made. 16 Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 17 They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, following the ways of David and Solomon during this time.
We actually see some of the reason Jeroboam was so fearful of losing his kingdom. There was a mass exodus of the northern kingdom to the south when he began to set up his own system of worship. The Levites and members from every tribe began to move south to join Rehoboam but notice it was not because for Rehoboam it was because they desired to worship God. But notice that Rehoboam only followed the Lord and the ways of David for 3 years. Why the change?
18 Rehoboam married Mahalath, who was the daughter of David’s son Jerimoth and of Abihail, the daughter of Jesse’s son Eliab. 19 She bore him sons: Jeush, Shemariah and Zaham. 20 Then he married Maakah daughter of Absalom, who bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Maakah daughter of Absalom more than any of his other wives and concubines. In all, he had eighteen wives and sixty concubines, twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.22 Rehoboam appointed Abijah son of Maakah as crown prince among his brothers, in order to make him king. 23 He acted wisely, dispersing some of his sons throughout the districts of Judah and Benjamin, and to all the fortified cities. He gave them abundant provisions and took many wives for them.
The first thing we see is that Rehoboam starts to collect women. We see the term wives and concubines in scripture, and it is important to understand what that means. Solomon had the record of 700 wives and 300 concubines. But this is the first time we see a king of Israel have more concubines than wives. So what is the difference? Wives had honor and status while concubines were seen as mistresses. The children often had the same rights but the women did not. This is an indication that the family structure was beginning to fall apart. Rehoboam didn’t follow God’s word. In Duet. 17:17 it says specifically… He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
And that is exactly what happens. Let me say this. It is important who you marry. It is so hard as a pastor to tell people that they should not get married, but I have had to do it. I have had to refuse to do perform the ceremony for some couples because I knew that the relationship was not godly or healthy. Let me say this up front God is very specific about believers and unbeliever not getting married. I believe this is one of the reasons the scriptures tell us that Rehoboam’s mom was an Ammonite. Young people (and for that matter, old people) Please hear this, it is important to follow what God says about marriage. If you do not follow his way you will experience hardship that God does not intend for you to experience.
Rehoboam’s heart was turned away from God and 1 Kings tells us what that led to.
1 Kings 14:22-24
22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.
Notice Judah followed the way of their king. Also we see that God was jealously angry. What was he angry and jealous about? That they had given their hearts and their worship to idols. They had profaned worship and even brought male shrine prostitutes in. The people were following the path of all the people that God had called them to be distinct and holy against.
So the second way that we keep from following in the path of Rehoboam is to take God ‘s word and his worship seriously in our lives. We need to understand that God is serious when he calls us to holiness. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says…
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Lets look at the consequence of turning away from God.
2 Chronicles 12
12:1 After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord. 2 Because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam.
Notice that scripture says it is because they were unfaithful that God allowed Shishak of Egypt to attack. This is an important event. This is the first time that we see the land of Israel invaded since God gave them the land. The first time a foreign power comes in and defeats them on their own home soil. And it only took 5 years. For 3 years he followed God, 2 years of walking away and following after unholy things. And God sends judgement.
3 With twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, 4 he captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem.
That’s a big army. BTW there is archaeological evidence that backs up this story.
The Bubastite Portal at Karnak (in Egypt), depicting a list of city states conquered by Shoshenq I in his Near Eastern military campaigns. Jerusalem does not occur in the list.
They came all the way up and raided the capital city. They did not destroy Jerusalem but simply plundered it. We will look at what this means a little later.
Remember that map we saw at the beginning?
There was nothing to stop them. Why because God had had enough and he wanted them to learn the lesson. But God always is merciful. So God sends another prophet. Remember why does God send a prophet? Why does God give his word to us? To call us to repentance and belief.
5 Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, “This is what the Lord says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.’”
Shemaiah – Jehovah hears. As God sends His prophet even His name is calling out to them that God is listening. What is he listening for? Repentance!
God’s message is clear! You have abandoned Me, so I have taken my protection from you. God does not mince words or soft play this rebuke. He says it straight to them. I have to admit this is sometimes the hardest thing to deal with. We try as believers to play nice and dance around the issues but God does not. He calls it like it is. Notice their is no emotion or feelings. It is just the pure facts. You have rejected God. He is rejecting you. But this is what I love, remember God sent a prophet to Jerry in the north, Right? He called out the sin of Jeroboam and the people, and what was the response? They rejected it and hardened their hearts. Now God does the same thing to Rehoboam and look at his response.
6 The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is just.”
They humbled themselves and repented. They did not play the victim. They did not point the finger. They do not shift the blame. They agree with God and say He is just! So often when we repent we do a half-hearted repentance. We fall back on trying to justify or give excuses as to why we are not to blame but the truth is when we do that we rob ourselves of the gift of forgiveness and a clean heart.
7 When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. 8 They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.”
God is merciful to them, He says I will not destroy them, but he does not release them from the consequences of their sin. Even that is a grace of God to us. This is one of the hardest things to teach our children, I can remember when my kids were younger we would have to enact consequences for disobedience, and often there would be a moment when they would apologize and ask that the consequences would not stand but we would have to stand firm and tell them that just because they were sorry and promised never to do it again did ot remove the consequences. The Lord does the same thing with His people here. I believe that this is often a way that God loves us. I know that does not sound like love but it is,why? Because if every time we simply said I am sorry and it was all made right we would never learn the lesson and be cautious and careful to do the right thing. Consequences are a tool of a loving father to help us learn right from wrong.
Hebrews 12 says it this way…
My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
9 When Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, he carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields Solomon had made. 10 So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. 11 Whenever the king went to the Lord’s temple, the guards went with him, bearing the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom.
This is one of the most interesting parts of the story, and both Kings and Chronicles record this almost word for word. Shishak comes in to Jerusalem, takes all the treasures of the temple and the royal palace. There are speculations that this is when the ark of the covenant was lost. The one piece of information that we do have is that there were shields of gold, There were 300 shields in all, and each weighed three “minas” (about 10 pounds according to 1 Kings 10:17). Gold in the Bible was used to represent God’s blessing. so in a very real essence Egypt which represents the world, enters in to the holy place and removes God’s blessing. But instead of morning the loss and calling out to God to return the blessing, Rehoboam build brass shields polishes them up and brings them out to look good when he was going in to worship God. Brass in Scripture is always used in relation to judgement. So Rehoboam instead of dealing with the situation as it is, pretends that everything is good and props up a fake imitation. We see this all the time in many churches across our nation, Churches without the power of God truly moving and transforming lives instead of repenting to God and asking him to work they prop up the newest fad, shine up the pretty new shield that they have made, that is a cheap imitaion to what God wants to do, and acts like it is pleasing to God.
How often do we try and do the same things we experience God’s blessing in our lives, but we fall into sin, God begins to remove his blessing and instead of morning the loss of that blessing we make cheap substitutes that we bring out to put on the show and we pretend that God’s judgement is instead His blessing. The Third way to keep from following the ways of Rehoboam when we get serious about recognizing when God is trying to teach us a lesson and we strive to learn it. We get serious about repentance and stop playing games and acting like God is blessing us when instead he is rally judging us.
12 Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.
13 King Rehoboam established himself firmly in Jerusalem and continued as king. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. 14 He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.
15 As for the events of Rehoboam’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer that deal with genealogies? There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 16 Rehoboam rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Abijah his son succeeded him as king.
The final assessment, the final report card on Rehoboam was not good. He did humble himself at one point, there was some good in Judah, but the final score was that He did evil and did not seek God with His heart.
Where is your heart today? Are you just going through the motions? Is God powerfully working in your life? Are you walking in obedience to Him and his word or are you propping up fake blessings and fooling yourself into thinking that everything is good? Lets not follow the way of Rehoboam today. Let us humble our selves before God and ask him to restore His blessing in our lives. Let us remember Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross. He purchased our sins and our rebellion.
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