Rehoboam and Jeroboam

Read: 2 Chronicles 10-12 and Psalm 80

Restore us, God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
Psalm 80:7

Three times in Psalm 80 we see this petition: Restore Us, God Almighty. So many times I’ve prayed for God to heal our land, to show his strength and reverse the tide. I want an immediate response in biblical super-sized proportions, “Come on God, part the waters again!” Childish I know, but there are days like that where I just want everything to magically be set right. What I don’t want is to have to do the daily work of making disciples, reaching out to people that are in need of the loving grace that Jesus offers freely, investing time where it seems fruitless. This isn’t a door-to-door approach, a territory where we check off names from a list, it’s a heart-to-heart process that takes time and a willingness to suffer disappointment. God answered the psalmist with Jesus on the Cross. Help us Lord to tell the world as you commanded. Make your face shine on us, may your radiance be all over us for the building of your kingdom, that we may be saved!

The remainder of Second Chronicles begins with the division of Israel following Solomon’s death. The highlights in these chapters focus on the kings of the southern kingdom. The NIV Study Bible provides an excellent introduction to set the stage and give us perspective:

The Chronicler has written a history of the Davidic dynasty in Judah; the history of the northern kingdom is passed over in silence except where it impinges on that of Judah.  (1) The Chronicler is concerned to trace God’s faithfulness to his promise to give David an unbroken line of descent on the throne of Israel. (2) At the time of the Chronicler the restored community was confined to the returnees of the kingdom of Judah, who were actually the remnant of all Israel. NIV Study Bible Notes

A few years ago, I built a chart to help trace all the names of the kings with reference to the prophets. I’m tempted to invest time in building this out further, but the summary helps me appreciate the relationship of names over time. Maybe this is helpful to others. Kings of Israel and Judah

Rehoboam and Jeroboam

Chapter 10 begins with Rehoboam’s rise to the throne. As Solomon’s heir, he begins his reign by seeking advice when challenged by Jeroboam. Rehoboam’s response is anything but wise. He rejects the counsel of elders for the careless thoughts of the youth and propels Israel into a civil war that will cause trouble through the rest of history.

The young men who had grown up with him replied, “The people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” 2 Chronicles 10:10-11

btw — the “young men” were probably in their early 40’s since Rehoboam was 41 when he took the throne (2 Chronicles 12:13).

Not surprisingly, that answer was not well received. Chapter 11 begins with Rehoboam mounting an army to fight Jeroboam, but the Lord intervenes through the prophet Shemaiah:

“Do not go up to fight against your fellow Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” So they obeyed the words of the Lord and turned back from marching against Jeroboam. 2 Chronicles 11:4

Significantly, Rehoboam listened to the prophet and obeyed God here. To be sure, he fortifies the cities of Judah, knowing they are vulnerable to attack. The priests and Levites gather around Rehoboam for they see that he is following the Lord while Jeroboam goes completely off-rail.  We don’t see the story of Jeroboam beyond 2 Chronicles 11:13-17, but he leads most of Israel (10 of 12 tribes) into complete apostasy and invents his own religion, complete with idols, priests, etc. See 1 Kings 12-13 for details.

Sadly, chapter 12 reveals Rehoboam’s lack of commitment to God and the people suffer attack from Shishak, king of Egypt. Shemaiah has the duty of telling the king:

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.’” 2 Chronicles 12:5

Rehoboam’s response is noteworthy: Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah. (2 Chronicles 12:12)

The rollercoaster ride of Rehoboam shows us his was not fully in line with God. In his head, he knew what to do, how and when to humble himself, but his heart was not changed. Ultimately, he did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord (2 Chronicles 12:14).

Change our hearts, Lord. Help us to learn from the stories of old to write the stories of tomorrow for your glory and not our own.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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