"IF YOU THOUGHT IT WAS BAD THEN, JUST WAIT..."
*Good morning. Welcome back to our daily Bible Study. We are truly taking a journey through the Bible. I haven't asked this favor, but if you are still reading these posts (whether you enjoy them or not) let me know. I just need some indication that folks are still reading. I enjoy putting these together and will gladly continue. I do write these each day (nothing pre-fabricated) and spend a good amount of time doing them. So, let's continue our journey.
We have covered a lot of ground since we began. We are at the point where I can safely say that we have laid the foundation for the history of Israel. We have discovered how the monarchy came into being and soon we will look more into the prophets of Israel. The remainder of the Old Testament will be built around the kings and prophets. Yesterday we looked at the downfall of King Solomon. He loved foreign women who worshipped other gods. Solomon also worshipped these gods. God told Solomon that the kingdom would not be taken from him, but would be taken from his son.( At least part of it) This is a very important study today as it sets the stage for what is to follow in the Old Testament.
"Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his fathers and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king." (I Kings 11:42-43)
During Solomon's lifetime he managed to keep the kingdom together. Remember the kingdom consists of Northern Israel and Southern Israel that were once upon a time divided. Under King David they merged together. They still are at the time of Solomon's death. But, seeds have been sown for a civil war. If you follow the American Presidency you will know that when a new president takes office he/she inherits all that has been left behind by his/her predecessor. (both good and bad) In the past things have been blamed on the "former administration." (whether fair or unfair) Well, the kings that follow Solomon clearly inherit a situation that began long before their reign. When civil war takes place in Israel it did not begin over night.
"Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king...So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.' Rehoboam answered, 'Go away for three days and then come back to me..." ( I Kings 12:1,3-4)
O.K., Rehoboam is now the king of all Israel. However, the folks in the North have been unhappy for many years because they were being oppressed. (Heavy taxes and forced labor) Now, here's what happens. Jeroboam has been chosen to negotiate with Rehoboam. He asks the new king to ease up on the people. Rehobom wants to council with the elders who served his father. They advise him to lighten the load and "give them a favorable answer, (so) they will always be your servants." (I Kings12:6b) Well, for what ever reason Rehoboam decides to get a second opinion and therefore asked the young men for advice. (His buddies) What do they tell them to do? What they advised him to say reminds me of a time long ago when the heavy weight boxing champion of the world, Larry Holmes, was being interviewed. Larry Holmes was perhaps my favorite boxer of all time. He was without a doubt (and according to many historians) one of the best ever. Larry Holmes at the high point of his career had a record of 49 wins and 0 losses. The only boxer to finish his career undefeated was the late Rocky Marciano. In the interview Holmes was asked about Rocky Marciano. His reply was one of the few unpopular statements he ever made. He said: "Rocky Marciano could not carry my jock strap." Well, perhaps he should not have said that, because he lost his upcoming fight to a light-heavy-weight. Basically, Rehoboam was advised to respond to Jeroboam that Solomon could not carry his....In fact, the "friends" told him to say; "My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier." ( I Kings 12:10b-11) In other words: "If you think you had it bad then, you haven't seen nothing yet!" Well, guess how that went over?
"King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram (spell check loves these names. NOT!) who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. (I Kings 12:18a,19)
The statement "to this day" does not mean July 11, 2017. It simply means the time that this was written. Remember, the house of David is Jerusalem. Jerusalem is located in the southern section if Israel. The northern section is now done with Rehoboam. The North decides that Jeroboam will be their king. The kingdom is now divided again. So, there are now two kingdoms. The North consisted of ten tribes and they kept the name Israel. (This is all very important to remember as we continue) Their King is Jeroboam. The Southern kingdom is known as Judah, as only Judah remained loyal to the house of David. The twelfth tribe, Levi, had no tribal territory. Rehoboam is the king in the south.
O.K., there is a lot to remember. Now, Solomon's temple is where? In the South. (Jerusalem) In order to keep people in the north from going back to Jerusalem to worship Jeroboam built his own religious center. Of course this did not go over well with who? Yep, Yahweh! We need to realize that God set this whole thing up. The young "friends" of Rehoboam may have advised the young king to "tick" the people of the North off, but God was behind it. Why? Because he told Solomon that the kingdom would be divided. Yet, as time goes on God is not happy with the leadership. In fact, God sends word to Jeroboam: "You have done more evil than all who lived before you...Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam..." (I Kings 14:9a,10a)
So, going forth we now have two kingdoms and two kings. We will also see that there are two religious centers. We will also discover that one king gives way to another. And, we will also discover that there were very few (and I stress very few) kings who were actually good. Tomorrow, we will be introduced to another figure who will become very important to Israel's history. And, we will begin looking at the prophets. Please join me again tomorrow. -Pastor Rick