REHOBOAM - JEROBOAM
We are told in 1 Kings 14:21 and 2 Chronicles 12:13 that Rehoboam was 41 when he ascended to the throne. However, certain statements in Scripture suggest that perhaps the copyists made a mistake here and that he was considerably younger, perhaps 21. For instance, his advisors are described as "the young men who had grown up with him" (2 Chronicles 10:10). Rehoboam’s son and successor describes his father as "young and inexperienced" when he came to the throne (cf. 2 Chronicles 13:7). This would hardly seem to describe someone who was 41. Also it would seem unlikely that Solomon prior to becoming king would have married Naamah, an Ammonitess. We know that he married many heathen women midway through his reign.
The Kingdom Divides: 2 Chronicles 10:1-11:4
Note that God had already determined to remove a portion of the kingdom from the control of Solomon’s descendants in view of his spiritual unfaithfulness (cf. 1 Kings 11:29-35; 2 Chronicles 10:15). Discussion: Does the statement "So the king did not listen to the people: for the turn of events was from God, that the LORD might fulfill His word…" imply a lack of free will on the part of Rehoboam with regard to his decisions? What does this statement imply about God’s providential control of this world’s affairs?
It should be noted that the tribes of Ephraim and Judah were the largest in Israel. Both were proud of their heritage and had been rivals throughout the history of God’s Old Testament people (cf. Judges 8:1-3; 12:1-6; 2 Samuel 2:9; 19:42-43). Part of the division of Israel at this time no doubt can be traced back to this rivalry—Rehoboam being a descendant of Judah and Jeroboam being a descendant of Ephraim.
Notice Jeroboam’s role in leading the northern tribes as they brought their request of Rehoboam. Discussion: Was their request legitimate? Was the counsel offered by the older men good advice? How does the counsel of the younger men and the decision of Rehoboam reflect a false understanding of the role government is to play within this world?
Notice Rehoboam’s willingness to listen to the word of the LORD as presented by Shemaiah. Discussion: Does submission to the LORD’s will always result in individuals receiving what they want in life? If not, what other elements must accompany godly submission with the heart of believers?
Jeroboam’s Reign in Israel: 1 Kings 12:20,25-14:20
Notice how fear outweighed faith within the heart of Jeroboam when he decided to establish state idolatry within Israel.
The reason why Jeroboam chose the two places selected for placement of the golden calves lay in the history of both places. Bethel was the place of worship consecrated by Jacob while en route to Haran centuries before (cf. Genesis 28:11-19; 35:1,7,9-15). It had been the place Samuel had held solemn assemblies (cf. 1 Samuel 7:16). Dan was also connected with ancient worship, although the worship had been a curious combination of truth and falsehood (cf. Judges 18:30-31).
Discussion: Why would Jeroboam choose golden calves as objects of worship? What reason did Jeroboam suggest for not going to Jerusalem for worship and how does Satan use that same reason to influence individuals today? How was the structure of Jeroboam’s new religion designed to win acceptance by the people? How do false prophets today use those same tactics to undermine the faith and allegiance of believers?
Note the striking nature of the man of God’s mission—bold condemnation, miraculous intervention, intentional deception, divine retribution, and strange devotion. Discussion: Why did God kill His messenger when he obviously had been deceived? (cf. Luke 12:48; 1 Corinthians 4:2) Why is disobedience to God always dangerous?
Note God’s description of Jeroboam’s sin—"you have done more evil than all who were before you…and have cast Me behind your back." Note also God’s grace in the midst of His judgment, when He delivered Abijah from his wicked surroundings into His divine presence. Discussion: What comfort might we take from the circumstances surrounding Abijah’s death? Considering the case of Jeroboam, why is it always dangerous to turn you back on God?
Note the means by which Judah was strengthened—fortifications and immigration of faithful believers from Israel. Discussion: Which means of strengthening Judah was more important? Can you think of other situations in which believing children of God have had to leave their homelands to remain faithful to their Lord?
Notice how unbelief leads inevitably to judgment, but that God recognizes and rewards repentance. Discussion: We are told that Rehoboam "did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD." How might we "prepare" our hearts, so that we might both seek the LORD and do that which is good in His sight?
--Pastor Paul D. Nolting