Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Pointe Du Rad, the western most point of France

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 17, 1 Kgs 12-14

Today's readings are 1Kgs 12-14.

1 Kgs 12:1-11 records the rise of Rehoboam, Solomon's son. His stubborn nature and willingness to ignore the counsel of the aged while embracing the advice of his younger friends nearly loses him the kingdom (1 Kgs 12:12-15). Ultimately, he is left with a much smaller kingdom comprised of Judah and Benjamin, the nation going by the name of “Judah.” He reigns in Jerusalem, where the Temple is.

Rehoboam wants to go to war against Israel but is warned by a prophet of God not to attack his “relatives” (1 Kgs 12:21-24). Apparently, God still sees the new Northern Kingdom, now known as Israel, as part of His family.

Jeroboam reigns over the 10 Northern tribes, setting up idols in Shechem at Dan and Bethel, hoping to prevent his subjects from going to Jerusalem to worship. Jeroboam is acting out of a sense of self-preservation and self-interest instead of trusting God. As should have been expected, the idols become the focus of the people’s worship with Jeroboam sinfully sacrificing to them. Israel has false idols at its farthest border to the north and again to the south, symbolizing their complete surrender to these new gods (1 Kgs 12:25-32).

In 1 Kings 13:1-4, a prophet warns Jeroboam against his actions. Jeroboam repents when God handicaps him (1 Kgs 13:4-10). The prophet, however, heeds bad advice from another, older prophet, advice that goes against what God told him to do (1 Kgs 13:11-19). He decides to trust another man’s claim to prophesy instead of what he knows to be true (1 Kgs 13:11-22). The first prophet comes to a brutal end and is discredited, causing Jeroboam to turn away from his act of repentance, which it seems was not heartfelt and authentic, but situational (1 Kgs 13:23-34).

Jeroboam hears from God through a prophet one more time in 1 Kgs 14:1-16. Ironically, Jeroboam sent his wife to a prophet of God to hear His word but encouraged her to pretend she was someone else. He was looking for a blessing from God while lying to Him! Jeroboam loses his son even as he is told he will lose his kingdom, then he dies (1 Kgs 14:17-20).

During Rehoboam’s reign in Judah, there is constant war with Israel and a spectacular slide away from God (1 Kgs 14:21-24, 30). Adding to their woes, Egypt, one of the prized allies of Solomon’s era, attacks and carries away the treasures of the temple and the king’s house including the shields of gold (1 Kgs 14:25-26). Rehoboam has shields of bronze fashioned for his guard, treating them as precious objects (1 Kgs 14:27-28).

The bronze shields are a sad statement concerning Judah’s fall from grace. Where Solomon was blessed with gold, luxury, and fame, Rehoboam, having lost most of his kingdom and losing his allies, resorts to using a cheap alloy of tin and copper to protect himself.

Because of Solomon's drift away from God, Israel, once a glorious and powerful nation, is in disarray, warring with itself, worshiping pagan gods and crumbling with lightning speed.
We must guard against this sort of dramatic slide. These two kings had prophets and older, wiser men of God to warn them against what they were doing. They suffered the consequences of allowing their infractions to go unchecked. 

We have better resources at our disposal:  the written and complete word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Despite the powerful, supernatural nature of both of these resources, we are in danger of suffering similar consequences if we choose, like Rehoboam and Jeroboam, to ignore them.

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