Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Friday, May 12, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for May 13, 2 Chr 9-12

Today's readings are 2 Chr 9-12.

2 Chr 9:1-12 depicts us one of the greatest worldly achievements in Solomon's life, the visit of the Queen of Sheba. In 1 Kgs 10-11, we found out that the worldwide fame and wealth her visit brings goes to Solomon's head as he departs from what he knows is right.

Nonetheless, God promised David that his son would live in peace (1 Kgs 2:4; 1 Chr 22:8-9) and the promise is upheld. Our passages in 2 Chronicles show how Solomon expands the kingdom to include all the land Joshua and the tribes were unable or unwilling to take.

Solomon dies leaving the throne to his son, Rehoboam, the son of an Ammonite woman. Rehoboam is the first king of Judah not to be named by God (2 Chr 9:30).

Rehoboam's choice of Shechem to declare his kingship (2 Chr 10:1-5) is ironic. Shechem lies in the narrow valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Those are the two mountains Joshua gathered Israel upon when they had occupied Canaan (Jos 8).  With half of Israel on one mountain and the other half on the other, they heard and affirmed the blessings they would receive if they obeyed the Lord and the curses the would endure if they disobeyed Him. Now Rehoboam, their new king is being corrupted and is disobedient to the commandments of the Lord (2 Chr 10:6-18) even as he stands on the spot where the blessings and curses were uttered.

The northern tribes, now being called “Israel,” begin to separate from the southern which are being called “Judah.” 2 Chr 11 gives us some detail as Rehoboam prepares to defend his kingdom. These are the acts of a wise king, except Rehoboam wants to defend his kingdom against Israel, his brothers! Rehoboam is a good leader but not a godly man. He seems to have all of the faults of his father and none of his virtues.

Jeroboam unites Israel in their rebellion against Rehoboam. Rehoboam begins consolidating his power in Jerusalem as the rift between Israel and Judah widens.

2 Chr:1-8 begins with a key verse. Rehoboam has abandoned any semblance of godly behavior. A prophet rises up and tells Rehoboam that because he has abandoned God, God will abandon him and turn him over to Pharaoh Shishak.

Rehoboam humbles himself. He and Judah repent. God relents. Their riches of the temple are lost as Egypt, a former ally, betrays Rehoboam and attacks. God, in His grace, protects and provides for them.

We see more ongoing lessons here. Self-centered decisions always lead to something less than God's best.  Frequently, they lead to disaster. When sin is revealed, the only remedy to severe consequences is repentance. Even at that, it must be sincere and heartfelt. In other words, there must be some grieving over sin, not just a desire to find a way out of the consequences.

The tale of Rehoboam's slide away from God is not yet complete. Judah is doing well because they repented. However, Israel is now being led by Jeroboam. The kingdom is divided. God's commandment was for them to be united, a reflection of their corporate relationship with God. The twelve tribes are not only supposed to be one, but they are also God's messengers on earth. Instead, they have been reduced to squabbling.

Watch what happens as everyone, north and south, seems to forget the curses warned about on Mount Gerizim in Dt 27-28.

Self-centeredness is a grave stumbling block. Pair it with a willingness to ignore the word of God, and you have a recipe for disaster. God is faithful and true. But it is becoming increasingly clear that His intention is not only to bless His people but to make them holy as well.

This would be good for us to remember. Our own path to sanctification does not lead only to blessing, but to holiness and godly living. Our loving Father will do whatever is necessary to get us there. 

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