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Breezin’ Through The Bible, #14 – A Kingdom Divided

January 21, 2014

History repeats itself, warned Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:9. How many wars have there been? How many kingdoms have fallen — in fact and in fiction, from Greece to Camelot?

The prophet Samuel warned the Israelites that a monarchy was not a good idea, for kings would become demanding and abuse their power. His predictions were fulfilled, for Saul never had enough faith in God, David loved God but sinned, and Solomon was greedy.

When Solomon failed to keep pagan worship outside the realm, God said the kingdom would be divided. Rehoboam was Solomon’s son and heir, and Jeroboam, in the king’s court, was a rebel. The prophet Ahijah told Jeroboam God wanted him to become king. Solomon did not want that to happen and planned to have him killed. Jeroboam fled the kingdom to Egypt. After Solomon’s death Jeroboam returned.

Rehoboam refused to reduce the burdens his father had placed on the people, the taxes, the conscriptions to serve the king. He said he would tax them more and make them work harder.Ten Israelite tribes in the north said Jeroboam would be their king. Their nation was called Israel. The tribe of Judah and later the tribe of Benjamin remained with Rehoboam, the royal son of Solomon, and their nation was called Judah. Divided in worship practices, the nation became divided in politics, the priesthood, security and safety as God had said.

Jeroboam did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He built idols made of metal, two gold calves, for the people to worship and placed them at either end of Judah. He feared if the people went to Jerusalem to worship in the temple they would return to Rehoboam. The prophet Ahijah confronted Jeroboam. When Jeroboam stretched out his hand to silence Ahijah, his hand withered and the altar split, ashes pouring from it. Still Jeroboam did not change his ways.

By breaking the first commandment, Rehoboam did not fare much better. He too permitted false gods and Asherah poles. In Rehoboah’s fifth year as king, Shishak, king of Egypt, attacked Jerusalem and carried off treasure from the temple and royal palace.

Continual warfare erupted between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Rehoboam died in 915 BC, and his son Abijah became king.of Judah. He reigned three years, committing all the sins his father had, and there continued war with Jeroboam. Then Rehoboam’s son Asa became king of Judah, reigning 41 years. He maintained war with Bassha, the king of Israel, but he got rid of the idols and restored the temple. He built cities and was favored by God. In 873 BC he rested with his ancestors in the city of David. His son Jehoshaphat succeeded him as king of Judah.

Ahab became king of Israel. According to scripture Ahab did more evil than anyone had before him. He reigned in Samaria 22 years and married Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidonia. To please Jezebel he began to served Baal.

God’s plan for a nation of Israelites committed to the God who loved them was sideswiped by kings more committed to power than to God. For 200 yeas under numerous kings God’s warnings were ignored. His kingdom was torn in two, and God warned again, “Do not fight against your brother.” Wrong choices bring misery.

Wisdom brings sorrow, and knowledge brings grief.

We chase the wind.  (From Ecclesiastes 1: 15-16)

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