Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Israel is Divided
***Video is HERE***
Israel is Divided
Where we left off:
When Solomon was nearing the end of his reign and life, God already had made provisions for who would reign in his place. Rehoboam his son was expected to take his place, though God had already spoken to Solomon and a man from Ephriam named Jeroboam regarding this. When we ended in our last session, Jeroboam had fled to Egypt to escape Solomon’s attempts on his life.
Now, God’s decision as to who would reign was directly connected to the obedience of Solomon during his reign. If you remember, the promise made to both David and to Solomon that one of their heirs would continue to rule over Israel was predicated upon the condition of THEIR continued wholehearted obedience to God by walking in His statues and ways. Solomon, as we learned in our last teaching, allowed his heart to be turned away from complete devotion to God by his many foreign wives – leading to a division in his loyalties to God, by honoring man-made gods as well. As leader, he was responsible for directing the hearts of Israel in divided loyalties as well. Whether God’s judgement in dividing the kingdom was a dramatisation of this heart division, is hard to say with any certainty, but it would not be out of character with what we have so far learned of god and His ways with man.
Also of interest was the fact that God included in His decision, considerations of the faithfulness of David as well, in that He did not take the entire kingdom away from David’s descendants. This teaches us many things.
God, though He rules in sovereignty over the affairs of men and alone appoints Who He desires as rulers – He does not act upon whim in His decisions. We have a God of justice Who has taken it upon Himself to be transparent with us regarding what He took into consideration when making the decisions that He did regarding who would rule and reign.
No one would have been able to predict the outcome of God’s decision. Who would have guessed that God would divide the kingdom and give the greatest portion of the kingdom to a man who has NO ancestral claim to the throne and only one tribe to the son of the previous king? Who could have guessed that His reasons for doing so was to honor David the father of the present king?
Known only to God is His unsearchable wisdom and His ways are beyond our ability to figure out on our own! Left to our own devices we would be helpless in understanding God and His ways, but…because of the work of Jesus we are NOT alone. We have His Spirit within and upon Who leads us and guides us into the true and faithful knowledge of the God Who loves us and wants to know us and be known by us!
So…we begin tonight with Solomon already having died.
His son Rehoboam is about to be crowned king, and Jeroboam is returning from Egypt where he fled for his life until the death of Solomon.
Who will reign?
1Kings 12:1-24, “(1) Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. (2) When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard about it, for he was still in Egypt where he had fled from King Solomon’s presence, Jeroboam stayed in Egypt. (3) They summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam: (4) “Your father made our yoke harsh. You, therefore, lighten your father’s harsh service and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
(5) Rehoboam replied, “Go home for three days and then return to me.”
So the people left.
(6) Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was alive, asking, “How do you advise me to respond to these people?”
(7) They replied, “Today if you will be a servant to these people and serve them, and if you respond to them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.” (8) But he rejected the advice of the elders who had advised him and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and served him.
(9) He asked them, “What message do you advise that we send back to these people who said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”
(10) Then the young men who had grown up with him told him, “This is what you should say to these people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you, make it lighter on us!’ This is what you should tell them:
‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! (11) Although my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with barbed whips.'”
(12) So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had ordered: “Return to me on the third day.” (13) Then the king answered the people harshly. He rejected the advice the elders had given him (14) and spoke to them according to the young men’s advice: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with barbed whips.”
(15) The king did not listen to the people, because the turn of events came from the LORD to carry out His word, which the LORD had spoken through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.”
I want you to pay attention to how God managed to accomplish His will without manipulation or even, by altering man’s freewill as best we can tell.
Young people often value the opinion of their peers over the seasoned advice of those who are older. Also the young are often brash and impulsive in their judgments, so it isn’t at all remarkable that these events turned out as they did.
From the vantage point of God, Who knows all things before they even occur, He would have been in a position to know the outcome beforehand. Furthermore, we do not know all that transpired. For all we know, the Lord set up events in the lives of each of the young men who would participate in offering Rehoboam advice so as to incline their opinions in a specific direction.
Who knows how far back God orchestrated events in order to arrive at this conclusion without needing to manipulate human will?
“(16) When all Israel saw that the king had not listened to them, the people answered him: What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Israel, return to your tents; David, now look after your own house! So Israel went to their tents, (17) but Rehoboam reigned over the Israelites living in the cities of Judah.”
Also, of GREAT import here is how God seems to operate incognito. Until it was necessary to do so, God does not claim responsibility for anything that transpired. It would have “appeared” as if all decisions and control was in the “vote” if you will, of the people. Let that sink in!
“(18) Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam managed to get into the chariot and flee to Jerusalem. (19) Israel is in rebellion against the house of David until today.
(20) When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they summoned him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. No one followed the house of David except the tribe of Judah alone.
(21) When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mobilized 180,000 choice warriors from the entire house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam son of Solomon.
(22) But a revelation from God came to Shemaiah, the man of God: (23) “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, (24) ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not to march up and fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Each of you must return home, for I have done this.'”
So they listened to what the LORD said and went back as He had told them.”
2Chron. 10:1-11:12, “(1) Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king.
(2) When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard about it–for he was in Egypt where he had fled from King Solomon’s presence–Jeroboam returned from Egypt.”
It is worth mentioning here that Egypt historically played a significant role in Israel’s existence. They served as both a safe haven to retreat to as well as a place of God’s judgment. A good many teachers of the scriptures hold the opinion that Egypt is a type of the world. This is instructive since Egypt’s role in relation to Israel seems very much in step with the role the world plays in relation to the church under the New Covenant.
“(3) So they summoned him. Then Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam: (4) “Your father made our yoke harsh. Therefore, lighten your father’s harsh service and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”
(5) Rehoboam replied, “Return to me in three days.” So the people left. (6) Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was alive, asking, “How do you advise me to respond to this people?” (7) They replied, “If you will be kind to these people and please them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.”
(8) But he rejected the advice of the elders who had advised him and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him, the ones serving him. (9) He asked them, “What message do you advise we send back to this people who said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” (10) Then the young men who had grown up with him told him, “This is what you should say to the people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you, make it lighter on us!’ This is what you should say to them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. (11) Now therefore, my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I, with barbed whips.'”
(12) So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, just as the king had ordered, saying, “Return to me on the third day.” (13) Then the king answered them harshly. King Rehoboam rejected the elders’ advice (14) and spoke to them according to the young men’s advice, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I, with barbed whips.” (15) The king did not listen to the people because the turn of events came from God, in order that the LORD might carry out His word that He had spoken through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.
(16) When all Israel saw that the king had not listened to them, the people answered the king: What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Israel, each man to your tent; David, look after your own house now! So all Israel went to their tents.
(17) But as for the Israelites living in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. (18) Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of the forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. However, King Rehoboam managed to get up into the chariot to flee to Jerusalem. (19) Israel is in rebellion against the house of David until today.”
2Chron. 11:1-12, “(1) When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mobilized the house of Judah and Benjamin–180,000 choice warriors–to fight against Israel to restore the reign to Rehoboam. (2) But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, the man of God: (3) “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people: (4) ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not to march up and fight against your brothers. Each of you must return home, for this incident has come from Me.'” So they listened to what the LORD said and turned back from going against Jeroboam. (5) Rehoboam stayed in Jerusalem, and he fortified cities in Judah. (6) He built up Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, (7) Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, (8) Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, (9) Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, (10) Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron, which are fortified cities in Judah and in Benjamin. (11) He strengthened their fortifications and put leaders in them with supplies of food, oil, and wine. (12) He also put large shields and spears in each and every city to make them very strong. So Judah and Benjamin were his.”
Now I was wondering this myself last week when we read the account of God’s division of the tribes but I did not yet have an answer to it so I did not bring it up. I am still not in any way certain of an answer but here is the problem.
When God mentioned taking 10 tribes and handing them over to Jeroboam and handing one tribe over to Rehoboam – obviously we are missing a tribe. That tribe shows up in these verses as being the tribe of Benjamin.
So the question is – why did God not count Benjamin as it’s own tribe?
I honestly don’t have a solid answer at this point, but here is what I do know.
- In the above verses we see in 2 Chronicles 11 that Rehoboam consolidated his kingdom in the fortified towns of Judah and Benjamin. 1 Kings 12, which is the original account, it also shows an alliance between Judah and Benjamin. So this “may” simply be a unifying of the two tribes as one under the name of Judah IN WHICH was Jerusalem – home to the Temple. In much the same way that the other 10 tribes were called not by their individual names, but by the greater name of Israel. So in the end it may have been simply a matter of practicality. The name may have simply fallen to the tribe of greater number. If you recall, when David took a census a few chapters back, ALL of the warriors or Israel numbered 800,000 but those of Judah alone were 500,000. So it would seem clear that between Judah and Benjamin (who was always one of the smallest tribes as Saul claimed when Samuel anointed him as king – 1Sam. 9:21) that Judah would have been the more substantial.
- Also, if we go back and look at what Judah (Benjamin’s big brother at the time) said to Joseph when they appeared before him in Egypt in Genesis 43:9. He told Joseph he would be surety for Benjamin – standing in his place so as to protect him and the heart of their father Jacob who loved his youngest son much. Perhaps this was a continuation of a type of “protective covering” Judah supplied for his younger brother, that never really ended – though the men were now entire tribes.
- Also, there seems to be an ongoing connection between the two tribes with Judah being the dominant tribe, for even 500+ years later during Israel’s captivity in Persia, Mordechai is described as someone from the nation of Judea but the tribe of Benjamin. – Esther 2:5.
The sin of Jeroboam
“(25) Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built Penuel.
(26) Jeroboam said to himself, “The way things are going now, the kingdom might return to the house of David. (27) If these people regularly go to offer sacrifices in the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem, the heart of these people will return to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will murder me and go back to the king of Judah.”
(28) So the king sought advice. Then he made two gold calves, and he said to the people, “Going to Jerusalem is too difficult for you. Israel, here is your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (29) He set up one in Bethel, and put the other in Dan.
(30) This led to sin; the people walked in procession before one of the calves all the way to Dan. (31) Jeroboam also built shrines on the high places and set up priests from every class of people who were not Levites.
(32) Jeroboam made a festival in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the festival in Judah. He offered sacrifices on the altar; he made this offering in Bethel to sacrifice to the calves he had set up. He also stationed in Bethel the priests for the high places he had set up. (33) He offered sacrifices on the altar he had set up in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the month he had decided on his own. He made a festival for the Israelites, offered sacrifices on the altar, and burned incense.”
Jeroboam is confronted by the Prophet
1Kings 13:1-34, “(1) And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. (2) Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said,
“O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ” (3) And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the LORD has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.”
(4) So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Arrest him!”
Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself. (5) The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.
(6) Then the king answered and said to the man of God, “Please entreat the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.”
So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before.
(7) Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.”
(8) But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. (9) For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ ”
(10) So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.
(11) Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. (12) And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. (13) Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, (14) and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”
And he said, “I am.”
(15) Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” (16) And he said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. (17) For I have been told by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ”
(18) He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (He was lying to him.)
I am here reminded of the words of Paul who said, “even if an angel from heaven comes and preaches some other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” – Gal. 1:8 It would not surprise me at all if in Paul’s mind was not this event.
“(19) So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. (20) Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; (21) and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, (22) but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ”
(23) So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. (24) When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. (25) And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
(26) Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the LORD. Therefore the LORD has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke to him.”
(27) And he spoke to his sons, saying, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled it. (28) Then he went and found his corpse thrown on the road, and the donkey and the lion standing by the corpse. The lion had not eaten the corpse nor torn the donkey. (29) And the prophet took up the corpse of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back. So the old prophet came to the city to mourn, and to bury him. (30) Then he laid the corpse in his own tomb; and they mourned over him, saying, “Alas, my brother!”
(31) So it was, after he had buried him, that he spoke to his sons, saying, “When I am dead, then bury me in the tomb where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. (32) For the saying which he cried out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the shrines on the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, will surely come to pass.”
(33) After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. (34) And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.”
The Priests & Levites come to Jerusalem
2Chron. 11:13-23, “(13) And from all their territories [Benjamin & Judah] the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him [Rehoboam]. (14) For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the LORD.
(15) Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.
(16) And after the Levites left, those from all the tribes of Israel, such as set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD God of their fathers.
(17) So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong for three years, because they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years.”
“(18) Then Rehoboam took for himself as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, and of Abihail the daughter of Eliah the son of Jesse. (19) And she bore him children: Jeush, Shamariah, and Zaham.
(20) After her he took Maachah the granddaughter of Absalom; and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith.
(21) Now Rehoboam loved Maachah the granddaughter of Absalom more than all his wives and his concubines; for he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and begot twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. (22) And Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maachah as chief, to be leader among his brothers; for he intended to make him king.
(23) He dealt wisely, and dispersed some of his sons throughout all the territories of Judah and Benjamin, to every fortified city; and he gave them provisions in abundance. He also sought many wives for them.”
Prophecy against Jeroboam
1Kings 14:1-31, “(1) At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. (2) And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people. (3) Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child.”
(4) And Jeroboam’s wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age.
(5) Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman.”
(6) And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news. (7) Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, (8) and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; (9) but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back— (10) therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone. (11) The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!” ‘ (12) Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. (13) And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. (14) “Moreover the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam; this is the day. What? Even now! (15) For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger. (16) And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.”
(17) Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed, and came to Tirzah. When she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. (18) And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.”
The death of Jeroboam
“(19) Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he made war and how he reigned, indeed they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. (20) The period that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. So he rested with his fathers. Then Nadab his son reigned in his place.”
Rehoboam reigns in Judah
“(21) And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah.
Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king. He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there.
His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess.
(22) Now Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. (23) For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. (24) And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.
(25) It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. (26) And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made.
(27) Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. (28) And whenever the king entered the house of the LORD, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom.
(29) Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
(30) And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days.
(31) So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David.
His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. Then Abijam his son reigned in his place.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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