Morning Message: John Cline
Text: 1 Kings 11-14
From his polygamous lifestyle to his marrying of foreign wives who worshipped gods other than YHWH, Israel’s God, the one true God, and then with his allowing of altars and shrines being erected to his foreign wives’ gods, King Solomon sure knew how to break God’s commands! There was really no one ever like him. He had everything going for him: riches, power, divine wisdom, fame, and yet he threw it all away by thumbing his nose at God. His reign ended with God saying, in effect, “Listen, if you don’t want me in your life, ok. I will step away. I will remove my hedge of protection from around you. Have at it! The one thing I will do is work against you for your sins.” I can’t help but see that God was heartbroken, so disappointed in him.
Then the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom. (1 Kings 11:14)
A man named Hadad attacked Solomon, then fled to Egypt and got refuge with the Pharaoh until such a time that Solomon’s grip was weak enough for Hadad to return and resume being his “adversary”.
And God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada. (1 Kings 11:23)
Rezon similarly attacked Solomon, then fled north to Damascus in the nation of Aram, and from there organized attacks against Solomon.
Rezon was Israel’s adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So, Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel. (1 Kings 11:25)
Thus, Solomon had attacks coming at him from the south and west by Hadad and north and east by Rezon and their warriors. Even worse…
Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon’s officials. (1 Kings 11:26)
Solomon was under attack from all directions – north, south, east, west, and within. So much for the wisdom of spurning God! Ahijah, a prophet of God, then went to Jeroboam, with these words of God:
“See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand…I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did.” (1 Kings 11:31b,33)
Ok, let’s pause there and reflect on what we have just heard. God raised up three opponents who would attack Solomon: Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam. How would like to be Solomon? It seems that he didn’t care but carried on his ways, specifically with that one sin that God was angriest about: the worshipping of other gods. People today naively dismiss this sin as being harmless fun, saying, “Those foreign gods were not real. Worshipping them is simply like teenagers playing with a Ouija board.” That is lacking in discernment. Worshipping those foreign gods was dangerous. As I was researching this sermon, the Ten Commandments came to my mind, particularly #2 where God says,
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex. 20:4-6)
So, a person can break the other nine forbidden commandments, pay the price for it, repent, be forgiven, and carry on. Their breaking of that law affects them only. But for the second commandment, their children and future family will see negative generational effects. So, we need to take this sin seriously. YHWH God didn’t want the Israelites worshipping false gods such as those Egyptian ones He defeated in the 10 plagues. We all know about how choices of parents affect their children and grandchildren, etc. The positive flipside, though, is that God states that 1,000 generations of family will be blessed for worshipping Him alone. While using the Hebrew exaggeration of hyperbole which is making a point by overstating the truth of a thing, we all know that good behaviour by us produces good for our children and grandchildren, and so on. Jonathan Edwards was a Christian and believed in Christian living. He married a girl of like character. From this union, 729 descendants have been traced. Of this number came 300 preachers, 65 college professors, 13 university presidents, 60 authors of good books, 3 United States congressmen, and one vice president of the United States; and barring one grandson who married a non-Christian, the family has not cost the state of New York a single dollar. Max Jukes lived in the same state of New York. He did not believe in Christian living. He married a girl of like character. From this union, 1,026 descendants have been traced. 300 of them died prematurely. 100 were sent to the New York state penitentiary for an average of 13 years each of imprisonment. 190 were public prostitutes. 100 were alcoholics. The family cost the state $1,200,000 and it has been said that they made no helpful contribution to society. The generational effect and difference lay in the choices of the original men, Jonathan Edwards and Max Jukes. Choices set the direction for several generations. As the prophet Ahijah told Jeroboam:
“But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands.” (1 Kings 11:34,35a)
Solomon must have heard of this. Instead of repenting of his sins,
Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death. (1 Kings 11:40)
As we saw last week, Solomon may have regretted his life choices, but he never repented of them or turned back to God. Thus, his story concludes with a less-than-magnanimous tribute, one that should have been so different for Israel’s greatest, richest, most powerful king:
As for the other events of Solomon’s reign—all he did and the wisdom he displayed—are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king. (1 Kings 11:41-43)
One of the things I like to research of Israel’s leaders, and I was intrigued to find that only 3 children of Solomon are named in the Bible. There may have been others such as Menelik, his son with the Queen of Sheba. But, from Solomon’s 700 wives and 300 concubines there should have been thousands of kinds but there were only 3 or 4 children, which is explained, at least in part, by the fact that his many marriages were not love marriages but simply political alliances where daughters of foreign rulers were given to Solomon as part of peace pacts or military alliances. But the problem with Rehoboam, the son Solomon chose to succeed him as king, was the son of a foreign woman, an Ammonite named Naamah. Remember, Ammonites were worshippers of Molech, that evilest of all the foreign gods. Molech was the god who commanded his worshippers to sacrifice their children in fiery pits at the altars and shrines erected to him. Did Solomon burn a child in sacrifice to Molech? Very possibly as he was a worshipper of Molech. We don’t know that, but that Solomon would choose Rehoboam, the son of a worshipper of the most despicable of all the false gods, indicates how far away from YHWH God he had turned, a fact negatively affecting generations of Jews after him. We read,
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. (1 Kings 12:1)
Jerusalem was God’s chosen place for Israel’s kings to reign. Shechem was north, in the heartland of the 10 northern tribes. And, so, perhaps Rehoboam thought going there would win over his critics.
When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So, they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So, the people went away. Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked. They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” So, the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. (1 Kings 12:2-15)
Rehoboam listened to the advice of his young, hotheaded friends, instead of to that of the older, wiser counsellors who had advised King Solomon. Did you notice who Rehoboam did not consult? YHWH God! Remember, his mother worshipped Molech and probably he did, too.
When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So, the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So, Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. (1 Kings 12:2-20)
So, Jeroboam was crowned king of the 10 northern tribes over the newly formed northern nation of Israel. We will look at his story next Sunday. Meanwhile, Solomon’s son Rehoboam had the United Kingdom of Israel taken away from him and he was left to rule over only his own tribe of Judah as well as the weak neighbouring tribe of Benjamin. You know, authoritarian rulers like King Rehoboam leave their people only three options when they do something grievous: endure, fight for reform from within, or leave. The people were willing to endure his rule, but his harsh decision-making made the northern 10 tribes leave.
Project map of the United Kingdom of Israel
Israel would never again hold, or influence, all that land.
Project map of the Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
Two competing nations now existed in the divided kingdom: the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern one of Judah. From here on, our sermon series will shift to a side-by-side study of the kings of both Israel and Judah, as they ruled beside one another for 200 years.
Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name…Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. (1 Kings 14:21-24)
The marrying of foreign women who worshipped other gods and the sexual deviancy, shrine prostitutes (both female and male), child sacrifices and other practices demanded by those gods should have been avoided by King Rehoboam and the Jews, but they weren’t. Trouble was heading their way. Now, Solomon had made a pact with the Pharaoh of Egypt who gave his daughter to him in return for peace? That first sin of Solomon’s was about to affect Rehoboam. The problem with agreements between two people is that they last only as long as they remain alive. Thus, Solomon died, and then the Pharaoh was overthrown by a Libyan leader named Shishak. God remembered the sin Solomon committed, and, well, you can guess what happened:
After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord. Because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam. With twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen and the innumerable troops of Libyans, Sukkites and Cushites that came with him from Egypt, he captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, “This is what the Lord says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.’” The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is just.” When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.” (2 Chronicles 12:1-8)
Serving Shishak would not have been a happy thing for the Jews, but it
came about because of Solomon’s, Rehoboam’s, and the people’s sin. They got what they asked for in thumbing their noses at God. So sad!
When Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, he carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields Solomon had made. So, King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to the Lord’s temple, the guards went with him, bearing the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom. Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah. (2 Chronicles 12:9-12)
Rehoboam’s kingdom had fallen apart and its wealth disappeared. Thus, the gold shields Solomon had made but were stolen could only be replaced with bronze shields, a much inferior product. Now, did you notice that this passage, nevertheless, said that there was “some good in Judah”. God always provides a “remnant” in a nation whose faithful ways will hold off the total destruction of a nation. It usually wasn’t the kings of Israel or Judah, by and large, but the prophets who were faithful to God. In his broken heartedness, God still provided mercy and favour to His people.
King Rehoboam established himself firmly in Jerusalem and continued as king. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite. He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord. As for the events of Rehoboam’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer that deal with genealogies? There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Rehoboam rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Abijah his son succeeded him as king. (2 Chronicles 12:13-16)
You will notice as we go through this series that most of the stories in the sermon don’t really end. The same story, different cast, just keeps on going, with a few exceptions. But the overarching story is about generational effects, bad and good. So, here is the one conclusion for us: as parents, grandparents, friends, uncles, aunts, etc, we really must do the right things, the good things. We can break the negative generational effects by simply doing what is good. It is our choice, so let’s choose wisely. Amen.