HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, October 24, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Family Division”
Texts – 2 Kings 11:26-15
David reigned over Israel during the nation’s early days—the wars that Saul had fought with the Philistines continued during David’s rule. His job was to establish the people as a nation—loyal to God, secure from their enemies. By the time Solomon took up the mantle of king, the nation was enjoying a time of peace. During his reign, the nation enjoyed what has now become known as the ‘golden era’ of Israel’s existence. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. The man who asked for wisdom when granted anything he might desire, turned out to be quite the fool.
“THE WISEST MAN’S FOOLISHNESS”
1 Kings 11:1-13 – “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women. Besides Pharaoh’s daughter, he married women from Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and from among the Hittites. 2 The Lord had clearly instructed the people of Israel, “You must not marry them, because they will turn your hearts to their gods.” Yet Solomon insisted on loving them anyway. 3 He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And in fact, they did turn his heart away from the Lord.
In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. 5 Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done. 7 On the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, he even built a pagan shrine for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and another for Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 Solomon built such shrines for all his foreign wives to use for burning incense and sacrificing to their gods.
9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive. I will take the kingdom away from your son. 13 And even so, I will not take away the entire kingdom; I will let him be king of one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, my chosen city.”
Solomon insisted on loving many different women—specifically contradicting God’s command to the Israelites—and became disloyal to God—the very thing God had warned would happen. Anytime we choose to disregard any of God’s commands, there will always be consequences—maybe not immediately, but always. Solomon had been warned about what would happen, but I suspect the high regard people held him in for being so wise, ended up going to his head and resulted in his downfall.
Often times, the areas of moral strength we so unhesitatingly declare become the very things that trip us up. Solomon, at least in his own mind, was too wise to ever act foolishly. He took control over that area of his life—choosing to collect women like he collected horses, disregarding God’s very clear directions, and ended up losing the kingdom of Israel for his family.
In fact, God told Solomon that one of his staff would get the majority of the tribes of Israel to rule. Only out of respect for Solomon’s father, David, did God allow the tribe of Judah, from which David traced his ancestry, to remain within his family’s rule. God also tells Solomon, for the sake of David, He will not split the kingdom during his reign, but will do so during his son’s.
Solomon gets word, that the prophet Ahijah has anointed Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s very own officials—a skilled and industrious young man that Solomon had put in charge of part of the nation’s labour force—to become the king of ten of the tribes. Of course, Solomon attempts to kill Jeroboam (much like Saul had attempted to do to David), but he escapes to Egypt.
God makes it clear to Jeroboam why He is choosing to divide the kingdom and take much of it away from Solomon and his sons—Solomon has been unfaithful to God. So now God has chosen Jeroboam and He makes a promise to him, “I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires. 38 If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you” (1 Kings 11:37-38).
Solomon’s life serves as a warning for us as well. What things do we declare, “I would never do that!” “Yes, I know I’m not supposed to, but I know my limits.” “I got this…relax!” The things we assume we have control over, especially when it comes to those things we know we should not engage in, will cause us unnecessary grief, loss and pain. There is always a price for living outside the boundaries of God’s wisdom. As God’s children, we are not to attempt to wrest control from God in any area of our lives…we are called to give Him our all and trust Him. But, as Solomon demonstrates, that is often easier said then done…even for the wisest man who ever lived.
Eventually, Solomon dies and his son, Rehoboam ascends to the throne, but almost immediately the nation is thrown into chaos.
1 Kings 12:1-11 – “Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. 3 The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. 4 “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.” 5 Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.
6 Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?” The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”
8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. 9 “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?” 10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”
Rehoboam had grown up in the lap of luxury, in the golden era of the nation of Israel. David had won peace for the nation through many battles and his son’s reign had seen a great influx of wealth for some, though still at the expense of others. Solomon and his vast family of 700 royal wives, 300 concubines, their children and household staff at innumerable palaces and places of worship, as well as that of his officials, cost the people a lot in the way of taxes and slave labour. Solomon spared no expense…ever. By the time his son came to power, the people were ready for a change.
The people asked that Rehoboam ease the burden on them, promising to be his loyal servants. But Rehoboam has grown up with the notion that he was special and entitled—he’s in the class of people that rules and should therefore be supported by those being ruled. He was the son of a king and he would accept nothing less than his father had enjoyed all his life. But he tells the people to give him three days to think about it and goes through the pretense of getting advice.
The older advisors tell him the people’s suggestion is good and if he will work with them, they will prove to be loyal subjects. Rehoboam quickly rejects their advice and looks for others who share his opinions. He finds them. The younger men he has grown up with—and one must assume enjoyed the same lavish lifestyle—tell him this is no time to make concessions. He should not just maintain the standards his father established, but he should increase them—increase the taxes, increase the building projects, increase the opulence, increase the slave labour…increase their own personal wealth. This is their time to reap the benefits of being in charge!
And that is exactly what Rehoboam does. When the three days is up, Rehoboam again meets with the people to give his answer, “Think my father was tough? He was a walk in the park!” Rehoboam promises them more taxes, more slave labour, more perks for the king and his friends, all at the continued expense of the people. Their answer is swift, “Take care of yourself…we’re done!” And all leave the meeting.
Rehoboam doesn’t give up so quickly. First, he sends Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labour, to restore order, but the people of Israel stone him to death. Next, Rehoboam mobilizes an army of 180,000 from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to attack the other tribes and bring them back into compliance, but God intervenes. He sends a prophet, Shemaiah, to tell Rehoboam not to attack, but to go back home, because what is happening, this splitting of the nation, is God’s doing. Wisely, Rehoboam complies, otherwise the ensuing conflict may have resulted in a last man standing scenario.
After Rehoboam had confirmed the people’s worst fears, they looked for an alternative…and there was Jeroboam.
“SHORING UP SIDES”
1 Kings 12:20, 25-32 – When the people of Israel learned of Jeroboam’s return from Egypt, they called an assembly and made him king over all Israel. So only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David…25 Jeroboam then built up the city of Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and it became his capital. Later he went and built up the town of Peniel 26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”
28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” 29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there. 31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made.”
God had promised to build Jeroboam an enduring dynasty, but there was a condition. [responses – remain faithful in service to and worship of God alone]
But for Jeroboam, God’s promise wasn’t enough…he wanted insurance. His lack of trust in God sealed his fate and in fact, rather than having a lasting dynasty that began with his rule, Jeroboam’s family instead were cursed, “10 I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will burn up your royal dynasty as one burns up trash until it is all gone. 11 The members of Jeroboam’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures. I, the Lord, have spoken.’” (1 Kings 14:10-11). After only two years as king, Nadab, Jeroboam’s son is killed by Baasha, who we are told proceeds to kill the rest of King Jeroboam’s descendants—the entire royal family.
Do we ever hedge our bet? Do we attempt to get both the assurances of God and attempt our own solutions at the same time? If so, we really should not claim to trust God. Trust removes the, ‘yah, buts’ and the need for a ready back-up plan of our own. When we pray, do we trust God to provide the solution or do we set about to ensure the answer we most desire?
God is patient, but He will not tolerate disloyalty. We cannot enjoy the benefits of a relationship with God, without actually having a relationship with God. God requires loyalty to Him alone. For Him, our relationship requires that we remain as a faithful spouse. Can you imagine someone asking to have a relationship with you…until something better comes along? We wouldn’t agree to those conditions, so why do we expect God too?
What can we learn from this story of kings, dynasties promised and lost, God’s chosen people—now a nation divided?
· Obedience to God matters. None of us is above His law and disobedience always bears consequences.
· Those who choose to reject God or have areas of their lives where they refuse to comply, will ultimately experience regret. God knows what is best. The sooner we learn to stop fighting Him, the sooner He will begin to help us fulfill the purposes for which He created us.
· We can choose to blame others—our parents, our leaders, even God—but the truth of the matter is that we are most often the masters of our own demise, just like foolish Solomon, entitled Rehoboam and faithless Jeroboam were.
· In this story, we find God intervening, yet never removing freewill. He responds to our decisions in such a way as to ensure that His good plans will be accomplished. It is up to us whether or not we choose to remain a part of those plans or decide to do our own thing outside of His perfect will.
When we choose God to be our Lord, He gives us a new purpose and identity.
Sunday, October 31, 2021- “Corrupt Kings & Courageous Prophets” (1 Kings 16-22) - In-person and Online – Communion & Sharing Sunday
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!