ere is the last part to the previous post of the same title. I took the liberty of omitting certain passages for brevity. As you will note almost all of God’s chosen leaders fell short of expectations when authority, power, and riches were granted for the sole purpose of utilizing it to further God’s purpose for mankind. All ambitions start well but unfortunately crumble on the way. there is truth to the quote, “The first creates, the second expands, and the third squanders.” There is an interesting article posted by Inquirer.net some years back –
After all, as the popular Chinese saying puts it, “the first generation starts the business, the second generation grows the business, the third generation squanders the business.” How true is this aphorism? What are the odds of making it to the next generation?
Frankly, the odds are not favorable. Only 20 percent of family businesses make it to the second generation in the UK, says the Institute for Family Businesses UK in 2012. A dismal 10 percent make it to the third.
In the US, the statistics are mixed. In 1983, US consultant Wayne Dyer says that the average lifespan of the family firm is only 24 years, which is also the average tenure of the founders. Approximately 70 percent of the firms are either sold or liquidated after the death or retirement of the founders.
In 2010, Businessweek says that less than half (40 percent) of family businesses survive to the second generation, 13 percent continue to the third generation, while only a shocking 3 percent survive to the fourth generation and beyond. Whatever the odds are, they are not good.
That’s Deja-Vu for you. Well anyway, let’s continue how it all began …
“From Bad to Worse: Rehoboam and Jeroboam after the Division of the Kingdom
The role of Rehoboam after the “great divorce” is summarized in 1 Kings 14:21-31:
21 Now Rehoboam son of Solomon ruled in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king and he ruled for seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord chose from all the tribes of Israel to be his home. His mother was an Ammonite named Naamah. 22 Judah did evil before the Lord. They made him more jealous by their sins than their ancestors had done. 23 They even built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 24 There were also male cultic prostitutes in the land. They committed the same horrible sins as the nations that the Lord had driven out from before the Israelites.
25 In King Rehoboam’s fifth year, King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He took away the treasures of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace; he took everything, including all the golden shields that Solomon had made. 27 King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned them to the officers of the royal guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace. 28 Whenever the king visited the Lord’s temple, the royal guard carried them and then brought them back to the guardroom. 29 The rest of the events of Rehoboam’s reign, including his accomplishments, are recorded in the scroll called the Annals of the Kings of Judah. 30 Rehoboam and Jeroboam were continually at war with each other. 31 Rehoboam passed away and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David. His mother was an Ammonite named Naamah. His son Abijah replaced him as king (1 Kings 14:21-31, emphasis mine).
There are various points of interest in this summation of the rule of Rehoboam. The first is the twice-mentioned fact that Rehoboam’s mother was an Ammonite named Naamah (12:21, 31). Once would seem to have been enough. Twice would indicate that the author wants us to take special note of this fact. The Ammonites were descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:38), and yet their relationship with the Israelites was not particularly friendly or beneficial. It would seem that the author is suggesting that a part of the explanation for Rehoboam’s folly was related to his ancestry.
The second thing that catches our attention in the description of Rehoboam’s reign is the emphasis on the wickedness of the people. Often we are told that the king caused the people to sin. This is certainly the case with Jeroboam (see 1 Kings 12:25-32). But under the rule of Rehoboam, it is Judah who seems to take the initiative in the nation’s sins. The impression given is that the people of Judah wanted to sin, and that Rehoboam did little or nothing to resist their sinful ways. It was not that Rehoboam imposed his wickedness on the people, but that the people imposed their wickedness on Rehoboam. Is it possible that because Rehoboam lost most of his kingdom by being too rigid he completely reversed his approach and was now lax in his dealings with the Israelite’s because of their sins? At least we can see that the people of Judah were pursuing wicked ways.
The third observation about the reign of Rehoboam is that God used Egypt as His chastening rod against Judah. We see this in verses 25-28. You may recall that when Hadad the Edomite and Jeroboam fled from Israel, they both fled to Egypt (1 Kings 11:17-22, 40). Shishak was the king of Egypt who gave sanctuary to Jeroboam (11:40). Is it any great wonder that Shishak would attack Rehoboam in Jerusalem (14:25ff.)? He did Jeroboam the favor of weakening and humiliating his rival, Rehoboam. At the same time, he helped himself to much of the wealth Solomon had accumulated. He was God’s chastening rod against Judah and their king, for all of their sins. How humbling it must have been for Rehoboam to replace the gold shields of the royal guard with bronze shields. One could almost say, Ichabod – gone is the glory of Solomon’s empire (see 1 Samuel 4:21).
Jeroboam played a much more active role in the spiritual decline of the northern kingdom of Israel:
25 Jeroboam built up Shechem in the Ephraimite hill country and lived there. From there he went out and built up Penuel. 26 Jeroboam then thought to himself: “Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, their loyalty could shift to their former master, King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 29 He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves. 31 He built temples on the high places and appointed as priests people who were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam inaugurated a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival celebrated in Judah. On the altar in Bethel he offered sacrifices to the calves he had made. In Bethel he also appointed priests for the high places he had made (1 Kings 12:25-32).
There is something very ironic about Jeroboam’s reign. God had promised Jeroboam that his kingdom would last and that he would be very successful, if he only obeyed His commandments:
38 You must obey all I command you to do, follow my instructions, do what I approve, and keep my rules and commandments, like my servant David did. Then I will be with you and establish for you a lasting dynasty, as I did for David; I will give you Israel. 39 I will humiliate David’s descendants because of this, but not forever” (1 Kings 11:38-39).
Jeroboam listened to his advisors rather than to God (1 Kings 12:28). Jeroboam was afraid that he would lose his kingdom, and even his life. He feared that the divided kingdom would re-unite. In order to protect himself and his kingdom, he established a counterfeit religion for the northern kingdom of Israel.
Everything Jeroboam did flew in the face of Israel’s history and of God’s law. His great fear was that the people of Israel would worship in Jerusalem, as God had instructed. If they did, Jeroboam reasoned, the people of Israel would shift their loyalty to Rehoboam, king of Judah. The solution Jeroboam and his advisors reached was to establish a counterfeit religion – a religion very much like the worship God had ordained for His people, but one which kept the people of Israel from returning to Jerusalem, and worse yet, turned them to idolatry.
Jeroboam made two golden calves, one located in Bethel at the southern part of his kingdom, and the other located in Dan in the northern portion of Israel. His words at the presentation of these idols are all too familiar:
After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28, emphasis mine).
Jeroboam’s words should be familiar to the reader of the Old Testament:
7 And the Lord spoke to Moses: “Go, descend, because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 8 They have turned aside quickly from the way that I commanded them—they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘ These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 32:7-8, emphasis mine).
Is it possible that these words are merely coincidental, or is Jeroboam exceedingly wicked? Is he saying, in effect, “You think that Aaron led Israel in worship; just watch me!”? It seems virtually impossible for Jeroboam not to have known that he was leading Israel to disobey God by his worshipper-friendly religion.
His religious revisions were not limited to golden calves. Jeroboam built temples on the high places. He appointed men to serve as priests who were not Levites. He instituted feasts that were designed to replace the divinely appointed Jewish feasts (especially those which required the Israelites to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem). All-in-all, Jeroboam created a counterfeit religion. It was one that imitated the Canaanite religions. It was one that appealed to the people of Israel. It was one that turned the Israelites away from the worship of the one true God. Jeroboam therefore becomes the standard by which other evil kings are measured:
33 In the third year of Asa’s reign over Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king over all Israel in Tirzah; he ruled for twenty-four years. 34 He did evil before the Lord; he followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps and encouraged Israel to sin (1 Kings 15:33-34; see also 16:2, 19; 22:52).
Jeroboam did this, supposing that it would preserve and promote his reign as king over the northern kingdom. In reality, it did just the opposite. Even after being rebuked for his sins, Jeroboam persisted in his evil ways, which prompted divine judgment:
7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘This is what the Lord God of Israel says: “I raised you up from among the people and made you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the Davidic dynasty and gave it to you. But you are not like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me wholeheartedly by doing only what I approve. 9 You have sinned more than all who came before you. You went and angered me by making other gods, formed out of metal; you have completely disregarded me. 10 So I am ready to bring disaster on the dynasty of Jeroboam. I will cut off every last male belonging to Jeroboam in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated. I will burn up the dynasty of Jeroboam, just as one burns manure until it is completely consumed. 11 Dogs will eat the ones who die in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat the ones who die in the country.”’ Indeed the Lord has announced it (1 Kings 14:7-11).
With the division of the kingdom, the Israelites reached a new level of sin and rebellion against God. Jeroboam led the northern kingdom into what was virtually a variation of Canaanite worship. Under Rehoboam’s leadership, the people of Judah fell to a new level of sin as well:
22 Judah did evil before the Lord. They made him more jealous by their sins than their ancestors had done. 23 They even built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree. 24 There were also male cultic prostitutes in the land. They committed the same horrible sins as the nations that the Lord had driven out from before the Israelites (1 Kings 14:22-24).
The division of the united kingdom is a very significant turning point in the history of the nation Israel. If the reader did not know “the end of the story,” he would probably conclude that it was all over for the nation Israel. The adage, “divide and conquer” would surely seem to apply. The promised blessings that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all applied to the 12 tribes of Israel (see, for example, Genesis 49:1-28). The promised Messiah was to sit on the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). At this moment, the kingdom is divided into two nations, with two kings. Worse yet, these two nations are frequently in conflict with one another. How can God’s promises to the patriarchs possibly be fulfilled now? Once again, the purposes and promises of God seem in peril. It is a situation that only God can resolve, and resolve it, He will. It will be many, many years, however, until this happens.
The once united and powerful kingdom of Israel is now greatly weakened by division. Both the northern and the southern kingdoms will be more vulnerable to foreign powers. Both will be tempted to make alliances with Gentile nations. Both will be exposed to the idolatry of heathen religions. The division of the kingdom is, in one sense, the beginning of the end for both the northern and the southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom of Israel will be ruled by various kings and various dynasties – all evil. The southern kingdom of Judah will have a somewhat checkered history. The Davidic dynasty will produce some good kings and more wicked kings. The northern kingdom of Israel will be defeated and scattered abroad by the Assyrians. The southern kingdom of Judah will be carried off to captivity by the Babylonians. The division of the two kingdoms will only intensify. The animosity of the Jews of Jesus’ day for the Samaritans is the fruit of the divided kingdom. It will take a spectacular intervention on the part of God to put this nation back together.
From this point on, it is a downhill and very slippery slope that Israel and Judah will walk. God’s dealings with Israel will serve as a warning to Judah, a warning which the southern kingdom will not heed. Things will quickly deteriorate from bad to worse, with only a few bright spots for Judah. The prophecies of Deuteronomy 28-31 are quickly beginning to find their fulfillment in this history of Israel, now a divided kingdom.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from our text and from this turning point in Israel’s history. Let me point out just a few.
Our text is a vivid illustration of the way divisions occur. The division of the united kingdom occurred in a way that is classic for all divisions. Churches have split and marriages have ended in divorce in precisely the same manner. Let me point out some of the key elements. The first element is pride (or arrogance). Rehoboam was too proud to heed the petition of the people and to lighten the load his father had placed on them. The second element, closely related, is power. Rehoboam wanted to be in control, to be “in charge.” He viewed mercy, kindness, and humility as weakness, and he would have none of this. The third element is “godly counsel.” Rehoboam refused to heed the wise counsel of his father’s counselors; instead, he listened to his peers. I don’t know how many divorces have been facilitated by the “advice” of good friends. The fourth element is that of leadership. Rehoboam abused his position of leadership. He viewed his position as the opportunity to force others to serve him, rather than as his opportunity to serve others. Humility and servanthood would have saved his kingdom. Finally, there is the element of time. There was a window of opportunity for healing and reconciliation, and Rehoboam did not seize it. The longer the division lasted, the more intense it became. We would do well to ponder the failures of Rehoboam, for divisions are still very much a part of the fallen world in which we live.
Our text is also a great illustration of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. From one perspective, the division of the kingdom was the result of the arrogance and the foolishness of Rehoboam. One could look at the entire sequence of events from a totally human perspective. And yet we must take into account the words of 1 Kings 11:9-13. And lest we forget them, in the midst of the account of the division, we are reminded that the division of the kingdom was ultimately God’s will:
The king refused to listen to the people, because the Lord was instigating this turn of events so that he might bring to pass the prophetic announcement he had made through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat (1 Kings 12:15).
The major problem that most people face in dealing with the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is that they assume it must be all one way or the other. They assume that if God is sovereign, then man must not be free to make choices. The only other option for many is that men are free agents, causing God not to be in complete control of human history. How, they reason, can God hold any man accountable for choices that he was predestined to make? The fact is that God gives men the freedom to make choices, but He is always in complete control of human history.
When I seek to be in control of my children, I must do so by restricting their freedoms and by limiting their choices. I cannot let them out of my sight, or I lose control. God’s sovereignty is far greater in nature and scope. God is so great that He can give men the freedom to make choices, yet these “free choices” can never contradict, hinder, nor thwart God’s purposes or promises. The relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility is never an “either/or” issue; it is a “both/and” matter. We see this very clearly in the division of the nation Israel.
This whole matter of servanthood and leadership is prominent in the Bible, and especially in the New Testament. Jesus’ disciples hoped for a kingdom in which they would have power and authority, so that others would serve them. This is the way the scribes and Pharisees exercised their power:
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples, 2 “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4 They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. 9 And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:1-12).
The disciples were tempted to follow this path, but Jesus taught them otherwise:
35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 They said to him, “Permit one of us to sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I experience?” 39 They said to him, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink, and you will be baptized with the baptism I experience, 40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give. It is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 Now when the other ten heard this, they became angry with James and John. 42 Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 43 But it is not this way among you. Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:35-45).
The church at Corinth was plagued with divisions and strife, and it had everything to do with pride, power, and arrogance (see 1 Corinthians 1:10-12). It was fostered by those who sought to lead in a “Gentile” sort of way:
19 For since you are so wise, you put up with fools gladly. 20 For you put up with it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly toward you, if someone strikes you in the face (2 Corinthians 11:19-20).
The source of division is frequently pride and arrogance and a seeking for power. The key to unity is humility, manifested in true servanthood:
1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, 2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. 3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. 4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. 5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,”
Let’s end this article on a light note. I picked this up while going over some images to use on this site. It says it all in one shot –