End of the Trail; last hike with my old dog before she died. Old ways are fading and new things seem to be getting harder.

MORE DÉJÀ VU BOO BOOS

The changing of the guard will proceed as the Lord has spoken.  Solomon’s son expects to take over the kingdom.  God had warned Israel what to expect from a king:  taxation and servitude.  Now they want to complain about what they had asked for.

And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.  And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)  That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,  Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.  And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.  1 Kings 12:1-5

We will elect you president if you lower taxes and raise our benefits.  Does that sound familiar?  A wise candidate will promise the world, and then break those promises when he has job security.  A foolish one will be an honest crook, tell the truth, and run into a wall.  How could Solomon’s son be foolish?

And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?  And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.  But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:  1 Kings 12:6-8

If the old can be unwise, they share that gene with their children.  So how do rebellious youth come from wise parents?  Perhaps just from the seed of our smallest mistakes.  Those are the ideas that offer the taste of forbidden fruit.

And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?  And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.  And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.  So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.  And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;  And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.  Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.  1 Kings 12:9-15

So Rehoboam offered no economic recovery, and a bonus check for the CEO.  Kings could do that, but their kingdoms might shrink a bit.  Israel has no special love for Judah and David’s family now. 

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.  But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.  Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.  So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.  1 Kings 12:16-19

Wow…they killed the tax collector, and Rehoboam got the message.  It’s time for armored limousines and lots of bodyguards.  While he went into self imposed house arrest, Israel initiated a change of leadership.

And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.  And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.  But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,  Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people, saying,  Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.  1 Kings 12:20-24

Rehoboam is ready to go to war over this rebellion, but God has another word for him.  The prophet told him that God had ordained this division, and that they were not to war against their brethren.  Today we are warned not to judge God’s other servants, as they are not ours to rule over.  The church and Israel are divided but we have our own business to tend.  God will use other Christians and Jews to achieve his purposes.  Jeroboam is a little unsure of this purpose of God though.

Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel.  And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:  If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.  And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.  1 Kings 12:25-30

So to keep his popular support, Jeroboam creates his own (false) religion.  This is what happens when the politicians take over the church.  Our government can’t even balance the budget.  Can you imagine if they ran the universe?

And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.  And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.  So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.  1 Kings 12:31-33

It’s hard for parents to watch their children start down a wrong road.  As Christians, we have all the wisdom of two covenants to guide us.  We may agonize over reading this part of the bible, seeing the inevitable suffering that is coming.  Come to think of it, not one hero of the Old Testament has a perfect life, except possibly Enoch.  This is hard to watch.  But then we too have failed; where is our hope?

We need to remember that the line and presence of Messiah is not missing from the Old Testament.  He was before Abram, and will always be “I AM”.  Watch for his mark on all the events of this great drama unfolding here.  Faith is not what we see or measure, but rather what we trust to have from a greater but invisible source.  If he were tangible, the unbelievers would have access to heaven by logic.  It is his choice to know our heart, not to be known by our mind.  This is your entrance exam; do your homework.

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