Today: [2 Chronicles Eleven] Rehoboam and the Prophet. In this chapter the kingdom is divided and Rehoboam the son of Solomon attempts to retake the northern kingdom by force. A prophet by the name of Shemiah forbids Rehoboam to war against his brethren in the north. Rehoboam hearkens and tragedy is averted. God sends prophets at times to us in order to turn us from a wrong course of action. Are you correctable? Who is the prophet in your life and are you willing to listen to them even when they don’t tell you what you want to hear?
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[2Ch 11:1-23 KJV] 1 And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he gathered of the house of Judah and Benjamin an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen [men], which were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam. 2 But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3 Speak unto Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me. And they obeyed the words of the LORD, and returned from going against Jeroboam. 5 And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah. 6 He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa, 7 And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam, 8 And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph, 9 And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah, 10 And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which [are] in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities.
In the previous chapter we see that Solomon’s son Rehoboam takes the throne. The northern tribes led by Jeroboam (the son of one of Solomon’s servants) come to him and ask for tax relieve. Rehoboam refuses and the 10 tribes secede from Judah. In retaliation Rehoboam tries to forcibly exact tribute from a northern city and barely escapes with his life. He returns to Jerusalem and summons almost 200,000 men to go in battle against the northern tribes. In the midst of all the bluster a prophet by the name of Shemiah comes and warns the king not to go out to war against his brethren in the northern tribes. The seperation of the northern tribes and the division of the kingdom is ordained of God. The prophet declares “Thus saith the Lord, You shall not go up nor fight against you brethren: return every man to his house: for this thing is done of me…” The king obeys however grudgingly and sets about fortifying the cities of northern Judah against Jeroboam and Israel in the north.
There are times that you will face challenges to which your response goes without saying. However at times what seems obvious in terms of what you should do is not God’s will. You must be willing to listen to what God is saying to you – at times through the prophets themselves. It is a great challenge for a prophet to approach someone who has their mind made up and give them the word of the Lord to the contrary. Shemiah obviously had credibility in the southern kingdom. Who is the prophet in your life? Are you willing to be corrected, even dissuaded from a chosen course of action by a prophet? Not just any prophet but the prophet installed in your life by the hand of God just like a pastor or other minister who serves you on a regular basis? Are you correctable?
A few years ago we had a friend in trouble who claimed we were the prophets in his life. The man was accused of a crime and was facing a criminal trial. God spoke to us in the night seasons to bring him the word of the Lord. We instructed him by the spirit of God to plead guilty to the charges. The Lord said if he would plead guilty that God would give him his life back. He refused and now is about to be sentenced to spend very likely the remainder of his life in jail. 2 Chron. 20:20 says believe the prophets and you will prosper. Who is the prophet in your life? Are you correctable? Are you willing to be turned from a given course of action by the word of the Lord even though all your instincts say otherwise? Rehoboam listened to the word of the Lord through Shemiah and a tragedy was averted.
11 And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine. 12 And in every several city [he put] shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side. 13 And the priests and the Levites that [were] in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. 14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD: 15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. 16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers. 17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.
Rehoboam obeyed the word of the Lord through Shemiah but he still went about to fortify his kingdom against the 10 northern tribes. During this time the tribe of Benjamin repaired to Judah’s defence and the Levites also in the northern territories fled Jeroboam to take refuge in Jerusalem. Jeroboam was ordained by God to be king in the north however he did not want the people under him to go to Jerusalem to worship. Therefore he set up altars and groves throughout the northern territories and coerced the people to reject the altar in Jerusalem and worship other gods. His pretense was that it was too inconvenient to go to Jerusalem and that the people should take their ease and worship God more closer to their homes. In reality he feared the people going to Jerusalem lest they decide to return their loyalty to king Rehobaom.
When Benjamin and the Levites returned to Jerusalem there was a resurgence of faithfulness to the true and living God. For three years righteousness reigned. The people and the king were chastened and humbled by the dividing of the kingdom by the hand of God and they sought again to worship the Lord and to be faithful to him in all things. Unfortunately this was not to last.
18 And Rehoboam took him Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David to wife, [and] Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse; 19 Which bare him children; Jeush, and Shamariah, and Zaham. 20 And after her he took Maachah the daughter of Absalom; which bare him Abijah, and Attai, and Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 And Rehoboam loved Maachah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and his concubines: (for he took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines; and begat twenty and eight sons, and threescore daughters.) 22 And Rehoboam made Abijah the son of Maachah the chief, [to be] ruler among his brethren: for [he thought] to make him king. 23 And he dealt wisely, and dispersed of all his children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin, unto every fenced city: and he gave them victual in abundance. And he desired many wives.
In the latter part of this chapter mention is made of marriages made by Rehoboam. He particularly loved the daughter of his uncle Absalom the son of David who overthrew the kingdom of David and was subsequently slain by David’s general Joab. Because Rehoboam loved Maacah best he determined to favor his son by her as the next king. In a shrewd move he disperse his other children throughout the southern kingdom and kept Maacah’s son Abijah close to the throne in hopes of discouraging challenges to his son’s acession after his death.
As Rehoboam’s reign progresses the tumult of the breakup of the kingdom dies down. Rehoboam becomes distracted and apparently as Solomon before him he becomes bored. He desires many wives and though he loves Maacah best he choses early in his reign 18 wives in addition. Three of his wives were second cousins – daughters of the brothers of king David. He additionally took 60 concubines and sired a total of just under 100 children. He was a great king but a pitiful son standing the greatness of his father Solomon and vainly seeking to follow in his footsteps. His reign will be very short and during his rule the southern kingdom will become a vassal state under the jackboot of an invasion from Egypt. The line of David is maintained but due to the idolatries of Solomon and the lukewarmness of Rehoboam’s fidelity toward God the downward trend of the kingdom is apparent even at this early stage.
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