Note: At North Baptist Church we are currently on a 31 week journey through the entire Bible. Called The Story, this journey finds us discussing the same Bible passage in our personal reading time, the sermon, Adult Bible Fellowships, and Small Groups. I figured I would post a few thoughts each week as I go through my lesson prep.
In week 14 of The Story, we look at the division of the kingdom. Rehoboam, arriving in Shechem for his coronation by the northern tribes, meets with the tribal leaders, including Jeroboam. They are looking for some promises from the new king, specifically that their burden would be lessened. The successes of Solomon and the nation apparently came as a result of intense labor by the northern tribes. Rehoboam has 3 days to respond to these demands.
Rehoboam first turns to the veteran advisors—those men who guided Solomon during his reign. They advised Rehoboam to loosen up his demands; he needed to earn the trust and support of the northern tribes. But Rehoboam rejected these words of wisdom. In the text he does it even before he hears any other advice; he rejects their words outright. Then he goes to his new advisors—the younger men who, although are less experienced in the political realm, obtained their position because they grew up with Rehoboam. These men want Rehoboam to take a position of strength; they want him to show the northern tribes who is in command.
After 3 days Rehoboam returns to Jeroboam and co. and gives his hard line answer. The northern tribes immediately reject his plan, his authority, and his reign. Instead they make Jeroboam their king. This is how the 10 northern tribes break free from Judah and the Davidic dynasty.
Rehoboam tries to reunite the kingdom by force. He musters 180,000 troops and is set to march against his brothers from the 10 tribes. But God has another plan; he sends a prophet called Shemaiah, who says, “This is what the LORD says, ‘Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” (1 Kings 12:24, NIV). Through this prophet, we see that the division of the kingdom is not due to youthful bravado or poor political advice, but is rather divine intervention.
Join us this Sunday at North Baptist as we look more at the division of the kingdom, at Jeroboam’s failure to lead the people back to YHWH, and in how this passage sets the stage for the rest of the Old Testament narrative.Tweet