Today we begin the journey through the sons of David, looking and waiting expectantly for that son of David, who would seek the LORD and put the Lord at all times before him.
As we go on this journey, we will learn a lot about what it means to seek him, and what that looks like. We will also learn about what it means not to seek him and what that looks like. God Wants to be with his people. The key to revival, renewal, and reformation has nothing to do with what Is going on in the world, outside the church. It has everything with what is going on among the covenant people. If you think the answer is education, or government, or science, or money your hope is in vain. It begins here in the church. In brokenness, dependence, passionate seeking, and praying after God! That is where we see revival! That is where we see God work. Through humility!
And today we start with Rehoboam, whose reign was only 17 years, but whose story covers three chapters. His decisions would impact the rest of Israel’s history. A son of the man who wrote proverbs, doing all that the foolish son in proverbs does.
He did not set his heart on seeking the LORD
- Not Listening
- Not Serving
- A people that Listens and serve
Seeking the Lord
The foreign policy was the envy of the world. Commerce was great. Enemies had been silenced. Israel was at people at peace.
But there was resentment building in Israel. The people under Solomon had been taxed heavily, even grievously. The yoke was heavy, and the people of Israel were feeling the burden. There was a growing sense of injustice taking place in the hearts of the people. The leader of Gods people had placed an oppressive yoke on his people. He had grown in power, and wealth, and honor, but it never seemed like it was enough.
God had warned them of such a king. In 1 Samuel 8 when they first asked for a king, Samuel said, “He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses… he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his round and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of …your male and female servants…and you yourselves will become his slaves.”
Indeed Solomon was not the perfect king, he had ruled justly and wisely. But now he had died. And new king was to be coronated
So all the people go to Shechem to coronate his Son Rehoboam. Rehoboam had waited his whole life for this. He had been born one year before Solomon took the throne. It says he was 41 when he began to reign, and Solomon had reigned 40 years, so you can do the math. This means he has heard the many proverbs of his father.
The question now was, Had he internalized that wisdom. Would he listen? Was his heart prepared to seek the Lord, or wealth, power, and prestige? Did he want to seek the God of his fathers?
The test comes on the first day when he goes to be crowned. With the changing of the government the people sensed a change in direction. This often happens when a government changes and is not established yet. The people make demands of that government. In this case these demands seem good and even just.
He goes up to Shechem - the place where God had confirmed his covenant with Abraham all the way in back in genesis 12. The place where Joshua asked the people to make a choice between who they would serve! Would it be God or the other Gods of other nations. Rehoboam stands before the same choice; will he serve the God of his Fathers or follow his own heart.
They come to him and say, “Your father made our yoke heavy; lighten it, and we will serve you.” So, what does he do? He is wise to ask for three days. Decisions take time. there is rarely a decision that need to be made immediately. And he does another wise thing. He goes to the elders.
Things are looking promising. And the elders are not men that want everything in that was in the past to stay the same. No these are wise men, who see the good, as well as the bad. They tell him that he has an historic opportunity. To be greater than his Father, to expand the kingdom. To have these people serve and love him. They are not for the status quo, like many would imagine older to be. No, they are interested in the good of the kingdom. True leaders. They say, “If you will speak good to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be yours forever.”
As we get into the story, we are all thinking, “Please listen to their advice! Listen to your elders! Look to the faith of your fathers, and grandparents. Don’t despise the advice. You have an historic opportunity to fix the faults and build on that Faith.”
These elders knew that Solomon had treated the people unfairly. That to be a true shepherd, and to be loved by God’s people he would have to show them love. And serve them, rather than have them serve him. Rehoboam did the right thing and sought wisdom. But it is not enough to seek it, we must listen to it.
You can come here every week. You can go to catechisms your whole life. You can grow up under the wisdom of the wisest king! But if you only hear and not listen it means nothing!
If only he would listen! This tragically he does not happen. Instead of seeking the Lord he seeks his own well-being and the wellbeing of his buddies. He goes to his buddies, who are his age. The friends he grew up with. And they tell him, “NO! Do not listen to those old guys! Tell the people that you are going to be even harder!”
And what happens? He listens to his friends. There is a lesson of peer pressure here. We tend to listen to the people of our own age group, far more easily than people of another generation. Your friends have more influence than the wise elder leaders of the church.
But with Age come wisdom. With experience in the kingdom of God comes the right to leadership. This is why the Bible tells us that leaders are not to be new believers. As 1 Timothy says, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.”
And we see the foolishness of this decision in the rest of the chapter. Things go terribly. Almost everything is lost, including his life! ¾ of the people walk on him. His foremen are killed. And he barely escapes. It is then when he finally listens to God when god tells him to not attack. And when things go terribly, suddenly he turns to God. Here is a man who believes in a God for the bad times, but not for all times. He seeks God and look despite how things may have turned out, God bless him! Fortifies him.! People even come from Israel to worship at the Temple. And as we read in verse 17 for three years there is peace. Things are great. He is strong again. Established. O if only he would have stayed humble!
But what happens? It does not take long before he abandons God’s law as we read in chapter 12:1. He does not listen. Pride gets to him again. When he is humbled, he recognizes his need for God, when he has the money and power, he thinks it’s all about him. This time God again humbles by sending a foreign power. And the king is told why this is happening through the mouth of an ancient prophet! It happens because God has abandoned you. How gracious is our God! Even when we don’t listen, he keeps sending his prophets.
Once again, he listens, he humbles himself, together with all the princes but again we read at the end of the chapter 12 he grew strong again. And it seems like this was how he reign ended. In pride. You see it is not enough to seek wisdom. You must listen. It is not enough to listen when you feel like it, but all the time. The refrain of this book again and again is seeking the LORD continually!
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for the powerful is for the weak. The humble, those we are dependent, and know it. What a great encouragement this would have been for the people living in that time. It is not military might that would set them free, it was trust and faith in the Lord the God of Israel.
Serving the Lord
Humility and pride will be a big theme in this book. Self-sufficiency kills, brings disaster, and brings destruction. The first step in setting your heart to seek the Lord is to be humble yourself. It was pride that drove him to listen to his young friends, it was pride that drove him to abandon the LORD after the Lord had made him strong. It was pride that is the root of all evil. And the result of pride is always slavery. Slavery to your needs, slavery to your ambitions. We see that throughout the scriptures but particularly in this book. That pride leads to destruction and slavery.
When you think the world revolves around you enslave others, and you become a slave. We see this theme come out beautifully in these chapters. In chapter 10 Rehoboams pride causes him to put himself to be the center of the universe and all people must increase his glory. He enslaves his own people. They are there to serve him and his interest. The world, and the kingdom of this earth is not about serving but using other people for their own ends. He says Solomon disciplined with whips, but he would do it with scorpions. He would keep these people under his thumb. When you do not seek the Lord first then you seek you own wellbeing. And people become commodities to be used. They are simply resources.
We see this all around us. The oppression and wickedness of multinational corporations. Workers simply are considered resources. Commodities, to be used up to the maximum. We need to sell ourselves at an job interview. Women become objects to be used for pleasure, men become enslaved to their own instinct. And there are more examples. Dear church pride will cause those people that are close to you, to feel enslaved to fulfill your desire!
Pride in the church is deadly. We will see this over and over and over. Let him who boast in the LORD! When the church leaders grow in pride, they become proud of what the church looks like, and less worried about the heart of the church. Like in days of Jesus. Jesus condemns the leaders, “They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” There is no debt remain, but the debt to love one another as Christ as loved you.
Pride and his brother, slavery is the very antithesis of the gospel. It is not the gospel! The gospel of our king is that our king did not come to be served, but to SERVE! The opposite of rehoboam. To lay down his own life for us! To be the least not the greatest! To elevate those around him, not to oppress them.
Life without God does not only try to make slaves of others, but it makes you slave, that is put under heavy burden. This is what happens with Rehoboam in Chapter 12. The irony is that the one that wanted to enslave the people is himself put under the might of a foreign power and God even tells us that the reason for this is that the people may know the difference between serving the LORD and him as we read in 12:8.
God put his people under the kingdom of the world, so that they might feel the heavy yoke of the kingdom of this air. God sometimes does it, so that his people might repent. Just think of Paul when he tells the Corinthian church to hand a sinner over to Satan, so that he might learn the error of his ways. Satan enslaves people. The kingdom of this world are slaves to sin, their own desires. And it kills them. Slowly. Just as physical enslavement sucks the life out of you so spiritual enslavement will do that. Will make you an empty shell. Something to be used, and discard.
But our king came to shatter the yoke of our oppressors, the bar across our shoulders, and the rod of our oppressors (Isaiah 9)! To lead us out of slavery into his glorious kingdom!
The burden of this king is nothing in comparison to the world. He himself says his burden is light and his yoke is easy! And so is the leadership of the church called to serve. So is every Christian called to serve. Not to place themselves central, but the people of God. God appoints leaders tot to oppress but to serve Gods people. To shepherd them not to dominate them. Not for self-glorification, but for the wellbeing of others. Humble yourself before the LORD and he will lift you up! This is what happens and so Rehoboam is not destroyed. As we read in verse 7.
A people who serves and seek the LORD.
In the middle of these chapters, we have a bright light, of a people who seek and serve the Lord. Who do not split the kingdom though their pride but unite the kingdom by humbling themselves in worship before the LORD! And we see the result of serving the LORD are blessing, and peace, security, and joy.
Just look briefly with me at 2 Chronicles 11:5-17. After Rehoboam listens at least temporarily to the LORD, he strengthens Judah and Benjamin. And not only that, but that Levites and priest and even people from all Israel come to Judah, knowing that it was in the temple in Jerusalem that God had promised to place his name. And it was David and Solomon who God had chosen as inheritors of an everlasting kingdom. They even leave their inheritance in Israel behind as we read about in v 14. They realize it is God himself who is their inheritance.
And it is not only the Levites and priest! But look at verse 16: And those who set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came from all the Israel to Jerusalem. Here is how you seek the LORD. You go to worship him. that is where you find security and strength. Not in all the military might.
Seek the Lord while he may be found. Don’t wait. These people left the second they realized the northern kingdom had abandoned the temple, and the sacrifice. They didn’t wait to see if it would change. They when to seek the Lord where he might be found in his holy temple. Dear church do not stop seeking the LORD. The moment a church stops being Christ centered, and becomes centered on how good they are then cry out! Pray! And they start worshipping falsely. Leave. Don’t look back. Your inheritance is with the LORD. Seek him. Not yourself. Not your country. Not your Church. But Jesus! Him alone! This text says what Jesus summarizes with the words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”
I love the fact that it says from “all the tribes of Israel.” Not just some. Not just one or two. But God will be true to his promises to ALL ISRAEL. TO all his people. He is faithful. Despite the faithlessness of his people.
They come not to serve Rehoboam. They come not to serve a foreign might. They come to seek the Lord. To listen to the wisdom of God. Herein lies the true Israel! It is those who seek the LORD with their whole heart. Who are willing to uproot home and family to be in the midst of Gods people?
Unfortunately, the King was not so set on seeking the LORD. We read in chapter 12:13 that he grew strong again. And that the last evaluation of his live was “And he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.” Or you could also translate he did not “prepare his heart to seek the LORD.” Where is your heart. Are we set on seeking the LORD? In some way it is easy to say “yes” now when things are bad, and we need Him to help us and to save us. To put an end to the pandemic. Every time things went bad for Rehoboam; he gave a resounding yes to that question. But when things were good again, he was living for himself and not committed to pursuing God with his whole heart.
But are you really seeking the LORD than, or just the blessings that he offers! Dear church. seek the LORD. How do you that? You worship him. By losing your live, and humbling yourself constantly under his hand. Serve him, and no one else. Listen to his word of wisdom as it comes to you through the elders. you know that he is worth it. Seek the LORD while he may be found, and do not stop seeking him and his face always.