Introduction: Rehoboam sinned as he lived and walked without God. He also led Judah into idolatry and conflict. He tried to live without God, and the result was disaster. From Rehoboam’s mistakes, God provides several warnings regarding the consequences of trying to live without Him. These include: (1) Satanic influences, (2) defeat and setbacks, (3) God’s judgment, (4) bondage, (5) spiritual or physical poverty, (6) a hardened heart, and (7) conflict.
First, Rehoboam squandered his chance to lead by causing his people to embrace idolatry. This placed the people who followed him under Satan’s influence. From Rehoboam’s mistakes, God reveals that living without Him can eventually lead to living under demonic influences. Second, because Rehoboam refused to repent of his idolatry, God allowed the Egyptians to invade Israel and conquer most of Judah. From Rehoboam’s mistake, God reveals that living without Him frequently leads to defeat or setbacks. Third, because the Jews had forsaken God, God used a prophet to proclaim that He had temporarily forsaken them to the Egyptians. From Rehoboam’s mistake, God reveals that living without Him frequently leads to His judgment. Fourth, out of mercy, God spared the Jews from complete destruction. Yet, to show Rehoboam that he was in bondage to idols, God temporarily allowed him to live under the bondage of an idolatrous Pharaoh. From Rehoboam’s mistake, God reveals that living without Him frequently leads to bondage. Fifth, because Rehoboam’s gold was a source of his pride, God allowed the Egyptians to loot most of Judah’s gold. From Rehoboam’s mistake, God reveals that living without Him frequently leads to spiritual or physical poverty. Sixth, as soon as God lifted His judgment, Rehoboam hardened his defenses in Jerusalem. He then hardened his heart. From Rehoboam’s mistake, God reveals that living without Him frequently leads to a heart that is hardened to sin. Finally, Jeroboam and Rehoboam caused their people to live in strife and conflict with each other. From their mistakes, God warns that living without Him leads to strife and conflict.
Rehoboam does evil by leading Judah into rebellion against God. After causing the breakup of Israel, Rehoboam forsook God’s law and led the entire nation into rebellion: “1 When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord.” (2 Chr. 12:1). Rehoboam ignored the advice of his elders when he first became king to lighten the taxation and labor requirements that Solomon had imposed upon the people. Because he loved his money and power too much, he threatened to increase the taxation and labor requirements in response to the people’s complaints (1 Kgs. 12:1-15). His covetousness caused 10 northern tribes to break away and leave him with only the lands of Judah and half of the territory that was Benjamin (1 Kgs. 12:16-24). Rehoboam’s partial walk with God came to a complete end after only three years of his rule (2 Chr. 11:17). This coincided with his decision to fortify Judah (2 Chr. 11:5-12). This made him feel less dependent upon God for his protection. His feelings of self-reliance in turn caused him to drift from God and adopt idolatry.
Rehoboam forsook God by adopting idolatry. In the book of Kings, the Bible clarifies that Rehoboam forsook God by adopting idolatry: “22 Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy more than all that their fathers had done, with the sins which they committed. 23 For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. 24 There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.” (1 Kgs. 14:22-24). Under Rehoboam, Judah engaged in evil that was worse than any prior king (1 Kgs. 14:22). Idolatry was open and pervasive (1 Kgs. 14:23-24). This means that it was no longer stigmatized as a sin. The evil practices included temple prostitution (1 Kgs. 14:24; Dt. 16:22). The “Asherahs” were sexually explicit carvings associated with a Canaanite deity. The evil that God condemned also included: “male cult prostitutes.” (1 Kgs. 14:24). At the time, this was celebrated by most people, just as it is today. Yet, God would soon judge Judah because of these practices (2 Chr. 12:2-4). God is not moved by public opinion. Politicians who chose the world over the Word do so at their own peril.
An evil leader can lead an entire nation astray. Because of Rehoboam’s evil example, “all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord.” (2 Chr. 12:1). The lesson is that one corrupt and evil leader can bring down an entire nation. ‘“Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.” (Josh. 22:20). Some might imagine that a wall exists between matters of church and state. Yet, God does not recognize such a line. The Bible is filled with examples of evil leaders who brought devastation to their nations. When the Church ignores this lesson, the nations suffer. Are you praying for your leaders? Are you also voting for God-fearing leaders?
Idolatry puts a believer in communion with demons. An idol is any physical thing to which you devote yourself. Although idols like money have no real power by themselves, the unbridled desire for these things causes addiction and puts a person in communion with demonic forces: “What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.” (1 Cor. 10:19-20). God will never leave or forsake a believer (Heb. 13:5; Dt. 31:6). But God will not likely stop you if you choose to give into an addiction by listening to demons over the Holy Spirit. Ask yourself what you desire most. If your answer is something material or the flesh, you are listening to the counsel of demons.
Idolatrous rulers may stumble and pull believers off of their walks. Paul warned that merely associating with an idolater (i.e., someone trapped with an addiction) can cause the believer to be pulled off his or her walk. “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-- not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Cor. 5:11). “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Cor. 15:3). You can also cause others to stumble in your walk through your own idolatry. You must: “take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9). If merely associating with an idolater can cause you to stumble, the risk is even greater when your leader is an idolater. That person can cause any person or group of people under his or her authority to be led astray by his or her bad example. Is your church a light of God’s standards of morality? Or, is it too afraid to shine His light?
God allows the Egyptians to defeat the Jews. Because Rehoboam did not repent after abandoning God, God removed His hand of protection and allowed the Egyptians to defeat the Jews: “2 And it came about in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem 3 with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people who came with him from Egypt were without number: the Lubim, the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians. 4 He captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem.” (2 Chr. 12:2-4; 1 Kgs. 14:25-26). The Pharaoh Shishak I ruled over Egypt between 945 and 924 B.C. Because Rehoboam felt that he no longer needed God, God allowed Rehoboam to face Pharaoh’s army without His protection. The result was disaster for the Jews. Historians have also verified this defeat from archeological inscriptions outside of the Bible. Inscriptions found in the temple of Amon at Karnak, Thebes confirm that Pharaoh Shishak, aka, Sheshonq I of Egypt’s Twenty second Dynasty, invaded both the northern and southern kingdoms. Jerusalem almost faced complete destruction as a result of these attacks.
Solomon’s worldly alliance with Pharaoh was foolish and short lived. Solomon ignored God’s Word and engaged in unlawful alliances with foreign powers through his many foreign wives. For example, “Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem.” (1 Kgs. 3:1). Solomon’s marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter may have appeared wise at the time because it allowed Solomon to protect the southern border from Egyptian attacks. Both countries would also benefit from increased trade. Yet, God prohibited His people from marrying a pagan spouse (Dt. 7:3-4). God also prohibited a king from having more than one wife (Dt. 17:17(a)). Solomon’s decision to ignore God’s laws was foolish because the Pharaoh soon betrayed him. First, he protected Solomon’s enemy Jeroboam in Egypt (1 Kgs. 11:40). Pharaoh had even given him a sister-in-law as a pagan wife (1 Kgs 11:19-20). Pharaoh then aided him with his revolt to divide Israel into two nations. Pharaoh no doubt learned about all the hidden gold inside Jerusalem through his daughter and her servants. Once Israel was weakened and divided, he then raided Jerusalem to steal all the gold. Thus, even if Solomon’s decision to form a marriage alliance looked wise at the time, it resulted in disaster for God’s people.
Worshiping anything other than God can bring curses to you and your descendants. The Jews had no reason to wonder why God would allow disaster to strike the nation when they followed Rehoboam in his idolatry. God will not withhold any good thing from you when you walk uprightly (Ps. 84:11; 19:7). Yet, His anger burned against Israel whenever they worshiped other gods: “So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel . . .” (Jdgs. 2:13-15). God repeatedly commanded the Jews not to turn to idols (Ex. 20:4, 23; 34:17; Lev. 19:4; 26:1; Dt. 4:16, 23; 2 Kin. 17:12; Ps. 78:58; Ez. 20:7). This prohibition is repeated in the New Testament. “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” (1 Cor. 10:7). The prohibition against idolatry is one of the three prohibitions from the Old Testament mentioned in the Apostolic Decree: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” (Acts 15:28-29; same 21:25). Paul lists it as one of the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). As part of the Second Commandment, God warned that idolatry is so serious that it can bring judgment upon both you and future generations: “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20:4-6; Dt. 5:8-10). Because the Jews ignored repeated opportunities to repent, God removed His hedge of protection and allowed Satan to lead the Jews into captivity: “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth . . . The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines . . . so that Israel was greatly distressed . . .” (Jdgs. 10:6-14). “But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel . . .” (1 Kin. 9:6-7; Ex. 20:5; Dt. 5:9). False gods will inevitably disappoint. Only worshiping God will give you the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). The lesson for the western world is again clear. Elect leaders who reject God’s law, and God will remove His protection.
Worshiping idols can bring defeat or setbacks for an entire nation. If a nation refuses to repent and turn back to God, God warns that He may also allow His people to be defeated in battle: “25 The Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Dt. 28:25). “I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.” (Lev. 26:17). When the Jews were disobedient to God, they were defeated in battle: “The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield.” (1 Sam. 4:2). “So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.” (1 Sam. 4:10). If you refuse to follow God’s laws, you will not lose your salvation. Yet, God may remove His hand of protection and allow you to experience setback and defeat.
God’s prophet proclaimed God’s judgment, and the nation repented. Once the Jews realized that Rehoboam had led them into a disaster, God’s prophet announced God’s judgment. Both the elders of Israel and Rehoboam then repented in sorrow: “5 Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘You have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak.’’ 6 So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous.”’ (2 Chr. 12:5-6). The prophet Shemaiah had previously rebuked Rehoboam and stopped him from attacking the 10 tribes of Northern Israel (2 Chr. 11:1-4). Out of mercy, God sent him again to warn the people. Here, he warned that God’s threatened punishment would fit the crime. The people forsook God. In response, God judged them by temporarily forsaking them. The leaders then felt great sorrow at the prospect of living without God’s protection. When the elders declared that God is “righteous”, they humbly admitted that they were not.
Shemaiah confronts Rehoboam for the second time1
Rehoboam lost because he forsook the protections of God’s laws. Shemaiah made clear that Rehoboam lost to Egypt because he rejected God’s laws (2 Chr. 12:2, 5). This was a warning that God gave to Rehoboam’s father Solomon: “But if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you, and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples.” (2 Chr. 7:19-20). This was also a warning that God gave the Jews through Moses: “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” (Dt. 28:15). If a nation rejects God’s laws, it will also lead to judgment and suffering. Thus, the Church must serve as God’s light to guide the lost.
Only repentance through Jesus can restore God’s blessings. The Egyptians would have destroyed all of Jerusalem. Yet, the prophet Shemaiah led the Jews into repentance (2 Chr. 12:6). When you sin, Jesus also wants you to repent and return to Him: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mk. 1:15). “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19). The Church must also lead people into repentance through Jesus. This is the only path to salvation and God’s blessings.
If you confess your sins, Jesus will forgive you. During Old Testament times, when a believer became aware of sin involving their ears, mouth, hands, or eyes, the believer was required to make a “guilt” offering (Lev. 5:5). This was either a female lamb or a female goat (Lev. 5:6). If the person was poor, the sinner could offer two turtledoves or two young pigeons. (Lev. 5:7-10). If the person was extremely poor, the sinner could offer “the tenth of an ephah of fine flour.” (Lev. 5:11-13). Today, you do not need to make a physical sacrifice to be forgiven. Jesus did that for you on the cross. He further promises to forgive you if you will confess your sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Like the Jews, will you confess you sins when the Holy Spirit reveals them to you?
If you conceal your guilt, you will not prosper and your sin will spread. Believers are also warned not to conceal sins: “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Prov. 28:13). “Yet you said, ‘I am innocent; surely His anger is turned away from me.’ Behold, I will enter into judgment with you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.”’ (Jer. 2:35). “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). You must therefore repent of any sin. If not, your sins will spread and become worse.
Don’t ignore God’s warnings of judgment. No person should treat sin lightly (Rom. 6:26). God is a consuming fire when in the presence of sin: “for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29; 10:27; Ex. 24:17; Dt. 4:24; 9:3; Ps. 97:3; Is. 33:14; 2 Thess. 1:7). For those who do not repent, He warns: “I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow on you with the fire of My wrath, . . .” (Ez. 21:31(a)). ‘“Is not My word like fire?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’” (Jer. 23:29). “The soul who sins will die.” (Ez. 18:4(b)). Unless you accept that God will judge sin, you will feel no pressure to repent. Staying silent about His judgments also doesn’t help others. Are you helping others turn to Christ to spare them from judgment? (Matt. 28:16-20).
God forgave the people but allowed them to live in bondage. Because God is merciful, He spared Judah from complete destruction. Yet, He allowed the Jews to experience the consequences of their sins: “7 When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak. 8 But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (2 Chr. 12:7-8). God knew that Rehoboam’s repentance was not sincere. He wanted to live in service to his idols. God gave him his wish by allowing him to live in service to an idolatrous nation. But, out of mercy, this judgment was only temporary.
God is filled with compassion and mercy for His people. God declared that He would withhold His wrath because His people humbled themselves and repented (2 Chr. 12:7). Throughout the Bible, God reveals His compassion and mercy. “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6; Nu. 14:18; Dt. 4:31). “But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them; and often He restrained His anger and did not arouse all His wrath.” (Ps. 78:38). “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” (Ps. 103:8). “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (Jam. 5:11). God even withheld His judgment from the wicked King Ahab when he repented (1 Kgs. 21:29). Every believer in Christ has been spared from judgment. How are you thanking Jesus for His mercy in your life?
Unrepentant sin can lead to bondage. Rehoboam lived in bondage to idols. Thus, God allowed him to serve an idol worshiping Pharaoh. Those who misuse God’s mercy and grace as a license to sin may also find themselves in a place of bondage. “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” (Ro. 1:24). “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.” (Ps. 81:12). “and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” (Eph. 4:19). To avoid descending into the bondage of sin, you must renew your mind each day and focus on the things of God (Ro. 12:2). You must also put to death your carnal desires: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.” (Col. 3:5). Are you misusing your freedoms by placing yourself back into bondage?
Living in bondage will also cause an individual or a nation to experience despair. As a consequence of their sins, the Jews became servants of the Egyptians (2 Chr. 12:8). This fulfilled a prophesy that God gave to Moses: “therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.” (Dt. 28:48). If an individual or a nation rejects God’s efforts to bring them back, He may cause them to feel the same despair from their bondage: “65 Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. 66 So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. 67 In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see. 68 The Lord will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, ‘You will never see it again!’ And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.” (Dt. 28:65-68). “This you will have from My hand: you will lie down in torment.” (Is. 50:11(b)). “These two things have befallen you; who will mourn for you? The devastation and destruction, famine and sword; how shall I comfort you?” (Is. 51:19). “And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘where should we go?’ then you are to tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Those destined for death, to death; and those destined for the sword, to the sword; and those destined for famine, to famine; and those destined for captivity, to captivity.’’ (Jer. 15:2). Have you warned your non-believing friends about the dangers of bondage to sin? Spreading the hope of Jesus is the Great Commission given to all believers (Matt. 28:16-20).
God’s Word is true and is always fulfilled. The judgments that God imposed fulfilled prophecies given to both Moses and to Solomon. Throughout the Bible, God reveals that His Word is true and always comes to pass: “Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.” (Josh. 21:45). “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant.” (1 Kgs. 8:56). “I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” (Is. 48:3). “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” (Is. 42:9). No other holy book can make similar claims of fulfilled prophecy. Thus, God’s warnings should be taken seriously.
As a consequence of their sins, the Jews lost most of their gold to the Egyptians. As another consequence of their sins, God then allowed the Egyptians to remove the Jews’ wealth by looting all the gold that David and Solomon had accumulated: “9 So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s palace. He took everything; he even took the golden shields which Solomon had made. 10 Then King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the door of the king’s house. 11 As often as the king entered the house of the Lord, the guards came and carried them and then brought them back into the guards’ room. 12 And when he humbled himself, the anger of the Lord turned away from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and also conditions were good in Judah.” (2 Chr. 12:9-12; 1 Kgs. 14:25-28). It took David and Solomon collectively 80 years to accumulate their vast stockpiles of gold. Solomon made gold as ubiquitous as stones throughout the kingdom: “The king made silver and gold as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as plentiful as sycamores in the lowland.” (1 Chr. 1:15). He had so much gold that he created a “forest” of gold shields: “King Solomon made 200 large shields of beaten gold, using 600 shekels of gold on each large shield. He made 300 shields of beaten gold, using three minas of gold on each shield, and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.” (1 Kgs. 10:16-17). The Egyptians seized all of this gold: “He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.” (1 Kgs. 14:26). What his grandfather and father built up over 80 years, he lost in five years.
God allowed the Egyptians to loot the Temple of its gold2
Rehoboam’s use of bronze to replace the gold symbolized God’s judgment. Rehoboam tried to replace the gold shields that Solomon created with bronze shields (2 Chr. 12:10). In the Bible, bronze symbolized God’s judgment of sin. The altar for sacrifices was covered in bronze (2 Chr. 4:1). The bronze also protected the altar from the fire inside it, which symbolized God’s judgment: “for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29; 10:27; Ex. 24:17; Dt. 4:24, 9:3; Ps. 97:3; Is. 33:14; 2 Thess. 1:7). Jesus is described as having “bronze” feet (Rev. 1:15). His bronze feet will bring judgment to Satan by crushing him (Ro. 16:20). Thus, the bronze shields symbolized God’s judgment.
Rehoboam’s use of bronze to replace the gold also symbolized Satan’s counterfeit. For every good thing that God creates, Satan offers a counterfeit. Satan’s counterfeit is fake. The joys that he offers are temporary and quickly turn to sorrow. For a time, Rehoboam likely thought that he could replace the gold he lost with bronze and that no one would notice. The Bible records that his counterfeit wealth was paraded in front of him every time he entered God’s Temple: “11 As often as the king entered the house of the Lord, the guards came and carried them and then brought them back into the guards’ room.” (2 Chr. 12:12). This no doubt reminded him of both God’s judgment and what he lost. Satan’s counterfeit pleasures do not last long (Heb. 11:25). If you are turning to the things of the world that Satan offers for joy, your joy will also quickly turn to sorrow.
Living without God leads to spiritual and sometimes physical poverty. Being poor is not necessarily a sign of a curse. Many God-fearing people are poor yet still filled with the joy of the Spirit. At the same time, living in rebellion against God and in bondage to sin can cause you to become spiritually impoverished and sometimes physically impoverished. “47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things;” (Dt. 28:47(a)). Rehoboam impoverished the nation with his acts of idolatry and rebellion. If you live in rebellion, you may also squander God’s blessings in your life. In contrast, living with God brings contentment: “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Tim. 6:6).
Rehoboam strengthens his defenses and hardens his heart. With the Egyptian threat to his rule lifted, Rehoboam fortified his defenses in Jerusalem and hardened his evil heart: “13 So King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 14 He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” (2 Chr. 12:13-14). Solomon took many foreign wives who led his heart astray with their idolatry (1 Kgs. 11:4). Rehoboam’s mother was an Ammonite (1 Kgs. 11:21). She most likely encouraged both Solomon and Rehoboam to embrace idolatry. Rehoboam’s rule lasted only 17 years, 931-913 B.C. (1 Kgs. 14:21). This was less than half the length of his father Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:42). His short reign was a sign of God’s judgment against him for his evil acts.
Repentance must be sincere. Rehoboam repented when it appeared that the Egyptians were certain to defeat him (2 Chr. 12:5-6). But, as soon as God lifted this judgment, Rehoboam again looked to his own strength for protection by fortifying his defenses in Jerusalem (2 Chr. 12:13). He then returned to his evil ways (2 Chr. 12:15). Like Rehoboam, Saul also had a moment of repentance. But his repentance was meaningless to God because it was not sincere. The first time Samuel confronted him, he did not repent: “Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.”’ (1 Sam. 13:13). The second time Samuel confronted him, Saul repented with the hopes that Samuel would restore his image before the people instead of God: “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. . . Then he said, ‘I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.’” (1 Sa. 15:24, 30). Pharaoh also repented before he changed his mind and tried to destroy the Jews: “Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘I have sinned this time; the LORD is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones.”’ (Ex. 9:27). Your repentance should include a change in behavior. Without a change in behavior, your repentance is also worthless.
Unrepentant sin can harden your heart. You should never take sin lightly. God warns that we all need encouragement because sin that we fail to correct can harden your heart: “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb. 3:13). To demonstrate His sovereignty, God twice promised that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:21; 7:3). Yet, He did not harden Pharaoh’s heart until the sixth plague (Ex. 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10). During the first five plagues, Pharaoh was responsible for his own actions. “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” (e.g., Ex. 8:15). In the same way, the Philistines chose to harden their hearts by refusing to repent of their sins (1 Sam. 6:6). Is there any sin in your life that you have failed to address? If so, it may harden your heart as well.
Judah and Israel pay for their leaders’ sins with constant strife. Because neither Jeroboam nor Rehoboam would repent, God removed His hand of protection. Satan then caused the two leaders to engage in constant conflict: “15 Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, according to genealogical enrollment? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 16 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David; and his son Abijah became king in his place.” (2 Chr. 12:15-16; 1 Kgs. 14:29-31). Both leaders lived under Satan’s influence. Satan used his influence to bring ongoing death and misery to all of God’s peoples. The two nations would fight ongoing battles over their borders (e.g., 2 Chron. 13:1-3; 1 Kgs. 15:6).
Judah and Israel engaged in constant conflict3
Jeroboam and Rehoboam brought strife to the Jews. Because Jeroboam and Rehoboam lived without God, they stirred up strife between God’s peoples: “An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.” (Prov. 28:25.) A person who causes strife amongst God’s people is one of the things that God “hates”: “There are six things which the LORD hates, . . . A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16, 19). Living without God will also cause you strife.
In one battle, 500,000 soldiers from Northern Israel died. In one battle between Israel and Judah, at least 500,000 Jews died: “In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, Abijah became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. Now there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. Abijah began the battle with an army of valiant warriors, 400,000 chosen men, while Jeroboam drew up in battle formation against him with 800,000 chosen men who were valiant warriors . . . Abijah and his people defeated them with a great slaughter, so that 500,000 chosen men of Israel fell slain” (2 Chron. 13:1-3, 17).
God’s mercy and grace in Rehoboam’s remembrance. Despite his evil reign, God granted him a resting place next to David (2 Chr. 12:15). God also granted him an heir when he deserved no such honor. God showed that he could forgive and still use the Jews, even when they turned against him. As one commentator notes, God’s willingness to forgive and use this evil man was meant to encourage the returning exiles: “The Chronicler seems to give more attention to the life of Rehoboam than the writer of 1 Kings. This may be because Rehoboam is somewhat of a pattern and an encouragement to the returning exiles to whom the Chronicler first wrote.” (David Guzik on 2 Chr. 12).4
Be thankful that God remains faithful, even when you are not faithful to Him. The Bible is filled with accounts of God’s mercy and grace towards wicked people. Moses, David, and Paul were all murderers. Yet, God used them to do great things. Even though Rehoboam was evil, God remained faithful to the Jews. God keeps His promises, even when you fail to do so: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). Don’t be like Rehoboam by turning from God and using His mercy and grace as a license to sin. How are you thanking God for His faithfulness to forgive you when you repent of your sins?