June 29, 2010 David Balzer

2 Chronicles 10-13: Whose fault?

The Jews have probably been the most persecuted people in history.  We automatically think of the prison camps and the gas chambers of and the s. But most of us don’t know about the Russian pogroms, or riots, which killed thousands of Jews from 1880 to 1917.

And in almost every society since Christ, they’ve been discriminated against, or persecuted, or killed. Governments have taken away their property, and refused their rights.

But what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to Israel? It MAY be some of those things. But it seems to me that the worst thing that Israel ever went through/ happened in 930 BC. Shortly after the of the great King Solomon.

The division of the nation of Israel into two kingdoms. The North and the South. Israel and Judah. (Show o/h)

After everything they’d been through. Twelve tribes rescued out of Egypt. Surviving 40 yrs in the desert. Conquering the land. Holding out the invasions of other nations with the help of judges.

Then Samuel guiding them. Installing Saul as king. More battles. More victories. Finally King David makes it to the throne. And the nation of Israel becomes a world power. All 12 tribes. Undefeated on the battle field. No-one could stand before them.

And then Solomon builds on his father’s work. Builds the WEALTH of the nation. The wonderful temple is the jewel in the crown. Israel is the envy of everyone around. And God is pleased. One nation. United. Rich. Successful. Obedient.

And then Rehoboam becomes king. And the whole thing falls apart within a few weeks. What a tragedy! 10 tribes decide to rebel. And they split from the OTHER two. And those 10 tribes are from the NORTH. And they become known as ISRAEL.

And the OTHER two tribes are Judah and Benjamin. And they’re from the south. And they become known as Judah. That’s where the name “Jews” comes from.

And by the time of Jesus, the Jews the people from the north. They’re looked down on. Second-class citizens.

Samaritans were originally people from the Kingdom of Israel. Samaria was smack-bang in the middle of Israel. In fact, it was the nation’s capital until the Assyrians conquered it in 722.

And so when Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan to the JEWS, it was because they D the Samaritans. And it was almost impossible for them to imagine that SAMARITANS could be their neighbour!

And the two kingdoms NEVER got back together. And the Jewish people TODAY are those from the SOUTHERN kingdom. (Even though it’s called Israel – that’s a bit confusing). And the northern kingdom is split between three countries. Israel near the coast, Palestine in the middle which is disputed territory. That’s where all the fighting is (The West Bank. And the Golan Heights). And Jordan on the east side of the Jordan River.

And so God’s people were together in God’s land/ under God’s king/ for less than 100 years. That’s all there was to the glory days. Such a fleeting glimpse of success. A tease.

But who’s fault was it? Who was the cause of the terrible split? The chapters we’re looking at today. Give us the answer.

1. Rehoboam was proud

Whose fault was it? First up, Ch 10 tells us that it’s Rehoboam’s fault. It opens with Rehoboam becoming king. And the people come to him, and say, “Solomon pushed us pretty hard – what with the temple, and his palace. And all the palaces for his foreign wives. How about copping us a bit of a break? Go easy on us for a while!”

And Rehoboam says he’ll think about it. He asks the OLD advisers. The ones who’ve hung around Solomon. You hope they’ve picked up a few pointers. Well, they reckon it’s a GOOD idea. That’s V7

But Rehoboam doesn’t like the sound of that. So he asks his buddies. The guys he grew up with. And they’ve got a different opinion. V10.

(2 Chr 10:10-11 NIV)  … “Tell the people ‘My LITTLE FINGER is thicker than my father’s WAIST. {11} My father laid on you a HEAVY yoke; I will make it EVEN HEAVIER. My father scourged you with WHIPS; I will scourge you with SCORPIONS.'”

We don’t know how old these guys were. But they sound just like agers. Full of bravado and pride. Think they’re indestructible and unbeatable. They’re eager to make their mark.

And Rehoboam lets his PRIDE get in the way. And he LISTENS to them. And when the people return, he repeats their speech almost word for word. Almost like he doesn’t have an original thought of his own.

“My father scourged you with WHIPS, but I’ll scourge you with …. (PSSST What am I going to scourge them with? … Oh, yeah, that’s right!) … but I’ll scourge you with SCORPIONS!”

And so he doesn’t listen to the people. And by doing that. He shows that, rather than being a BIGGER man than his father, he’s actually a LESSER man. Because he’s PROUD and STUPID. And he’s not SHEPHERDING the PEOPLE like God wanted.

And so the people decide to go home. And abandon Rehoboam as their king.

Who’s fault is the split? It’s Rehoboam’s fault. Because of his pride and stupidity.

2. The people were rebels

But it’s also the fault of THE PEOPLE. Because they chose to turn their back on the king. Look there in v16.

(2 Chr 10:16 NIV)  When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “WHAT SHARE DO WE HAVE IN DAVID, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!” So all the Israelites went home.

You see, by turning their back on Rehoboam – The king GOD APPOINTED – The Son of David who would shepherd the people/ under God – The people were as good as turning their back on GOD.

“We’re not interested in doing things GOD’S way. It’s what WE decide, or nothing. My way, or the highway.”

And that’s the point Abijah makes over in Ch 13. It’s eigh years later. And Abijah is Rehoboam’s son. The next king of Judah. And this is HIS TAKE on things. He’s speaking to Israel, and their king Jeroboam. Ch13 v4

(2 Chr 13:4-7 NIV)  …”Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me! {5} Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? {6} Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, REBELLED against his master. {7} SOME WORTHLESS SCOUNDRELS gathered around HIM and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them.

The way Abijah sees it. It’s all JEROBOAM’S fault. They TRICKED Rehoboam into making a bad decision. Caught him when he was young and inexperienced. He could hardly be blamed for the split!

It was Israel’s fault. They were REBELS. Rebels against the Son of David. The true king.

But not just against the king. Against God as well. That’s the next point he makes. Down in v8.

(2 Chr 13:8-9 NIV)  “…You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. {9} But didn’t you drive out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.

They didn’t just set up another KING to replace Rehoboam. But they set up IDOLS to replace God.

And instead of God’s PRIESTS, they came up with some cheap imitations. No-name brands. Anyone with a bull and seven sheep qualified. Like getting your University degree out of a Cornflakes pack!

And so while Judah was the genuine Arnott’s Tim Tam, Israel was the Home Brand chocolate-flavoured rectangular biscuit. A poor imitation. And that’s what they chose. Because they were rebels.

Whose fault was the split? Jeroboam, and the people. Because they were rebels.

3. God brings down proud rebels (10:15; 11:4)

But these chapters throw up a third option. Whose fault was the split? It was God’s. God was behind the whole thing. It was all part of his plan. Look back in Ch 11 v4. The two sides are about to fight. But God says;

(2 Chr 11:4 NIV)  Do not go up to fight against your brothers. Go home, every one of you, FOR THIS IS MY DOING.'”

And a bit further back at Ch 10 v15. The reason why the king was so stubborn.

(2 Chr 10:15 NIV)  So the king did not listen to the people, FOR THIS TURN OF EVENTS WAS FROM GOD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat.

God was engineering things to bring about his purposes. And if we go back to 1 Kings 11, we can see how it happened (p247). It was in Solomon’s time. And Jeroboam was one of his officials.

And God is plotting a coup. Look at v29.

(1 Ki 11:29-39 NIV)  About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were ALONE OUT IN THE COUNTRY, {30} and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. {31} Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes.

You see, it’s God who sets up the whole plan. He puts the idea in Jeroboam’s mind. He’s the one whose stirring the pot.

And why does he do it? Look at v33.

{33} I will do this because THEY HAVE FORSAKEN ME AND WORSHIPED … other gods… and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws / as David, Solomon’s father, did.

Why does God work in this way? To break up the nation? Because of Solomon’s sin. He worshipped other idols. He led the people astray. And THEY sinned. And so God punishes them.

Although because he loved DAVID so much, he actually says the punishment won’t happen until Rehoboam’s time. Rehoboam is the one who’ll cop the brunt of the punishment. And that brings us back to 2 Chronicles 10.

Does that make God unfair? Is Rehoboam getting something he doesn’t deserve? No. Of course not. We’ve already seen that he’s proud and foolish. And, back in 2 Chron, Ch 12 v14 sums up Rehoboam.

(2 Chr 12:14 NIV)  He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.

Rehoboam fully deserved the punishment he receives from God. And so God’s judgment on Israel/ is that it’s split into two.

So let’s ask the question again. Whose fault is it? It’s God’s fault. Because he punishes proud rebels. But it’s also Rehoboam’s fault. Because he’s proud. And it’s also the people’s fault. Because they’re rebels.

The story puts up all three options as true. But God is never controlling unwilling people. And they’re never just puppets with no ability to choose.

And God’s hands are never tied behind his back. Like he KNOWS what’s going to happen, but is powerless to change it.

We somehow have to put together/ that God is completely in control of everything that happens. And, at the same time, people are completely free to make decisions.

4. So what?

Well, what’s the lesson for us today?

We still have the choice to reject King David’s Son, or to follow him. You see, our King is Jesus. And sometimes we are tempted to turn our back on him. Because obedience is hard. (Just like obedience to Rehoboam was hard for Israel)

Perhaps his call for no compromise is too tough. We want to keep that lust, or that desire for power. Or success. Or approval. Or possessions. And King Jesus says

(Mat 6:19-21 NIV)  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. {20} But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Perhaps concern for the future has got its claws in us. And we’re ready – not to DUMP Jesus – but just to drop him down our priorities a peg or two. At least until we get ourselves ESTABLISHED. But King Jesus says;

(Mat 6:31-33 NIV)  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ {32} For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. {33} But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

And when people have the choice. The choice to accept God’s King, or reject him. There’s always a split. Look at what happens with Rehoboam. The rebels LEAVE. But all the FAITHFUL people actually come to Judah. Ch 11 v13.

(2 Chr 11:13-14 NIV)  The priests and Levites from all their districts throughout Israel sided with him (that’s Rehoboam). {14} The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property, and came to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them as priests of the LORD.

And it wasn’t just the priests either. V16.

(2 Chr 11:16-17 NIV)  Those from every tribe of Israel who SET THEIR HEARTS ON SEEKING THE LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their fathers. {17} They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, walking in the ways of David and Solomon during this time.

The choice to reject or follow. Acts like a SIEVE. A filter. A means of PURIFYING the people. It separated the good from the bad. Showed people’s true colours.

And God still works the same way. Within any group/ there are two sorts of people. Those whose hearts are set on following God. On serving King Jesus. And those who AREN’T.

Even among people who SAY they’re Christians. TWO GROUPS. Those who truly ARE Christians. And those who’re just going through the motions. Whose hearts are set on something ELSE, rather than God.

Sometimes they’re even pretty good at hiding it. They know the right things to say. And do. They’ve got everyone fooled. Sometimes even themselves. They might THINK they ARE Christians.

But they can’t fool God. And one day, there’s going to be the final split. The judgment. When God separates the sheep form the goats. And all the words, and tricks, will be useless. Because God will see things as they really are.

Is that you? Are you just FOOLING PEOPLE? Are you trying to fool God?

Who or what/ has your heart? Are you committed to pleasing God? Or has something ELSE got your heart?

Perhaps you’re not sure? You THINK God is number one. And your main desire is to serve Jesus as Lord. But feelings are so tricky, it’s hard to be sure. And some days, if you’re honest with yourself, he probably ISN’T NUMBER ONE.

Then 1 John is written for you. It’s the letter for people who are DOUBTING if they’re Christians. Who lack assurance. (And there’s a few verses you can look up there in the outline).

But it’s message/ is that if you’re not sure if Jesus is Number One, then ask this question – Are you DOING the things that PLEASE him? Are you WALKING AS HE DID? Is their FRUIT?

If you’re lacking assurance of salvation. Become a fruit inspector. That’s the message of 1 John.

And it was FRUIT that distinguished Judah from Israel. Back in Ch 13 of 2 Chron. Israel and Judah about to fight. And King Abijah calls on everyone listening to be fruit inspectors.

V8. What’s ISRAEL’s fruit? Making golden calves. Kicking out the priests and the Levites. Because they’ve rejected the Son of David.

But what about Judah? What’s THEIR fruit? V10. They haven’t given up on God. Every morning and evening the priests present the burnt offerings. And set the bread. And light the lamps. Day after day – doing what God requires.

And so Abijah’s confident God will give THEM victory. V12.

(2 Chr 13:12 NIV)  God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you. Men of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.”

Abijah’s confidence is in God. But Jeroboam’s is in his craftiness and strategy. He sends half his troops around the back of Judah. And he has them surrounded.

And when Judah realise, they cry out to the Lord. And God answers them. Verse 15.

(2 Chr 13:15-16 NIV)  …At the sound of their battle cry, God routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. {16} The Israelites fled before Judah, and GOD DELIVERED THEM into their hands.

And in v18 is the lesson.

{18} the men of Judah were victorious BECAUSE THEY RELIED ON THE LORD, the God of their fathers.

Judah’s heart was set on God. And the fruit of that was seen in her reliance on God. And notice the two occasions that happened? In the EVERYDAY/ AS WELL AS/ the BATTLES.

When things were going WELL, Judah kept doing the everyday things. Kept praying. Kept listening to God’s Word. Kept confessing sin. Kept meeting with God’s people.

(Is that fruit that YOU’RE showing?)

And then when the BATTLES came. The TOUGH TIMES. Their commitment was still there. A depth of trust in God.

And it’s the same with us, isn’t it. It’s easy for most of us to turn to God during the BATTLES. The tricky situations. Unemployment. Or sickness. Or danger.

But do we still do it during the good times? Is the fruit of a heart for God still there from week to week? The weeks when there’s no real DRAMAS. No real VICTORIES. Just more of the same.

When you’re tempted to think that you can do just fine WITHOUT God. That you get by because of your intelligence, or money, or physical prowess.

That’s often when it’s easy to lose our heart for God. And to drift away. To start trusting OTHER things, rather than God. And what he’s done for us in Jesus.

Let’s make sure we don’t do that. And let’s keep encouraging each other/ to keep producing the fruit of hearts that are set on God.

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