The Price of Stubbornness

Posted: November 17, 2010 in 2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 10-11, “The Price of Stubbornness”
—————

There are some accounts of history in the Bible in which we look at them and wonder, “How on earth could they ever have done that?!  Obviously they should have done ___.”  The account we read in Ch 10-11 fits right in that category…  Yet we need to be cautious in our judgments of these people.  Rehoboam is going to show himself to be truly foolish in his selfishness & stubborn refusal to listen to godly counsel.  But let us not forget how we can do the same thing!  How often do we know the exhortations & commands of Scripture, and then willfully turn around & do the opposite?  That’s no different than Rehoboam; may we learn from his mistakes.

Remember our context: Solomon had built the temple, and performed many construction projects all over the kingdom.  His fame had spread far & wide, and money flowed like water in the land.  It was a prosperous time for the kingdom, but the people were worked very hard in the process.  Now Solomon has passed from the scene, and his son Rehoboam (the only son of Solomon’s mentioned by name) has assumed the throne in Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 10

 1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king.

  1. Public assembly for the coronation.  Presumably (like David) Rehoboam had already been received as king in the south (Judah…Jerusalem); now he was headed to the northern tribes to be formally recognized as king there.

 

2 So it happened, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it (he was in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon), that Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 Then they sent for him and called him.

  1. For the context on Jeroboam, we need to turn to 1 Kings 11 (as the Chronicler assumes the reader is already informed).  Towards the end of Solomon’s reign, Solomon fell into apostasy away from the Lord due to the influence of his pagan wives (2 Kings 11:3). … BTW – this provides a great example of why we ought not to be unequally yoked in our marriages! (2 Cor 6:14-15)  One of you is always going to be an influence on the other.  The question is simply this: is the unbeliever influencing you, or are you influencing them?  If you’re already aware that your romantic interest is not yet born again, why would you take the risk?  As a member of the body of Christ, you’re joining Christ Himself to that unbeliever – who needs true salvation vastly more than false assurance!
  2. As a result of Solomon’s apostasy, God judged him by taking the kingdom away.  1 Kings 11:11-13  (11) Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. (12) Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. (13) However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” []  Notice the beautiful balance here!  God’s righteousness is preserved in that Solomon was righteously judged…  Yet God’s grace is preserved in that God’s promise to David remained intact…  God’s wisdom & God’s ways are absolutely perfect!  As the sons of Korah declare, “Mercy & truth have met together; Righteousness & peace have kissed,” (Ps 85:10)  God always does what is perfect & true!  His promises will never return void – they are always fulfilled perfectly in Christ Jesus.
  3. The “servant” to whom God referred to with Solomon was none other than Jeroboam.  Jeroboam had already rebelled against Solomon after he was displeased with the assignment Solomon had given him.  As he fled Jerusalem, Jeroboam encountered Ahijah the prophet who declared that God would grant him the 10 northern tribes of Israel, along with promising Jeroboam an enduring house if he would follow the Lord God as David did.  After receiving the word from the prophet, Jeroboam fled to Egypt where he just bided his time until Solomon died.
  4. Now that Solomon had passed & Rehoboam was king, the time was right & Jeroboam returned.  Apparently he had little trouble gaining influence in the northern kingdom – the people there already called for him to be the spokesman for the people to Rehoboam.

 

And Jeroboam and all Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.” 5 So he said to them, “Come back to me after three days.” And the people departed.

  1. Knowing the context on Jeroboam makes his statement to Rehoboam pretty curious.  Jeroboam had already been given the right from God to claim the 10 northern tribes as his own kingdom – yet Jeroboam still goes to Rehoboam with an offer of service.  Why?  It’s not likely that Jeroboam would have legitimately settled into service with Rehoboam (his own history as told in 1 Kings seems to imply this); perhaps Jeroboam was simply setting up the king for failure.  Instead of a forcible rebellion & outright war, if Rehoboam could disqualify himself in the eyes of the people, it would make things all the more easier for Jeroboam.
    1. Keep in mind that our own enemy sometimes works in much the same way.  Sometimes we know when we’re experiencing an outright spiritual assault; other times we experience something much more subtle & the Devil just sets us up for failure when we’ll trip ourselves up on our own.  That’s what he did with Adam & Eve, when he got them to question the word of God… (Gen 3:1)  He’ll do the same thing with us, too.
  2. The people’s request was actually very reasonable.  Things had been pretty tough on the people under Solomon.  His construction projects were both expansive & expensive.  The people simply needed a break & they made Rehoboam a generous offer.  If he lightened the load, they promised their loyalty.
    1. This ought to have been a “no-brainer” for Rehoboam!  Before he ever gets to his counselors & advisors, this event speaks of his foolishness just in the fact that he had to ask.  Keep in mind that Rehoboam wasn’t a child at this point – most scholars pinpoint his age to around 40-41 years old at the time.  Surely anyone who was even slightly mature would have been able to see the wisdom in lightening the load.
    2. What this indicates is that Rehoboam was more interested in his superiority than his service.  Any good leader will demonstrate his/her leadership through serving those he/she leads.  … That’s not mere corporate wisdom; that’s the example of Christ Jesus!  [Washing the disciples’ feet…John 13]  At this point, Rehoboam was not interested in serving; he wanted to show he was the “big man on campus.”  Beware of your ego!  It will take you down!  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Prov 16:18)…

 

6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, saying, “How do you advise me to answer these people?” 7 And they spoke to him, saying, “If you are kind to these people, and please them, and speak good words to them, they will be your servants forever.”

  1. His first step was good (though it would have been better if he had consulted the Lord) – at least he asked the advice of people who had experience & were able to help.   The advice they gave was solid, but as God had foreknown, this good advice would fall on deaf ears.

 

8 But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.

  1. How sad!  How foolish!  We’re not to despise godly counsel & instruction, yet that’s exactly what Rehoboam did.  Proverbs 15:5,7  (5) A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent. … (7) The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, But the heart of the fool does not do so. []
    1. How do we do in this matter?  Do we seek the counsel of godly men & women when we need it?  We’ve got to first be willing to ask.  At the same time, we’ve got to go beyond asking, to applying.  Do we brush off godly counsel simply because we don’t like it?  Or do we take the counsel we’ve received back to the Lord in prayer – and then put it into action?
  2. The foolishness here is truly striking.  It’s almost impossible not to ask the question: how could such a foolish son come from such a wise father?!  Obviously children are responsible for their own decisions…we cannot blame our parents for our mistakes. … At the same time in this particular instance, the very reason for God’s decree here was due specifically to Solomon’s sin.  Rehoboam may have sinned with or without Solomon’s apostasy – but Solomon’s apostasy was the specific reason God was taking much of the kingdom away.
    1. Our children often pay the consequences for our sin.  Children of alcoholics often grow up to be alcoholics…children that were raised in broken homes have a tough time maintaining their own marriages, etc.  God affirms the same principle regarding His justice, in that the iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children to the 3rd & 4th generation (Exo 20:5).  It’s not that God punishes our children because of us, but they often deal with the aftermath of what we’ve left behind in our sin.  The solution?  Stay humble & submitted to Jesus Christ!  When we sin, we ought to deal with it in confession & repentance, thankfully trusting God for the forgiveness & cleansing He promises (1 John 1:9).

 

9 And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?” 10 Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you should speak to the people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! 11 And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’”

  1. So Rehoboam rejects the sound advice of the elders, but listens to the pampered young men he grew up with in his household.  Young men who had likely never worked a day in their life end up giving out counsel that would affect the labors of people all over the kingdom.  That’s definitely NOT wisdom.
  2. This is one reason that we’re not to be hasty in laying on of hands for church leadership (1 Tim 5:22).  Those who are looked at for offices of leadership within the church ought first to be tested to see if they are both mature in the Lord & called by the Lord.  To neglect this is to leave a church open to the advice of Rehoboam’s counselors.

 

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, “Come back to me the third day.” 13 Then the king answered them roughly. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, 14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!” 15 So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from God, that the LORD might fulfill His word, which He had spoken by the hand of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

  1. Obviously Rehoboam rejected the sound advice & took the foolish advice from the brats of the kingdom.  How foolish was it?  Instead of answering a simple “No” as kindly as possible, Rehoboam declares (per the advice) that he would make things far worse upon the people than his father Solomon had ever done.  Per the wisdom of the famous philosopher Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”  There’s no doubt Rehoboam’s answer was the height of stupidity & foolishness.  Proverbs 15:1-2  (1) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (2) The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. []
    1. What did Rehoboam miss?  The opportunity to show grace. … Show grace while you have the chance! …
  2. Question: is God to blame for the kingdom split?  Did Rehoboam even stand a chance at answering wisely, if God had already decreed otherwise?  It’d be easy to look at an example like this from a viewpoint of fatalistic determinism (the idea that we have no free will & that nothing we do truly matters…we’re like puppets on a string).  That’s actually not what we see here at all!  Yes – it was God’s will that the 10 northern tribes be taken away from the house of Solomon.  Yes – God absolutely knew what Rehoboam would do.  Yes – God is completely sovereign over His creation.  BUT – God is not to blame for Rehoboam’s foolishness & sin!  God allowed Rehoboam to receive good advice – it was Rehoboam’s free choice to reject it.  God had given Rehoboam every opportunity to succeed: he had been raised in the household of a wise king – he had a truly godly grandfather – he surely had access to the Holy Scriptures – he had been surrounded with wise & godly counselors – he had the opportunity to even consult God Himself if he had only called for the prophets or priests.  Yet in his own sinful pride & foolishness, Rehoboam rejected all of this & suffered the consequences for it…just as God providentially proclaimed that he would do.
    1. We cannot blame God for sin.  OUR sin is OUR fault. … …

 

16 Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: “What share have we in David?  We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.   Every man to your tents, O Israel!  Now see to your own house, O David!”  So all Israel departed to their tents. 17 But Rehoboam reigned over the children of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah.

  1. Obviously they felt left out.  As king, Rehoboam had the responsibility of representing God to the people…he failed.  The people saw no benefit from endless service to a king that offered them nothing in return – that’s simply not how God works.  True, God is worthy of our service & worship simply because He is God – no other work on His part is necessary.  Yet at the same time, God DOES work much on our behalf!  In all the covenants He made with Abraham, Moses, & David, God declares what He will do…many times completely independent of whether or not Abraham, etc. do anything at all.  In our own covenant we have with God through Jesus Christ, we’re told of all the things God does for us…not because of anything we have done, but all on Jesus’ behalf.  We have forgiveness, new life, adoption, inheritance, empowerment, hope, future, and much more.  We have incredible spiritual riches in Christ!  We’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ! (Eph 1:3)
  2. By misrepresenting God to the people, Rehoboam put a stumbling block between the people & God.  That’s a tough responsibility to shoulder!  Better a millstone be hung around our necks! (Mk 9:42)

 

18 Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of revenue; but the children of Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

  1. The split between the kingdoms was complete & final.  Rehoboam tried one more time to collect taxes, but his representative was killed in the process.  Whatever we can say about the northern kingdom, they can’t be accused of being subtle!

 

2 Chronicles 11

 1 Now when Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled from the house of Judah and Benjamin one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might restore the kingdom to Rehoboam.

  1. This wouldn’t have been an unusual course of action for any king to take.  When the people rebel, a king would naturally raise an army to put down the rebellion.  Yet Rehoboam is going to have his mind changed for him.

 

2 But the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3 “Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4 ‘Thus says the LORD: “You shall not go up or fight against your brethren! Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.”’” Therefore they obeyed the words of the LORD, and turned back from attacking Jeroboam.

  1. God affirms His hand in all of this…  … … Even if Rehoboam had answered the people wisely, eventually a split would have taken place due to God’s decree.  This was His sovereign will & purpose.
    1. We don’t always understand the will of God.  Sometimes God allows things that we simply cannot understand – that’s just the way it is.  Isaiah 55:8-9  (8) “ For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. (9) “ For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.  []  Actually, this is something we can praise God for!  God’s ways included our salvation!  Something of which we would have never thought or done…
    2. Yet we must always trust the will of God…  Why?  Because we can trust God!  There is no one more worthy of our trust!  We know His attributes & His character.  Even if His mind & purposes are a mystery to us, we know HIM as He’s revealed Himself.  God is merciful & gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness & truth (Exo 34:6).  God is faithful (Deut 7:9)… God is love (1 Jn 4:16)…  God is just (Exo 34:7)…  God never lies (Num 23:19)…  He is worthy of our trust, because we know who He IS!
  2. To Rehoboam’s credit, he actually submits to the will of God!
    1. Do we submit ourselves to God, even when we don’t like the outcome?

  

5 So Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defense in Judah. 6 And he built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth Zur, Sochoh, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9 Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and Benjamin, fortified cities. 11 And he fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and stores of food, oil, and wine. 12 Also in every city he put shields and spears, and made them very strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.

  1. Instead of going to war against the northern kingdom, Rehoboam spends time fortifying the cities of the southern kingdom (perhaps fearing an invasion from the north).  Actually, there’s quite a bit of wisdom here, aside from mere self-defense.  Rehoboam is spending time strengthening the cities that remain in his care.  Instead of losing lives in a battle trying to regain cities that God has taken from him, he’s proactively caring for those that God has entrusted to him.

  

13 And from all their territories the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him. 14 For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the LORD. 15 Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made. 16 And after the Levites left, those from all the tribes of Israel, such as set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD God of their fathers.

  1. Although the Chronicler isn’t going to spend much time at all writing of the northern kingdom, he notes that it didn’t take long for the north to fall into idolatry.  Jeroboam felt threatened by idea of his people going south to Jerusalem to worship, so he set up his own idolatrous worship system in Shechem.  In doing so, he turned down the covenant that God had offered with him, to give him an enduring house in the north (as David had in the south).  1 Kings 13 tells how God sent a prophet to proclaim the judgment upon Jeroboam as he was burning incense in this profane manner. Jeroboam tried to have the prophet arrested, only to find his hand withered & his false altar split in two.  The prophet prayed for healing, but Jeroboam never truly repented from the sin of idolatry, and every time idolatry is mentioned of a king in the north, it’s referred to as “the sin of Jeroboam.”
    1. It’s amazing what we in our sin choose over the promises of God!  Jeroboam had a truly wasted opportunity.  How often do people today do the same?  Whether it’s a born-again believer missing out on the fellowship with Christ they could have if they simply walked in faithfulness…  Or it’s the non-believer who rejects the gospel of grace outright simply because they value their sin more than a Savior…
  2. Thankfully, not everyone followed Jeroboam into his sin.  Many of the priests & Levites rightly rejected the false worship system & left the northern kingdom to go to Jerusalem in order to worship the One True God. … … Keep in mind this was not a simple decision of moving to a new church down the block.  The Levites had to leave the lands of their family – they had to abandon their cities & leave their houses behind to completely move to the south. …  Why?  Because they had “set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel.
    1. This is what it looks like to completely submit yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ & seek the Lord God!  Leave everything behind to follow Him… Think of the disciples – what was Jesus’ singular call to them?  Simply, “Follow Me,” & immediately they left what they were doing to follow the Lord Jesus.  When the Lord of the Universe calls, what other response could there possibly be?  Yet so often we think of excuses.  One wanted to go bury his father; Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead (Lk 9:60).  Another wanted to have time to go back home – but Jesus saw through him as well.  Luke 9:62  But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” []
    2. Why is that level of commitment required?  Because we’re giving up our very lives for the One who gave up His life for us.  In Christ, we become servants of the Most High God – our lives were purchased at a glorious price.  Only by giving up our lives do we find true life (Mt 16:25) – but that’s the commitment we are called to.  Nothing is worth more than the call of Christ. 

 

17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong for three years, because they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years.

  1. Unfortunately it wouldn’t last – but at least the kingdom had three good years.  Better than that, they had three excellent years, following in the footsteps of David & Solomon in faithfulness to God.  At this point in his life, Rehoboam was completely submitted to God…amen!  (Tragically, this was only temporary – and God addresses Rehoboam’s own sin in Ch 12)

  

18 Then Rehoboam took for himself as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, and of Abihail the daughter of Eliah the son of Jesse. 19 And she bore him children: Jeush, Shamariah, and Zaham. 20 After her he took Maachah the granddaughter of Absalom; and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 Now Rehoboam loved Maachah the granddaughter of Absalom more than all his wives and his concubines; for he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and begot twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.

  1. Although it wasn’t unusual (and still isn’t in monarchies), there’s a little royal inbreeding going on here.
  2. Note that Rehoboam did learn at least one thing from his father…unfortunately it was the sin of multiplying wives in opposition to God’s direct command (Deut 17:17).

 

22 And Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maachah as chief, to be leader among his brothers; for he intended to make him king. 23 He dealt wisely, and dispersed some of his sons throughout all the territories of Judah and Benjamin, to every fortified city; and he gave them provisions in abundance. He also sought many wives for them.

  1. Apparently, Rehoboam passed on the same example to his sons.  Even though he provided for them & gave them positions of responsibility, he multiplied wives for his sons, just as his father & grandfather had done before him.

 

Conclusion:

The account of Rehoboam isn’t over – but at this point in his life, this is a great place to stop & reflect.  Rehoboam had acted in utter foolishness…yet, he submitted to the will of God, and the kingdom flourished as a result (if only temporarily).

What made all the difference?  Rehoboam eventually came to the understanding that though he was king, he was still accountable to Someone far greater.  He submitted to the sovereignty of God, and was willing (at least for a time) to walk as God would have him to walk.  That’s exactly what God wants of all of us!  Too many Christians claim Jesus as “Lord” without actually acting as though He is.  What a difference it makes when our actions & attitudes follow through on our confession!  To walk in submission to our Lord & King is a wonderful thing.  Rehoboam was not always submitted, but during the time he was, God was glorified & God’s people were edified.  It’s no different with us. …

Take the time to examine your own heart tonight.  Are you truly submitted to God?  When you call Jesus your “Lord,” do you mean it?  Keep in mind that when we humble ourselves to the will of God, we’re simply following the example of our Savior.  He was completely submitted to God!  He did only what His Father asked Him to do (Jn 6:38)…  He willingly humbled Himself by stepping out of Heaven to go from the glory to the grave & back again (Phil 2)…  That same mind that is in Christ Jesus ought to be in us, as well!

Let me challenge you tonight to lay yourself before the Lord in humility.  None of us are perfect here – all of us have times where the desires of our flesh rise up & we want to do things our own way.  Yet when we gave our lives to Christ, we (hopefully) didn’t just do that in words – but like the 12 disciples, we left everything to follow Him.  He is our Master & we are His servants – He is our King, and everything we are & have belong to Him.  What do you need to leave at the altar tonight? 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s