2 Chronicles 10-12
Today’s reading (from 2 Chronicles) begins where yesterday’s reading began (in 1 Kings) – Solomon has just died and his son Rehoboam has been made king of all Israel. It is a good time to use a lot of wisdom, especially since there are discontented citizens and a prophecy has been made that the kingdom (or 10 of the 12 tribes) would be torn out of the hand of Solomon’s son and given to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:9-13 & 26-40).
When the potential revolters knock on the palace door asking Rehoboam how he will rule them, Rehoboam responds first with wisdom. Rather than giving a rash answer he might regret later he asks them to return in 3 days – and he consults with his elders. Well done, Rehoboam. The wise elders advise the new king to be a servant leader and his countrymen would always be faithful to him (1 Kings 12:7, 2 Chronicles 10:7). It wasn’t the answer Rehoboam was looking for. He was looking forward to having great power, authority and fame – perhaps even greater than that of his dad Solomon or his grandpa David. He didn’t see how a kind “servant” fit into the picture of leadership.
So, he goes to his young buddies he grew up with (perhaps about 40 years old 🙂 – 2 Chronicles 12:13) and asks them how he should proceed. They are inexperienced, power hungry, arrogant, foolish “young” men. But Rehoboam rejects the wisdom of the elders he asked first and follows the foolish advice of his friends and tells the people he will be a harsh and firm ruler. Not too wise, Rehoboam.
Rather than submitting to these fear tactics, Israel revolts and 10 tribes go with Jeroboam, leaving just Judah (and parts of Benjamin) loyal to the house of David and his grandson Rehoboam. This is exactly what God told Solomon would happen, as a result of his turning away from the Lord (1 Kings 11:9). Like father, like son – it’s not enough to start out wise – you must stay the course and firmly resist the easy, enticing, foolish way that the worldly friends would lead you down.
In the next couple chapters we see Rehoboam, continue to yo-yo between good choices and bad choices. He wisely listens to the word of the Lord and abandons plans to attack Israel and start an all-out bloody civil war with their dissenting brothers (2 Chronicles 11:4). But then, “After Rehoboam’s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD.” (Chronicles 12:1). Too often when we are feeling strong, comfortable and sure of ourselves…our pride makes us think we don’t need God anymore. And that is a dangerous place to be – for Rehoboam and the country of Judah as well as for you and me and our country. In God we trust. Or, we did once? How sad and hauntingly eerie to read God’s proclamation against the nation that rejects God: “This is what the LORD says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to …’ ” (2 Chronicles 12:5b). And in came the invaders from Egypt.
The good news is, the story doesn’t always have to end there – and it doesn’t for Rehoboam! He still had a bounce back left in his up/down/repeat journey. Rehoboam’s pride had brought him down, turning from God, and leading to punishment. Now, at the bottom, faced with a foreboding enemy he gets another chance to choose his response – wise or foolish, humble or proud, repentant or heard-hearted? Rehoboam and his countrymen chose wisely this time – they, “humbled themselves and said, ‘The LORD is just.’ ” (2 Chronicles 12:6). God still sent the invaders from Egypt – to shake them up a little and teach them a lesson they needed to learn – there is a price to pay for turning from God and proudly putting your trust in yourself instead. But, because of their humble response, God did not let the Egyptians annihilate them.
That would not be the end of Rehoboam. He would reign in Jerusalem 12 more years. But sadly the few wise choices we saw in Rehoboam were not enough. In the end, it was recorded, “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 12:14).
In reality, we are all a mix of wise and foolish choices. There are consequences for the foolish ones and rewards for the wise. But which will you be known for in the end? Let us each work hard to make wise choices everyday. Daily seek the LORD with humility – acknowledging our need for Him, our desire to follow His wise and right way, our willingness to set aside the selfish, prideful desire for power and and instead offer ourselves as a servant.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+10-12&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 15:1-24 and 2 Chronicles 13-16 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan