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June 2nd - Kingdoms in Conflict

Kingdoms in Conflict

(1 Kings 13:33-34; 14:1-18, 21-29, 31; 15:1-8;

2 Chronicles 11:5-12, 18-23; 12:1-16; 13:1-22; 14:1)


Jeroboam’s Idolatry

Artist Unknown


Yesterday, our Old Testament Bible readings included the account of the origins of the divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Today, we focus on this in more detail.


Appointing Idolatrous Priests


After the Levites turned from Israel to Judah, leaving for Jerusalem, King Jeroboam began filling their priestly vacancies with unqualified leaders. Basically, anyone who was willing to perform sacrifices to Jeroboam’s two golden calves could become ordained to the priesthood.


A few years ago, our family attended a wedding in which we beheld a modern-day example of the same practice. The clergyman presiding over the couple’s nuptials was a self-proclaimed pastor of a church with which we were not familiar. Over lunch, we asked him about his congregation.


To our surprise, this apparent man of the cloth chuckled and commented that he had no parish or congregation. He explained that he had simply submitted a personal check to a certain mail-order ordination organization, responding to a classified advertisement in a popular secular music magazine. In return for his financial contribution, he had received a printed and embossed certificate of pastoral ordination.


Jeroboam’s priests carried similar credentials.


But God was not amused. Shortly afterwards, King Jeroboam’s own son became deathly ill. Jeroboam sent his own wife (in disguise) to visit Ahijah the prophet for a comforting report. However, Ahijah (though blind) recognized her and offered a very different message. At the Lord’s instruction, Ahijah informed Jeroboam’s wife that the king’s son would indeed perish.


And it was so.


Idolatry and Repentance


Meanwhile, in Judah, King Rehoboam was not without fault. Once his kingdom became established and strong, the king turned to idolatry as well.


The Lord allowed the Egyptians, led by King Shishak, to oppress Judah until His people repented and called upon His Name again. Shishak took Solomon’s golden shields from the palace, as well as treasures from the Temple.


The conflict between Israel and Judah persisted as well, with constant skirmishes. When Judah’s King Rehoboam died, his son Abijah ascended to the throne. But he was no more faithful than his father had been, fostering idolatry. Even so, Judah’s King Abijah was willing to repent and depend upon God for victory in battle with Israel.


When Judah called on the Lord, he granted them victory. The Scripture offers the secret to the outcome:


He committed all the sins his father had done before him;

his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God,

as the heart of David his forefather had been.

Nevertheless, for David's sake

the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem

by raising up a son to succeed him

and by making Jerusalem strong.

For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD

and had not failed to keep any of the LORD's commands

all the days of his life – except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.”

(1 Kings 15:3-5, NIV, emphasis added)


What a legacy and promise. The Lord preserved the family lineage of leadership of His treasured David for generations to follow. David’s devotion led to blessing for his son (Solomon), his grandson (Rehoboam), his great grandson (Abijah) and many others afterwards.


What legacy are we leaving to our own children and grandchildren? How might our own faithfulness and devotion to God impact those who will follow after us?


Will you pray with me?


Great and gracious and glorious One,

How we love You.

Remind us to live deliberately.

Grant us Your revelation

And inspiration,

So that we might heed Your calling.

Nudge us to repentance,

If we carry any idolatries

In our hearts.

Purify us,

And make us wholly Yours.

Place Your hand of grace

On generations to follow ours,

And build the foundations

Of faithful legacies

In our families

For Your glory.

Amen.


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