2 CHRONICLES 10:1 – 12:16 and ACTS 8:1–40
2 Chr 10
The account in 2 Chronicles 10 is identical to 1 Kings 12. Sometimes these same passages are worthy of reading and being meditated upon a 2nd and 3rd time. God knew that all of this would transpire but in the end man is accountable. The counsel of the young men was clearly void of experience. Let’s put this into today’s perspective. We are living today with an entitlement mentality and mind-set. Gone are the days where suffering and poverty prevailed in many of today’s modern cultures. Our forefathers had to endure hardships just to get by and survive. Today it is all about what I can get as opposed to what I can give. This mentality is reflected in the counsel seen in many circles today be it business and even churches. Many top level decisions are being made by people who have not really been tempered and proven in adversity. My fear is that the counsel of the young men that was given to Rehoboam is becoming more the norm. This is not to suggest that the younger generation has nothing to contribute, far from it, I merely make the point that the type of counsel that the older men gave needs to be more factored in. In short, both are needed in a way that balances each other. The summary that was given in 1 Kings 12 is included below in italics.
King Solomon has now passed on and Rehoboam his son has now assumed the throne. Jeroboam who was once close to Solomon comes up from Egypt and pledges to serve Rehoboam provided they lighten up on the heavy type rule that his father brought forth in his later years. Rehoboam consults with different groups; one consisted of older men with the other being the younger. The counsel of the older men was to speak well to the people and as a king be a servant unto them. This would help ensure that they would serve the king forever. Rehoboam forsook their counsel and took the advice of the younger men. Their counsel was to rule over the people with a rod of iron; to place upon them heavy burdens. It may be good for a moment to pause and reflect upon this incident.
This event served as the catalyst for the division of the kingdom. Why would Rehoboam resort to such unreasonable counsel? To me much of the responsibility and blame is to be placed upon Solomon. This was prophesied when the Word of the Lord came to him. His indulgences and turning of heart to other gods paved the way for such sentiment to prevail. Once again all we have to do is look at life to understand how all this happens. Society today in every form is consumed with the satisfying of self. You see it in entertainment, culture and even in the church. In my home country laws are constantly being rewritten for the purpose of edifying and liberating self. It is an “all about me” mentality that prevails. The older generation of men knew what service and servanthood meant. They probably had memories of Solomon’s earlier days or even perhaps memories dating back to the time of David. Even in the church we need to be very careful about a Rehoboam type spirit. There can be a tendency to easily dismiss the “older guard” and their way of doing things. I learned something from my dad in the last few years that he worked. He worked for the railroad and there came a time when they looked to nationalize the railroads and bring in a whole new order of management. The new management primarily consisted of young men with college degrees with no practical experience, who introduced a whole new way of running the railroad. My dad said he was not adverse to some changes but it was the total discarding of older management and their collective wisdom through many years of experience that resulted in problems. Everything was now facts and figures and there was no room for seasoned advice from older men who could have helped in certain situations. We need to guard against this kind of mentality. Rehoboam left no room for alternatives and ploughed through with his own aggressive agenda. We do see that it was the Lord allowing for this to take place due to the prophetic Word given by Ahijah (vs 15).
Jeroboam then realized that there was no place for him in Jerusalem as did all of Israel. They returned to their places and then called Jeroboam to reign over them. Rehoboam then sought to go to war to bring all of Israel back into his fold but was restrained by the Word of the Lord (vs 23-24. Jeroboam then worried that Israel would one day return to Rehoboam especially when they would go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. He then commits a grievous sin before the Lord which would forever mark him and his succeeding line of kings. He set up two altars to serve as a substitute for going to Jerusalem and declared them to be their gods. He then appointed priests of the basest of men who made sacrifices in both Bethel and Dan. This was an extreme abomination due to Jeroboam having no authority in taking on the role of a priest or establishing the altar of sacrifice in just any place. This is not what God had in mind when looking to establish a kingdom. Israel is now only 4 kings into their monarchy and already it has divided. This should send a very strong message to us as to what constitutes royal rule. It begins with a royal priesthood; a people who love God, His laws and ways and seeks to keep them.
2 Chr 11
In verses 1-4 Rehoboam had in in his heart to gather all of Israel back into his fold. There now was a bitter feud between Israel to the north and the house of David (2 Chr 10:19). The Word of the Lord comes to a man named Shemaiah who was to tell Rehoboam not to go forward in this battle seeing that this separation in the end was of God (vs 4). Jeroboam and the host that was ready to go forth to fight did return to their place. In the early years of Rehoboam’s reign he walked in the ways of his father and David (vs 17). He fortified cities and appointed the Levites who were castoffs from Jeroboam who installed men of the baser sort in his kingdom to the north.
One of the primary weaknesses that Rehoboam had was a desire for many wives (vs 23). The wife he favoured most was Maachah who was the daughter of Absalom. Some conjecture that she was actually the granddaughter of Absalom seeing that only Tamar is mentioned as his daughter. It was through Maachah that he had a son named Abijah whom he sought to one day install as king. He dealt wisely in his early years even in the area of his many children throughout all the countries of Judah and Benjamin (vs 22-23). This would not last for very long.
2 Chr 12
Though the first three years saw Rehoboam following after Solomon and David he quickly digressed. In his 5th year God allowed Shishak, King of Egypt to come up against Jerusalem due to the forsaking of God’s laws. The prophet Shemaiah comes to Rehoboam and speaks unto him the Word of the Lord concerning the fact that they have forsaken God hence the judgement from Shishak of Egypt. The king and the princes did humble themselves and acknowledged their sin resulting in the Lord granting them some deliverance (vs 5-8). It was not a total deliverance due to the fact that they were to serve Shishak so that they would recognize God’s sovereignty in the affairs of men. Shishak was able to take away the treasures of the house of the Lord as well of those from the king’s house; including the shields of gold which Solomon had made. What a tragedy it is to see the treasures that belong to the Lord and His kingdom being spoiled by the enemy. This helps us to understand that the treasures of the world are in fact His and we look for a restoration of much of it in these days.
Although Rehoboam did humble himself the wrath of God was not turned totally away from Jerusalem. His heart again turned from God which led him to be an evil king in the end (vs 14). He was determined to do evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord throughout his reign. He was 41 when first coming to the throne and reigned for a period of 17 years. His reign was also characterized with wars against Jeroboam, King of Israel.
There was a man by the name of Saul who gave consent to the death of Stephen. The church now was experiencing great persecution which saw them being spread out throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. It is apparent that since Stephen’s death there was a concerted effort to try and snuff out the momentum of the church. Paul alludes to this period later in Acts where he admits to putting many in prison and voicing assent to many deaths. The apostles stayed united and close by to keep the fires alive. Paul is at his aggressive worst with regard to the church. He entered homes and did great damage by committing many to prison and perhaps even death (vs 3). Though the church was scattered they were still preaching. We think of Paul and all he did for early Christianity but we sometimes neglect the great damage and havoc he did to the church. It is a picture of the great redemptive potential that God can do in the life of a person. We will see that shortly.
Philip has moved to Samaria to preach the gospel. Philip is having good success in his ministry as he went forth preaching while showing forth signs and wonders (vs 6). There was a flow of unity that was seen as he spoke; also having power and authority over demons while healing those who were lame and sick. Philip has an encounter with a sorcerer named Simon. He was a man who had reputation among the people due to his ability to bewitch them by way of familiar spirits. He too becomes a believer under Philip’s ministry. Simon was intrigued by the power that came forth from Philip during his time of ministry.
The word came to the apostles that the gospel was beginning to impact Samaria through Philip’s ministry so they sent forth Peter and John. It seems that Peter and John have been working closely together since the time of Pentecost. At this time it appears that Peter has the more dominant ministry. John certainly more than makes up for this later, much later. The brethren in Samaria have not yet known the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. This is another good portion of scripture to go to in citing the distinction between the two baptisms. It was here where Simon saw the laying on of hands of the apostles and offered them money for this gifting.
In verses 20-24 Peter rebukes Simon for this affront to God and states that his heart is not right in asking such a thing. He is adamant in having Simon repent for this attitude of heart and warns him about getting this matter right. Simon requests that Peter prays for him. The issue of Simon should be noted because it is an issue today. There are many who profess or seek to function in Christianity with a similar attitude of heart. We must not be deceived nor get carried away with any of these gifting’s. We serve the Lord for His purpose and for His glory alone. It is interesting to see how Peter addressed Simon’s problem. He saw him in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. Many Christians today suffer from bitterness. It can be obvious and it can also be subtle. The Bible has a clear warning about harbouring any root of bitterness:
Heb 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Peter and John returned to Jerusalem and Philip continued his ministry. The Spirit of the Lord spoke to Philip to draw near a man who was in a chariot reading a portion of scripture from Isaiah. Philip asked if he understood what he was reading which happened to be the portion about the sheep being led to the slaughter. It provided Philip the opportunity to preach Christ and then to immediately baptise him. As soon as he (The eunuch) came up out of the water Philip was caught away and brought to a place called Azotus which was the old Philistine stronghold of Ashdod. It was a distance of about 40 miles from where Philip was baptising the eunuch. Can we believe for such manifestations in these last days? Will we have ears to hear the voice of the Lord speak to us to come alongside a certain person like Philip did resulting in a ministry opportunity? The account of Philip is placed in scripture for a reason and I feel it is more than just a one-time example with the eunuch. May God place within us such an expectancy.