2nd Chronicles 12; A Tragic Commentary on Rehoboam\’s Wasted Years

 

“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord\”

2nd Chronicles 12:14

Rehoboam\’s reign commenced badly with a revolution and the division of the Kingdom.  Nevertheless, he showed great resolve and wisdom in leading a recovery and establishing Judah as an independent nation.  The eleventh chapter details a King who is leading the nation in the right direction both spiritually and practically.  He showed grace in listening to the Word of God, he was prepared to make changes and for three years knew a measure of the blessing of God.

An elderly servant of God who frequented our home often when I was a boy talked about the failures of God\’s people in old times with the comment, \”Its not how you start, its how you finish\”.  When we come to the end of Rehoboam\’s reign the sad and tragic comment is that, not only did he finish poorly, he was as a man who \”did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.\”

Where did it all go so very badly wrong for the grandson of David and the son of Solomon?

1:    Forgetfulness in Prosperity

Chapter 12:1

After three years of progress Rehoboam forsook the law of God.  He deliberately chose to forget the Lord as he became absorbed with self.

Blessings can be dangerous times because they have the knack of leading us into proud places where we glory in self and where we neglect our need of grace.  As Moses lectured the Israelites prior to his departure we must constantly \”beware lest we forget the Lord\” (Deuteronomy 6:12).  

We need to fear complacency.

But Rehoboam\’s neglect of God began in his soul.  His heart was not right, therefore he harboured a secret rebelliousness that in time manifested itself openly.  

As Rehoboam forsook the Lord, all Israel departed with him.  Rehoboam was now becoming a power for evil in the land and sadly the faith of many was about following the King rather than God.

2:  Chastening from God

Chapter 12:2-12

Refusing to allow this situation to persist God raised up Egypt to come against Jerusalem and occupy the land.  In the short term the people were deprived of their freedom.  In the long term they became servants of the Egyptians and they lost much of the treasurer that was found in the temple.  The Chronicler is clear that that this took place because the land \”had transgressed against the LORD.\”  The prophet Shemaiah in bringing a word from the Lord told the King \”Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Sishak\”.

God never allows His people to persist in sin.  There will be interventions and there will be chastening. As in the case of Rehoboam, he sometimes hands us over to the enemy as a judgment.  The church at Corinth was commanded to hand an erring brother over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh\” (1st Corinthians 5:5). 

Nor will God allow a nation to persist in a course of rebellion.  Wickedness will never prosper.  There will be a day of reaping for this season of apostasy and wilful neglect of the Word of God.

We must learn that God and His law are inseparable.  When we wilfully break God\’s law we are openly defying the person of God Himself!  And God is not mocked.

3:    Shallow Spirituality

Chapter 12:6-7,12, v14

As a result of the ministry of Shemaiah, at a time when the threat posed by the Egyptians was at its greatest, the King and the princes of the realm humbled themselves.  Their words are noteworthy; \”The Lord is righteous\”.  They were huddled together waiting the final crushing blow from the Egyptian forces when God\’s word delivered an even more formidable blow and induced a humbling of the King and his arrogant princes.  God\’s Word never fails to arrive at the right moment.

This humbling saved Rehoboam\’s life and prevented the destruction of Jerusalem.  Judah was defeated, humiliated but saved as a result of God\’s goodness.

Despite this encouraging sign the postscript attached to the end of his reign was that \”he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.\”

His humbling was about outward external reform, a religious display but it was never about a heart that sought after God.

This explains the flop-flop nature of Rehoboam\’s spiritual life.  There was little depth.  As the son of Solomon he could employ the language, he knew the truth but he did not experience the reality in his soul.  His fundamental flaw was an unregenerate heart.

May God deliver us from shallow, nominal and formal Christianity!

4:    Ungodly Influences

Chapter 12:13

The inspired historian draws our attention to the mother of Rehoboam; Naamah the Ammonitess.  Therefore, this woman, one of Solomon\’s Gentile wives had an influence upon her son that seems to have lasted beyond the death of Solomon himself.  This may explain Rehoboam\’s rebellion and shallow religion.  There seems to be some significance in the mentioning of this fact as his reign came to a close.

The importance of being a godly influence for the future generation weighs heavily upon us.

 5:    Continual Weakening

Chapter 12:15

As Rehoboam\’s dies after seventeen years upon the throne the historian simply says \”there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually\”.  

The division that had festered during Solomon\’s reign and which caused the revolution at the start of Rehoboam\’s reign had weakened Israel and caused a continual state of war.  This was part of the judgement of God on account of the sins of Solomon.  

It is a happy thing when brethren dwell together in unity but with sin comes devision and with division comes weakness.

Let us take these things to heart and learn the sombre lessons. 

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