SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- We learned in previous chapters that the Kingdom of Israel has been divided in two. Jeroboam is King of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, and Rehoboam ruled over Judah (two of the twelve tribes).
- Jeroboam has been leading his entire nation away from worshiping God and to making sacrifices to other gods and following the evil practices of other pagan religions of the day. But when his son is sick, he wants information from the one true God. He tells his wife to go to one of God's prophets in disguise (verse 2), probably because he feels guilty and embarrassed that he and the nation he leads have turned away from God, and so he's not sure if God's prophet would welcome her.
- God speaks to the prophet, Ahijah, telling him what's really going on (verses 4-5).
- The prophet's message for Jeroboam first reminds him of how gracious God was to him (verses 7-8), then confronts all the evil he has done (verse 9).
- The prophet lists the dire consequences Jeroboam and his family and his nation will suffer for turning away from God and to evil (verses 10-16). All of the disasters that would come their way had always been the consequences of turning away from God and they had always been warned of them (see, for instance, Deuteronomy 28:15-19, 36-38; 30:15-20).
- If you've been reading 1 Kings, you remember that Solomon had built Israel into a superpower, and had amassed incredible wealth and built an amazing temple for God. Rehoboam inherits all this, but leads the nation away from devotion to God and instead to do evil (verses 21-24). The result is that his Kingdom quickly loses power and prestige and becomes a laughingstock, with other nations coming in and pillaging God's temple (verses 25-28).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- It may sound like God is giving a harsh punishment to these people, with many of them being killed, but what they were doing was truly evil. And, more importantly, this is God's world, we're just living in it. God's standards are the right standards, and the consequences for not living the way He wants are the right consequences. For instance, life is not a right we have, it's a gift God gives us. And, as the giver of the gift of life, God has the right to take it away.
- For a variety of reasons, God doesn't typically interact with people in the same way today as He did back in the time of 1 Kings. For instance, He doesn't have prophets give messages to kings (or presidents) about the ways they might be misleading their nations, and the consequences of our sins generally don't happen immediately and in such obvious ways. But we need to understand - there are still the same consequences for turning away from God and doing evil. The Bible says in Galatians 6:7-8, "Don't be misled - you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature." You can look at the consequences of sin as God's punishment, and there can be an element of truth in that. But it's not just punishment; it's the way life works. As we read in those verses from Galatians, when you plant corn you are going to harvest corn. Not because God is rewarding you with corn, but because that's the way farming works. And in the same way, when we leave God out of our lives and do evil, we will "harvest" negative consequences. Not even necessarily because God is punishing you for doing wrong, but because that's the way life works.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where have you suffered the consequences of turning from God and doing evil?
- Where are you currently leaving God out of your life and doing what is wrong? Don't be misled, there will be consequences, and they will be bad. Turn back to God now. Confess what you've done, ask for forgiveness, and ask Him for help to start living the way He wants.