April 26

Read I Kings 12 -- 13

King Solomon was buried in the city of David his father (I Kings 11:43). His son Rehoboam inherited a treasury full of wealth, and powerful fortifications to protect his borders. However, Solomon left the kingdom morally and spiritually bankrupt.

Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, Your father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make . . . his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve you (12:3-4). There is no reason to doubt that the people would have remained loyal to Rehoboam had he agreed to their reasonable request. When he asked for three days to consider their request, he should have used that time to pray and trust the Lord for wisdom.

However, King Rehoboam consulted with the old men . . . How do you advise? . . . And they spoke . . . If you will . . . speak good words . . . then they will be your servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel of the old men . . . and consulted with the young men that had grown up with him, and which stood before him (12:6-8).

Note that Rehoboam said to the wise old men: How do you advise? But, he said to his newly-appointed cabinet of young friends: What counsel do you give that we may answer? (12:9).

Taking the young mens counsel, Rehoboam foolishly threatened the nation with additional taxes and even more cruel treatment. This blunder caused the people to rebel: They . . . called Jeroboam . . . and made him king over all Israel (12:19-20). Prior to this, the few remaining people in the small tribes of Simeon and Benjamin had merged with the tribe of Judah. They remained faithful to the God-ordained worship at the Temple in Jerusalem and became known as the Southern Kingdom. The remaining tribes united with King Jeroboam and became known as the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

God had chosen Mount Moriah for His Temple, His dwelling place, and the only place to offer sacrifices to Him (8:10-11; II Chronicles 7:2,12,16). But, Jeroboam provided his new kingdom with two "more convenient" places of worship located at Bethel in the South and Dan in the North. This violated the Word of God that clearly demanded that all worship sacrifices must be conducted at the Temple in Jerusalem. Consequently, all Levitical priests who were loyal to the Word of God left the new Northern Kingdom and moved to Jerusalem. The Law strictly forbade anyone but Levites, who were the descendants of Aaron, to offer sacrifices; but Jeroboam also disregarded this and appointed priests of the lowest of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi (I Kings 12:31). God had said that the Feast of the Tabernacles was to be observed on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34,39), but Jeroboam changed the date to the following month (I Kings 12:26-33). For desecrating God's Law, he became known as Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin (14:16).

A similar departure from the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God is prevalent today. Pitiful as this is, some people neglect to read His Word and simply do not know the difference. Beware of false prophets. . . . Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:15,21).

Christ Revealed: Through Shemaiah who spoke for the Lord (I Kings 12:22). Jesus spoke only what the Father told Him. All things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you (John 15:15). For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak (12:49).

Word Studies: 12:4 grievous means cruel; 12:32 high places means pagan shrines; 13:3 rent means split apart; 13:6 entreat means plead in prayer; 13:32 cried means shouted, pronounced.

Prayer:

Pray for Operation Mobilization · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by B. Marlene Billman · Country: Estonia (2 million) northeastern Europe · Major languages: Estonian and Russian · Religious freedom · 38% Protestant; 20% Estonian Orthodox; 1% Roman Catholic; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Praise God for His mercy (Psalms 136:2).

Optional Reading: Acts 27

Memory Verse for the Week: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14