When It Comes Down To Making Choices, Please Don't Be Rehoboam.
King Rehoboam, King Solomon’s son, has flipped my brain inside out and upside down. Each verse of his story gets more interesting. However, what King Rehoboam did and his choices scared the living daylights out of me.
“And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord, With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians. And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 12:1-4KJV)
I shook my head as I read this passage of Scripture. It’s a little unnerving. First thing to note is that in this particular verse Israel is in reference to Judah. Second thing to note is King Rehoboam was very high in popularity at this time. Not only was he popular but he had also made an attempt to serve God. The Results: Judah prospered. We find this evidence in 2 Chronicles 11:17 (KJV), which states, “This strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they supported Rehoboam son of Solomon for during those years they faithfully followed in the footsteps of David and Solomon.”
Rehoboam had success and was enjoying a time of blessing. He and his kingdom were firmly established and made strong. He was at the highest point in popularity and in power. Then, we see a tragic turn of events. In the time of blessing, Rehoboam “…forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.” King Rehoboam committed two major sins: (1) He forsook the law of the Lord, and (2) He caused all Israel to sin because they followed his lead. We can see Rehoboam’s sin didn’t just affect him; it affected all Israel. When you are a leader, it is inevitable that people will follow you. They look at your example, and eventually, you will see them modeling what you have modeled for them. Any leadership role you play, you are held with a higher level of accountability by God. How you lead those who follow your example will affect your standing in the eyes of God. In this case, Israel took its leadership from Rehoboam and the whole nation forsook God’s law; they forgot about God and abandoned him.
There were consequences to them forsaking and abandoning God and His law. We can see the results of their sin in verses 3-5 (KJV), which states, “With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims, the Sukkiims, and the Ethiopians. And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem. Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.”
I think it’s safe to say God has His limits. This verse, “…Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.” I looked up the word “forsake” in the Hebrew Language. The Hebrew word is “azab” which means “to loosen, to relinquish, to permit.” When we decide to forsake or abandon God, we are letting go, giving up on God; when we decide to forsake or abandon God, we are voluntarily surrendering our claim to God being the One we follow. There does come a time when God has had enough. We don’t like being ignored or disrespected or pushed aside. Can you imagine how God feels when we ignore, disrespect, or push Him aside? He is our Creator, who has given us life. It is not wise to push God aside or show Him any kind of disdain or indifference toward Him especially when God has lavished us with mercy and grace and has poured out His blessings upon us.
King Rehoboam and the people repented, and God saw the change of heart. Sounds good, right? Forgiveness doesn’t mean we will NOT suffer the consequences. The consequences may not be as severe as they would have been if we didn’t repent. Let’s look at verses 7-8 (KJV), which states, “And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” What was their consequences for forsaking God and His law? They would end up the servants to Shishak, King of Egypt. By being the servants to Shishak, they would learn and know what it is like to be ruled by a man rather than being ruled by God. The NLT phrases verse 8, this way, “But they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.” Need I say more on that?
Shishak attacked Jerusalem and ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple as well as the palace. Then, the gold shields which were made by King Solomon were stolen. God didn’t spare Rehoboam, a king, from the consequences of his choices. Do we think He would allow any of us to escape the consequences of our own individual actions and choices? The problem is when we make something else the lord of our lives, we become a slave to that object. When we make a person the lord of our lives, we become a slave to that person. Whatever consumes us is what we are a slave to.
GOD DOES NOT AND WILL NOT SHARE HIS GLORY WITH ANOTHER. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will not share the same temple with another object or another person. If we are backslidden, lukewarm, complacent, or lost God as our First Love, then we, being the temple of the Holy Spirit, will no longer be experiencing the Glory of God. You, whom the Holy Spirit once resided in, will be Ichabod, meaning “The glory has departed from Israel.” Do NOT grieve the Holy Spirit. If we find ourselves in any of these conditions, I strongly encourage us to repent and make things right with God.
CAN YOU DUPLICATE OR SUBSTITUTE ANYTHING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD? NO, NEVER, CAN’T HAPPEN, IMPOSSIBLE. Sure, we can try. King Rehoboam tried to. Look at verse 10-11, which states, “King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace. Whenever the king went to the Temple of the Lord, the guards would also take the shields and then return them to the guardroom.”
I make no apologies for finding what Rehoboam did to be foolish. He was trying to keep the former glory of the temple by using substitutes. “King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace…” He tried to keep the original appearance of the glory of the temple. Rehoboam had the guards protecting bronze shields which were cheap, shoddy, and inexpensive. He had substitutes to keep up the appearance of the former glory. The temple no longer demonstrated a genuine display of the glory of the Temple, but it only gave a FAKE appearance of the former glory of the temple. Remember everything was stolen from the temple. Now all Rehoboam could use was substitutes.
When we are no longer for God, when we are backslidden, when we are not in right relationship with God, if we have forsaken God, then the glory of God is not seen in us. You can put on a performance or even display a picture of perfection, but that fact is, when we are FAKING, the fake display we are putting on will lack intensity, clarity, vividness, and the brightness that only the true glory of God has. WE CANNOT DUPLICATE THE GLORY OF GOD IN OUR LIFE JUST LIKE REHOBOAM COULD NOT DUPLICATE THE FORMER GLORY OF THE TEMPLE. Just because we put on a picture of perfection does NOT mean that God is going to accept us and our behavior. Nothing we do will substitute the presence and glory of God in our life. Either we are for God or against Him. We are either serving God or not. Nothing can replace God and His glory shining in our life.
The way Rehoboam ended his reign and his life was in a very sad state, “But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the LORD with all his heart.”
We can all learn from Rehoboam. First, when we go through good times and times of blessings, we are to guard our hearts. We hold onto our faith closely and cling to God. Cling to the truths of God. Second, when we repent and humble ourselves before God, He will NOT reject a broken spirit and a repentant heart. Third, we must be steadfast in our love for God and make our faces like flint determined to do His will.
As we live life, let us live in such a way before God, that when we stand before Him to give an account for how we lived our lives, we will hear the words, “Well done, My Good and Faithful Servant.
Linda A. Knowles