Shall we turn in our Bibles to II Chronicles, chapter 10.
The children of Israel have been brought out of Egypt by Moses. Through the leadership of Joshua they were brought into the land that God had promised to their fathers, Abraham and Jacob. For a period of time in the land they were ruled by judges. But there came a time when they began to demand that Samuel would anoint them or appoint them a king. As the other nations around them had kings, they also desired a king to rule over them.
Now, it was God’s purpose that the nation Israel be a unique, special nation in the earth. That they would be a theocracy, a people who were governed by God. And you may say, “What is the highest form of human government?” It would be a theocracy, where people are governed by God. But the people were no longer satisfied with a theocracy. They wanted a king that could lead them into battle. A king that they could look to, that would lead the nation. And so they went from a theocracy to a monarchy, as Saul was anointed first king over Israel.
It was God’s purpose that Saul as the king would be so yielded to God and would rule over the people in such a way as that he was just sort of a mediator between God and the people. In other words, he would be in tune with God in order to receive the directions and instructions from God and would so lead the nation in the ways of God. Just the intermediator or intermediary between God and the people.
However, Saul became lifted up with pride and he rejected the command of God. And in his rejection of God, that is, submitting himself totally and fully to God, God rejected, then, him as king. And the dynasty of Saul ceased with him. But God raised up another king after Saul, David. Took him from the sheepcoat, from following after the sheep and set him on the throne over God’s people. And David was a man after God’s own heart, because David was after the heart of God. Though he was far from perfect, though he was guilty of terrible sins, yet because, basically, in his heart he was seeking after God and sought to do the will of God, God called David a man after His own heart and God promised David that from him there would be a ruler that would come that would rule forever. The eternal kingdom. That actually the Messiah would come out of David.
But as long as David’s children would follow after the Lord, there would never cease one of the children of David sitting on the throne. Now that was a conditional covenant that God had made with David. It was conditioned upon David’s children continuing to follow after the Lord. As long as they did, there would never cease to be one of David’s descendants upon the throne. However, David’s descendants failed to keep the covenant of God and after Zedekiah there were no more kings.
Now there is a fanciful story that is told how that Jeremiah fled to Egypt with one of the princes and later went to England and established the druid society and all. And that from this descendant of David, actually, comes Queen Elizabeth and all, that they are directly descendants. So the monarchy is in England and thus, England is a part of Israel and they have the British Israel kind of religion system. The Anglo Israel races and so forth being Israel, and so then they interpret all of the Bible prophecies that relate to Israel as being fulfilled by the United States, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, and so forth. But it’s a fanciful story and it does lack truth, if not anything else.
So David, under his reign, the kingdom was blessed. Because David sought the Lord and God blessed David and God blessed the kingdom under David. And David desired to build a temple, a house for the Ark of the Covenant. For David was dwelling himself in a beautiful palace and the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent. And David was rejected by God as the builder of the temple because of the fact that he was a man of war and shed a lot of blood. But He said, “I will raise up a son after you who will sit upon the throne and he shall build a house.” So David went about and prepared all of the materials. Gathered the gold, the silver, the iron, the brass, the timbers, the hewn stone. And then he drew up the plans. And then he abdicated the throne to his son Solomon, giving him the plans and encouraging him to go ahead and to build this house unto God.
So Solomon set himself at building, and for seven years with... Oh, what is in the first chapter of II Chronicles here, it tells us about a hundred and fifty thousand men who labored. They build this temple there in Jerusalem. The expenditure of millions of dollars. It is estimated that to replace the temple today that Solomon had built would run into the billions of dollars.
And it was a glorious day. The temple was completed. The day of dedication had come. And the glory of the Lord filled the temple as the cloud of God’s glory descended upon it. And there Solomon, in a little brass platform that he had built out in the courtyard, addressed the people, telling them of the faithfulness of God. And then he knelt and prayed, recognizing that the heavens cannot contain God. “We haven’t built this house, God, for You to live in. We’ve just built this house that we might offer unto Thee sacrifices here. Let Your eye always be on this place and Your ear always attentive to the prayers that are offered to You from this place.”
And then he could foresee down the line the tragedy of the people turning away from God and the resultant effect that it would have upon their national life. The disasters that would overcome them as a nation. Natural disasters such as pestilences, such as weird weather conditions, drought conditions, or the disasters from being turned over in the hands of their enemies. Being defeated and their men being taken hostage. And he has brought up these various conditions that may result from the people’s sin, always saying, “And Lord, if they turn to this place and they cry unto Thee, hear Thou from Thy holy place in heaven, answer their prayer and deliver them.” And so God answered Solomon, “If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14).
And so there was this great sacrifice, thousands of animals sacrificed on the day of dedication, and this great celebration, and just that neat nation with the consciousness of God at the heart and center of the national life. How beautiful that is when God becomes the center of the national life.
But this doesn’t last long. In fact, Solomon himself before he died began to worship other gods. He had disobeyed the voice of God. He had disobeyed the law of God. The law said, “When you have set up kings, they’re not to go down to Egypt to purchase horses that they might multiply horses. Nor are they to multiply wives unto themselves lest their heart be turned away from Me” (Deuteronomy 17:16,17). God knows human nature better than any of us know it. God knows you better than you know yourself.
So many times God warns us of a particular thing. We say, “All right, God, that’s nice. I appreciate that. Thank You for the warning, but I don’t need it. I can handle it, Lord. I’ve got this thing wired and don’t worry about me.” Like with Peter when Jesus said, “All of you are going to be offended tonight because of Me.” Peter said, “Lord, that’s all right. They may all be offended but I won’t ever be offended, Lord. Not me.” Lord said, “Peter, before the cock crows you’re going to deny Me three times.” “Lord, if they would slay me I would never deny You.” Oh, but Jesus knew him better than he knew himself. And that’s always the case.
Many times we think, “Well, this particular verse doesn’t apply to me. I’m a special case. I can do it and get by with it. I can handle it. I can see why God would say that to other people. But I’m special and I can handle myself. And thus, I don’t need to obey this particular injunction.”
God said, “And they are not to multiply wives unto themselves lest their heart be turned away from Me.” Solomon multiplied wives unto himself, some seven hundred of them, plus the three hundred concubines. And what happened? His wives turned his heart away from the Lord.
So by the end of Solomon’s reign, there began a deterioration. And this is just right after the hype, the zenith of the kingdom. Brought into this great position of strength and wealth through David. And then through the wisdom of Solomon in his early years, brought to this place of great glory and promise. But it lasted so short. There began that downward trend. So that at the death of Solomon, and here’s where we get into chapter 10 tonight, his son Rehoboam began to reign over Jerusalem, and he reigned for seventeen years. And in that seventeen years, the kingdom went from this glorious height and deteriorated into just a second-rate nation and power.
The slide down is so rapid. And once it gets started it’s hard to reverse. This is the thing that concerns me so much about our nation today. Once you start that downhill trend, it’s so fast and it’s so difficult to put on the brakes and to stop. And it would seem to me that our nation at the present time is plunging down into a second-rate status so rapidly. And I really don’t know if it can be reversed or stopped. Once mighty, once glorious. A nation that was established under God. A nation that stood forth in the world as a Christian nation, but has become so totally corrupt, obscene, and has sought to just rule God out of our national life. I’m appalled by the rulings of the Supreme Court and the local courts in the issues that relate to freedom of worship, separation of church and state. It only works on one side. It doesn’t work on both sides. And even by my saying this, I am jeopardizing myself because they have started a new system now. If ever you speak out against it, then soon you have all kinds of harassment.
But the kingdom went down rapidly under Rehoboam. In fact, the kingdom was divided right at the beginning of his reign. When Rehoboam was anointed king, the northern tribes of Israel came to him and they said, “During the time of your father’s reign the taxes were increased over and over again until the tax burden that we are bearing is really greater than we can handle.” Howard Jarvis got an initiative to cut the taxes, and he presented it to Rehoboam.
And so Rehoboam said, “Give me three days and I will give you an answer regarding this.” They said, “Cut the taxes. We’ve got to have a tax cut.” He said, “Give me three days to answer you.” So he went to his counselors, the old men that counseled his father Solomon, and the old men said, “You know, these people have a just cause. The taxes are overbearing. We need to relieve them of this tax burden. It would be wise to go ahead and cut their taxes.”
And then Rehoboam consulted with the younger guys that he was bringing in to reign with him in his kingdom. And these younger guys advised him, “Now look, if you cut the taxes, this is just the beginning of their complaints. Next week they’re going to be back with something else and then back with something else, and back with something else. And you’re just not going to be able to handle it.”
The older fellows said, “Look, if you don’t cut their taxes they’re not going to serve you. They’re going to rebel against you.” But Rehoboam listened to his younger counselors and he forsook the counsel of the older men. And when the people came back after three days to get his answer, he said, “Hey, you think my dad was tough? You haven’t seen anything yet. Where he whipped you with whips, I’m going to whip you with scorpions. And my little finger will be thicker than his thigh.” And he gave these threats and the people said, “To your tents, O Israel, what have we to do with David?”
And so the ten northern kingdoms or ten northern tribes rebelled against Rehoboam. And they took this fellow Jeroboam and they said, “We want you to be king over us.” And so Jeroboam became the king over the ten northern tribes. And Rehoboam was now just left with the tribe of Benjamin and the tribe of Judah, plus the tribe of Levi. Because Jeroboam in the north, the kingdom that was known now as Israel, established the calf worship in Israel and he began to just make priests out of anybody. And there came, really, a total religious confusion in the northern kingdom and the Levites left the northern kingdom and all of those people who really loved the Lord. They came on down and gave their allegiance unto Rehoboam in the kingdom of Judah.
Rehoboam sent a tax collector up to the ten northern tribes, and they killed him. And so Rehoboam gathered his army and he was going to march against the northern kingdom and the prophet of the Lord came and warned them not to fight against the northern kingdom. And so they returned and they sought to establish the kingdom under Rehoboam.
But it wasn’t long after he had returned to Jerusalem, that he turned from God. Having fortified the kingdom, he then turned his heart against God.
It came to pass [chapter twelve], when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him (12:1).
As the king goes, so goes the nation. Having forsaken the Lord he led them in a path away from God. And there came from Egypt a pharaoh by the name of Shishak who began to invade the land of Judah and take the cities. Actually, the Lubims and the Ethiopians had come with him with a mighty host and they came to Jerusalem and began to besiege Jerusalem.
And a prophet of the Lord came to Rehoboam and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, You have forsaken me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak. Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous (12:5-6).
So as Shishak was now coming towards Jerusalem, the prophet of God says, “Hey, you brought this on yourself. You’ve forsaken the Lord, now the Lord has left you.” And it is interesting that they acknowledged God is righteous and they humbled themselves.
And the Lord saw they humbled themselves and He said, Because they have humbled themselves; 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 (12:7-8).
So he came up against Shishak. Shishak came up against Jerusalem, and then more or less bought him off. They took all of the gold that was in the temple, the golden shields and all of these things that Solomon had placed there, and they gave them unto Shishak, the king of Egypt. More or less just bought him out, and he plundered the city of Jerusalem of all of its gold, returning to Egypt.
Now the archaeologists discovered in 1939 in Egypt an account of this invasion of Israel or Judah. In the archaeological account there that they have discovered, it declares that they took a 169 of the cities of Judah. They also found the sarcophagus in which Shishak was entombed. And it was encased in silver. Actually, it was a silver sarcophagus encased in gold, solid gold. Probably the same gold that he took from the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon had established there. So it’s an interesting sort of confirmation from the archaeologist’s spade of what God’s Word declares did indeed take place.
The death of Rehoboam is listed in the latter part of the chapter. In verse 14 it gives sort of a brief obituary, which is rather sad.
And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD (12:14).
On his death his son Abijah began to reign over Judah.
And he reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Michaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam (13:2).
Now Jeroboam, you remember, was the king of the northern tribes.
And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, four hundred thousand chosen men: and Jeroboam came against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valor. And Abijah stood up upon mount Ephraim, and he said, Hear me, Jeroboam, and all Israel; ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord. And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, who have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tender-hearted, and could not withstand them. And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made for your gods. And you have cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods. But as for us, Jehovah is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto Jehovah, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: and they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the showbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but you have forsaken him. And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper (13:3-12).
Here he was actually giving to them a speech, a warning and, more or less, rehearsing this period of history. Again, how that God had made a covenant with David that from his seed there would never cease to be a king on the throne. And they were rebelling against the word of the Lord in setting up Jeroboam as their king. And they had made, then, these golden calves their gods. And they were worshipping them and they had forsaken the worship of God. They began to establish a system of priesthood, more or less, by simony. You could purchase the office of the priest. Vile men began to be the religious leaders. But he said, “We are still worshipping Jehovah. We still have the temple services. The priests are still offering the morning and evening sacrifices unto God, who are the sons of Aaron, the Levitical order. And you’re rebelling and fighting against the Lord. But God is our captain. He’s on our side.”
Now while he’s making this speech, Jeroboam orders half of his troops to go around and to get behind them to cut them off. After all, he’s outnumbered them two to one. There’s eight hundred thousand mighty men of valor with Jeroboam. Only four hundred thousand of the men of Judah that had come against him. So this action of sending half the troops around to come from behind. And so when the king is finished with this dynamic speech, suddenly they discover that the enemy is not only in front of them but behind them, too. And they’ve been encircled by the enemy.
And then the men of Judah [it says] gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand. And there were slain of the men of Israel five hundred thousand of the chosen men (13:15-17).
So Israel was brought under the power of Judah at that time. And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, took several cities, the city of Bethel with the surrounding suburbs. And Jeroboam never did again recover the strength of the kingdom during the time of Abijah: the LORD struck him, and he died. And so Abijah waxed mighty, he married fourteen wives, had twenty-two sons, and sixteen daughters (13:19-21).