Author - Josephine Toynette
When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. (2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV)
Beginning in chapter 11 of 2 Chronicles this morning, it seems as though Rehoboam was a decent king. He follows the ways of the Lord for three years. Rehoboam seemed to have it all together until he was “established and strong,” then he “abandoned the law of the Lord AND all Israel with him” (emphasis mine).
Not only did Rehoboam begin to rely on his own strength and power, but all Israel followed after him in his sin. We have read about this incident a while back in 1 Kings 14:
“Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.” (1 Kings 14:21-24 ESV)
Rehoboam’s sin multiplies across Israel, being described as provoking the Lord to “jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.” Their evil hearts were exposed; on full display for all of the other kingdoms to see.
What was the cause of this great evil? 2 Chronicles 12:14 tells us, “He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” It sounds like a simple statement, yet, it is everything when it comes to our relationship with the Lord - will we see Him?
Shemaiah the prophet is sent to confront Rehoboam, his brother in the faith, with his sin.
Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak.’” So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is righteous.” When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, “They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak. But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (2 Chronicles 12:5-8)
Notice Rehoboam’s response to the confrontation. Rehoboam humbles himself and his princes with him. He removes himself from relying on his strength and turns to the Lord for mercy. The Lord indeed grants Rehoboam and Judah mercy, but God will not relinquish the entirety of the punishment. Some of the consequences will remain “so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”
This was the call to Rehoboam and the kingdom of Judah. Simply repent. The call has not changed. It was the same in Genesis as it is to Revelation.
With the birth of the Messiah, we find John the Baptist still desperately calling to the Jews, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2 ESV)
In our reading of Zephaniah 3 this morning we see the Lord rebuke Jerusalem harshly for all of her evil deeds, yet, He promises a day where He will cleanse them, He will restore to them a pure and lovely speech, a people humble and lowly, a people who seek refuge in the Lord rather than themselves, other men, or idols. Praise our Lord, the Almighty God, who can do such a great work in a people so far from Him.
When John the Baptist sees Jesus, he declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus had come to be the Messiah that would bring the promise of a people with new hearts who would set their hearts to seek the Lord. The very next day, when John declares this truth again to two of his disciples, they, “heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1:37) They hesitated not to follow after the one who alone could take away all sin.
Beginning in our reading of Revelation 2 this morning and continuing tomorrow in Revelation 3 we have the letters to seven churches. In each of the letters, except for two notable exceptions, the churches receive a commendation, a rebuke, and a call to repent and turn back to Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the One who takes away sin. The exceptions to this are the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia (now Izmir and Alaşehir, Turkey).
The call to repent and set our hearts towards the Lord remains even for us today.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:7-15 ESV)
Merciful and gracious Father, thank you for opportunities to repent! I ask You to give us eyes to see our sin, ears to hear Your call, and hearts to seek after You fully and completely. Forgive us for our pride, a reliance on our own strength and power that leads us far from You. May we be Your humble and lowly people, called by Your name, for Your glory. Amen