1 Kings 12
-Chapter twelve tells of the split between the northern ten tribes of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin, who remained loyal to the throne of David by Rehoboam. The division did not need to occur, but as a turn of events established by the LORD according to the words of the prophet Ahijah, Israel was split by bad advice from the younger generation that served Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:1-15). Instead of listening to sage counsel from the elders to lighten up on the burden of his people, Rehoboam acted in pride and tried to flex his kingly muscles. There was a strong reaction to this arrogance by most of Israel and they went their own way departing from the Davidic rule (1 Kings 12:16). All Israel stoned Rehoboam’s superintendent of forced labor, Adoram, to death and forced the king to flee back to his home in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:18). This rebellion was never truly reconciled and the united kingdom of Israel was finished (1 Kings 12:19). The northern kingdom never had even one good king and fell into abased idolatry and depravity, which ended up causing the Assyrians to capture them and disperse them as a nation in 722 BC. The LORD would not forget His promise to the Davidic line and eventually raised up the Messiah, Jesus Christ, but the southern kingdom also had real spiritual problems that only the true prophets, and a few good kings, could bring some form of semblance as to the LORD’s proper will and direction.
-Civil war appeared to be imminent as the factions drew battle lines upon the return of Jeroboam from Egypt to head up the northern kingdom according to the prophecy (1 Kings 11:30-35). However, bloodshed was averted due to the word of the LORD, which came to the man of God, Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:23-24). The factioning parties listened to the word of the LORD and returned in peace, but there was now bitterness towards each other and lines of demarcation were drawn.
-Jeroboam went to his homeland of Ephraim in the hill country and built Shechem (the ancient place of quite a few instances with the patriarchs, Genesis 12:6; 33:18-20). He was apparently jealous and suspicious of the Temple worship in Jerusalem and possibly rightly feared a reunification under the Davidic rule at some point. So, he erected high places in Bethel (in the hill country, this was to be in Samaritan territory by the time of Christ and we see here the background to some of the issues people in Jesus’ time faced from history, for example see John 4 with the woman Jesus encountered at the well) and Dan (far to the north in the territory he reigned in). This thing became a sin (1 Kings 12:30) as he made two golden calves (much like Israel did in the wilderness when Moses was on Sinai, Exodus 32:1-8) for the people to worship as the gods who brought them out of Egypt (1 Kings 12:28). He stationed priests at these places that were not of the tribe of Levi, and he instituted his own festivals in the eighth month like the feast in Judah. Jeroboam went to these high places and participated in the pagan-idolatrous worship to burn incense on these alters (1 Kings 25-33).
-*Application* There is always a real deal as opposed to the fake. We see in this chapter several instances of the real verses the fake. First, Rehoboam should have listened to the real wisdom of the elders as opposed to the false ideas of his contemporaries. Second, we see men of God who gave real and accurate prophecies like Ahijah and Shemiah. Although there were no false prophets in this passage to speak of, we know that there were many times in the history of Israel that false prophets arose and gave bad advice. Know the difference between truth and lies. Thirdly, we see the real Temple in Judah, which was the place of promise, as opposed to the replicas in Bethel and Dan that Jeroboam erected to carry people away from the One-True Living God. God is opposed to any idols or false ways of thinking. Stay true to His Word and abide in the real deal!!!
Verses to Memorize: 1 Kings 12:8, 15-16, 24, 28, 30