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Both Jeroboam and Rehoboam seek the counsel of others as they face a decision regarding their kingdoms.
When Rehoboam’s followers request tax relief, Rehoboam seeks advice from two groups of people. The elders who advised his father counsel Rehoboam to heed the people and lighten their tax load, while the young men who had grown up with him advise him to add to their yoke. Rehoboam listens to the pride of his peers rather than the wisdom of the elders and creates a situation that forces rebellion (1 Chronicles 10). Ten tribes secede from the consolidated kingdom and form their own nation with Jeroboam at its head.
Jeroboam also seeks counsel (1 Kings 12:28). To prevent the people from returning to Jerusalem for the worship of Yahweh he establishes two new places of worship (Dan in the north and Bethel in the south—just fives miles north of Jerusalem) and a new focus in worship (golden calves). Jeroboam also alters the requirements for temple service to allow anyone who wishes to serve. Further, Jeroboam replaces the traditional feast day with a different date and feast. Thus Jeroboam creates an alternate religion for the people.
God responds to both kings by sending prophets to rebuke them. He sends a man of God to Bethel who prophesies of a future king (Josiah of the house of David) who would “sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you” (1 Kings 13:2). The altar splits apart according to the prophet’s word; as Jeroboam orders the prophet’s arrest, he stretches out his arm and it withers (God mercifully and miraculously heals it to get his attention and to protect His servant. Because of Jeroboam’s sin, his kingdom would be destroyed and his people face extermination from the face of the earth (13:34), “And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and made Israel sin” (14:16).
Rehoboam forsakes the law of the LORD, so God raises up a million man army from Egypt and Shemaiah the prophet to get his attention. He and Israel humble themselves before the LORD and the LORD prevents the Egyptians from totally destroying them (2 Chronicles 12).
The counsel that Rehoboam heeds precipitates the division of the kingdom and the departure of ten tribes. The counsel to which Jeroboam listens introduces a syncretistic religion that turns the northern kingdom away from the LORD. Jeroboam becomes the metric of evil used to assess the nineteen kings who follow him, “And he [Abijam] walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David” (15:3); “He [Baasha] did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin” (15:34).
Each king seeks advice and each decision leads to consequences that negatively affect not only their lives but the lives of succeeding generations.
All of the inhabitants of the earth (Noah and his three sons and their wives) experienced the global flood. The decision of each son (each generation) affected succeeding generations. In just a few generations the world was again filled with idolators.
Following the birth of the church, all of North Africa was once Christian until its leaders forsook the LORD and followed a new religion. Sadly, many pagan people groups throughout the world once confessed Christ as Lord, but have since embraced a false religion. What any people have done any people may do.
The chart below assists the reader to follow the reigns of both kingdoms and the prophecies of their prophets. All twenty kings of Israel mimic the sins of Jeroboam. Only four of Judah’s twenty kings follow the LORD fully. Yet God is gracious to send prophets who urge repentance and promise a coming Messiah.