"Glogger" enter Day 99--Consequences--"Costly Dissent" 2 Chronicles 10:1 - 13:22
April 8, 2021, 10:29 PM

On June 16, 1858 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois statehouse for the Republican State Convention. They chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate.  His speech became known as his “A house divided against itself cannot stand" speech.  This was a concept familiar to most of Lincoln's audience as a statement by Jesus in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

Even Lincoln's friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. Lincoln read the speech to his law partner before delivering it, referring to the "house divided" language this way: "The proposition is indisputably true ... and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times." (AbrahamLincolnOnline.org)

Rehoboam, which in Hebrew means “the nation is enlarged”, inherited a united kingdom from his father, Solomon.  During his reign Rehoboam fluctuated from obeying God to not obeying God.   Although Rehoboam inherited the richest kingdom there was at the time, he wanted more.  Rehoboam was motivated by greed and power.  In trying to have everything, he almost lost everything.

As a result, the kingdom split in two.  Ten tribes followed Jeroboam, whose name means “he increases the people” in Hebrew.  They called themselves Israel or were known as the northern kingdom.  The tribes of Judah and Benjamin followed Rehoboam, maintaining their loyalty to the line of David, calling themselves Judah or the southern kingdom.  I find it interesting that Rehoboam did not live up to the meaning of his name whereas Jeroboam did. 

However, meanwhile up in the north, Jeroboam saw the priests of God and Levities as threats to his new government because they maintained loyalty to Jerusalem.  So, he appointed his own priests and erected golden calves at Bethel and Dan, establishing his own worship centers in strategic locations.  Obviously, Jeroboam and his advisors did not learn from the last golden calf episode in Israel’s history!  Then all the priests of God and the Levities moved to Jerusalem in the southern kingdom.  Their dedication to obeying God strengthened Rehoboam’s popularity and he tried to follow God but at the height of his popularity and power he abandoned God.  

The reign of both kings was marked with civil wars between the kingdoms.  After the split, Rehoboam fortified cities in Judah and maintained a degree of popularity but it would not be enough. Finally, the unthinkable happened as a “house divided against itself cannot stand” and Rehoboam did not realize the “peril of the times.”  King Shishak of Egypt, invaded Judah.  He was not strong enough to conquer both Israel and Judah, so he went after key cities in an attempt to control the trade routes and bring terror to the hearts of all.   

Knowing they were defeated as King Shishak and his army had advanced as far as the Sea of Galilee, Rehoboam and his officers cried out to God.  And our gracious, merciful God listened but there would still be consequences.  Judah would be subject to King Shishak who then took all the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, including the gold shields Solomon had made. 

When Rehoboam died his son, Abijah, which means in Hebrew “my father is Yahweh”.   Abijah was known to have committed many sins but the focus in this passage is on his speech to Jeroboam.  Abijah’s words show that he was still under God’s covenant promise to David and as a result he triumphed over Jeroboam.

As I ruminated (one of my favorite words thanks to Archdeacon Harvey Huth) over this passage the takeaway for me is that of consequences of our actions.  As I reflect over my childhood, I have realized my parents allowed my brother and I to experience the natural consequences of our actions and decisions.  They were always there to help us pick up the pieces and move forward but never once said “I told you so” or “I could have told you this was not going to work.”  The consequence was lesson enough. 

This is a strategy I use when working with my preschoolers who have special needs.  As long as they are safe, I allow them to experience the natural consequences.  It may sound cruel but let me put it this way, if someone always held onto the seat of your two wheeled bike, would you have learned how to ride?   

With that said, it is difficult to allow this process to happen.  As a co-worker of mine once said “It can be painful to watch them struggle.”  But we know they would not learn if we kept rescuing them.  One time it took one of my kiddos 5 minutes to figure out how to get on a tricycle, but he persisted.  You do not know how many times I wanted to rescue him but am so glad I did not.  You should have seen the smile on his face when he figured it out!   

I think it is rather painful and heartbreaking for God to watch us struggle.  Humanity has been given countless opportunities to live in a loving relationship with God by obeying him, but we never seem to get it quite right.  Then come the consequences of those actions or decisions.  But God is gracious and gives us opportunity after opportunity to try again hoping we have learned from the natural consequences.  So, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and try again, and again and again…… 

Blessings,

Deacon Debbie Beach

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