February 18, 2016
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
Today, in the Genealogy of the Son of God, we come to another tortured era of the people of God. Solomon’s forty year reign as King of Israel ended badly because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord. The unity of the twelve tribes swayed in the balance. All eyes focused on Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, the one in line to inherit the throne. What kind of King would he be?
Jeroboam, the representative of the ten northern tribes came to Rehoboam and promised him their loyalty while asking for more humane treatment for the people. The Elders of Judah counseled Rehoboam to listen to Jeroboam. Rehoboam instead sought the counsel of his younger peers, who told him to lower the boom on the ten tribes. Interestingly, Rehoboam responded more in the tradition of Pharaoh than the leadership of God’s people:
13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 1 Kings 12:13-14
With that, the die was cast. The split was immanent. The ten tribes, collectively known as “Israel” broke away and became the northern kingdom led by Jeroboam. Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem where he ruled over the southern kingdom, known as Judah. From this point forward the tribes plunged into civil war, worshipping false gods, entering into “protection deals” with foreign nations and otherwise disintegrating into an oblivion. In the illustrious words of Merle Haggard, one of the great theologians of country music, they were now, “Rolling down hill like a snowball headed for hell.”
From this point forward, the Kings on either side of the divide are introduced to us quite simply along these lines.
Abijah: “He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. 1 Kings 15:3.”
Asa: “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done.” 1 Kings 15:11.
Ahab: “In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” 1 Kings 16:29-30.
Hezekiah and Josiah are two bright spots, but not enough to turn back the tide of the terrors of exile.
So why all of this? Aren’t 1-2 Kings just more fly-over country in the Bible? I suppose, if you want to read the bible like a fifth grader. ;0) But we are learning to read the Bible for God, right? And to read it for God means it all matters and its worthy of the rest of our lives to apply ourselves to understanding it. O.K. that’s the mildly shaming answer. ;0)
The bigger reason is because we are turning the page into the story of THE KING OF KINGS. Remember how God warned the Israelites that they did not need a King because of all it would lead to? God knew their personal and collective lives would be reduced to the pursuit of personal wealth and national security by any way they could secure it; from calling on Baal for rain to making pacts with Babylon for protection. Those two pursuits sum up the sad saga of Israel.
Strangely enough, isn’t that our big storyline too? Personal wealth and national security, by any way we can secure it? It always leads to exile. It brings a fresh perspective to Jesus clarion call, “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel.”
1. How is your grasp of this portion of our story—1-2 Kings? How do you see that it matters? It’s a challenging portion of Scripture to grasp.
2. Personal wealth and national security. . . our common quest from the beginning up to the present day. What would it mean to trust God for our personal well being and our national security? What does the Kingdom of God have to say about national security?
3. It’s interesting to consider that just following the genealogy we will meet the Gentile Kings known as the Magi and also the despot King Herod. How is Jesus going to be distinctively different as a King? What about his Kingdom?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.