I Kings 12

 

 

                        The Revolt of the Ten Tribes (vs. 1-24)

 

With the reign of Rehoboam, on which our historian now enters, we begin the second

great period in the history of the Hebrew monarchy, so far as it is related in these Books

of Kings. The first, which comprises the Augustan age of Israel, the short-lived

maturity of the race in the reign of Solomon, has extended over forty years, from B.C.

1015 to B.C. 975. The second, which is the period of the existence of the two kingdoms

of Israel and Judah side by side — that is to say, from the disruption to the carrying

away of Israel into captivity — extends over two centuries and a half, viz., from B.C.

975 to B.C. 722, and is, with few exceptions, a period of steady and shameful

decline.  And in giving his account of the division of the kingdom, our historian,

more suo, (in his usual manner) confines himself to the recital of actual facts, and

hardly speaks of their hidden causes. Yet the sixteenth verse of this chapter reveals

to us very clearly one of the secret springs of the dissatisfaction which existed at

the date of Rehoboam’s accession, one of the influences which ultimately led to the

disruption of Israel. Jealousy on the part of Ephraim of the powerful tribe of Judah

had undoubtedly something to do with the revolution of which we now read. The

discontent occasioned by Solomon’s levies and the headstrong folly of Rehoboam

were the immediate causes, but influences much deeper and of longer standing were

also at work. The tribe of Ephraim had clearly never thoroughly acquiesced in the

superiority which its rival, the tribe of Judah, by furnishing to the nation its sovereigns,

its seat of government, and its sanctuary, had attained. During the two former reigns

the envy of Ephraim had been held in check, but it was there, and it only needed an

occasion, such as Rehoboam afforded it, to blaze forth. That proud tribe could not

forget the glowing words in which both Jacob (Genesis 49:22-26, “the strength of

my head”) and Moses (Deuteronomy 33:13-17) had foretold their future eminence.

They remembered, too, that their position — in the very center of the land was

also the richest in all natural advantages. Compared with their picturesque

and fertile possessions, the territory of Judah was as a stony wilderness.

And for a long time they had enjoyed a certain superiority in the nation. In

the time of Joshua we find them fully conscious of their strength and numbers

(Joshua 17:14), and the leader himself admits their power (v. 17). When the

tabernacle was first set up, it was at Shiloh, in the territory of Ephraim (Joshua 18:1),

and there the ark remained for more than three hundred years. And the pre-eminence

of Ephraim amongst the northern tribes is curiously evidenced by the way in which it

twice resented (Judges 8:1; 12:1) campaigns undertaken without its sanction and

cooperation. It and its sister tribe of Manasseh had furnished, down to the time of

David, the leaders and commanders of the people — Joshua, Deborah, Gideon,

Abimelech, and Samuel — and when the kingdom was established it was from the

allied tribe of Benjamin that the first monarch was selected. It was natural that, with

such an inheritance of glory, Ephraim always chafed under any rival supremacy.

It was natural, too, that for seven years it should refuse allegiance to a prince of the

rival house of Judah. Even when, at the end of that time, the elders of Israel

 recognized David as “king over Israel (II Samuel 5:3), the fires of jealousy, as

the revolt of Sheba and the curses of Shimei alike show, were not wholly extinguished.

And the transference of the sanctuary, as well as the scepter, to Judah — for

Jerusalem, whilst mainly in the territory of Benjamin, was also on the border of Judah

would occasion fresh heart burnings. It has been supposed by some that Psalm 78,

was penned as a warning to Ephraim against rebellion, and to reconcile them to their

loss of place and power; that, if so, it was not effectual, and that the jealousy endured

at a much later date Isaiah 11:13 shows.  There had probably been an attempt on the

part of Jeroboam the Ephraimite to stir up his and the neighboring tribes against the

ascendancy of Judah in the person of Solomon. That first attempt proved abortive.

But now that their magnificent king was dead, now that the reins of government were

held by his weak and foolish son, the men of Ephraim resolved unless they could

wrest from him very great concessions, to brook the rule of Judah no longer and to

have a king of their own house.

 

 

1  And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem

to make him king.”  The name possibly indicates Solomon’s ambitious hopes

respecting him. The irony of history alone emphasizes it.  Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

would seem to show that Solomon himself had misgivings as to his son’s abilities.

As the greatest persons cannot give themselves children, so the wisest cannot

give their children wisdom.  His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess (ch.14:31).

It would appear from (Ibid. v. 21, and II Chronicles 12:13, that he was 41 years

of age at his accession. But this is, to say the least, doubtful.  To make a long

story short, twenty-one seems to be the most plausible.  It has been suggested

that “forty-one” is there an error of transcription for “twenty-one,” a

mistake easily made, if, as is extremely probable, the ancient Hebrews, like

the latter, used the letters of the alphabet as numerals. Twenty-one would

then be ak; forty-one am.  Shechem” - An old gathering place of the northern

tribes (Joshua 24:1). Its position, in the very center of Palestine, fitted it for this

purpose.  Shechem may be considered the natural capital of Palestine, but it was

perhaps primarily selected because it was the capital of Ephraim, not because it

was a national sanctuary of Israel, a title to which it has but little claim.  Rehoboam

had not “selected the capital of Ephraim to be the scene” of his coronation  but

that he went thither because the northern tribes claimed this concession. They

demanded apparently that he should meet them to receive their homage in the

territory of Ephraim. It was a recognition of the importance of the tribe, and there

they could the better urge their demands.  The fact that the term Israel was

used of the whole nation, exclusive of the tribe of Judah — shows in a very

significant way the alienation of Judah from the rest.  The text says

expressly that they had assembled to “make him king,” i.e., to accept him

as such, to anoint him (I Chronicles 12:38 compared with II Samuel 2:4; 5:8

shows that Ëylim]hi is synonymous with Ël,m,l] Ëv"m;), after the example

of Saul (I Samuel 2:17), David (II Samuel 2:4; 5:3), and Solomon (ch. 1:39;

I Chronicles 29:22). No doubt, as the context shows, they intended to stipulate

for an alleviation of burdens, etc., and their selection of Shechem as the place

where they would render their allegiance was a “significant hint”.  The very place

puts Israel in mind of a rebellion to Rehoboam. Their putting forward

Jeroboam as their spokesman —presuming for the present that the received

text of v. 3 is to be retained, as to which, however, see below — was a

further hint, or rather a plain indication, that they did not mean to be trifled

with. It is not a proof, however, that they had already determined to make

the latter king, for they distinctly said to Rehoboam (v. 4), “Grant our petition

and we will serve thee.”  It is clear from this and the passages cited above

that the Jewish people at this period of their history were accustomed, not indeed

to choose their king, but to confirm him in his office by public acclamation.

 

2  And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was

yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king

Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)  3 That they sent and called

him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake

unto Rehoboam, saying,  4 Thy father made our yoke grievous:” – when

we consider the magnitude of Solomon’s undertakings and the number of men

necessarily employed in executing them, it must have involved some hardships

and created much dissatisfaction; such results are inevitable in all conscriptions.

Forced labor has been amongst the causes leading to insurrection in many ages

and countries -  “now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father,

and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.”

While it may be true that some of Israel’s complaints were somewhat factitious,

we will not forget that both the aged counselors (v. 7) and also the writer of this

book (vs. 13-15) manifest some degree of sympathy with the complainants.

5 “And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again

to me. And the people departed.”  The peaceable departure, like the respectful

demand, contradicts the idea of a settled purpose to rebel.

 

6  And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before

Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may

answer this people?”  7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a

servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and

speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.”  The king

could not become the db,[, of the people without prejudicing the authority entrusted

to him by God.  But they do not propose that he should become their servant, except

for one day, and then only in the sense of making reasonable concessions. What they

mean is this: “If thou wilt brook for once to accede to their terms instead of dictating

thine own,” etc. The form of their answer was probably suggested by the temper of the

king. They saw what was passing in his mind, viz., that he would fain play the autocrat,

and that he resented it exceedingly that his subjects, just as he had begun to taste the

sweets of royalty, should presume to parley with him; and they say in effect, “You think

that they are reversing your relations, that they are making you, their sovereign, their

servant. Be it so. It is but for one day. Then they will be your slaves forever”.

 

8  But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and

consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood

before him:” – This proposal was not agreeable with Rehoboam, an imperious

young king with Ammonite blood flowing in his veins.  The old men had been the

counselors of Solomon and the young counselors are Rehoboam’s peers.  Solomon

showed his wisdom by retaining the faithful servants of his father, David while

Rehoboam rejects them.  9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that

we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke

which thy father did put upon us lighter?”  Notice how Rehoboam identifies

himself with these young men – “we” – when addressing the old men he uses a

different expression in v. 6 – “ye”.  10 “And the young men that were grown up

with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people” –

There is a certain amount of contemptuousness in the expression - “that spake unto

thee,” - The repetition, “speak, spake,” is probably not undesigned. It suggests the idea

of retaliation, or that it was a piece of presumption on their part to have spoken at all -

saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus

shalt thou say unto them,” - This iteration is expressive of determination and

resentment.  We may read between the lines, “I would make short work with them,

and teach them a lesson they will not forget!  “My little finger shall be thicker than

my father's loins.”  A figurative and perhaps proverbial expression. The sense is clear.

“My hand shall be heavier than my father’s, my force greater than his, my weakness even

stronger than his strength.” The counsel of the young men is full of flattery, which would

be acceptable to a young king.  11  And now whereas my father did lade you with

a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips,”

- It is probable that the expression is not entirely figurative. It is quite possible that the

levies of Amorites, Hittites (ch. 9:20), etc., had been kept at their toils by the lash –

but I will chastise you with scorpions.”  It was in the pain the whip caused that

the resemblance lay.  All the commentators mention that the later Romans used a whip

called a “scorpio,” and cite Isidore (Orig. 5, 27) in proof. Gesenius, Keil, al.

understand “whips with barbed points, like the point of a scorpion’s sting;”

 

12  So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day,

as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.”

Three days had warmed these smoking Israelites.  13  And the king answered

the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;

14  And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My

father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also

chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause

was from the LORD,” – God makes the wrath of man to praise Him – “that

He might perform His saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the

Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.”  (ch. 11:29-38)

 

16  So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the

people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David?”

The same expression as II Samuel 20:1. The words, interpreted by this passage

and II Samuel 19:43, mean, “Since we have no kindness or fairness from David’s

seed, what is his house to us? Why render homage to his son? We receive naught

from him, why yield aught to him? -  “neither have we inheritance in the son

of Jesse:” – his tribe is not ours; his interests are not ours -  “to your tents,

O Israel:” – Disperse to your homes and prepare for war -  now see to thine

own house, David.” - Let the seed of David henceforth reign over the tribe of

Judah, if it can. It shall govern the other tribes no longer.  This is not a threat of war,

but a warning against interference” -  “So Israel departed unto their tents.”

 

 

                        ADDITIONAL NOTES ON (vs. 12-16)

 

                             The Rending of the Kingdom

 

The name of Rehoboam is remarkable as seen in the light of the facts of his

history. The “enlarger of the kingdom” becomes the chief instrument in its

disruption. The one strong nation, the throne of which he inherited from his

father, is changed by his folly into two comparatively weak and distracted

kingdoms, which maintain towards each other an attitude of perpetual

jealousy and strife. The revolt of the ten tribes was a calamity from the ill

effects of which the land never recovered. Both politically and religiously

the unity of the chosen people was hopelessly broken, and the career of

each separate division became henceforth one of ever deepening

corruption. The northern kingdom was governed for two hundred and fifty

years by a succession of men who followed only too closely in the steps of

“Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” Their reigns were

little else than a story of crime and bloodshed and confusion. And though

the history of Judah was not quite so dark, it tells very much the same tale.

Few of its kings were wholly free from the prevalent wickedness. The

efforts of the noblest of them, aided by all the moral influence of a long line

of inspired prophets, were powerless to arrest the downfall of the state; till

at last, after three hundred and eighty years, it sunk into the shame and

misery of the Captivity. How can it be said of all this, that “The cause was

from the Lord”?   We will look at the human element and the Divine element

in this transaction.  It is full of meaning for every age:

 

  • THE HUMAN ELEMENT. The rending of the kingdom was not a

            sudden event that came without warning. As in all such cases, a variety of

            circumstances prepared the way for it. There were slumbering sources of

            mischief, certain conditions of thought and feeling, specially old jealousies

            between the tribes of Ephraim and Judah, that made it inevitable. But

            having regard to the nearer occasions, note:

 

ü      How the seed of evil sown in one generation bears deadly fruit in the

                        next. Trace the calamity back to the time when Solomon’s heart first

                        began to turn from the Lord. The root of it lay in his idolatry, and in the

                        oppressions into which his luxury led him. That idolatry undermined the

                        deepest foundation of the nation’s unity in its loyalty to Jehovah, the

                        Great Invisible King; that tyranny violated the public sense of

                        righteousness, which is the strength of every nation, (“righteousness

                        exalteth a nation:  but sin is a reproach to any people”Proverbs

                        14:24) and kindled smoldering fire of discontent, which was sure, when

                        occasion served, to burst into a flame.  So true is it that the evil, as well

                        as the good, men do “lives after them.”  Through the subtle relations

                        that exist between man and man, generation and generation, the possible

                        influence of any form of wrong doing can never be measured! It spreads

                        in widening circles. As in the line of individual history every man reaps

                        what he sows:

 

                                    “Our deeds still travel with us from afar,

                                    And what we have been makes us what we are”

 

                        so in the line of succeeding generations. Germs of evil sown by the

                        fathers spring up among their children. There is a conservation

                        of moral forces as of material. Let a corrupting power be once set in

                        motion, and, though hidden for awhile, it is sure to appear again in some

                        riper and more extended form. The nation retains its visible unity under

                        Solomon, but when the charm of his personal reign is over the

                        disintegrating work that has been going on beneath the surface is

                        made manifest.

 

ü      The danger there is in following the prompting of foolish inexperience

                        and headstrong self will. Rehoboam was wise in taking counsel of his

                        advisers in this emergency. His folly lay in listening to those who flattered

                        his vanity, rather than those whose prudence was a safer guide; and in

                        supposing that, whether the discontent that urged the plea of oppression

                        was reasonable or not, heavier oppression would cure it. It is a familiar

                        picture of human life that we have here. “Days should speak, and

                        multitude of years teach wisdom” (Job 32:7); but how often is the

                        counsel of youthful incompetence followed because it is more

                        agreeable. There is a time to resist as well as to yield; but experience

                        shows that the pride that refuses all reasonable concession, and perhaps

                        adds insult to wrong, defeats its own end. To stoop is often to conquer.

                        To humble one’s self is the way to be exalted (James 4:10).  Imperious

                        self will rushes blindly to its own ruin.  Kindly human sympathy and

                        generous self abandonment win honor and power. “He that would be

                        great among you, let him be your servant:  Even as the Son of Man

                        came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His

                        life a ransom for many”  (Matthew 20:26-27).

 

  • THE DIVINE ELEMENT. This is seen in two respects:

 

ü      So far as these events were the result of the wrong doing of men, God

                        ordains the laws by virtue of which that result comes to pass. All sin is a

                        defiance of the Divine Authority. But the sovereignty of God is

                        proclaimed in the very disasters that follow it and avenge it. What is the

                        punishment of sin but an assertion, in a form that cannot be avoided, of

                        the authority against which it is a rebellion? We can no more avert the

                        penalty that treads on the heels of transgression than we can escape from

                        our own shadow, or change the course of nature, and that because we

                        cannot get beyond the reach of God. The law that governs it is backed

                        by all the forces of Omnipotence. It is but a phase of the Will that is

                        holy and just and good.” Learn to look through all the wayward and

                        uncertain forms of human action to the majesty of that Eternal

                        Righteousness that “cannot be mocked,” but will vindicate itself in

                        unfailing sequences of reward and punishment.

 

ü      Evil as these events and doings may be, God works out through them

                        His own all-wise purposes. The principle involved in this may be

                        profoundly mysterious to us, but the fact is too manifest to be denied.

                        Jeroboam may have been utterly wrong in the spirit that moved him,

                        taking advantage of tribal jealousy for the purposes of his own ambition;

                        and yet he did but fulfill the Divine decree expressed through Ahijah the

                        Shilonite (ch. 11:29 seq.), and even through the prediction of the patriarch

                        Jacob, which gave to Joseph the ascendancy and declared that the seed of

                        Ephraim should “become a multitude of nations.” Rehoboam’s

                        highhanded policy was without excuse, and yet he and his foolish

                        counselors were but ministers of the Divine purpose, maintaining God’s

                        choice of the house of David, and helping to fulfill the prophecy that the

                        scepter should not depart from Judah until Shiloh come” (Genesis

                        49:10).  All history is full of illustrations of the way in which God makes

                        the evil of the world, in itself essentially at variance with His will, to serve

                        Him. All streams of human folly and wrong, wandering and tortuous as

                        they may be, become tributary to the great river of His purpose, “He

                         maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.  (Psalm 76:10)  - The

                        highest example is the sacrifice of Jesus, man’s iniquity working out

                        the world’s redemption. “Him, being delivered by the determinate

                        counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked

                         hands , have crucified and slain:  Whom God hath raised  up,

                        having loosed the pains of death:  because it was not possible

                        that He should be holden of it”  (Acts 2:23-24). The final verification

                        of this truth belongs to the time when, out of all the sin and strife and

                        sorrow of the ages, God shall bring forth the glorious triumph of His

                        gracious sovereignty, the gathering together into one of all things in

                        Christ.

 

17  But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah,”

 - the Israelites proper or members of other tribes, who happened to be settled

within the limits of the land of Judah” (see v. 23) – the term “children of Israel

is henceforward to be understood as the ten separate tribes from Judah -

Rehoboam reigned over them.”

 

18  Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute;”

It is generally assumed that the young king sent this officer “to treat with the

rebels and to appease them,” as Josephus expressly says”. It seems quite as

likely that he was sent to coerce them, or to collect the taxes, as a summary

way of showing that the king meant to enforce his rights and was not moved

by their words. For it is hardly probable that such a proud and headstrong

prince as Rehoboam would stoop, especially after the confident threats which

he had just uttered, to parley with rebels. Such a man, guided by such counselors,

and inflated with a sense of his own power and importance, would naturally

think of force rather than of conciliation or concessions. He would be for

trying his whips of scorpions. And if conciliation had been his object, it is

hardly likely that he would have employed Adoram, the superintendent of

the levy, a man who would naturally be obnoxious to the people, to effect

it. Moreover the sequel — Adoram’s tragical end — also favors the

supposition that he was sent, not to arrange some alleviation of their burdens,

but to carry out the high-handed policy of the king - “and all Israel stoned

him with stones, that he died.”  With one exception, this was a bloodless

revolution. It has been remarked that the practice of stoning is first heard of

in the stony desert (Arabia Petraea).  But in reality it is older than the date

of the Exodus, as Exodus 8:26 shows. And it is an obvious and ready and

summary way of dispatching obnoxious persons (Exodus 17:4; I Samuel 30:6;

ch. 21:10). It is to this day a favorite method of the East for testifying hatred

and intolerance -  “Therefore king Rehoboam made speed” - he lost no

time; the death of Adoram showed him the danger of a moment’s delay. He saw

those stones thrown at Adoram were really designed for him - “to get him up to

his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.”

 

19  So Israel rebelled” – Literally - fell away (margin) - The common

secondary meaning of the word is to transgress. Its use here may perhaps

suggest that their rebellion was not without sin -“against the house of

David unto this day.”

 

20  And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come

again,” – the representatives of Israel, upon the return to their homes, hear that

Jeroboam was back in the country from Egypt -  that they sent and called him

unto the congregation,” - Where and when this gathering was held we are not

informed. Probably it was at Shechem, and soon after Rehoboam’s flight. After the

open and irreparable breach which they had made (v. 18), the leaders of the tribes

would naturally assemble at once to concert measures for their defense and future

government - “and made him king over all Israel:” - This public and formal

consecration of Jeroboam completed the secession of the northern tribes.

Was this secession sinful?  We may readily admit that the schism was not

accomplished without sin: we cannot but allow that Israel acted with undue

precipitation, and that Rehoboam, who was “young and tenderhearted,” was

entitled, for David’s and Solomon’s sake, as well as his own, to greater

forbearance and consideration, and it is almost certain that both the “envy of

Ephraim” and the ambition of Jeroboam largely influenced the result. At the

same time, it is to be remembered that the division of the kingdom was ordained

of God, and that the people had just cause of complaint, if not, indeed, sufficient

warrant for resistance, in the arbitrary and insolent rejection of their petition by the

young king. No law of God requires men to yield themselves up without a struggle

to such cruel and abject slavery as Rehoboam threatened these men with. They

judged — and who shall say unreasonably? — from his words that they had only

tyranny and cruelty to expect at his hands, and what wonder if they stood on their

defense? They are only to be blamed because they did more. But lawful resistance

not uncommonly ripens into unlawful rebellion -  there was none that

followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.”  This general

statement is qualified immediately afterwards (v. 21). The tribe of Benjamin,

the smallest of the tribes of Israel (I Samuel 9:21), “little Benjamin”

 (Psalm 68:27).

 

21  And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the

house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin,” - It is at first sight somewhat

surprising that Benjamin, so long the rival of Judah, and which had so long

resisted the rule of David, should on this occasion have detached itself from the

leadership of Ephraim, its near and powerful neighbor, and a tribe, too, with

which it had a sort of hereditary connection. That a sort of jealousy existed at one

time between the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, consequent, no doubt, on the

transference of the scepter from the house of Saul to that of David, is very

evident. A thousand men of Benjamin constituted the following of the rebel

Shimei, (II Samuel 19:17).  The rising of Sheba the Benjamite, again (Ibid.  20:1),

proves that the enmity and discontent were not even then subdued. But when the

ten tribes fell away, Benjamin seems never to have faltered in its allegiance. The

change is easily accounted for. It was the glory of Benjamin that Jerusalem, the

joy of the whole earth, the civil and religious capitol of the nation, was largely

within its border. “The city of the Jebusite was in the lot of Benjamin (Joshua

18:28). But it was also on the boundary line of Judah. This fact had, no doubt,

brought the two tribes into close contact, and had given them interests in common.

There was a gradual tendency of the ten tribes to become confederate under

Ephraim,” and a growing alliance and community of interests between Judah and

Benjamin; and now Benjamin could not fail to see that separation from Judah

would mean the loss of Jerusalem (which would be largely peopled by the men

of Judah, David’s tribe, and would be practically in their hands), while adhesion

to Ephraim would not prevent the establishment of another sanctuary further north.

The traditions of fifty years, consequently, and the common interest in the capital,

prevailed over hereditary ties and ancient feuds, and decided Benjamin to cast

in its lot with Judah; the more so, as the heads of this tribe may have felt, after once

furnishing Israel with its king, as jealous of Ephraim as they had once been

of Judah. It must not be forgotten, however, that some portions of Benjamin,

including Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, were incorporated in the northern kingdom -

an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors,

to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to

Rehoboam the son of Solomon.”  It is characteristic of Rehoboam that he

proposes forthwith to subdue the rebellious tribes by force. Probably he had

no idea to what extent the tribes would prove disloyal.

 

22  But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying,”

This part of the history is probably derived from the “book” which this prophet

wrote (II Chronicles 12:15)

 

23  Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto

all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the remnant of the people,

saying,  24 Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against

your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for

this thing is from me.”  A timely reminder of the unity of the race, notwithstanding

the division of the kingdom – a prophet from Judah now confirms what a prophet

from Israel had already announced (ch. 11:29-38). There have been false prophets

BUT NO FALSE MEN OF GOD!   “They hearkened therefore to the word

of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.”

They declined to go to war with their brethren, not because they were fewer in

number, but BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF THE LORD!

 

 

                        The Establishment of the Kingdom of Israel,

                           and the Schism in the Church (vs. 25-33)

 

The historian, after describing the great rebellion of the Jewish people, proceeds, in

the rest of this chapter, to relate the measures which the new king took to secure his

position. These were both external and internal. The external means were the erection

of fortresses; the internal, the provision of new sanctuaries, priests, and ordinances.

 

25  Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim,” - the central mass of the

hills of Palestine, nearly equidistant from the northern and southern boundary of

the whole country, and the richest and most beautiful part of the land. The tower of

Sichem had been burnt down by Abimelech (Judges 9) and the tower of Penuel had

been destroyed by Gideon (Judges 8:17). The city of Shechem had been destroyed

at the same time as the tower, but had no doubt been rebuilt, at least in part,

otherwise it could hardly have been selected for Rehoboam’s coronation. It was

naturally Jeroboam’s first care to strengthen his position by fortitying his capital,

and the more so as this city would be particularly obnoxious to Rehoboam as the

scene of the revolution; but why he should at the same time have rebuilt Penuel,

 as it lay beyond the Jordan (Genesis 32:22, 30; 33:17) and was therefore

presumably outside the circle of hostilities, should such arise. Probably it was

because this was the gate to his Trans-Jordanic territory. A tower commanding the

fords of the Jordan would secure Reuben, Gad, etc., against invasion from Judah.

It is also not unlikely that Jeroboam. who was the great castle builder of that

age, had some fears of  hostile attacks from the north and northeast, or thought of

the caravan road which led over Gilead to and of which he would wish, for the sake

of his revenue, to retain the control - “and dwelt therein;” – his first residence and

capitol -  “and went out from thence, and built Penuel.”  Self-interest and

enthusiasm of the people no doubt expedited this fortification.

 

26  And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to

the house of David:  27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house

of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again

unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah,” - It needed much less

prescience than Jeroboam seems to have possessed to perceive that fortresses

and armies would be of no avail for the defense of his realm, so long as Jerusalem

remained the one sanctuary of the land. He clearly foresaw that if the people went

up thither, as in time past, three times a year, to keep the feasts, the religious

sentiment would in time reassert itself and sweep him and his new dynasty away.

With one religion, one sanctuary, one priesthood, there could not long be two

kingdoms. People who had so much in common would, sooner or later, complete

the unity of their national life under a common sovereign. And we find, indeed, that

so powerful were the attractions of the temple, and the religious system of

which it was the center, that “the priests and Levites that were in all Israel,”

 together with the more devout laity, fell away to Rehoboam (II Chronicles 11:13,16),

while the speech of Abijah on Mount Zemaraim (II Chronicles 13:11), proves that

others as well as Jeroboam were well aware that the old religion and the new

kingdom could hardly coexist - “and they shall kill me, and go again to

Rehoboam king of Judah.”  Their first offering would be the head of the

usurper (II Samuel 4:7; 20:20-21)

 

28  Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold,”

It is thought by the similarity of the wording, that Jeroboam was copying Aaron

and the golden calf in the wilderness, or that his recent residence in Egypt was

an inspiration to introduce the calf worship from there.  But it would have been

but a sorry recommendation in the eyes of Israel that the first act of the new king

should be to introduce the hateful idolatry of Egypt into the land; and every

consideration tends to show that the calf worship was not, and was not intended to

be, idolatry, such as the worship of Egypt undoubtedly was. It is always carefully

distinguished from idol worship by the historians and prophets. And the idea which

Jeroboam wished to give his subjects was clearly this that, so far from introducing

new gods or new sanctuaries, he was merely accommodating the old worship to

the new state of things.  (To put it in the modern vernacular, Jeroboam added a

touch of the contemporary to facilitate his goals – CY – 2010)  He evidently felt that

what he and his house had most to fear was, not the armies of Rehoboam but the

ritual and religious associations of Jerusalem.  His object, if he were wise, must

therefore be to provide a substitute, a counterfeit worship (a little sight

added to faith, if you will – CY – 2010).   “I will give you,  he virtually says,

at Bethel and Dan, old sanctuaries of our race long before  Jerusalem usurped

their place, those visible emblems of the heavenly powers such as are now

found only in the temple. You too shall possess those mysterious forms which

symbolize the Invisible, but you shall have them nearer home and easier of

access.” There can be little doubt, consequently, that the “calves” were

imitations of the colossal cherubim of Solomon’s temple, in which the ox

or calf was probably the form -  (ch.  6:23). “and said unto them, It is too

much for you to go up to Jerusalem:” - You have gone long enough to a

city which only owes its present position to the ambition of the tribe of Judah,

and which is a standing testimony to your own inferiority; “henceforth, desist.”

behold thy gods,” - Jeroboam had no idea of introducing polytheism. It is

true he made two calves because of his two sanctuaries, but each was designed

to represent the same object — the one God of Israel. The word is translated,

gods in Exodus 32:1, 4, 8, 23, 31; but as the reference is in every case to the

one calf, it should be translated “god” there also - “O Israel, which brought

thee up out of the land of Egypt.”  It is at first sight somewhat difficult to

resist the view, which is generally entertained, that Jeroboam, of set purpose, cited

the actions of the Israelites in the desert (Ibid. 32:4). But a little reflection will show

that it is much more difficult to believe that a monarch, circumstanced as Jeroboam

was, could at the very outset of his career have acted in the teeth of history, and

have committed the gross blunder, not to say wanton outrage, of deliberately

connecting his new cult with the calf worship of the desert. He can hardly have

dared, that is, to say, “This is no new religion, for this very form of worship our

fathers used formerly in the desert, under the guidance of Aaron himself. 

Jeroboam does not quote the exact words, and that he has uses a phrase

which was constantly in their ears, insisting thereby that his calves were emblems

of the God of their race, the God whose great glory it was that He had taken

their nation out of the midst of another nation, etc. (Deuteronomy 4:34), and

delivered them from a thraldom with which, perhaps, the tyranny of Rehoboam

is indirectly compared. Or it there was any reference to the golden calf, it must

have been depreciatory, as if to say,” That was rank idolatry, and as such it was

punished. That calf was an image of Apis. My calves are cherubic symbols,

symbols such as He has Himself appointed, of the Great Deliverer of our race.

“Behold thy God, which really brought thee up,”

 

29  And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.”  Two

considerations seem to have influenced Jeroboam in his choice of these sites.

First, both these places were in some sort sanctuaries already. Bethel was already

a makom, or holy place, in the days of Abraham; was consecrated by the visions

and altar of Jacob (Genesis 28:11-19; 31:13; 35:1, 7, 15), and by the ark having

been there (Judges 20:26-28, Hebrews; cf. Jos., Ant., 5:2. 10). And though Dan

(Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29; 20:1) can hardly have had as sacred a character as

the “house of God and the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:17) had, still it had its

shrine and its schismatic priesthood. A grandson of Moses (Judges 18:13, true

reading) had ministered there, and his sons were the priests of Dan still. Secondly,

these localities would suit the convenience of his subjects, (very contemporary

facilitating – CY – 2010) being respectively at the southern and northern extremities

of the kingdom. And this, no doubt, was one reason why Dan was chosen in

preference to other places, such as Shiloh, which, though more sacred, were less

conveniently situated. A sanctuary at Dan would save the northern tribes many

tedious journeys. It should be remarked that Bethel properly belonged to Benjamin

(Joshua 18:13, 22), though it was also on the border of Ephraim; and it has been

suggested that it was Jeroboam’s selection of this place as a seat of the calf worship

decided the tribe of Benjamin to follow the lead of Judah. But the narrative seems to

imply that their choice had been made at an earlier period (here - v. 21), and the

city would seem to have been long in the possession of the house of Joseph

(Judges 1:22).

 

30  And this thing became a sin:” - It was in itself sinful, for it both set at

naught the express prohibition of the Decalogue (“Thou shalt not make unto

thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven

above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the

earth - Exodus 20:4), and also disregarded the one sanctuary of God’s

 choice  (Deuteronomy 12:5). And it led to other sins:

 

  • the intrusion of a  schismatic and irregular priesthood, and
  • the performance of unauthorized rites, and
  • to “an ever-deepening corruption of the national faith” (Hosea

            8:5; 13:2) 

 

But the meaning is, it became an occasion of sin to the people.  Over and

over, in the next twelve chapters or so, the scripture reiterates Jeroboam

made Israel to sin” - “for the people went to worship before

the one, even unto Dan.”  It is quite conceivable that, at first, the people

resorted almost exclusively to the Danite sanctuary. Having been for long

years a seat of worship, and having probably its “house of high places,”

or temple, already built, it would naturally be in a position to receive

worshippers some time before Bethel was prepared for that purpose.

Jeroboam’s offering in person at Bethel (v. 32) which marks the inauguration

of his new ritual there, may have been partly designed to attract worshippers

to a shrine, which, as being nearer Jerusalem, or for some other reason, was

neglected. But the verse is patient of another interpretation. It may intend to

convey that the rebellious tribes, in their defiant disregard of the old order of

things, the order now represented by a hostile kingdom, went en masse to the

opposite point of the compass, even to the unhallowed and hitherto despised

sanctuary of the Danites. The LXX. (Vat.) addition here is noticeable,

“And they forsook the house of the Lord.”

 

31  And he made an house of high places,” - It is probable that a chapel or

sanctuary already existed at Dan, where an irregular priesthood had ministered

for more than four hundred years? This verse would then refer exclusively to

Jeroboam’s procedure at Bethel (see next verse). There he built a temple and

ordained a number of priests, but Dan had both already. We know that the

Danite priests carried on the calf-worship to the time of the captivity (Judges

18:30) - “and made priests of the lowest of the people,” - some of

Jeroboam’s priests were of the lowest stamp, because he could find no others,

or because he was so little scrupulous as to take them. “Leaden priests are well

fitted to golden deities” (Hall) - “which were not  of the sons of Levi.” 

Jeroboam would doubtless have been only too glad to have retained the services

of the Levitical priests, but they went over in a body to Rehoboam (II Chronicles

11:13-14). The statement that, “Jeroboam and his sons had cast them out,”

suggests that they had refused to take part in his new cult and that thereupon

he banished them, and, no doubt, confiscated their possessions.

 

32 “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth

day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah,” - the Feast of

Tabernacles, which was held on the 15th of the seventh month (ch. 8:2). This

was the great feast of the year, and, as the feast of harvest or ingathering, the

most joyous.  Had Jeroboam provided no counter attraction to this great festive

gathering in Judah he might have found it a formidable temptation to his subjects.

The reason usually given for the alteration of the time — in defiance of the law,

which expressly fixed it in the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34, 39, 41) -  is that

the eighth would be more generally convenient in the north, where the harvest or

vintage was a month later - “and he offered upon the altar.” - It has been

thought that he was moved to officiate in person by the precedent of the Egyptian

kings, who exercised priestly functions; but it is much more probable that he was

guided by the example of Solomon at the dedication of the temple -  “So did he

in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made:” - The very tautology

is instructive, as suggesting that altar, calves, and priests were all of Jeroboam’s

making, not of God’s ordaining -  “and he placed in Bethel the priests of the

high places which he had made.”  33 So he offered upon the altar which he

had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month

which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children

of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”  The context

seems to imply that it was not incense, or not incense only, but the sacrifice, or

sacrificial parts of the victim, that the king burned. See on v. 3 of next chapter –

 (ˆv,D,). And this meaning is justified by Leviticus 1:9,17; I Samuel 2:16; Amos 4:5,

where the same word is used. It cannot be denied, however, that the word is

generally used of incense, and it is very probable that both this and sacrifices were

offered by Jeroboam on the same altar (ch. 11:8). We may perhaps see in

Jeroboam’s ministering in person, not only the design to invest the new ordinance

with exceptional interest and splendor, but also the idea of encouraging his new

priests to enter on their unauthorized functions without fear. (If that is the case, it

backfired – see next chapter – CY – 2010) The history, or precedents 

of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10.) and of Korah and his company (Numbers

16:40), and the threatenings of the law (Numbers 18:7, 22, II Chronicles 26:20),

may well have made them hesitate. To allay their fears the king undertakes

to offer the first of the sacrifices. And that their fears of a Divine interposition were

not groundless the sequel shows.

 

 

                                      ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

                                    The Sin of Jeroboam (v. 30)

 

What was this sin, of which, from this time forward, the historian has so much to

say?  It is mentioned more than twenty times in Scripture. It casts its dark

shadow across fifteen reigns of the kings of Israel. Its baleful influences were felt

for more than two and a half centuries. It was the prime cause (II Kings 17:

21-28) of that captivity from which the ten tribes have never returned. Surely we

ought to know what it was. And as one help to a right conclusion, let us first clearly

understand what it was not.

 

  • IT WAS NOT THE SIN OF REBELLION. There may have been sin in

            the way which the rupture with Judah was brought about (see II Chronicles

            13:6, 7), though that is by no means certain. But even if Israel was set upon

            rebellion, and even if Jeroboam had rudely and wickedly precipitated the

            revolt, that cannot be “the sin” of which he is here and elsewhere accused.

            For, in the first place, later kings could not be held responsible for Jeroboam’s

            conduct at the time of the disruption, i.e., they could not commit that sin of

            Jeroboam; and, secondly, the disruption itself was ordained of God (II

            Chronicles 11:4; ch. 11:31  sqq.; 12:15). Verse 15, too, is decisive.

            “The cause was from the Lord.” Those who sat on Jeroboam’s throne,

            consequently, no less than the successors of Solomon, reigned de jure

            Divino (by divine law).  The former equally with the latter were the

            anointed of Heaven. It was the Lord  who “raised up”

            (ch. 14:14);  Baasha (ch. 15:28-29);  Zimri (ch. 16:12), Jehu (II Kings 9:6),

            and the rest.

 

  • IT WAS NOT THE SIN OF GOING AFTER OTHER GODS. If this

            were the sin referred to here it would probably have been called “the sin of

            Solomon,” for Solomon is twice charged with that sin (ch. 11:4, 10), whereas

            Jeroboam never went after Baal, or Ashtoreth, or Milcom. It is true the

            calves are once called “other gods” (ch. 14:9), but they are only so called

            in derision, and in ch. 16:31 the sin of Jeroboam is expressly distinguished

            from the worship of other gods. It was probably Jeroboam’s boast (v. 28),

            not that he was instituting a new religion, or setting up a rival Deity, but that

            he was worshipping the one true God in a more rational and primitive

            way. See Jos., Ant. 8. 8.4. And that the calf worship was not idolatry,

            properly so called, is clear from this consideration, that “the sin of

            Jeroboam” is confined to the kingdom of Israel. Not one of the kings

            of Judah is ever taxed with it. And yet it was in Judah, and not in Israel,

            that idolatry prevailed. Of the kings of Israel, only Ahab and his two

            sons were guilty of idolatry; whereas of the kings of Judah only five set

            their faces against it. Yet the non-idolatrous kings of Israel are constantly

            charged with Jeroboam’s sin, and the idolatrous kings of Judah never.

            Polytheism, therefore, it cannot have been.

 

  • IT WAS NOT THE SIN OF IMAGE WORSHIP. The calves were

            not made to be worshipped, any more than the cherubim of Solomon’s

            temple. Nor do we read that they received Divine worship. “The people

            went to worship before the one,” etc. The Scripture, it is true, calls them

            molten images,” but Jeroboam doubtless said they were symbols of the

            heavenly powers, designed (like the images of the Roman Communion) to

            be helps to devotion, and they are nowhere called “idols,” or “horrors,” or

            statues.” We entirely misconceive Jeroboam’s purpose, and discredit his

            sagacity, if we think that he had the worship of Apis or Mnevis or any

            similar idol in his mind. The last thing that would occur to him would be to

            set up a purely pagan system amongst such a people as the Jews. His was

            not the sin of idol worship. What, then, was it?

 

  • IT WAS THE SIN OF HERESY. For “heresy” in the original meaning

            of the word simply implied an arbitrary selection of doctrines or practices

            ai[resivhairesis = a choosing, a choice instead of dutifully

          accepting those which God has enjoined. (Think of the implications of

            pro-choice [pro-choice is a modern day heresy] when it comes to the lives

            of human beings – CY – 2010)  This is precisely what Jeroboam  did. Instead

            of taking and handing down to his successors, whole and  undefiled, the “faith

            once delivered” (Jude 1:3), he presumed to modify it; to adapt it, as he thought,

            to the new order of things, (make it more contemporary??? – CY – 2010)  His

            heresy was threefold:

 

ü      He chose his own places of worship. God had ordained that there

      should be one sanctuary for the whole nation. Both the law of Moses

      and the history of Israel alike taught that the religious centre of the

      nation should be one. From an early age it was predicted that God

      would choose Himself a place to put His name there (Deuteronomy

      12:13-14; 14:23). And this Divine choice had been recently and

      unmistakably made. He “chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but

       chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which He loved.”

      And He built His “sanctuary,” (Psalm 78:67-69; 132:13-14). At

      the dedication of this sanctuary this choice had been publicly

      proclaimed (ch. 8:10-11; II Chronicles 7:2, 12,16). The whole

      nation then understood that God had “chosen Jerusalem to

      put His name there.” And Jeroboam was aware of this, and

                        was also aware that the division of the kingdom was to make no

                        difference as to the oneness or the position of the sanctuary. To

                        prevent misconception he was twice reminded in the message of

                        Ahijah, his charter to the crown, that Jerusalem was “the city which

                        God had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel (ch.11:32-33).

                        It was to be in the future, as it had been in the past, the one place

                        of incense and sacrifice. And that Jeroboam knew it, his own thoughts

                        (vs. 26-27) reveal to us. “If this people go up to do sacrifice in the

                         house of the Lord at Jerusalem.”  He is quite clear, then — indeed,

                        he could not be otherwise — as to the place of God’s choice. But

                         that place, he argues, will not do for him.  Political considerations

                        demand that he shall find a religious center elsewhere. So he “takes

                        counsel,” and decrees ex mero arbitrio that Israel shall have three

                        holy places instead of one, and that Bethel and Dan shall hence-

                        forward divide the honors hitherto enjoyed by Jerusalem.

 

ü      He chose his own modes of worship. Though the way in which God

                        should be approached had been prescribed, though every detail of the

                        Divine service had been ordered beforehand, and though he had been

                        warned against adding aught to it or diminishing aught from it

                        (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32), yet he decided otherwise. Perhaps he

                        persuaded himself that he had good reasons for it; but all the same he

                        chose otherwise than God had chosen. Though Exodus 20:4,forbade

                        the making of graven images, yet he “made molten images” (ch. 14:9).

                        Though the law decreed that the sons of Aaron alone should offer

                        sacrifice and burn incense, yet he determined to play the priest himself,

                        and also “made him priests of the lowest of the people.” Sic volo,

                         sic jubeo,  “this I wish, this I command.”

 

ü      He chose his own times of worship. Nothing could have been more

                        positively fixed than the date of the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was

                        to be “the fifteenth day of the seventh month” (Leviticus 23:34, 39).

                        But this was not the day of Jeroboam’s “choice.” (a la – heresy

                        CY – 2010) -  He “devised” a month “of his own heart;” he consulted,

                        perhaps he thought, his people’s convenience; but was there ever heretic

                        yet that was not full of arguments, when all God asks is obedience?

 

                                                                                    “In religion

                                                What dangerous error, but some sober brow

                                                Will bless it and approve it with a text,

                                                Hiding the grossness with fair ornament.”

 

  • IT WAS THE SIN OF SCHISM. It is not without reason that in the

            Litany heresy and schism are coupled together, for the latter springs out of

            the former.  Jeroboam’s arbitrary choice led to a division in the Jewish

            Church. Let us briefly consider in what way the breach in the national unity,

            hitherto so close and conspicuous, was effected.

 

ü      The one center of unity gave place to three centers of division.

      Hitherto, three times a year (ch. 9:25) all the males of Israel, from Dan to

                        Beersheba, had gathered round one altar. Thither, “the tribes went up,

                         the tribes of the Lord” (Psalm 122:4). Now, instead of going, even

                        from Dan, the people went to worship before the calves “even unto

                        Dan.” The ten tribes turned their backs on Jerusalem, and sought, some

                        of them, a sanctuary at the opposite point of the compass. Nor did those

                        who worshipped at Bethel afford a less striking proof of disintegration,

                        for that sanctuary was within sight of the temple mount. The two pillars

                        of smoke ascending day by day from rival altars, but twelve miles apart,

                        proclaimed to all that there was a schism in the body.”

 

ü      The one priesthood of Aaron shared its ministry with the priests of

                        Jeroboam. No longer were offerings brought exclusively to the sons of

                        Levi, but “whosoever would” might burn the incense and sprinkle the

                        blood. The schism was accentuated by the appointment of a new order

                        of men, with vested interests in the perpetuation of division.

 

ü      The one ritual of Divine obligation was travestied by rites and

                        ceremonies of human appointment. If the breach was widened by the

                        intrusive priesthood, it was deepened by the unauthorized and forbidden

                        cultus of the calves. The stranger, who came out of a far country for God’s

                        name’s sake (ch. 8:41-42), to pray toward the house, found himself in

                        the presence of rival systems, each claiming to be primitive and

                        true, but differing so widely that he would go home to his own land,

                        doubting whether both were not false. He would say, as others have

                        said since, that before men compassed sea and land to make proselytes,

                        they had better agree among themselves.

 

ü      The one Feast of Tabernacles appointed of God was parodied by a

                        Feast devised of man. That feast, the most joyous of the year, had once

                        been the greatest manifestation of religious unity which Israel afforded. It

                        was the very “dissidence of dissent” when the feast of the seventh month

                        was straightway and ostentatiously followed by a feast of the eighth

                        month, celebrated but a few miles distant. It was the culminating proof of

                        dicostasi>a - dee-khos-tas-ee’-ahdivision, sedition.

 

  • THE SIN OF KORAH REVISITED (Numbers 16) This has been already twice

            referred to, as a part of the heresy and as a factor in the schism. But it may

            well stand by itself as a substantive part of the sin. It was just as great a

            violation of the Divine law to use the ministry of unauthorized persons as

            to worship at shrines of man’s choosing or with ordinances of man’s

            devising.  This, then, was “the sin of Jeroboam.” It was not rebellion, not

            idolatry, but the worship of the true God in unauthorized places, with

            unauthorized rites, and by unauthorized ministers. Nor did it make it less

            a sin that it seemed to prosper. The church of Jeroboam straightway became the

            church of the majority. At the time of the captivity it could boast of some

            antiquity (Judges 18:30; II Kings 17:16). But all the same God put His brand

            upon it. Three miracles (ch. 13.) were wrought as a testimony against it.

            The voices of the prophets were raised to condemn it (the whole book of Hosea;

            Micah 6:16, etc.) But from year to year and reign to reign it flourished, and bore

            its baleful fruit, and then, after the schism had lasted two hundred and fifty years,

            while the kingdom of Judah, despite its idolatries, still retained for 185 years

            longer its place in the covenant land, the ten tribes were carried away to the

            cities of the Medes, and were “scattered beyond the river” and

            DISAPPEARED FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY! 

 

And has this sin no lessons? has its punishment no warnings for ourselves?  If, as

some seem to think, we may pick and choose our doctrines at pleasure; if the

Scripture is of private interpretation; if we are at liberty each one to set up his

own dogmas, or if there is no such thing as schism: if it is never mentioned or

never reprobated in the New Testament; if the Babel of sects — there are

over one hundred of them in this England of ours (and who knows about

the United States – CY – 2010), is according to the plan and purpose of

our Lord; or if, again, the “form of sound words” (II Timothy 1:13),

the depositum fidei, the creeds of the undivided Church, have no authority: if

they can be added to by the autocrat of Rome, or diminished from by any state,

or sect, or teacher; or, finally, if there is no such thing as a “mission” of Christ’s

ministers; if any man may take this honor to himself (Hebrews 5:4); if those who

have never been sent themselves may nevertheless send others — then this history

is void of all meaning. But if, on the other hand, Christianity is the child of Judaism,

and the Christian Church the inheritor of the principles of the Jewish; if that church is

One and Catholic and Apostolic; if the faith was once for all (a[pax) delivered to the

saints (Jude 1:3); if our Lord Christ sent His apostles even as the Father had sent

Him (John 20:21), if they in turn “ordained elders in every city” (Titus 1:5;

II Timothy 2:2), and by laying on of hands (Acts 13:3); if the tactual succession

is not a mere piece of priestly assumption — then assuredly the history of Jeroboam’s

sin is full of meaning, and “very necessary for these times.” And the prominence

accorded to it in Scripture, the twenty references to its working — we can

understand it all when we remember that “whatsoever things were written

aforetime were written for our learning,” and that the Spirit that moved the

prophets foresaw the manifold heresies and schisms of Christendom.

 

 

 

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