The Review and Herald

1800/1902

July 10, 1913

The Rending of the Kingdom

(Concluded.)

EGW

Rehoboam made a mistake at Shechem that was irreparable. Unwise and unfeeling in the exercise of power, he and his chosen counselors revealed the pride of position and authority. Had they understood God's purpose concerning Israel, they would have listened to the request of the people for decided reforms in the administration of government. But instead of following a plan in harmony with God's purpose, they announced their intention of perpetuating and adding to the evils introduced in Solomon's reign. RH July 10, 1913, par. 1

The Lord did not allow Rehoboam to carry out the policy he proposed to follow. Among the tribes were many thousands who had become thoroughly aroused over the oppressive measures of Solomon's reign, and these now felt that they could not do otherwise than rebel against the house of David. In doing this, they acted in harmony with the prediction of the prophet concerning the rending of the kingdom. Thenceforth the twelve tribes of Israel were divided, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin forming the lower kingdom of Judah, under the rulership of Rehoboam, and the ten northern tribes forming the kingdom of Israel, with Jeroboam as their ruler. RH July 10, 1913, par. 2

When Rehoboam saw the tribes withdrawing their allegiance from him, he was aroused to action. Through one of the influential men of his kingdom, “Adoram, who was over the tribute,” he made an effort to conciliate them. But the ambassador of peace received treatment which bore witness to the feeling against Rehoboam. “All Israel stoned him with stones, that he died.” Startled by this evidence of the strength of the revolt, “King Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 3

At Jerusalem, “he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, 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. But the word of the Lord came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 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, 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. They harkened therefore to the word of the Lord, and returned to depart, according to the word of the Lord.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 4

For three years after his return to Jerusalem, Rehoboam tried to profit by his sad experience at the beginning of his reign; and in this effort he was prospered. He “built cities for defense in Judah,” and “fortified the strongholds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.” He was careful to make these fortified cities “exceeding strong.” But it is not in these measures that the secret of Judah's prosperity lay during these first years of Rehoboam's reign. It was their recognition of the God of heaven as the supreme ruler that placed them on vantage-ground. To their number were added many God-fearing men from the northern tribes. “Out of all the tribes of Israel,” the record reads, “such as set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the Lord God of their fathers. So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 5

Well would it have been for Rehoboam had he and his associates and all Judah remained faithful to the true God. But the pen of inspiration has traced the sad record of Solomon's successor as one who also led his people into the way of apostasy. Naturally idolatrous, headstrong, confident, self-willed, nevertheless had he placed his trust wholly in God, Rehoboam would have developed strength of character, faith in God, and submission to the divine requirements. But as time passed, the king began to put his trust in the power of position and in the strongholds that he had fortified. Little by little he gave way to inherited weaknesses, until he threw his influence wholly on the side of idolatry. “It came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 6

Sad and full of significance are the words, “And all Israel with him.” The people whom God had chosen to stand as a light to the surrounding nations, turned from their source of strength, and sought to become like the nations about them. As it was with Solomon, so it was with Rehoboam. The influence of their wrong example led many astray. And as it was with them, so to a greater or less degree is it with every one who gives himself up to work evil. The influence of wrong-doing is not confined to the doer. “None of us liveth to himself.” None perish alone in their iniquity. Every life is either a light to brighten and cheer the path of others, or as a desolating tempest to destroy. We lead others either upward to happiness and immortal life or downward to sorrow and eternal ruin. And if by our acts we strengthen or force into activity the evil powers of those around us, we share their sin. RH July 10, 1913, par. 7

God did not allow this terrible apostasy to remain unpunished. “In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord, with twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt.... And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem. Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 8

The people had not yet gone to such lengths in apostasy that they despised the judgments of God. In the losses sustained by the invasion of Shishak they recognized the hand of God, and for a time they humbled themselves. “The Lord is righteous,” they declared. RH July 10, 1913, par. 9

“And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries. RH July 10, 1913, par. 10

“So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made. Instead of which King Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king's house. And when the king entered into the house of the Lord, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them again into the guard chamber. And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 11

But as the hand of affliction was removed, and the nation prospered once more, many forgot their fears, and turned again to idolatry. Among these was King Rehoboam himself. Humbled as he had been by the calamity that befell him from Egypt, he failed to make this experience a decisive turning-point in his life. Forgetting the lesson that God had endeavored to teach him, he relapsed into the sins that had brought the judgments of God on the nation. RH July 10, 1913, par. 12

The glory of the kingdom that had been ruled over by David and Solomon had departed, and there remained only a semblance of the former greatness. After a few inglorious years, during which the king “did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord,” “Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead.” RH July 10, 1913, par. 13