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Bible Time Period: Divided Kingdom
Israel split into rival kingdoms and fell into idolatry: Help me to choose your kingship over other loves.
Welcome to the third month of the 90-day Bible challenge! We’re coming to the home stretch as far as time goes, and things are going to speed up as six time periods remain. It’s worth taking a few moments to get our bearings in the Story.
During the Royal Kingdom period, Saul united Israel under a single ruler, then David expanded the kingdom and Solomon built it up. At the height of its glory, Israel must have seemed like a near-fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham: they possessed most of the strategic land of Canaan and were in a position to bless the surrounding nations. God dwelt among them in a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. Their king was the wisest and wealthiest man on earth. The nation was blessed and the people prospered. Most of all, God had promised to establish David’s throne — and his line through Solomon — forever. What could go wrong?
What indeed. At the close of that period, we read that God promised to tear the bulk of the kingdom from Solomon’s son because of Solomon’s sin. The resulting split will launch Israel into the period of the Divided Kingdom. The first few chapters you read will frame the entire period: The ten tribes to the north will rebel against Solomon’s son and reject his rule over them. The result will be two separate kingdoms. The one to the south will be called Judah; it will be ruled over by kings in David’s line from the royal city of Jerusalem. The breakaway kingdom to the north, called Israel, will be ruled over by a succession of dynasties from its capital, Samaria. Elsewhere in the world, the balance of power will shift from Egypt to Assyria around 900 BC. Take note when you see Assyria mentioned; it and successive powers to the north of Canaan will have a dramatic impact on the future history of God’s people.
The story of the Divided Kingdom is told in 1 King 12-22 and in 2 Kings. You will notice that after describing the division itself, the narrative jumps back and forth between Israel and Judah so that some sense of chronology is maintained. The account is organized according to the reigns of the many kings. Each time you read that someone new is on the throne, pay attention to whether the king is of Judah (southern kingdom – David’s royal line – Jerusalem) or Israel (north – various dynasties – Samaria). The distinction is important because it is the southern kingdom, Judah, and its royal line through which the promised messiah will come.
If you have trouble keeping the kingdoms straight, you might find it helpful to draw a small crown next to the start of the reign of each king of Judah. But don’t worry about remembering all the details. The first time through, it is enough to get the flavor of what is going on in each of the two kingdoms. Under each reign: do they follow God, or not? What is the result?
What dilemma does the location of Jerusalem pose for Jeroboam? How does he solve it and with what result?
Join the discussion below!
Jeroboam was afraid that if his people went to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD in the temple they may transfer their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah and may kill him. It was in total defiance to the LORD he made two bull-caves of gold and directed his people worshipp the bull-calves instead of the LORD. For the fear of loosing his throne he misled his people into worshipping idols. It is difficult to under stand how Jeroboam could turn away from the LORD after what the LORD had done for Jeroboam.
I agree perfectly to this Mark, so I add to understand further Jeroboam’s deeds is to have glimpse at the background. So before that the ten Northern tribes of Israel demanded that Rehoboam lower their tax burden. Led by Jeroboam the people came to Rehoboam to receive his answer. When Rehoboam son of Solomon refused, ten of the tribes of Israel (with
the exception of Judah and Benjamin) abandoned the House of David and turned to
Jeroboam, who promised change; he promised prosperity through tax relief. The ten tribes made Jeroboam of Ephraim their King over the m of Israel in 930BC (1 Kgs 12:20).
Well said Jose.
Having the temple in Jerusalem meant the northern tribes, Israel, would have to go to Judah to worship, offer sacrifice and celebrate their important feasts. So Jeroboam invented a new religion for the people to keep them in their own territory. This was certainly self-serving, as Jeroboam did not want to risk re-unification and lose the kingship. It is odd, considering how God had blessed him; why did he put more stock into earthly glory than heavenly glory? Power corrupts, we see over and over in these historical accounts.
I see this played out in Church history, as well. How similar to the schisms of Eastern and Western Church division, around 1054ad, and the Protestant Reformation (revolution is a more apt word) begun in the 16th century.
I also see this played out in China today. Where the government appoints fake Catholic priests. We had a Chinese Catholic priest who escaped from China and the Chinese authorities. Pope Francis has asked us offer this Lent for all those suffering persecution
I am also reminded of the Latin American dictators who have used “liberation theology” to stregthen their hold on the people
We certainly do need to be careful that we do not allow ourselves to be led into a theology that is too horizontal.
Jerusalem is the location of the Temple which houses the Arc of the Covenant. Thus is is the center of the Jewish religious faith. Jeraboam sees this as a threat(he is really not a good guy) to his power. He sets up alternate worship. These are supposed to represent the God of Israel. But Jeraboam sets up golden bulls. Hummm where have we seen that before? We must remember that Jeraboam has spent some time in Egypt. He then randomly appoints priests. The entire population follows Jerabaom’s example. The example here is of a political leader taking over the religion to gain power. This makes me think of Latin American dictators (Hugo Chavez comes to mind) using “Liberation Theology” to establish their power.
Maybe, its not an accident, its a mere incident that when Jeroboam stayed longer in his mother’s ancestors in Egypt where Idolatrous people were, Jeroboam surfaced the reigning blood of her mother in him as idolaters. Just another school of thoughts!!
This was just my thought. Aaron built a golden calf for the Israelites at Sinai he said that it represented the God of the Israelites same as Jeroboam. It is clear that these two notions came from the same spot.
As others have said, Jeraboam simply turned his back to the word of the Lord and created a self-serving worship center, fearing what may happen to his leadership if traveling to jerusalem. Again, an act out of fear for personal regard, status, and selfishness, rather than an act out of selflessness. Jeraboam even tampered with God’s Holy Days! How callous and self-righteous! With great chance and opportunity at hand, Jeraboam failed for himself and his people. Failed miserably. Let us never fail like Jeraboam in our days and even if we take a step back, let us hear God’s word and charge calling us back. It is not our decision on how to worship. As in Deuteronomy, God does not give us a choice on how we are to worship Him. He gives us a choice of whether we will worship Him according to the instructions He has given. Let us all follow His instructions and be an example to others to do the same.
Perhaps, during the Ancient time, the people were so confused of which is the true God, the god of the golden calves or the God of Israel? In the first place, the people of the ten tribes has enough good reason not to go, they were the center of envy because by their tax relief they enjoying, they also have more money in their pocketbooks, so why do they still have the possibility to change allegiance? Maybe just Jeroboam’s mentality, fearing people losing support because despite heavy burden in their pocketbooks, divine providence is more apparent and real where they could enjoy peace in the family and peace within their two tribe, or the two tribes were in general, are more healthy and robust people or just thought of pretty soon they will be just like a “walking stick” people so no more strength to go to war?? Oh, !! what a fickle mind and filthy thoughts of Southern territory people!!! Is it the people or the mind and thoughts only of King Jeroboam??
Kerry, Barbara, Mark & Mark have covered the discussion succinctly. I noticed that although the Kingdom was divided, with the exception of King Asa, they followed the same pattern of moving away from God. Because the people asked for and got the kings and leaders they wanted, they tended to put their faith in them, instead of God, which led them further away from God. Even the remaining prophets were weakened with one leading the other to disobey God and not realising his selfishness until the man of God had died.
The division is not simply physical, it is also spiritual resulting in disrespecting the house of God through looting. Today it is the same with houses built for and dedicated to God disrespected by poor lost souls either through indifference, ignorance or in an attempt to draw more souls to the same lost state. Whilst things can seem pretty bleak at times today, these Bible readings offer us so much hope as it proves, time and time again, that God will keep drawing his people back to Him. And the theme is present in the New Testament when Jesus reassures us that the Church will withstand the gates of Hell.
It appears to me that the Southern Kingdom is moving in the old cycle of sin, repentance and salvation (Asa) whereas the North is headed to Hell in a Handbasket
I was disappointed to see that even King Asa, after reigning some 36 years faithful to the Lord, weakened at the onset of war with King Baasha, King of Israel. Instead of placing his complete trust in God, he went to the King of Aram in Damascus for assistance….asking him to break his treaty with Baasha and instead join Asa against Baasha. In 2 Chronicles 16:7 it tells that Hanani, the seer, came to King Asa and reprimanded him for acting foolishly and not relying on the Lord….warning him that as a result, henceforth he will have wars. King Asa became enraged and imprisoned him and oppressed some of his people. A number of years later the King contracted a serious desease in his feet…and even then, did not seek the Lord, but only physicians. He died shortly after. King Jehoshaphat, his son, remained faithful to the Lord.
Barbara……what a way we human beings, act with God, our Father.
In addition to the input of everyone else’s comments I believe that once the kingdoms were split it did cause confusion (recognized by weakness in faith of God) really added to the people not sure of who or what to follow.
Jeroboam was living life as he saw it and really went of to think and have followers to believe in other Gods. He let power and materialism blindside him and did not care to redeem himself any longer.
It seems that from this point forward, unless the upcoming King replaces Jeroboam is one that will work and live for God, this group will follow false Gods and get led to a life in hell.
We are heading further and furrher away from God as in the times of these bad kings. We will reap what we sow.
The Northern land did not lie in Judah. The Northerners would then ask Why then should they recognize David as king? Jeroboam makes a number of religious reforms that will looks like it will set the northern kingdom on the path to divine destruction. He constructs two golden calves and establishes religious centers for their worship at Bethel and Dan. Jeroboam builds these places to ensure that his citizens will not travel to the temple in Jerusalem (which is in the southern kingdom) to perform their religious duties. Economic considerations most likely motivate his decision. The ten tribes sinned by rebelling against the throne of David, and their sin was all the greater, because their defection from the house of David implied a defection from the future Messiah and a renunciation of the promises of God.
I like your thread of thought, Anthony, regarding the ten tribes defecting from the future Messiah. I am aware that David knew God would make firm the royal throne from David’s heir (2Samuel 7:12-13), but did the Israelites yet know that the Messiah would descend from the line of David and so making it a conscious defection? Whether this is the case or not, however, they clearly turned their backs on God, His laws and on their salvation.
I don’t know, Janet, if the Tribes knew, and I would suggest that they did not since only God knows the future, but based on their history it seem’s as if they didn’t get the “miracle of the day” they wandered off in their beliefs.
Jerusalem is the religious center of Israel as that is the location of the ark of the covenant. Jeroboam’s land over which her rules has no such center of religious rites. Jeroboam establishes Bethel (on the southern border) and Dan (on the northern border) as the central location for the religious locations to worship the golden calves he had made. The northern tribes followed Jeroboam but still had the seeds of the Lord within them to celebrate particular religious days and to pay homage as their worship required. Jeroboam was forced to replicate the “central worship locations” so the people would not journey into Judah to Jerusalem. This was really quite clever on his part as he successfully kept the northern tribes under his control and within his realm.
Lent is moving swiftly. Five more weeks. The more the people go away from God, the more they loose their concern for the poor, widows, and orphans as I read some place. It is probably the prophets in the Old Testament who are saying this and try to bring the people back to God. The Poor are amidst us now too. Here is a thought about the poor statistics wise.
“Poor children ‘die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.'” UNICEF
About 1.345 billion poor people in developing countries live on $1.25 a day or less. Almost half the world–over three billion people–live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80 percent of people live on less than $10 a day. (World Bank)
One in eight people throughout the world suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2010-12. About 852 million hungry people live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of those countries’ population. Sixteen million people are undernourished in developed countries. (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization)
More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for five percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income. (United Nations Development Programme, June 2006)
More than 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. (UNICEF)
There are five more weeks in Lent.
As I learned of so many Kings coming and going, I am learning to understand how God often wondered is there no way for people to follow the path of righteousness? How frustrating it is for a teacher to explain, explain and explain to every leader, for a trusting leader to lead his people to honor and trust in the one true God.
Power corrupts. Jeroboam did not listen but used a heavy hand against the Israelites and they would not follow him. Rehoboam was just as corrupt. Asa started out listening to the Lord but in the end did not rely on the Lord but made alliances with other countries to fight Israel.
This is a time where grown men were seeking to reign or be selected to lead without truly seeking advisement from God. Instead the human struggle for power of seeing who can get the votes or who can out do whom becomes the focus rather than keeping sight and purpose from God. Therefor the one more aligned with a God at this item is Asa and that is who was most pleasing to God at this particular time.