Tuesday, 3 June 2014

(155) June 4: 2 Chronicles 10-12 & John 13:18-38

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider what we’re learning about God’s promise to David.

To ponder:
10v1-11v4 is almost identical to 1 Kings 12v1-19, 21-24 (see notes there). We’re not told the prophecy about Jeroboam becoming king of the ten northern tribes (9v29, 1 Kgs 11v26-40). As we’ll see, the author is concerned about the kings of Judah (the south) and those of Israel (the north) only so far as they impact Judah. And so the focus is on Solomon’s son Rehoboam being made king, but “not listening to the people,” which left him reigning over just Judah and Benjamin. The point is that after all the hope of an everlasting kingdom being established through Solomon (1 Chr 17v11-14), not only has he died, but his son proves himself lacking his father’s wisdom and so unable to maintain his quality of rule or keep the kingdom together. This is seen further by his many wives (against Deut 17v17) and his abandonment of “the law of the LORD.” We should be thankful that our wise and righteous king lives forever to maintain the glory of his kingdom.
           What is also learnt, is that Rehoboam’s actions do not mean God’s promise is thwarted. These events were “from God” and fulfilling his word to Jeroboam (10v15, 11v4). Moreover, we see something of the future of God’s promise in the role Judah then takes. Rehoboam fortifies his kingdom (11v5-12) so it is firmly his, and acts “wisely” (and so like Solomon) in dispersing his sons to oversee its towns and districts (11v23). And when Jeroboam in the north rejects God’s priests and Levites to appoint others to serve his high places and idols, the priests and Levites “abandon” their land and property to come to Jerusalem and Judah where they can offer sacrifices at the temple as prescribed by the law. Indeed, those from “every” northern tribe who “set their hearts on seeking the LORD” followed them, strengthening the kingdom of Judah, supporting Rehoboam, and walking in the faithful ways of David and Solomon.
Here we see the idea of a “remnant” form - a faithful group from the wider people of God. We also see that the future for the faithful is with Judah and David’s line. As Pentecost illustrated, faithful Israelites are now united in the one kingdom of God through their common faith in Christ. They, and Gentiles too, are to turn from the false religion and idolatry of the world, and be prepared to leave everything in order to give him their allegiance, join his people in the church, and so worship God rightly.
            Under Rehoboam, however, this time security and faithfulness only lasted three years (11v17). “All Israel” (often meaning Judah in this book) followed his abandonment of God’s law, so by God’s hand the Egyptian king captured the fortified cities. The key lesson is that if one abandons God, in judgement he abandons them to the hostility of the world; and that this is “just” (12v5-6). We see this in Adam and Eve’s exile from Eden, and the book’s first readers would have seen this as an explanation for their recent exile too. Moreover, it explains the sense of abandonment Jesus expressed on the cross, as he paid this just penalty for his people. It also warns us that to abandon God in Christ will mean he will eventually abandon us (Mk 8v38).
            The right response to this truth is exemplified by Rehoboam and “Israel’s” leaders, who humbled themselves in recognition that this was just and that they had therefore done wrong. So God sent word through his prophet that he would “deliver” them, not “pour out” his “wrath,” but still discipline them by subjecting them to Shishak so they would learn how much better it is to serve God as king. Here we see the framework of the gospel, but also perhaps explanation of why God might allow us to continue experiencing hardship.
            Shishak’s removal of the treasures from the temple and palace together with the need to guard their replacements, again showed the passing of the kingdom’s glory under Solomon (as did Judah’s continued fighting with the north, 12v15). Moreover, Rehoboam’s lack of zeal may be seen in only replacing gold with bronze. Nevertheless, the fact that he did at all and firmly established himself as king, is consistent with the note that there was “some good in Judah.” However, the final verdict is that he “did evil” because he didn’t “set his heart on seeking” the LORD. Achieving some good in life, doesn’t outweigh a failure to determinedly seek God.
Praying it home:
Praise God for ensuring that his kingdom under Christ will never be lost. Pray that we would humbly accept our sinfulness and the just penalty it warrants, and so always set our hearts on seeking God through Christ.

Thinking further:
None today.
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