THE AGE OF LAW
FROM THE DIVISION OF THE KINGDOM TO THE CAPTIVITY
The Bible records: “All the earth sought Solomon to hear his wisdom which God had put into his heart.” Solomon had it all. He was endowed with wisdom, understanding, favor with men, and he was the richest the world had seen at the time. His witness for God spread across the face of the earth in that delegates continually came from afar to hear his words of wisdom. He began well. His early reign was marked by an earnest and devout spirit. He sought guidance from God.
But the latter years of his reign brought about the decline and decay, and finally the disruption of the kingdom. Following the example of other oriental kings, he subjected heavy burdens upon the people to sustain the splendor of his court and kingdom. He lived in gross self-indulgence and continually increased the number of his wives. It was through the influence of some of these foreign wives that his heart turned after other gods. 1 Kings 11:1-3 His downfall was hastened by the building of shrines for the gods of his foreign wives. 1 Kings 11:4-8 This discouraged the worship of Jehovah and encouraged idolatry throughout his kingdom. It was this climax of apostasy that brought judgment upon his house. God denounced his conduct and declared the disruption of his kingdom. 1 Kings 11:9-13 It was this climax of apostasy that brought judgment upon his house. A series of revolts followed and God eventually sent his prophet Ahijah to Jeroboam, of Solomon’s officers, who had “lifted up his hand against the King.” It was through this man of God that revealed to Solomon God’s intention of removing ten tribes from Solomon, and committing them to him. After the prophet had thus announced God’s intention, Solomon sought to kill Jeroboam, who fled into Egypt until the king’s death. 1 Kings 11:26-40
At the coronation of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, the people, discouraged by the heavy burdens imposed upon them by his father, came with respectful petition asking that their burdens be lightened. The result was a defiant refusal, with a threat of heavier burdens. The people then renounced their allegiance to Rehoboam. He became fearful for his life and fled to Jerusalem. The dominant influence in the revolt was Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, who by his strong character, secured for himself the unanimous offer to rule the new kingdom. With the exception of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and later the Levites, the people rallied to the standard of Jeroboam. 1 Kings 12:1-5
When Rehoboam realized the extent of the revolt, he gathered an army with the determination of regaining the divided kingdom. But another prophet was sent to restrain him. 1 Kings 13:1-6 Thus the two kingdoms pursued their separate courses. The first sixty years was marked by continual warfare, and eventually both kingdoms gradually weakened within and without. The were brought to an end by conquest and captivity.
The Kingdom of Israel lasted 250 years when it was overcome by the Assyrians. 2 Kings 17:5-6, 13-18 The siege and fall of Samaria, the capital, brought an end to the kingdom. The captives were settled in different parts of the vast Assyrian Empire. Israel’s history was marked by its gross idolatry and the fact that not one of the nation’s nineteen kings was a godly man.
The Kingdom of Judah lasted 135 years after the fall of Israel. Judah was reigned over by nineteen kings and one queen, all descendants of David. Its history was marked by various revivals and declines of religion, which reflected the life and spiritual interest of the king who sat upon the throne. Many of Judah’s kings were godly men, and though some great revivals and reforms were accomplished, the same divine indictment was eventually pronounced, “Judah also did evil in the sight of the Lord.”
The end came with the destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar, and the final captivity of its king and people, and their deportation to Babylon. 2 Kings 24:8-16 The Temple was raided and burned tot he ground, together with the king’s palace. The walls of the city were torn down and the suffering, cruelty, and massacre of the people, according to historians, was beyond description. 2 Kings 15:1-12
1. If you were endowed with the wisdom, fame and wealth of Solomon, how well do you think you would stand up to the fame and temptations that go with it?
2. What was the root of Solomon’s fall? (Pride in his success, and lust for more than he was granted.)
3. A divided kingdom was a pretty heavy sentence dealt to Solomon for his sins. Does this help you to see the seriousness of the consequences of what happens to those under our leadership when we fall to temptation and sin, including our own family?
4. What evidence do you see of God’s patience through the years of the divided kingdom? (They had nineteen kings, most of whom did evil in the sight of the Lord, but it was not until after the nineteenth king that punishment by captivity came.)
5. What kind of a man does it take to be like one of the prophets that were sent to Rehoboam, seemingly the only godly man among a whole nation turned against Jehovah?
6. Look at history’s chain of events: After Moses and Joshua died, God sent judges to rule the land. When the people didn’t want judges, the demanded a king to rule them. When kings became corrupt and forsook God’s ways, captivity, death, and ruin fell upon the people. Solomon’s inability to control lust for more led to a divided kingdom. A divided kingdom ruled by ungodly kings led to captivity and destruction. In each family there is a history of a chain of events that keeps getting worse. What is God saying in your heart to be His prophet who will determine to turn the events around in your family? What are the consequences for our children if we don’t?