Lesson 85:

1 Kings 14:1 At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill.

If Abijah was Jeroboam’s firstborn son, he was also the crown prince of Israel. Jeroboam was so concerned for his son that he sent his wife to the prophet Ahijah, hoping for a good word from God. Ahijah was old and blind, but God was still using him. God told Ahijah that Jeroboam’s wife was on her way, and what he should say to her.

Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me (1 Kings 14:7-9).

Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. . . . As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die (1 Kings 14:10-12).

[Furthermore,] the Lord will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the Lord’s anger by making Asherah poles. And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit (1 Kings 14:15-16).

From Jeroboam we learn that one person can lead a whole nation into sin. Jeroboam’s son died, and all the prophet’s other words were fulfilled in due time (1 Kings 15:25-30), including the nation’s exile. Since God holds us responsible for the sins we commit, as well as the ones we lead others to commit (Matthew 18:6), our guilt may have no limit. We should always bear in mind the effect our sin will have on others, as well as on ourselves.

Notice also the power of leadership. Jeroboam led many into sin, but Christ is leading many more into righteousness. Jeroboam’s kingdom was dispersed, but Christ’s kingdom is being gathered from all over the world. Jeroboam’s kingdom was filled with disgrace, but Christ’s kingdom will be filled with honor and glory. No matter what we have done in the past, we will be part of Christ’s kingdom if we receive him as our Lord (Colossians 2:6). 

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1 Kings 14:25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem.

Rehoboam allowed evil to flourish in Judah (1 Kings 14:23-24), so God sent the king of Egypt to attack them. This is what the Lord says, You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak (2 Chronicles 12:5). 

When Rehoboam heard this, he humbled himself and said, The Lord is just (2 Chronicles 12:6). Then God softened the punishment and said, My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands (2 Chronicles 12:7-8). 

Rehoboam loved freedom so much, that he wanted to be free from God. But when he was free from God, there was no one to protect him from Shishak. So instead of serving the king of heaven, he served the king of Egypt. That’s how it is with us as well.

If we serve God, he will protect us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). But if we won’t serve God, there is no one to protect us from the one who hates us most. Perfect freedom is serving the God who loved us unto death. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36), said Jesus. There is no greater freedom than serving the God who made us for himself.

*****
1 Kings 16:15 Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days.

Zimri had the shortest reign of all the kings of Israel. He began by killing the previous king, and taking the throne for himself. To reduce the odds of retaliation, he also killed the previous king’s extended family. But when General Omri heard what Zimri had done, he marched on the capital city. Sensing certain defeat, Zimri went into the royal palace, set it on fire, and perished in the flames. 

Zimri thought it was better to die by fire, than to fall into the hands of Omri. He may have been right, but he was not mindful of the flames below, where the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48), said Jesus. Zimri thought his suffering would be brief, only to discover that it will never end. Few people like the idea of hell, but it is so important that Jesus taught about it frequently. Jesus did not die to save us from little or nothing, but from the worst conceivable agony. 

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1 Kings 16:23 Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years.

One of his greatest accomplishments was the purchase of a hill named Samaria, which became the capital city. It was centrally located, and rose three hundred feet above the surrounding area. This made it difficult to attack, which helped stabilize the nation. Omri was so successful that many years later, Assyrian records still referred to Israel as the house of Omri

In spite of his many accomplishments, the Bible gives little space to Omri, and concludes that he did evil in the eyes of the Lord (1 Kings 16:25). Omri reminds us that the judgment of history is nothing compared to the judgment of God. Omri was applauded by many in his day, but no one cares today. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17), wrote John. 

*****
1 Kings 16:29-30 Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.

Ahab’s worst offense was leading the nation to worship Baal instead of God. He even built a temple to Baal in the capital city. Ahab did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him (1 Kings 16:33). 

We might expect God to pour out his wrath on the king, and on his people, but he graciously sent his prophets instead. This is because God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), wrote Peter. We should be amazed by the patience of God, but never put it to the test. Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning (1 Corinthians 15:34), wrote Paul.

Reflection and Review
What can we learn from Jeroboam?
Why did Rehoboam have to serve the king of Egypt? 
How successful was King Omri?