One of my favorite television channels is the History Channel. It’s great for learning about many interesting events in the past, and about the people who helped shaped them. It often baffles me whenever I learn about the mighty Roman empire. In its heyday, it was the world’s only superpower with wealth, health, vast army, and prosperity, and yet, it fell. How can this be? Many historians will point to many outside and inside forces that weakened this mighty empire's pillars, which eventually gave way and brought this empire down. As believers, we know that empires and kingdoms that are run in an ungodly way will eventually come to its ruin. In each epoch of time, history repeats itself in some form or another - kingdoms rise and fall, because it's driven by people whose heart is bent on evil.
There was a time in Israel that it became a superpower. During the reign of King Solomon, Israel became wealthy, healthy and prosperous. People all over the world would come to visit Israel, to do business, and to hear King Solomon’s wisdom. Israel rose to power and became that city on a hill for the world. The Book of 1st Kings tells this story. King Solomon’s compromises with other nations – marrying their women and following their gods set the tone for Israel’s eventual fall. When King Solomon died, his sons divided this great Kingdom into two Kingdoms– Israel to the North and Judah to the South.
The rise and fall of Israel happened in one generation. God had given them a formula to follow if they want to remain successful. God said in Deuteronomy 28: 1, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.” This formula is for everyone today.
The good news is, even during fall of Israel and the reigns of the ‘bad Kings’ who followed, God remained faithful to Israel. God spoke then through His prophets for Israel to repent, follow His commandments, and serve Him, and He is speaking to us even today to do the same. 1st Kings is a great piece of history and a good case study for all nations to heed.
Prayer: Lord, we come humbly before you and ask for your forgiveness as a nation. We know that we are in the cusp of falling away completely- some say, we have already fallen away as a nation. Help us Lord and guide our people, and especially our leaders to always choose you and your precepts in your Word as our guiding Light! We thank you for your love and faithfulness. We pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen!
Verse 14: Now it was so, after Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods, and bowed down before them and burned incense to them.
When King Joash was assassinated, his son Amaziah became King over Judah. He was twenty five years old. The Bible says that king Amaziah did what was right in the sight of God, but did not have a loyal heart. We can easily fall into this trap--doing everything that we think is right, and on the same token, doing it with the wrong motive. God always looks at our hearts.
One of the wonderful things that King Amaziah did was that he spared the children of the men who assassinated his father. It was common during this time for Kings to eliminate anyone and their families who have done evil against the throne. Amaziah, however, followed Moses' teaching that says, "children shall not be put to death for their fathers." We as Christians should always filter what our society and culture tells us to do through the Word of God.
Another commendable things that King Amaziah did was that he listened to a Prophet of God. The Prophet basically told him to get rid of the 100,000 mercenaries that he had hired with 3 1/2 tons of silver, and surprisingly, Amaziah sent them home. It's always better to obey than to sacrifice. Even if you have invested your time, money and talent on the wrong things, you can always obey and turn back. It's never too late!
Here's the turning point of this story. When King Amaziah defeated the Edomites with his 300,000 men, he did the unthinkable as indicated in our key verse (14). Again, it all goes back to our hearts. If our heart is not fully dedicated and/or loyal to God, we can easily turn the wrong way. King Amaziah bowed down to these idols, and the Lord delivered him into the hands of the Northern Kingdom. At the end, Amaziah fled Jerusalem where he reigned, and was killed in Lachish. What a sad and dispirited ending!
Let us always keep our focus in our hearts on our Lord Jesus Christ!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your Holy Spirit's reign in our hearts. Help us and keep our feet from turning from you. Continue to give us the hunger for your Word, so that we will know the right way to live and obey!
Verse 20: He was thirty-two years old when he became king. He reigned in Jerusalem eight years and, to no one’s sorrow, departed. However they buried him in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
After King Jehoshapat had died, his eldest son, Jehoram, took his place as King over Judah. King Jehoram had six younger brothers who had a lot going for them. They had silver, gold, precious things, and fortified cities in Judah. All seemed to be going well until King Jehoram killed all of his brothers, forced his people into idolarty, and did many hainus acts in the sight of God.
Unfortunately for King Jehoram, things quickly turned sour for him. The Edomites revolted against Judah. The Philistines and the Arabians also came against Judah and invaded it. They took away his possessions, his wives, and his sons, except for his youngest son, Ahaziah.
On top of all of these turmoil, the Prophet Elijah's words regarding King Jehoram's intestines came true. For two years, Jehoram suffered an incurable intestinal disease which resulted in his death. He was forty.
Because of his disobedience and cruelty, his people didn't even burn incense for his funeral. As our key verses (20) concluded Jehoram's life story, he was not even buried where Kings were buried. What a tragic story!
Anyone is susceptible to walk in Jehoram's shoes. We have a sinful nature that says, "me first." Jehoram represented a classic dictatorship model--striving for power and control, even at the expense of loved ones. We can easily succumb to these influences and negate what's important. Are we shining as lights to those around us so that they can see Jesus, or are we doing it for self-gratification and prestige?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for empowering us by your presence through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your Word, for it is our guide in this dark and selfish world. Help us to be your agents of your love and grace. Take away any selfish motive that we have when influencing others for your Kingdom.
Verse 11: And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”
When King Abijah died, his son Asa became King over Judah. The first thing that King Asa did was destroyed all the idols, it's place of worship and the high places. He even built and fortified the cities within Judah. During his initial years of being King, there was peace in all sides of Judah. God allowed this time of rest and restoration, because He was pleased with His servant Asa.
Whenever we are comfortable, the Lord sometimes allows a time of testing of our faith. King Asa was tested when Zerah the Ethopian mounted a war against Judah with a million men. So King Asa had 580,000 men against Zerah's million. In the world's eye, Asa doesn't even have a chance to win.
In the midst of this inevitability, King Asa did what anyone ought to do when facing a formidable foe. He simply prayed and surrendered everything to the Lord--total dependence. That is where our key verse, verse 11 comes in.
Do you remember a time when everything seem to go against you? You try getting help from people, places, and doing things, but for some reason, everything seem to get worse. Well, this story of King Asa reminds us that we need to always look to the Lord for guidance and help. He is our salvation!
When King Asa cried out to the Lord, the Lord helped him win the war against the Ethopian King. Victory is ours when we give the Lord our all!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your power in our lives. Help us to always look to you during time of comfort and time of trial. Help us daily, moment by moment, to surrender our all to you!
Verse 12: Now look, God Himself is with us as our head, and His priests with sounding trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O children of Israel, do not fight against the LORD God of your fathers, for you shall not prosper!”
King Solomon's grandson, Abijah, became King over Judah. King Abijah did evil in the eyes of God, as 1 Kings 15 tells us, but he redeemed himself in a civil war that he had with Israel (Northern Kingdom).
This particular civil war was a testament of what God can do in winning our battles for us when we look up to Him. King Abijah had assembled his 400,000 men from Judah against King Jeroboam's massive 800,000 mighty men of valor. The odds of winning was obviously against Abijah; it's a 2 to 1 ratio, and yet God won that war for Judah. King Jeroboam escaped and eventually died. Sadly, 500,000 sons of Israel fell in this battle.
Abijah's statements that God was on their side both prophetically and practically was the turning point in this war. When we look to God for help in any of our life battles, God will fight our battles and win them for us. The mistake that people often do is to go for help everywhere and seek so-called "experts" everytime, and never ask God for help through prayer and reading of His Word.
When Abijah and his men were surrounded on two fronts, one in front of them and one behind them, the only way to win was to look upward to their God. No matter what you have been through or what you will go through, always remember that if you are on the Lord's side, victory is yours!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being with us in times of joy and in times of sorrow. You understand everything that we go through and you are always there with us. Like Abijah, help us to witness and proclaim the goodnews to those that we come in contact with. Take away our fears of sharing your love to others and empower us with your Holy Spirit!
Verse 9: 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 everything. He also carried away the gold shields which Solomon had made.
For three good years, King Rehoboam did wonderful in the sight God and his people. He had fortified the surrounding cities of Jerusalem and strengthened his military might. Economically and militarily, everything was going in the right direction and his kingdom was prospering. Unfortunately, King Rehoboam's heart started to wonder away from the Lord, because he was too comfortable in and proud of all his accomplishments. Furthermore, he had put his trust in his fortified cities for protection.
For the next two years, Egypt and its allies prepared and staged a war against Jerusalem. Under the leadership of Shishak, the king of Egypt, they came and destroyed the surrounding cities of Jerusalem and marched into Jerusalem. There, they took away all of the treasures from the temple and the king's house.
In the midst of this invasion, King Rehoboam and Judah's leaders did the right thing by humbling themselves, and sought the Lord.
God has a way of getting our attention. Sometimes, the Lord allows certain crisis and tradedy to happen, so that we can look to Him for strength. His main goal for our lives is be more like His son Jesus! That means that our character is very important to Him. He wants to mold and shape our character (even if it means allowing pain) to conform to Jesus Christ.
Like King Rehoboam, when we loose our confidence in ourselves and in our stuff, the only way to turn is upward!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your presence in our lives. Thank you for being with us and guiding our steps in this life journey that you have ordained for us. Remind us always that when we are weak, then we are stong because of you. Help us to always put you first in our minds, lives, and hearts. May we always strive to be more and more like your son Jesus!
Verse 17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong for three years, because they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years.
When King Rehoboam realized that his kingdom was divided, he assembled an army to attack the north and bring his kingdom back together by force. The Lord sent a prophet to Rehoboam and told him to cease mounting this war effort, because brothers should not go against brothers. Rehoboam conceded the word of the prophet and redistributed his forces to fortified Jerusalem and cities within his boundaries.
Meanwhile, King Jeroboam of the northern kingdom built himself forbidden places of worship called "high places," and appointed new priests to oversee them. This lead to many God-fearing priests to retreat to the south, where they joined King Rehoboam in worshiping the living God in the Jerusalem temple!
King Rehoboam did great following in his grandfather David and father Solomon's shoes for three consecutive years. While everything is going smoothly, he started marrying women within his clan, took for himself many concubines, and bore many sons. Abijah, perhaps Rehoboam's favorite son, was given the responsibility of being 'ruler among his brothers.'
King Rehoboam certainly had a lot on his plate, just like his grandpa and daddy!
When one thinks about why God would allowed this kingdom to be divided, one conclusion comes to mind: if He did not allow this to happen, the whole nation of Israel would have probably destroyed itself and disappear into oblivion. God was, is and will always be sovereign! He is in control and He sees the big picture!
Looking back today at Israel, we learned that the Assyrians from the north eventually destroyed the northern kingdom, but did not touch the southern kingdom. The southern kingdom is known to have the "good kings," while the northern kingdom worshipped demonic idols under the 'bad kings.' Just imagine if the whole Israel was under all the corrupted 'bad kings.' Israel would've been simply "no more....bye bye."
So the principle is this: King Rehoboam went through a split within his kingdom, and it hurt him a great deal. He sought God and God helped him by sending the priests from the north. As a result, he prospered! When you are in a hole, don't be discourage. Focus on the Lord and the Lord will provide for you. Don't be surprise, He might bless your socks off!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for watching over us. Thank you for being in control of everything that we go through. Help us to see that when our circumstances look bleak, you see a brighter tomorrow. Always Lord, help us to put our trust in you!
Verse 13: Then the king answered them roughly. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders,
After King Solomon had died, his son, Rehoboam, became King over Israel. I like what Pastor John Courson said about this new King, "Rehoboam was a talented, capable, and gifted young man, but he was also cocky, conceited, and rebellious." King Rehoboam made a bad decision, which cost him half of the Kingdom.
Here's the scenario that did it for him.
For forty years under King Solomon, the nation of Israel worked hard on many building projects and paid heavy taxes. When Solomon died, they wanted this heavy yoke to be lifted, which makes a whole lot of sense to anybody and everbody. And so they came to the new King and asked him that if he lifts this burden, they will serve him faithfully.
King Rehoboam told them to come back in three days and he will have a definite answer for them. Rehoboam then asked the elders what they think. The elders, who were mature men, told him to do what they had asked and to deal kindly with these people.
Did Rehoboam do what the elders said? To the contrary, he did the opposite by listening to his friends who grew up with him. When the people came back for an answer, Rehoboam dealt with them harshly and basically told them that they haven't seen nothing yet. It's going to be tougher and stricter than before. This was the "crack in the wall" that tore Israel into two, and the rest as they say "is history."
In every society, elders are considered to be mature and full of wisdom. They have gone through many experiences and they know what not to do and what to do. People usually give respect to their elders and listen to them.
Like King Rehoboam, we have a generation today that ignores the advise and wisdom from its elders. This generation has fallen into the trap of listening to the media, MTV and its celebrities for advice, and has ignored the wisdom of its parents and grandparents. When we hear of the escalation of turmoil and troubles in our young people's lives today, know that they are a direct reflection of the types of advice they are getting from the world in which we live.
Today's problems are a symptom of what is going on in the heart of man. The heart of man is corrupt by nature, and the only remedy is to learn from our elders and the Word of God!
Prayer: Lord, help us to learn from past heroes, our elders, and your Word. Guide our steps and strengthen our minds, so that we can stand firm amidst this generation's lies. Pour your Spirit on our young people, so that they will be examples (your light) of the future.
- Verse 22: So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
So King Solomon had it all: gold, silver, success, wives, and on top it all, wisdom. His fame reached out 1500 miles from Jerusalem and touched the ear of Queen Sheba. When she heard of how great Solomon's kingdom was prospering, naturally, she wanted to see it for herself.
When she got to Jerusalem, she was astounded by all that she heard and saw. Indeed, King Solomon exceeded her expectation, and as a result, left him with lots and lots of....you guessed it, gold and spices galore.
On top of all his wealth, the Kings from Arabia and Governors of provinces gave him tons of gold and silver. Merchants and traders also generated revenue for King Solomon, because their trading routes from Egypt to Mesopotamia runs through Israel.
With all of these wealth, King Solomon turned many of his household items and eating utensils into gold. He even built himself a throne, which was "immaculate" in its design. Personally, I preferred less giant cats gold sculptures beside my seat. .......Anyway, he collected tons gold and stored multiple chariots, amassed more horses and married more women than anyone who has ever lived. In the modern slang,.... "he had it made."
Unfortunately, in this particular case, what Solomon did (example: amassed horses) ran contrary to what God had stated in the past to Israel. The reason is that people tend to trust in military might than on the power of God. Deuteronomy 17: 16&17 the Lord says, "But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself."
Well, somewhere along the latter part of his life, amidst all of his kingdom's prosperity, Solomon finally realized that all of these stuff did not mean a thing. This is when he wrote the book of 'Ecclesiastes.' King Solomon nicely summed it all up in the last two verses in Ecclesiates, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil."
From this chapter, we learn that King Solomon was an imperfect picture of Jesus Christ. With all the lavish table spreads, golden utensils, prepared foods and royal garments that adorned Solomon's guests and servants, they were all dimmed compared to what Jesus Christ is going to do with His bride-the Church, one day in glory! And as for Queen Sheba, she depicts you and I coming to Jesus Christ and giving our all to him. Do you want to dine with Jesus, then come to the table!
Prayer: Lord, help us to put our trust in you each and everyday. Help us to see that materialism and money in the bank often times stumbles us to think that we got it made. Help us to seek you first in our hearts. May we surrender our all to you every moment of our lives. Thank you that you have called and invited us to the banquet table to fellowship with you!