Bible Readings for October 11th
The overall sweep of the books of Samuel and Kings builds the case against both the nations of Israel and Judah in order to justify Yahweh’s sending both nations into exile. In many ways, the apostasy of Solomon serves as the foundation for the apostasy of both the nations of Israel and Judah, but 1 Kings 14 demonstrates the ways in which Jeroboam and Rehoboam extend the apostasy of the twelve tribes.
As for Jeroboam and the northern kingdom of Israel, we should recognize that Yahweh would have established the kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam if only he had obeyed Yahweh with his whole heart. But rather than becoming a new David, Jeroboam rebels against Yahweh immediately (1 Kgs. 14:6–16). For that reason, Yahweh promises both to cut off the house of Jeroboam and to judge Israel for obeying the idolatry of Jeroboam rather than the voice of their God (1 Kgs. 14:14–15). Israel, therefore, will never enjoy a godly king until the day when the nation of Assyria comes to destroy them and carry off their survivors into exile—an exile from which the ten tribes have never recovered (2 Kgs. 17).
Judah, on the other hand, will do better, but not by much. Under Rehoboam, Judah also enters into idolatrous worship, establishing high places and pillars and Asherim and male cult prostitutes (1 Kgs. 14:22–24). As a harbinger of a greater exile to come, the Egyptians march against Jerusalem and take away the treasures of Rehoboam’s palace and the gold in the temple (1 Kgs. 14:25–28). So, the southern nation of Judah will experience a handful of good kings, and they will not fall to the Assyrians as the ten tribes of Israel do. It is the next empire, Babylon, however, that will capture Judah, destroy the temple, and carry off the people of Judah into captivity (2 Kgs. 25).
Shockingly, Israel’s kings are no more capable of reforming the hearts of God’s people than Israel’s judges were. Even in the days when there are kings in Israel, the people continue to do whatever is right in their own eyes until Yahweh finally hands them over to judgment. God’s people need something more than just a warm body on the throne of Israel—they need a better king, a king who can not only heal the nation from their exile but also transform their hearts to follow after God fully. The storyline of the kings must run its course all the way into exile, but once Israel and Judah demonstrate decisively that they are unable to reform themselves, Yahweh will eventually send his own Son to do what no mere king could do by redeeming the people, cleansing their hearts from sin, and establishing the kingdom of God in this world so God might dwell with his people for all eternity.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.