1 Kings 12-13
The Divided Kingdom-Israel & Judah (various Kings) 1 Kings 12-22
1 Kings 12:1-15…Rehoboam becomes King over all of Israel (931-913*)
*The dates listed next to the king’s names are approximate and come from the Ryrie Study Bible)
When Jeroboam heard that Solomon had died and that Rehoboam had become king...he sent a message to him saying that Solomon had been a heavy taskmaster and would he now relax things some. Rehoboam first consulted with the older men and they told him it would be good to ease up. Then he consulted with the younger men and they said to increase the labor of the people. He chose the counsel of the young men.
1 Kings 12:16-20…Jeroboam becomes King Over Israel (931-910)
The 10 tribes to the north rebel and name Jeroboam as their king.
Only the tribe of Judah remained faithful to Rehoboam (this included the tribe of Benjamin since it literally surrounded its territory). Initially, Rehoboam raised his army to attack the tribes that had rebelled...but God spoke through the prophet Shemaiah and told them to not do so.
Consider the events leading up to the division. For years there had been jealousy between the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). The cause for the jealousy went back 300 years and was due mainly to the jealousy between the tribes of Ephraim and Judah. Note the blessings that Jacob gave to Ephraim (Genesis 48:17-22; 49:22- 26). And from the time of Joshua, who was of that tribe, Ephraim took a leading place. The transfer of authority to Judah came under David, who was of the tribe of Judah. All this tribal jealousy was intensified by the hardships felt by the people through Solomon's high-handed actions. His demands created oppression and his unfaithfulness to God demanded judgment (1 Kings 11:26-43; 12:4).
When Solomon's son, Rehoboam, threatened to levy heavier burdens upon the people, his unwise headstrong action added fuel to a fire which had been gathering and burning for nearly 300 years, from the time of the judges.
The revolt of the ten tribes immediately followed (1 Kings 12:16), though the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal (1 Kings 12:17). This tension led to the appointment of Jeroboam as king of the northern section (v. 20).
What the Bible is All About, Henrietta C. Mears, pp. 140-141
1 Kings 11:25-Jeroboam built Shechem (in Ephraim) as his capital. He was worried that when the people went to Jerusalem to make sacrifices that eventually their hearts would be turned back to Rehoboam. So, he put golden calves in Bethel (in the southern part of the kingdom, 11 miles north of Jerusalem) and Dan (in the northern part of the kingdom) and told the people they were their gods, and he built other houses of worship, and he made priests out of anybody (not just the Levites, cf. 13:33-34), he instituted a feast similar to that of Tabernacles...this was a sin against God.
1 Kings 13:1-10-A "man of God" from Judah approached Jeroboam while he was making a sacrifice at the altar in Bethel. He prophesied that the altar would be split in two...and that a descendant of David, named Josiah (who would actually be born 300 years later, 2 Kings 23:15-20…this is an amazing prophecy since it gave the exact name of Josiah) would sacrifice the priests of that altar on that very altar. Jeroboam pointed at him and commanded he be arrested...but his arm froze and he couldn't move it. He asked the prophet to pray for him...and his arm returned to normal. However, the altar split in two as a sign. Jeroboam tried to get the prophet to come to his home...but he told him that God had told him to not stay there, but to return to his own home.
1 Kings 13:11-32-An old prophet heard what had happened. He went after him and lied...telling him that an angel had spoken to him and told him to bring the prophet to his home. The prophet did so. God spoke to him and told him that because he had not done as he had been told that he would never make it home. Why did he disobey God? It could be that he actually believed that the old prophet had heard from God and was being obedient...after all, he may have held him in honor since he was older. Or, it could be that his pride caused him to want to be congratulated, or honored for his courage to stand up to the king and to tell how he had healed his arm...and here was one of his peers that he respected who wanted to hear about it...so, it was easy to believe it when he said that an angel had spoken to him. On the way home he was killed by a lion. The old prophet went and got his body, took it to his own city, and buried him there.
1 Kings 13:32-34-Despite this dramatic word from God, Jeroboam did not repent.
Prayer: Father, is there anything in my understanding of You, or in my worship of You, that is wrong? I look at Jeroboam and see a man that You dealt so directly with. And yet, he went so far astray. Once we set our course it is hard to turn. Please, Lord, speak to my heart clearly and specifically. Show me Who You are and how You want to be worshipped and help me to be perfectly obedient.