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What is described in this chapter resembles what we have come across in the book of Judges again and again. We times and again find there how
1. the people leave the LORD first;
2. then He surrenders them into the hand of an enemy;
3. then Israel humbles itself when they hear from a prophet why it happened,
4. after which God provides a solution.
The LORD Hands Over Israel to Egypt
Rehoboam is not a wise son. “He who keeps the law is a discerning son” (Proverbs 28:7), but Rehoboam forsakes “the law of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 12:1). Although he finds himself in the place where the LORD dwells and where true priestly service takes place, this does not appear to be a guarantee that he cannot deny that place. Knowing the place at the altar – for us that is the Lord’s Table – is no guarantee of faithfulness. “All Israel” – that is only Judah here, because that is true Israel for God – follows its leader on the wrong path. Spiritual leaders have an enormous responsibility.
It went well for three years (2 Chronicles 11:17) because he listened to the LORD. When he has been in power for five years, things go wrong (2 Chronicles 12:2). How briefly lessons from the past determine our actions. When three good years are over, the LORD must turn His hand against the people two years later.
The world enters the heart that has lost contact with the power of God. The enemy comes towards Rehoboam massively (2 Chronicles 12:3). Deviation from God allows the enemy massively to attack the people of God. The world has gained massively access to the church through its unfaithfulness. All the fortified cities (2 Chronicles 12:4) he built earlier (2 Chronicles 11:5-2 Kings :) avail him nothing. He who deviates from the LORD, loses all his earlier built-up spiritual strength.
To exclude any misunderstanding about the reason for this submission, God sends a prophet, a man of God (2 Chronicles 12:5; 2 Chronicles 11:2), who explains the cause of this discipline. The prophet comes when the entire government is considering the crisis, possibly to discuss how to dispose of their enemy with human resources. So, today too, there are many deliberations taking place, looking only at one’s own means, without going into God’s presence to ask Him why this happens. Shishak was able to invade Judah, not because the border control had failed, but because God had sent him. This is because they have forsaken Him and He must forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:16-Esther :).
The word of the prophet and the discipline of God are humbling (2 Chronicles 12:6). God is righteous in His actions. After this acknowledgement God makes Himself known as a God of mercy and grace. The prophet has spoken God’s word, and that has hit target. God acknowledges humility and promises salvation (2 Chronicles 12:7). Yet conversion is only partial, not with the whole heart. This is why God does not completely take away the discipline, but limits it.
They will have to feel what it is like to abandon the LORD (2 Chronicles 12:8). That is His love. He speaks of “My service”. His service is a pleasant service, for it is pleasant and a benefit for the believing soul to serve Him. The worship service to God, the presenting of the body “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1), is the greatest joy for the heart of the believer.
On the other hand there is “the service of the kingdoms of the countries”, which is the hard slave service under pagan monarchs. God makes them feel this service so that they may come to a true confession (cf. Hosea 2:6). They will then experience that serving God makes free and rich, while serving the nations makes them prisoners and poor.
In His wisdom the LORD allows the enemy to take with him all the treasures that David by war and Solomon by trade have acquired (2 Chronicles 12:9). The golden shields, which speak of Divine protection, are taken away. Rehoboam does not fully comply with the discipline of the LORD. He makes fake shields (2 Chronicles 12:10-1 Kings :). He wants to have his shields to go to the house of the LORD in glory, just like his father Solomon did in the past (2 Chronicles 9:4).
In this action we see in the picture what unfaithfulness can lead to. Unfaithfulness leads to a pitiful imitation of the glory that Rehoboam once possessed in reality, but is now lost, while he wants to hold on to it. A semblance of spirituality is held. It is the attitude of “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” while one is blind to the actual state “and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
Once again the Spirit of God mentions that because of the humiliation of Rehoboam the LORD turns His anger away from him and does not destroy him completely (2 Chronicles 12:12; 2 Chronicles 12:7). This repetition shows how much value God attaches to humiliation and how He likes to turn His anger away.
“And also conditions were good in Judah.” This seems to contradict what is said in 1 Kings about the depraved spiritual state of Judah (1 Kings 14:22). However, there is no such contradiction. In the greatest terror of sin, the LORD sees the hearts that remain faithful to Him. We depreciate a church because of something bad and forget the good that is there. Paul does not depreciate the church in Corinth just like that. He admonishes them precisely because he recognizes them as the church of God.
Reign of Rehoboam and His Death
Rehoboam can strengthen his position because Jerusalem is “the city which the LORD had chosen from all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there” (2 Chronicles 12:13). However, Rehoboam does not take this into account, but follows his own heart (2 Chronicles 12:14). The origin of any deviation lies in the choice on which heart is put. If this is not the LORD, every form of evil is possible.
One of those evil consequences is that there is constant war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 12:15). What remains of his earlier obedience to the LORD not to go up against Jeroboam (2 Chronicles 11:4)? Perhaps we should not immediately think of large-scale warfare, but rather of constant border clashes.
When Rehoboam dies, he leaves behind no land where it is good to live. He has not brought the people back to the LORD. His son Abijah becomes king in his place. Will he do better than his father? A new ruler often gives hope for improvement, but time and again people are disappointed in their expectations. Only when the great Son of David comes to power there will be endless peace.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Chronicles 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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