Monday, February 22, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 22. The End Of Peace

Prophets And Kings
Day 22
The End Of Peace

Solomon haves enjoyed peace on every side while him haves been on the throne, but thats about to change. The Lord is angry wif him for buildin altars to pagan gods and for being a bad influence on the nation.

1 KINGS 11:14-40
"Then the Lord raised up against Solomon an adversary, Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom. Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men of Edom. Joab and all the Israelites had stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men of Edom. But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking people from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food." (1 Kings 11:14-18) The Bible doesn't tell us exactly how Hadad brings trouble to Solomon's kingdom, but it seems he went there to avenge the deaths of his people. He may have stirred up the people somehow to rebel against the throne, but the details are not given to us. 

"Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh's own children." (1 Kings 11:19-20) This pharaoh must have been as pleased with Hadad as a pharaoh of Genesis was with Joseph. Apparently Hadad held a high position, so much so that he became part of Pharaoh's family.

"While he was in Egypt, Hadad heard that David rested with his ancestors and that Joab the commander of the army was also dead. The Hadad said to Pharaoh, 'Let me go, that I may return to my own country.' 'What have you lacked here that you want to go back to your own country?' Pharaoh asked. 'Nothing,' Hadad replied, 'but do let me go!'" (1 Kings 11:21-22) Hadad hears that the warrior king David and his mighty army commander Joab are both dead. Since this pharaoh is probably the same one whose daughter married Solomon, or the pharaoh who reigned right after him, it's easy to see how news from Israel traveled fast to Egypt. There was a political alliance in those days.

"And God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada, who had fled from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah. When David destroyed Zobah's army, Rezon gathered a band of men around him and became their leader; they went to Damascus, where they settled and took control. Rezon was Israel's adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel." (1 Kings 11:23-25) This man, along with Hadad, sees his chance to strike back at Israel now that the fierce king David is dead. We have seen that Solomon is a lover, not a fighter, and he may have appeared weak to the enemies of Israel. Men who were afraid to make trouble while David sat on the throne are much bolder now.

"Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon's officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah." (1 Kings 11:26) It's bad enough when we are troubled by people we already know don't like us. It's worse when somebody we consider a friend, a family member, or a countryman troubles us. Solomon could reasonably expect to be attacked from the outside, but he probably didn't see Jeroboam's treachery coming. This is a trusted official and a citizen of Israel and Solomon was likely quite shocked when Jeroboam turned against him. It's my opinion that the Lord brought these troubles on him to bring him to repentance. They were intended as discipline. So far the troublemakers of other nations have had no effect on Solomon's sinful attitude, so now he is betrayed by one of his own people.

"Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph." (1 Kings 11:27-28) Impressed by Jeroboam's work, Solomon had promoted him to a very high position. Solomon would then expect gratitude from this man, not treachery. But we will see in a minute that the treachery is all part of God's plan and that He intends to raise Jeroboam to an even higher position. 

A meeting with a prophet is evidently the turning point in Jeroboam's life. It's what sets up the rebellion that comes to a head during the reign of Solomon's son. "About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. Then he said to Jeroboam, 'Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of My servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. I will do this because they have forsaken Me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to Me, nor done what is right in My eyes, nor kept My decrees and laws as David, Solomon's father, did.'" (1 Kings 11:29-33) Solomon is responsible for the rampant idolatry in Israel. He built a magnificent temple for the Lord but he also built altars for the pagan gods of his foreign wives, thus giving governmental endorsement and legitimacy to these false religions. As leader of the nation, this is a particularly grievous sin. If it had not been for God's promise to David, I believe He would have taken Solomon off the throne right then and there. But God never breaks a promise and so the kingdom will be divided after Solomon's death. The ten northern kingdoms will rebel against the king, becoming known as Israel, and the two southern kingdoms of Judah and Benjamin will become Judah, the only tribe still loyal to the house of David. The tribe of Benjamin was so small it was absorbed into Judah and was called by the same name.

"'But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David My servant, whom I chose and who obeyed My commands and decrees. I will take the kingdom from his son's hand and give you ten tribes. I will give one tribe to his son so that David My servant will always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put My name. However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to Me and do what is right in My eyes by obeying My decrees and commands, as David My servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.'" (1 Kings 11:34-39) This must have been quite a revelation. Jeroboam went from simply working on the fortress walls to being commander of all the labor and now this prophet tells him he will become king of Israel. As we continue on in our study we will see this prophecy come true.

At many points along the way, Solomon has had opportunities to repent. He could have torn down the altars and forbidden the citizens of Israel to sacrifice or make offerings to foreign gods. He could have insisted his wives and concubines convert to the God of Israel. He could have made certain his children were raised in the faith. His public endorsement of idol worship has led the nation astray. If the king can bow down in a pagan temple, so can they. They can now disregard and disrespect the God of their father Abraham because the king has done so. The rules and regulations of false gods are far more lax. The foreign gods don't expect the same level of personal responsibility and personal relationship. As long as the people bring the proper offerings, they can live however they please. The God of Israel wants their hearts, not their offerings. He wants to be their Father. And like a good Father, He sets rules for his children for their own good. Getting mixed up in the sex cult of the fertility goddess Ashtoreth was abhorrent to a holy God. Having anything to do with the cult of Molek was an abomination to God, for the followers of Molek engaged in human sacrifices which involved the killing of children and then burning them in a large metal furnace in the shape of their detestable god. Something has to be done and Solomon has to be held accountable for the downfall of God's people. 

We are never told when or how Solomon repents but it is assumed by many Bible scholars that he did, possibly close to his time of death. They point to the fact that nowhere in later Scripture is Solomon spoken of as a man who went into perdition. Also, the fact that his writings included in the Bible are considered the inspired word of God implies that he did not die in apostasy. He is revered as the greatest and wisest king of Israel and nowhere is it ever suggested that he died a lost sinner. However, one thing we do know is that he started out well and ended poorly. Because he allowed his heart to be led astray, he caused citizens of Israel to be led astray, and he bears a great deal of responsibility for that as their leader. His glorious and peaceful reign ends with rebellion coming at him from all sides, along with a dire warning from a prophet of God. The glory of his kingdom is short-lived because he failed to walk in obedience to the Lord as commanded. He could have had it all, and for a while it seemed like he did have it all, but somewhere along the way he left God behind. By the time he returns to Him, the damage to the nation is done. God cannot let them go undisciplined because if He does there will be no end to their turning away. They will fall more and more into idolatry and become just like the pagan nations around them. For their own good God must bring trouble on them so they will return to Him.

No comments:

Post a Comment