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It is instructive when the Christian Voice Lamplight Bible Reading Plan takes us through the Bible’s books of First and Second Kings and Second Chronicles.
There are massive lessons in these ancient history books for us today. If the politics of king David’s court in the books of Samuel and First Chronicles were not thrilling enough, we moved on to Solomon and his successors.
It was tragic to see that Solomon started so well and then fell far away. The author of Chronicles in particular, believed to be Ezra the scribe, is at pains to show us that obedience to the laws of God results in spiritual blessings which are manifested in economic success. Solomon began by following the ways of the Lord, and brought great prosperity on his people as a result. But his many wives led him astray, we read, to the extent that he even enacted human sacrifice :
1Ki 11:6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. 7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.
It appeared the people were prepared to put up with the high taxation Solomon needed for his various projects, not least building the temple, so long as they felt they were part of something big and blessed. But when Solomon went away from the Lord, wars broke out with Edom and Syria and the economy must have come under strain. These latter days seem to be when the grumbling started. The Bible states:
Prov 29:2 When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
‘BE A SERVANT KING’
The people seem to have cut the son of David some slack in his years of physical and spiritual decline, but when Solomon died, they decided they had had enough. They called upon Solomon’s successor Rehoboam for a reduction in the tax burden. Rehoboam first consulted the old men who had served his father:
1Ki 12:7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
It is such good advice, even bringing forth, possibly for the first time, the notion of the servant king. In serving the people, he will find they will willingly serve him in turn. This idea would find its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus, but he himself intended to set an example for all time:
Mark 10:42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. 43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister. 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest shall be servant of all.
FOLLOWED THE WRONG ADVICE
In any event, Rehoboam did not follow the wisdom and godliness of his father’s advisors:
1Ki 12:8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
He took advice from his peer group, from the younger men. They advised him to take firm action and lay down the law, start as he would mean to go on, not give an inch but rather tell the people:
1Ki 12:11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
When the people cam back after three days to hear the decision, they had a shock:
2Chron 10:13 And the king answered them roughly; and king Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the old men, 14 And answered them after the advice of the young men,…
The prophet Ahijah had already told Solomon’s right-hand man, Jeroboam, that he would lead the ten tribes of Israel, those to the north of Judah, so we know at this point that the Lord is firmly in control.
Nevertheless, Rehoboam’s decision is ridiculous and stupid. The account goes on:
1Ki 12:15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
There are times when we read the Bible we just want to cry out, ‘Oh, no!’ at some of the stupid decisions people make. Righteous king Jehoshaphat still went to war in alliance with Ahab even though Micaiah the prophet told Ahab they would lose and that the Lord had caused every single one of Ahab’s prophets to prophesy falsely of victory as judgment against the king of Israel:
2Chron 18:22 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.
Here is the point for our day. Leaders are surrounded by contradictory advice. Some advisors say one thing, others another. The UK has a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, consisting mostly of scientists, there to give advice.
BAD DECISIONS FROM THE LORD
But the Bible shows us that sometimes, advice can be plain wrong. It also shows us that rulers can make patently stupid decisions. Above all, sometimes, wrong advice and stupid decisions are directed by the Lord as judgment for sin. And the sins of much of the West, where stupid decisions have been at their height, are many. The government of the UK have made the worst and most stupid policies of lockdown and are now making more and more. Coincidentally, the rebellion of this nation away from the laws of God will be hard to surmount for enacting evil anywhere in the world. Our sins are deep and growing day by day.
There is hope, but it lies in repentance. In Second Chronicles 12 and verse 5 we read of the prophet Shemaiah explaining to Rehoboam that the reason they have lost treasure to Egypt is because they have forsaken the Lord. By the grace of God, we read:
2Chron 12:6 Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous.
REPENTANCE BRINGS SUCCESS
Then and only then did the Lord grant them ‘some deliverance’ as the King James Bible puts it (v7). Furthermore, even though Judah had lost of lot of money to Egypt, economic success began to come back:
2Chron 12:12 And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.
Some wag has observed at a national level, ‘The wages of sin is debt’. The economic devastation on our nation and its citizens will be felt for generations. We need politicians who will humble themselves, turn from finding ever more ways to encourage national sin, so that the wrath of God will turn from us and things can begin to go well. They can do all they went, but as Solomon himself wrote:
Psalm 127:1b … except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
And conversely, when the Lord does keep the city, things go well. There is another uplifting example of God’s mercy from the book of Second Kings. Jehoahaz king of Israel was not even a good man. He had not brought back worship of the Lord. Nevertheless, when the Syrians were attacking, we read:
2Ki 13:4 And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them. 5 And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians: and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents, as beforetime.
FULL OF COMPASSION
This national deliverance came about despite their continued worship of the calves which Jeroboam made. Those verse give us hope for quite a few of those we know, and maybe even for some of us who have been slow to give up aspects of our past life. The Lord still demands repentance and obedience, but above all:
Psalm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
King Manasseh of Judah might be an even better example. We shall not be reading about him in the Lamplight Bible Reading Plan until the end of September, but he had encouraged child sacrifice, of which abortion is but our modern-day version, and instituted sodomy and temple prostitution. Injustice and bloodshed ruled the day, so much that the Lord gave Manasseh as a captive into the hands of the Assyrians. Far from home, in accordance with the prayer of Solomon in 1Kgs 8:46-49, he repented, prayed and made his supplication:
2Chron 33:12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.
HOW TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS!
Our politicians need to know that the Lord is God. With the fear of God before their eyes, he will bring them to make wise decisions, not stupid ones, cause them to turn away from evil and oppression and begin to see things not as they appear, but as they really are:
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
PRAY: To the Lord for national repentance and in particular for repentance among our ruling class. May the leaders of the church begin to speak according to the lively oracles of God, and may the Lord raise up fearless prophets like Shemaiah. Pray for yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit and for a portion of the prophetic gift of Elisha. Pray for the fear of the Lord to descend on those in high office so they will have wisdom.
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