Summary: Pride makes it difficult to listen to wisdom, but humility and a heart prepared to seek the Lord can give us a second chance.
Have You Swallowed an Alligator Lately?
A sermon on 2 Chronicles 10-12
Two men were riding a bicycle built for two when they came to a steep hill. It took a great deal of struggle for the men to complete what proved to be a very steep climb. When they got to the top the man in front said to the other, "Man, that was a hard climb!" The guy in back said, "Yes it was. And if I hadn’t kept the brakes on all the way we would have rolled down backwards."
We can accomplish a lot when we work together. But unity is not always easy, especially when we bring different perspectives to a problem.
As we turn to 2 Chronicles this morning, we see how division came to the kingdom of Israel. Israel remained unified under their first king, Saul, and then under David and his son Solomon. But the next king, Solomon’s son Rehoboam, was unable to keep the kingdom together.
Rehoboam’s life is an interesting one, though not necessarily a model to follow. As with most of the kings, there is both good and bad in the heart of Rehoboam. As we consider and judge Rehoboam for his deeds, perhaps we can be willing to apply that judgment to ourselves as well – both for better and for worse.
Let’s take a look at Rehoboam. If you have your Bibles with you, why don’t you take them out and turn to the 10th chapter of the Book of 2nd Chronicles. I’ll actually be looking at several chapters as we go along.
Listen to Wisdom
We read that after his father’s death, Rehoboam went to Shechem to become king. And then in verse two it says
2 Chronicles 10:2 2 When Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon), Jeroboam returned from Egypt.
Who is this Jeroboam? To find out, we need to jump over to 1 Kings, chapter 11, verse 26 and following. There we read that Jeroboam the son of Nebat was a valiant warrior and an industrious young man. Solomon noticed this and appointed him the head of the forced labor. So initially things went well between Jeroboam and the king. But then one day Jeroboam met the prophet Ahijah who prophesied saying that God would tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give 10 tribes to Jeroboam, because these 10 tribes had forsaken the Lord.
Solomon heard of it and rather than repenting and leading the people to the Lord, or at the very least accepting the Word of the Lord, he sought to kill Jeroboam. And so Jeroboam high tailed it south to Egypt. And that is where we find him at the beginning of 2 Chronicles, chapter 10.
The People’s Request
Jeroboam comes with the rest of Israel to ask a request of the new king. One gets the sense that he is leading this group of people. In verse 4, they state their request before king Rehoboam:
"Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you."
It seems harmless enough, but I have to wonder if Jeroboam is just beginning to position himself for a takeover. He knew what the forced labor situation was like under Solomon – after all, he was the head of it before he went to Egypt. He was probably banking on the fact that Solomon’s son would be like his father in some ways. And so he stirs up the people to ask for some leniency, probably hoping it would result in a rebellion.
The Elder’s Advice
And we see that he was right about Rehoboam. He is in some ways his father’s son. Solomon was known for his wisdom, and so Rehoboam begins by at least giving the appearance of being wise by seeking out counsel from his elders. This is what they told him:
2 Chronicles 10:7 "If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever."
The Yes-Men’s Advice
But no matter how wise their counsel is, he doesn’t like it and so he seeks out people who agree with him – his buddies from childhood. And they say what they know he wants to hear. “Don’t listen to this people’s requests – make them learn to respect you.” Tell them:
2 Chronicles 10:11 ’Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’"
That sounded a lot more like the power trip Rehoboam wanted.