Summary: Division occurs when there is too much me and not enough we
On June 16, 1858 Abraham Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech at the Illinois state capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Although Lincoln ended up losing his bid to unseat Senator Stephen A. Douglas, that speech would become, along with the Gettysburg Address, one of the best-known speeches of his political career. The speech gets its title from the best-known part of the speech where Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”, paraphrasing the words of Jesus.
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend certainly remind us that the words of Jesus and of Lincoln are still true today. Before I go any further, let me say unequivocally that the racism and hate spewed by the white nationalists and supremacists and Nazi groups, is 100% wrong and any attempt to justify those ideas through the use of Scriptures is from the devil himself. The Bible is clear that God created all men in His image and any attempt to disparage anyone on the basis of race is a direct affront to the God who created them. Period.
Unfortunately the kind of violence that we saw there that resulted in three deaths and numerous serious injuries, is nothing new. In fact, it seems to be more and more the norm and not just an anomaly. And it reveals that there is a more fundamental divide in our country that goes much deeper than just race issues that threatens to destroy our nation from within. As much as I’m concerned about North Korea and Iran, I’m frankly much more concerned about this internal division because history teaches us that most of the great powers throughout history tend to collapse from within rather than be conquered from without, which is the point that both Jesus and Lincoln made.
We’re going to see that clearly in the passage that we’ll be studying together this morning.
Before I proceed, I need to share a couple of things that will be helpful as you listen this morning.
While most of the message you’ll hear this morning is the message that I completed by Thursday morning, according to my usual schedule, during my time with God on Friday morning, I was convinced that I needed to make some fairly significant changes. So the outline in your bulletin may not line up exactly with the message and you may want to make some of your own notes.
Also, for the kids who are following along on your clipboards, there are not a lot of blanks that you’ll be able to fill in by just looking at the screen. Therefore, I’ve given you a few questions to answer that will require you to listen carefully. So parents and kids, I’m going to give you a minute to look over those questions right now to make it easier to listen to the answers.
Last week we left off with the account of King Solomon’s final days. And that was certainly a sad story because Solomon, who had started out so well, didn’t finish well at all. So God reveals to Solomon that He is going to take the kingdom away from his heirs and give it to another. But in His grace and mercy, He promises that Solomon’s son will remain king over a small portion of the entire commonwealth of Israel.
This morning, we’ll look at the very next chapter – 1 Kings 12 – and in that account of two kings who play an integral part in the division of Israel we’ll see that they both exhibit some of the very same character traits that are leading to a lot of the division in our country today. And the main idea that we’ll take away from that passage is…
Division occurs when
there is too much me and not enough we
[Read 1 Kings 12:1-15]
Since Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, we would expect that he would have had hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of sons who would be possible heirs to the throne. But the Bible actually only names one son –Rehoboam, who is the main figure in the first part of this chapter.
We’re also introduced here to the other king who will be the primary focus in the last part of the chapter – Jeroboam. Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim and had been in charge of forced labor during the reign of King Solomon. Near the end of 1 Kings 11, we learn that God sent a prophet named Ahijah to Jeroboam to tell him that God was going to make him king over the ten northern tribes. When Solomon found out about that, he tried to have Jeroboam killed, so Jeroboam fled to Egypt. But once Solomon died, he returned to Shechem, where the people had gathered to install Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, as king.