Welcome back, sojourners! This week we’re learning of Israel’s birth via God’s covenant given through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yesterday we studied brief details about two of Jacob’s sons, Judah and Joseph. Bible students will recall that Joseph was sold into slavery to Egypt in order to one day rescue his people from the Egyptians! Later, Moses led the 12 tribes of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, and his successor, Joshua, led them into the land.
Oddly, despite God’s presence with the wandering Israelites and His promise to be their king, they wanted an earthly king like everyone else. Thus, God gave them their wish and Saul became the first king of Israel. King David followed, and then his son, Solomon. It didn’t take long, though, for those 12 tribes to forget all the Lord had done to bring them out of Egypt and plant them in the Promised Land.
Following Solomon’s death, his son was heir apparent to the throne. However, disagreements abounded regarding the way Israel was being ruled and soon the kingdom split.
A quick peek at the diagram “Kings and Prophets” provides a visual of the Divided Kingdom era. The southern kingdom, called Judah, had a total of 19 kings, only 8 of whom were good, righteous kings. The northern kingdom, called Israel, was ruled by a secession of 16 evil kings. Not a good king to be found!
As mentioned, Solomon’s son was heir apparent to the throne, so he became ruler of one of the two kingdoms. According to 1 Kings 12:1-6, the Southern Kingdom was ruled by Rehoboam and the Northern Kingdom was ruled by Jeroboam. According to Deuteronomy 17:18-20, kings were to write and read a copy of the law (Scripture) in order to fear the Lord. However, Jeroboam and Rehoboam both failed to do that. As a result of their disobedience, the people revolted and the kingdom split.
Let’s examine the northern kingdom. Read 1 Kings 12:25-33. According to verses 26, what was Jeroboam’s goal?
Right goal, wrong motives and actions. Jeroboam feared losing power and that led him to build a worship center in Shechem. He allowed the worship of golden calves and instituted feasts and sacrifices.
This is an extremely critical point in the history of Israel, as the people were turned away from the reign and dynasty of David, whom God had chosen; and the kingdom was split. Neither Rehoboam nor Jeroboam took heed to God’s promise in 1 Kings 11:38. Thus, both kingdoms were severely weakened, there was no unity, and both were vulnerable to attack from outsiders. Soon they were led into captivity.
But, amazingly, God raised up “captivity prophets” to whom He revealed amazing details of end times.
Israel was birthed through God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Israel’s captivity resulted because of the Israelites’ falling away from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and turning to worldly kings and even idol worship. Assyria and Babylon eventually came calling and took the Northern and Southern Kingdoms captive.
Tomorrow we will be introduced to Ezekiel, one of those “captivity” prophets to whom God revealed a vision of Israel’s re-birth. There are huge nuggets of gold in tomorrow’s study, so you don’t want to miss it. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem then come back again tomorrow! See you then!