Welcome Back to the Bible Blog!
Yes, it is always about the heart. That’s where we left off last week and where we’ll continue this week. In fact, at the risk of being redundant, we could make this our topic every week, as God has always been most concerned about our hearts.
So this week we pick up at 1Kings 10 where we meet the Queen of Sheba. She has heard of the wisdom and greatness of King Solomon, but she wants to see for herself if the reports are true. She comes with a great company of officials and more spices than have ever (before or since) been presented to a king of Israel. We read that she came prepared with hard questions to test him. However, Solomon is not stumped by even one, as we read, “And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.” (1Kings 10:3) When she heard his answers and witnessed the greatness of his kingdom, “there was no more breath in her.” She was breathless! He took her breath away!
I wish we were told what her questions were and what his answers were. Don’t you?
Unfortunately, after a brief description of Solomon’s great wealth (the end of chapter 10) we read in chapter 11 that he turns away from the Lord. Even though the Law was clear that the Israelites were not to inter-marry with their foreign neighbors, Solomon married foreign wives from seemingly every surrounding nation. In fact, he had a total of 700 wives! And 300 concubines!! The reason God told the Israelites not to marry foreign wives was because they would lead their husbands away from worshiping the One True God! They would lead them to worship foreign gods, which Solomon did, even building temples to them in Israel! In other words, their hearts would turn away from God!
Just as David’s great sin against Uriah the Hittite resulted in an ugly division in his family, Solomon’s great sin in turning away from the God of Israel resulted in an ugly division in the kingdom itself. However for David’s sake, this tearing of the kingdom in two would not happen in Solomon’s day, but in the days of his son (1Kings 11:11-12) Rehoboam.
We quickly see the foolishness of Rehoboam in chapter 12 as the kingdom is torn in two and the 10 northern tribes (often referred to as Israel) follow after Jeroboam as their King and only Judah remains as the southern kingdom. The same conditional promises are made to Jeroboam as they were to David and Solomon. If he will follow after God with all his heart and will walk in His ways, God will bless him abundantly and be with him always.
Unfortunately, Jeroboam does not follow after God with his whole heart. Not even close…
And thus begins the unruly divide between the two kingdoms (they were often at war against each other). The northern kingdom (Israel) led by Jeroboam and the southern kingdom (Judah) led by Rehoboam… these two will exhibit a pattern of kings who fail to follow after God with their whole hearts, more so the northern kingdom than the southern kingdom at first. So let’s start with Judah, the southern kingdom:
The Kings of Judah (the southern kingdom)
Rehoboam, son of Solomon, reigns 17 years ……….. (Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord – 1Kings 14:22)
Abijam, son of Rehoboam, reigns 3 years …………. (his heart was not wholly true to the Lord – 1Kings 15:3)
Asa, son of Abijam, reigns 41 years ………… (did what was right in the eyes of the Lord – 1Kings 15:11)
Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, reigns 25 years …….. (like Asa, did right in the sight of the Lord – 1Kings 22:43)
The Kings of Israel (the northern kingdom)
Jeroboam, son of Nebat, reigns 22 years ….. (more evil above all who had gone before him – 1Kings 14:9)
Nadab, son of Jeroboam, reigns 2 years …… (he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord – 1Kings 15:26)
Baasha, son of Ahijah, reigns 24 years ……… (he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord – 1Kings 15:34)
Elah, son of Baasha, reigns 2 years ………………….. (murdered by Zimri while getting drunk – 1Kings 16:9-10)
Zimri, reigns 7 days! …………………………… (commits suicide, evil in the sight of the Lord – 1Kings 16:18-19)
Omri, reigns 12 years ……….. (father of Ahab, did more evil than all who were before him – 1Kings 16:25)
Ahab, son of Omri, reigns 22 years – (marries Jezebel, even more evil than his father! – 1Kings 16:30)
Ahaziah, son of Ahab, reigns 2 years ……………………………. (evil, like his father & mother – 1Kings 22:52)
Look at that!! Four kings of Judah, only two of them are evil, while two are following God with their whole heart. At the same time, the northern kingdom, Israel, goes through eight kings, not one of them good! AND WE’RE NOT EVEN INTO 2KINGS YET!!!
Despite the wickedness of the northern kings, especially Ahab, we still see God’s mercy and grace throughout. See especially when He sides with Ahab against Syria (1Kings 20) and even responds with mercy to Ahab’s repentances (1Kings 21).
Would you be so forgiving?!?! Should you be? Hmm…
The episode with King Ahab and Queen Jezebel introduces us to the most famous of all the prophets, Elijah. These classic confrontations are filled with drama, comedy (sarcasm and ridicule), bravery and fear. They show us great moments of faithfulness and great moments of desperation. My favorite part of the confrontation with the priests of Baal is the clear message…
There is no god, but our God!!
The life of Elijah leads us into 2Kings where we meet his successor Elisha, the pride of bald men everywhere! These two great prophets of the Lord demonstrate they are His spokesmen through great miracles and wonders (splitting the river to walk through on dry ground) and by raising two children from the dead (one for each of them). Much of the ministry and miracles we see in these two men we will see again when Jesus comes on the scene 800-900 years later. Actually, Jesus is already here in these stories. Did you notice the reference to Him?… The Angel of the Lord! (1Kings 19:7; 2Kings 1:3,15)
What your thoughts or questions this week?
Let’s here from you! Comment below…
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