July 29, 2023
“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt went to war against Jerusalem. He seized the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the treasuries of the royal palace.”
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“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt went to war against Jerusalem. He seized the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the treasuries of the royal palace. He took everything. He took all the gold shields that Solomon had made. King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place and committed them to the care of the captains of the royal escorts who guarded the entrance to the king’s palace. Whenever the king entered the Lord’s Temple, the royal escorts would carry the shields, then they would take them back to the royal escorts’ armory.” 1 Kings 14:25-28 (HCSB)
In 1973, a church in North Hollywood, California, became highly concerned about end-times scenarios. The church had 2000 members and a property estimated at around $1.5 million. This church held the “pre-tribulation” opinion of Jesus’ second coming. That is, they believed the first “installment” of the Messiah’s return consists of Jesus taking His people out of this world (aka the rapture) before the prophesied period of “great tribulation” begins. Nothing wrong with that, but then it got weird.
The leadership of the church (pastors, officers) assumed that most/all of their group would be raptured but apparently did not entertain such high hopes for others. They worried about how the remaining members would keep the property going should the rapture occur. Solution: They changed the church bylaws to allow those “left behind” to elect a temporary chairman, who would then call a church council to elect new corporate officers. I know it is bizarre, but it’s also absurd. Keep a church going without any believers? Maintain an empty image while there remains no substantial reality?
That sounds something like a kingdom where soldiers strut around with bronze shields but have abandoned faithful worship. Rehoboam’s reign, then, foreshadows the judgment that will come upon Judah.
The “divided kingdom” is a depressing story from the very start. Verses 22-24 tell it all:
“Judah did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. They provoked Him to jealous anger more than all that their ancestors had done with the sins they committed. They also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every green tree; there were even male cult prostitutes in the land. They imitated all the detestable practices of the nations of the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites.”
1 Kings 14:22-24
Immediately after these three depressing verses, Shishak, king of Egypt, marched against Jerusalem. It may be that Shishak did not actually assault Jerusalem but that Rehoboam bought him off with all their valuables. In any case, it hurts seeing all the glittery glory of the previous era being carted off to Egypt.
Lesson: You can shun the Lord if you like, but you must remember that no matter how important and powerful you may feel today, God has “Egyptian Pharaohs” – and a whole slew of other subordinates – at His beck and call. The Giver can also take away. (Job 1:21)