The Bible records for us a tale of two kings, Rehoboam and Jehoshaphat. Rehoboam was Solomon’s son, but the scripture tells us that
When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord. And it came about in king Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up out of Egypt against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people who came against him from Egypt were without number: the Lubim, the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians. He captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘you have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak.’”(II Chron.12:1-5).
It is essential to understand the progression here. Israel rejected the law of God; Israel was invaded. The Bible plainly connects these two events; their proximity is not co-incidental. The Biblical principle of sowing and reaping was clearly at work in Israel: “And it came about in king Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, that Shishak king of Egypt came up out of Egypt against Jerusalem” (v.2-3).
God had earlier told Israel through Moses that this is what would happen to them, if they turned away from Him. He said that
…if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you…the Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies… (Deut.28:15, 25).
The scripture tells us that Rehoboam “…did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord” (II Chron.12:14). God’s commentary on what had happened to Israel was this: “…they will become his [Shishak’s] slaves so that they will learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries” (II Chron.12:8).
Is there a similarity between the experience of Judah under Rehoboam, and the world of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? The implementation of political atheism (such as communism, fascism, feminism and environmentalism) hostile to God and the family, constant wars (including the First and Second World Wars), the incessant abuse by governments of their people leading to genocide, murders and enslavement of peoples on a scale never seen before in history, manipulation of national economies by governments for short-term political gain, leading to economic catastrophies such as the Great Depression, unprecedented rates of taxation, along with a host of other evils.
The lesson? When people and nations turn from God, they run into bondage.
Judah’s experience under Rehoboam can be contrasted with her experience under Jehoshaphat, located in II Chronicles 17. Jehoshaphat:
- … followed the example of his father David’s earlier days (v.3).
- [He]…sought the God of his father…[and] followed His commandments, and did not act as Israel did (v.4).
- The Lord established his kingdom in his control (v.5).
- He sent his officials… to teach (v.7).
- They taught in Judah, having the book of the law of the Lord with them (v.9).
- Now the dread of the Lord was on all the kingdoms of the lands which were around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat, and they brought gifts and silver as tribute to Jehoshaphat (v.10-11).
- Jehoshaphat grew greater and greater, and he built fortresses and store cities in Judah. He had large supplies in the cities of Judah, and warriors, valiant men, in Jerusalem (v.12-13).
Jehoshaphat was receiving the promise given by the Lord, in Joshua 1:8.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
North’s commentary here is instructive:
Whenever men remain covenantally faithful through obedience to God’s Bible-revealed laws, social progress is not only possible, it is assured.
Jesus Christ made us this enduring promise:
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Mat.11:28-30).
* God identified the rejection of His law (antinomianism), as the rejection of Himself: “Thus says the Lord, ‘You have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak’” (II Chron.12:5).
* The solution for national apostasy at any time is repentance, and a wholehearted turning to God, including His law, beginning amongst God’s people (II Chron.7:14).
*The Ten Commandments as the only legitimate basis for all law, must then be taught to the nations.
* Obeying God’s law is the key to a nation’s safety & security.
* Who will the church (and the nations) identify with: the rebel Rehoboam, or Jehoshaphat?
* Our choice is clear: God’s law, or chaos; God’s law, or tyranny; God’s law, or God’s judgment.