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Let’s pray. Gracious heavenly Father, help us now as we come to Your Word. Give us ears to hear, a mind to understand, a heart to feel, and a will to obey. Make us wise unto salvation, for Jesus’ sake and for ours, we pray. Amen.
We begin a new series this Sunday morning. We will come back to John, Lord willing, in the fall, but we are launching into the summer series which I will begin and then in a few weeks, as I move into full-time study leave and Ph.D. writing, you will have a few guest preachers and then our own pastoral staff to preach through this service before I come back at the end, second half of August.
So we turn in our Bibles to 2 Chronicles this morning, 2 Chronicles, chapter 10. We’re actually looking at three full chapters. I won’t read the chapters, but we’ll work our way through them. Let me try to orient you where we are in this new series. The series is on the kings of Judah. We have two accounts of the kings of Judah, one in the Book of Kings, and then here we’re taking it from Chronicles.
Here’s the thumbnail sketch of Israel’s history. Around 2000 B.C. you have Abraham and the patriarchs, then the 1400s you have Moses leading the children of Israel in the exodus. Later, toward the end of that century, Joshua will lead them into the Promised Land, and the judges will reign, some of them with overlapping reigns in Israel, until about 1050 B.C., at which time Saul is the first king, the first king over the united monarchy, from 1050 to roughly 1011 B.C. He reigned for 40 years and then King David for 40 years, and then King Solomon for 40 years. Which brings us to 931 B.C., at which time we have the division of the kingdom, with Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Israel will last until 722 B.C. when they are overtaken by the Assyrians, and the southern kingdom in Judah will last a bit longer, to 586 or 587, until they are carried off into captivity in Babylon.
So if you could see this timeline of Israel’s history, there would be a star with an arrow saying “you are here,” and the “you are here” is 931 B.C. as the united kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon is now splintering into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, and we are going to look at the first of those kings of Judah, and then trace throughout these summer months.
If that timeline sort of gets lost in your head, and I know the dates tend to just sort of crowd up our already crowded brains, I often think of the history of the Old Testament in four high-water marks: Abraham, Moses, David, Babylon. Abraham, roughly 2000 B.C.; Moses, right around 1500, or to 14, but just roughly 1500; David around 1000 B.C.; and Babylon in the 500s. So very easy: 2000, 1500, 1000, 500; Abraham, Moses, David, Babylon. If you can just remember those four things and those 500 year, at least when you’re reading your Bible you’ll be within, you know, a few centuries or so.
What do we have here in 2 Chronicles? We don’t know who the author is, but he is writing sometime in the post exilic period after the decree of Cyrus. I know you’re at chapter 10, but keep your finger there and turn over to the very end of the book, chapter 36. This is how we can approximate a date for 2 Chronicles. You see the very end there, verse 22, the last chapter, 36. “Now in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia, that the Word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, King of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put in writing ‘thus says Cyrus, King of Persia, the Lord, the God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all His people, may the Lord, his God, be with him. Let him go up.”
So this is several centuries into the future when King Cyrus is over Persia. Now that’s important because God’s people at the end there are in exile in Babylon. Because of their disobedience, they have been shipped off north and east to Babylon. And we come to the end there and it’s the release, sending back the captives. King Cyrus says I’m going to go and I’m going to repopulate these lands that I’ve conquered, you can go back to your homeland, and so you can be a happy, subjugated people. I’ll even build you a temple for your God.
So the chronicler is writing around the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, with the return of the exiles. That’s important because it means Chronicles is written for this post-exile community. And the post-exile community was asking questions like “how did this happen? How do we get back under God’s blessing? Is the covenant over? Is God still interested in us?”
Think about it. If you were God’s chosen people and you had the prophets and the patriarchs and you had this grand temple and you were, for a few years there under David and Solomon, you were the top dog in the area, and then you’ve now fallen so far off the map, literally off the map, you’re off in Babylon, you’d be saying “what? I, I thought God loved us. I thought He was with us. Does He still have a plan for us?”
Maybe some of you are asking that question, either because you feel like God’s angry at your sin or perhaps just the circumstances in your life. You think this is not where I thought I would be.
They didn’t think they would be in Babylon, and now as they return home, they’re wondering what does life look like with this God who was so angry He sent us to Babylon, and now we’re coming home?
There are three main sections in 1 and 2 Chronicles. In 1 Chronicles 1 through 9, we have a number of genealogies, and genealogies seem very boring to us. Why does the Bible have so many genealogies? But genealogies are always profoundly theological. Think about it. If you were a people in exile, coming back to the promised land, the genealogy would tell you yes, we still are God’s people. We still belong to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That’s our family. We still have a lineage, we still have a past, and if we have a past, maybe we have a future.
And then the second big theme is in 1 Chronicles 10 through 2 Chronicles 9, and this is where we have the detail of the united monarchy. Compared with the account in Samuel and in Kings, Chronicles presents David and Solomon without as many of their warts. The picture is one of a glorious, blessed conquering people under the reign of David and Solomon. This is when Israel reached its high point politically, militarily, territorially, and spiritually. Chronicles is presenting sort of the “good old days.”
But it’s more than just a picture of “hey, remember how good those good old days was?” It’s more than that. It is at the same time meant to be a hopeful gaze looking to the future. That, that there’s a messianic hope, because they understood that David, the promise to David, was he would never fail to have a son, a descendant of his, to sit on the throne in Israel. And now they’ve been without a descendant of David, they’ve been without a throne of David. And so they’re meant to look back to the reign of David and Solomon and say “those were the golden years,” and more than that: Maybe God hasn’t forgotten about this messianic promise.
And that brings us to the third main section, and that’s where we begin this morning, in chapter 10 through the end of 2 Chronicles. Here we have the divided kingdom. The chronicler chooses his material, puts it together in such a way, as to answer these two questions: How did this happen that we got into Babylon? And that answer’s relatively easy: You got to Babylon because you were full of idolatry, disobedience, and disregard for God’s law. That’s the first issue. How did this happen?
And then the second question: How do we get back under God’s blessing? And the answer to that is actually clear as well. The answer is the answer that God always gives His people: Humble yourselves, repent, and believe in the promise. The covenant stipulations under Moses were clear, that there would be blessing for an obedient, faithful people and there would be disobedience, culminating in expulsion from the land for disobedience.
Turn a few pages back to 2 Chronicles chapter 7. Let me show you this. Look at verse 19, 2 Chronicles 7:19. “But if you turn aside and forsake My statutes and My commandments that I have set before you and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from My land that I have given you and this house that I have consecrated for My name, I will cast it out of My sight and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And if this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say ‘why has the Lord done this, to this land, and to his house?,’ then they will say ‘because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who brought them out of the land of Egypt.'”
So that’s the answer to that first “okay, why did this happen? How did we end up in Babylon?” It’s right there in chapter 7: This happened because you were a stubborn, stiff-necked people.
Well, how then, second question, can we, we be in God’s favor again? How can we know the blessing of God again?
Well, look up at verse 14. This is a verse that most of you know. It’s a verse on bumper stickers, it’s a verse on postcards. It’s actually not a verse that is a promise to the United States of America. It is a promise to God’s covenant people, many of whom live in the United States of America, but the two are not identical.
“If My people, who are called by My name,” so “by My name,” not, not talking about a territorial nation but those “called by My name,” “humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
This is how you got into the mess, your sin. Here’s how you get out of the mess, your repentance.
It’s not a formula that if you obey, your life has no problems and when you repent God does everything you want. That was never the history of God’s people. But it is, on a macro-spiritual level, what God wants to teach us again and again through these kings of Judah.
So let’s look at the first king of Judah, Rehoboam. Chapter 10.
“Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.’ He said to them, ‘Come to me again in three days.’ So the people went away.”
You understand what’s happening: The kingdom is split with Jeroboam taking off to the north, we’re going to see more of that, and Rehoboam here with Judah, and the people come to them, and they say “look, your father Solomon, he had, he had a lot of infrastructure projects and he built a lot of things and because of that we were heavily taxed, we had heavy burdens, we had forced labor, we had little decision-making power.” And so some of the men, some of the leaders come and say “look Rehoboam, if you want, if you want your kingship to go well, could you just, just ease up a little bit. Just a little bit lighter load. We, we, we knew they are golden days with Solomon, but it was hard for us, so you could you think about that, and just loosen up, maybe, you know, a platform of lower taxes. Okay? That would be nice. Less forced labor.”
So Solomon say, or Rehoboam says, “okay, let me think about that.” And you know what Rehoboam does, some of you. He asks all the wrong people for advice.
Verse 6, he starts with the right people: “King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be good to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
Good advice. “Hey, Solomon was a hard guy in some ways. If you just lighten up, they are going to love you, Rehoboam!”
“But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men, who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, ‘What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’? And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, ‘Thus shall you speak to the people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs.'”
It’s a euphemism. It’s actually even a little nastier than that. Speaking of his father’s thighs or other places, that’s in the Bible. It’s not a pretty picture. He says “okay, you thought that my father was a bigshot, you’re a bigger shot.”
“And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”
Not good advice.
Listen, I need to say these things as long as I still in some people’s mind count as a young person. I’m 40, I’m old, older than some, but I’m still, you know, still usually count, even though I just got a driver’s license and you have to hair color? Hmm, sand, dirty blond [laughter], silver. The Bible talks about hoary hairs, so this is a crown of age.
Here’s what I want to say: As long as I’m still somewhat young, young people are often very dumb. [laughter]. And we live, unfortunately, in a country that says if a lot of old people think it, don’t do it. If everyone under the age of 25 likes it, do that. That is not good biblical wisdom.
Advertisers. What do they want? They want to follow the, that 18 to 25, or that 25 to 34-year-old demographic. What is everyone just absolutely gaga about? Okay, we got to figure out millennials, or Gen Z, or some generation “I” because they grew up on iPads, whatever they are. The next generation, it’s always that younger generation. That’s how we do things in the United States.
When we hear older people, most of us are trained to think “huh, that’s interesting, maybe they’re kind of sweet, cute, what do they, they probably don’t really know things.”
The Bible would have us think with the exact opposite inclination. Now, of course we know, Paul told Timothy “don’t let people look down on you because you’re young.” Old people can get things wrong as well and we know that. But the inclination, instead of thinking “well, these people are old, probably don’t need to listen to that,” our inclination ought to be “especially if they’re Christians, they’ve been following the Lord longer, they’ve seen more of life, they’ve had more suffering, they’ve been through more trials, perhaps there is something there that we ought to listen to.”
Rehoboam says, okay, the old men come and say “look, we’ve been through this road, if you just lighten it up, it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be sweet for you.” He says “okay, I’ll take that into consideration.” And know what he gets around him? He does what a lot of us do, of any age. We get “yes” men.
You notice two times it said those “who had grown up with him.” He’s getting his friends, “hey friends, hey other young dumb people, what do you think?”
This happens. Okay, when, happens with teenagers, it happens with, with, you know, 20-year-olds. You think “okay, well, everyone older thinks that I’m making a lot of horrible mistakes in life, but you know what? All the other 18-year-olds in my life, they think it’s brilliant!” Well, of course they do, they’re your friends, and they’re 18.
So Rehoboam says “old men, ah-ah-ah, young guys, you’re right. I am gonna, my father had whips, I have scorpions. My little finger is thicker than his thigh. I am not going to lighten this load.”
Then look at verse 15. So Rehoboam gives that message to them, and then verse 15: “The king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that the Lord might fulfill His Word, which he spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.”
The Lord’s plan was to discipline His people.
It’s very hard, it’s very hard, to sort of read the political tea leaves. Do you get that governor? Do you get that congress? Do you get that president? Because God wants to bless you or because He wants to curse you? Because He’s pleased with you or because He wants to test you? We know that God’s in charge of it all. We can’t always tell why He’s doing what He’s doing. In this case, it was a turn of affairs brought about by God that Rehoboam would spurn the good advice of the old men and he would go off with his young and ne’er do well friends, and make this fateful decision.
And so look at the end of the chapter, verse 19. The result is that the people rebel. Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. They said in verse 16 “what portion have we in David? Each of you to your tents, O Israel!” So when they get the news from Rehoboam, they say enough with this. We have civil war, we’ll split. North/south, Israel will be in the north under King Jeroboam, and Judah in the south under King Rehoboam. We now have Israelites living in Israel and Israelites living in Judah, because of Rehoboam’s folly.
Look at chapter 11. Throughout Chronicles we find that the kings are presented a bit more favorably in Chronicles than they are in Kings, and so it is with Rehoboam. It’s not an entirely negative picture. Look what happens in chapter 11: “When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled the house of Judah and Benjamin, 180,000 chosen warriors, to fight against Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam, but the Word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God: ‘Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, ‘Thus says the Lord, you shall not go up or fight against your relatives. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me.’ So they listened to the Word of the Lord and returned and did not go again Jeroboam.”
That’s the first right thing that Rehoboam has done. He says the kingdom split, I’ve got to marshal my forces, I’m going up, I’m going to fight against my own kinsmen. And a Word of the Lord comes and he says, no, don’t do it. This thing is from the Lord. This was the Lord’s doing. This is the Lord’s will that you be split apart, so don’t go and fight, and they don’t. They return. This is a turning point.
Now sadly, it won’t be the end of the story, but it is a turning point for Rehoboam, that they listened to the Word of the Lord. They did not go against him.
In Chronicles, we have a fully picture of Rehoboam. He does not come across as universally bad as he does in Kings. He is, like every human being, a complex character. He is not a cartoon character.
You know when you watch cartoons, I mean real simple kids’ cartoons, the characters are one-dimensional. And you can tell the good people because they have light bouncy music in a major key when they come in and they have, you know, square chin and, you know, high cheek bones, and they look, and then you can tell the bad people because they’re very pointy and angular and their eyebrows go down at a sharp pitch, like this, and they cackle, heheheh, you know, they do those sort of, they’re always doing this with their… You can just tell who’s bad. They’re cartoons. The good people are good all the, and the bad people are just positively bad, nothing but maniacal malevolence.
That’s not real people. Real people are complicated, and the good people aren’t always that good and the bad people sometimes have some good spots that we don’t like to see. Our heroes have clay feet and they make sometimes horrible mistakes and the bad people sometimes manage to have a few things right and do a few things successful, and we don’t write off the bad stuff with the good people and we don’t just ignore the good stuff that might be there with some of the bad people.
And so we see here that there’s good things that happen under Rehoboam. Look at verse 5: “He lived in Jerusalem, he built cities for defense in Judah.” It lists a number of cities in verses 6, 7, 8, 9. Verse 11, he built the fortresses strong, put commanders in them, stores of food, oil, and wine. He put shields and spears in all the cities. He made them very strong. So he held Judah and Benjamin.
So the point that he was obedient, God’s people were blessed. He’s building up cities, he’s strengthening their defense budget, he’s giving them good military prowess, they have shields and spears and they have food stored away for a siege or for hard times, so God is giving strength.
You may have noticed my sermon title; I was kind of proud of it. Rehoboam’s folly, and then his fortresses, and finally in a moment, his futility. And those are really the three acts of his life. Chapter 10 is his folly in not listening to the older men, chapter 11 are his fortresses, the strength, the temporary strength and faithfulness.
Look at verses 16 and 17: “And those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their fathers. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.”
Remember this is written to the exiles returning. How do we enjoy the Lord’s favor? And here’s the answer we’ll see again and again: Walk in His ways. So for three years they did it. For three years they said we’re going to follow the ways of David, and the ways of Solomon, to the degree that he followed the Lord. We are going to walk in those right paths. And as they did, there was blessing.
Now you need to understand that this is not prosperity gospel. This is not God as a vending machine; I put in a little prayer or I put in some obedience and the Snickers comes down and now I get, I get blessings out. You know, I give my seed money and, and I get rich. That’s not what is happening. You have to remember that these blessings are general, they are national, and they are covenantal. So they’re covenantal, they have to do with people who are in covenant with God, under the Mosaic dispensation; they are national, so they come upon the nation; and they are general, or generic. Certainly, even in these strong years, under David or Solomon, it’s not as if people didn’t have children who died. It’s not as if there weren’t women who were infertile. It’s not as if they didn’t ever have a military skirmish that didn’t go… There were certainly any number of tragedies in individual lives, people’s live were still filled with pain and hardship. But on a national, covenantal, general level, when God’s people and God’s kings were obedient and faithful and humble and heartfelt, there was blessing.
And it is the same for us. Again, it’s not you do right and everything goes good for you, but it is in a general sense, there’s blessing for God’s people as we’re humble before Him. Now the blessing may not be what we want as blessings: Will I get a car? Will I get a nice house? Can I get a promotion? Can I get safety? And the government never does anything to me? There are better blessings than that. It’s the blessings of convergence, it’s the blessing of holiness and happiness, it’s the blessing of family and church life. Those promises are still are promises.
And so as Rehoboam and the people were faithful, they were blessed.
But then, we move to the last act, chapter 12. Look at verse 1: “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.”
If you have Bible that you feel comfortable underlining, would you underline that verse? If you brought your phone, then just put your finger over it. Do you see that? That verse has been played out in a million people in a thousand churches for hundreds of years. “When his rule was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law.” Rehoboam’s strength became his great weakness.
It happens. God gives blessing, He gives strength, so we’re, we’re not against those. We give thanks and we look out in this room and there are so many blessings. There is so much strength. All of us are rich, by the world’s standards, by even this country, we’re all rich. And some here, even by Mecklenburg County standards, are rich. Some of you are brilliant thinkers, some of you are superior athletes, amazing musicians, attractive people inside and out, gifted home/work/school, and we don’t look down on all of those. We’re thankful that God uses those, but here’s what you and I must be aware of: Your greatest strengths are your biggest dangers.
You want to be strong. I want to be strong. We want to be successful. Don’t I like it better, wouldn’t I like it better when attendance is going up in the church, if a budget going up, people are pleased? Yeah, those are good things. I’d be lying, any pastor would be lying if he said he doesn’t like those things. And yet I have to know my own heart and you have to know your own heart, well enough to know that when those things are going well is when you’re probably most spiritually vulnerable. When you’re most successful is when you may be closest to abandoning the Lord. We ought to be thankful that God hides some of our successes from us. We ought to be thankful He gives us, sometimes, budget crunches and family problems and enough illnesses and dissatisfactions and enough of our dreams not coming true so that He keeps us walking with the Lord.
Did you see that, there was a headline a week or so ago, the famous actor Anthony Hopkins, been in a lot of movies, and he was giving some sort of advice or words to people who are striving to be famous actors and actresses, and he’s been at the top of his profession, I don’t know if he’s 70s, 80s now, and he just said, “let me tell you,” I’m paraphrasing, “I’ve been to the top of the tree and there’s nothing there.” He’s not the first person to say that. I remember hearing Tom Brady after whatever Super Bowl ring he had saying “it doesn’t fill you up as much as you might think.”
When you are most successful is when, perhaps, you are at your greatest risk.
Rehoboam was strong, and when he was strong, he was helped, and when he was helped, he was unaware of his weakness and his need.
Piety often makes for a better life, it’s true. When you live God’s way, according to God’s word, generally things go better for you. That’s the example in Proverbs over and over again. Generally, when you do things God’s way, things go better for you. But here’s the danger: As things go better for you, you’re in more danger.
Here’s what John Wesley said: “I fear wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreed in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible in the nature of things for any period of revival to continue long, for religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality and these cannot but produce riches, but as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world and all its branches.” Very insightful. You see what he is saying: When people are really, genuinely converted spiritual people, they’re more responsible, they’re more fruitful, they work hard. They, they keep their sexual organs in check. They do all sorts of things, and things tend to go better for us.
And then he says as they go better for you, then those people get riches, and then when they rich, they get complacent, and they begin to think that these things are somehow our right or somehow I got these things because I just worked hard for them.
You remember what the Lord said, to the people in Deuteronomy? Someday you’re going to get into the Promised Land and I’m telling you, don’t forget when you get there, that I gave you those things, I gave you those homes, I gave you those crops, because you’re going to get it, you’re going to enjoy it, and you’re going to sit back and you’re going to say “look at what I did for myself.” Don’t believe they hype, especially your own hype.
Look what happens back in 2 Chronicles: “In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people were without number who came with him from Egypt—Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians. He took the fortified cities of Judah, as far as Jerusalem. Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them,” listen to this, “‘Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’”
Yes, we believe in the perseverance of the saints, but we also believe the Bible teaches that if you are an enemy of God, God will be your enemy. And the most serious warnings in the Old and the New Testament, the most serious warnings are for those who have known something of the taste of spiritual things and have then turned their back on God. Not genuinely converted, not genuinely justified, but those who have had, who have had some taste of those things. People like you, your kids, your grandkids. Some acquaintance with all the privileges of God’s people, and you get a little bit of it just to be inoculated against the real thing.
Well, Rehoboam will humble himself in verse 6 for a time, and so the Lord in verse 7 will relent, and he says one of these glass half-full/half-empty promises in verse 12: “When he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him so as not to make a complete destruction.”
So the Lord said “okay, I won’t do everything I was going to do, not in your day,” but the overall report card for Rehoboam was not good. We see it there in verse 14: “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord. Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the chronicles of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer? There were continual wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David, and Abijah his son reigned in his place.”
We’ll see this over and over again. One of the best ways to learn about the kings and to learn the lessons that God wants for us from the kings, is to look at their end, to look at their obituary, to look at their epitaph.
You know those famous sort of one-sentence summary of someone’s life. I came across one one time, one man’s epitaph said, “He looked up the shaft to see if the elevator was coming down. It was.” I think the epitaph for the voice of Porky Pig was, “That’s all, folks.” So hopefully you can get something a little better than that.
And hopefully better than Rehoboam. He did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
We use the word “seeker” in a different way, talk about well, that person’s a seeker, some churches have seeker-sensitive services, they’re thinking of people who aren’t Christians who are interested, they’re seeking. That’s not what “seek” here means. “Seek” is a key word in Chronicles. Remember, we saw it up in chapter 11, verse 16: Those who had their hearts to see the Lord came after them from all the tribes.
In Chronicles, to be a seeker of the Lord is to describe an attitude of obedience and piety and an appetite for the law of God. Seeking is the opposite of abandoning. They abandoned the Lord in chapter 12, they had been seeking after the Lord in chapter 11. It’s the same as walking in God’s ways or fearing the Lord or as Jesus would call it, striving to enter the narrow gate. Even though he had some good moments, he could have a humble heart at times, overall Rehoboam failed, and his reign was one of futility because he did not consider worshiping God and obeying God to be something worth working at. He did not hunger and thirst after righteousness and so he was left empty.
It’s true that all of you are looking for something. You’re, you’re looking for something. When, when we hire people, or you hire people in your business, one of the ways you describe hiring sometimes is “what are we paying that person to wake up in the morning to be thinking about?” So you want me to be waking up thinking about, toward the top of the list, 2 Chronicles 10 through 12 or the Canons of Dort. What, what am I seeking for this day, seeking this week?
Well, that’s true not just in a job, that’s true for life. You wake up in the morning, you’re, you’re looking for something. Some of us, we’re just, we’re looking for a nap, that’s the main thing, please. That’s okay, you have days like that. You have times like that; it’s called parenting. Some of you are looking for bigger things, good things. Sometimes the good things aren’t the best things, and when the good things become the ultimate things, there’s a word for that: Idolatry.
There’s only one thing that’s the ultimate thing. There’s only one God who is the real God, and that’s the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you wake up in the morning thinking about Him? Looking toward Him? Searching for Him? Seeking for Him? Let me put it this way: Are you a seeker or are you a sitter? There’s lots of sitters in this country. I mean people who have their membership on a church roll somewhere and their Christian commitment is basically an exercise in sitting. They sit in a pew once a week, eh, probably not even once a one week, maybe once a month. And they sit and they sit and they hope for a short service and they hope that maybe there’s something funny and they hope that they can get home and that the food will be good. They’re sitters. I’m not interested in more sitters. Never been interested in just sitters.
Are you a seeker? Is your Christianity amount to anything more than I go and I sit and endure a religious service once in a while. Why waste your time with that? You’ve got better things to do, you’ve got better places you can sit, there are more enjoyable speakers you can hear.
But are you a seeker? Are you one of these whose hearts like the man in chapter 11 was set to seek after God in obedience, in piety, in faith, and an appetite for God, saying O God, you are my God? Earnestly I seek You.
I hope that you and I will avoid Rehoboam’s folly and futility. God is calling. Will you set your heart to seek the Lord?
Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, would you make of us seekers, men, women, children after Your own heart who follow You, who love You, who go through each day thinking not simply how to be entertained, how to get money, how to even survive, but how we might know You more, how we might serve You more, how we might receive from Your hands more and more grace, and whatever troubles come our way, may we always follow hard after you. In Christ we pray. Amen.