Fighting for the crown….

28 07 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR : 1 Kings 11 v. 14 – 12 v. 24; Acts 15 v. 22 – 41; Psalm 77 v. 10 – 20

1 KINGS
Solomon’s Adversaries – Because of Solomon’s disobedience, the last days of his wonderfully successful reign are marked by opposition. Firstly, God raises up Hadad the Edomite – Hadad had originally fled to Egypt during the battle David fought in Edom (when all the men of Edom were destroyed by Joab). Hadad had finished his growing years in Egypt, in the care of Pharaoh himself. Hadad is given Pharaoh’s own sister-in-law in marriage, and they had a son, Genubath. Hadad hears that David and Joab have both died, so decides to head back to Edom to reclaim his land.
God also raised up Rezon, son of Eliada, who had fled from the king of Zobah. He became the ringleader of a gang of rebels, who had fled into Damascus, taking control there. ‘Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile towards Israel.’

Jeroboam Rebels Against Solomon – Add to the list Nebat’s son Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials (and Ephraimite).
Solomon had built the terraces, and when he saw how well Jeroboam had worked on the task, he put him in charge of the whole work-force of Joseph’s clan.
Jeroboam met the prophet of Shiloh, Ahijah, on the way out of Jerusalem. Ahijah enacted a prophecy by tearing a brand new robe into twelve pieces. He told Jeroboam to take ten pieces for himself – the Lord says
‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. But for the sake of my servant David…he will have one tribe’. Ahijah confirms that this will happen because of Solomon’s disobedience in worshipping false gods. This will happen once Solomon has died – the kingdom will be taken from his son.
‘I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.’
The promise is that Jeroboam will become king over Israel….’if you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right…, I will be with you.’
Although Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, he didn’t succeed, and Jeroboam fled to Egypt until Solomon died.

Solomon’s Death – Just a brief mention of the ‘Book of the Annals of Solomon’ – a record of all the events of Solomon’s life – a reign of forty years. When he died, his son, Rehoboam briefly succeeded as king.

Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam – Rehoboam is on his way to Shechem, to be crowned king by all Israel, as Jeroboam returns from Egypt. He and the whole assembly of Israel go to Rehoboam and ask for a lighter touch than his father, Solomon, in the way they will be ruled. Rehoboam asks for some time to think it through – three days, and then he will answer.
Rehoboam asked his elders (who had served Solomon faithfully) – they encouraged him to grant the request – ‘give them a favourable answer and they will always be your servants’.
Rehoboam rejected the advice, and consulted with the young men who were serving him – they encouraged him to lay it on thicker – ‘My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions’.
Three days later, Rehoboam gives his considered reply, giving the‘harsh reply’.
If only Rehoboam had listened to the wise counsel of the elders. However, all Israel turns against him (fulfilling God’s word to Jeroboam through Ahihah), except those in Judah, where Rehoboam continued to rule.
King Rehoboam tried to reclaim the situation, sending Adoniram (in charge of forced labour) our – but he was stoned to death. Rehoboam retreated to Jerusalem. ‘All Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.’
All Israel makes Jeroboam their king (except Judah / the house of David).
Rehoboam tries to gather his troops to fight a war against Israel, to regain the kingdom, but God’s word came to him through Shemaiah – ‘Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’
So, they all head home….

All this is presented as the consequence of Solomon’s lack of wisdom towards the end of his life, allowing the worship of false gods to be promoted in the land – Rehoboam displays a lack of wisdom in the decision he faces – follow the elders or the young advisors – yet he retains the region of Judah, and the city of David, to keep alive the promise, and the hope of restoring Israel through David’s line….

ACTS
The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers – A letter is drafted and key people are sent to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas – Judas (Barsabbas) and Silas, two of the leaders. The letter spelt out the decision regarding circumcision or not….
~ those who had visited them previously from Jerusalem had done so ‘without our authorisation’, and had spread trouble
~ Barnabas and Paul are honoured as those ‘who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
~ the Holy Spirit had led them to ‘not burden you with anything beyond…eating food sacrificed to idols, blood, unclean meat, or being sexually immoral’
So, they set off, gather the church in Antioch together and share the contents of the letter. ‘The people were glad for its encouraging message’ (yippee, no circumcision….).
Judas and Silas, as prophets, encourage and strengthen the brothers, then they are blessed and sent off back to Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabas remained, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.
 
Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas – Paul wants to go back visiting all the towns they’ve brought the gospel to, to ‘see how they are doing.‘ Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them. Paul did not want to take Mark, because he had ‘deserted‘ them in Pamphylia, not continuing with them.
Paul and Barnabas really clashed over this and went their separate ways. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus; Paul and Silas went through Syria and Cilicia, ‘strengthening the churches’.

What a shame that there had to be a fall-out between Paul and Barnabas, for the result is a strengthening of the mission – a new team heading through Cyprus and one travelling through Syria/Cilicia. Paul and Barnabas had just been part of ensuring there was no split Jew/Gentile within the new Christian communities – maybe it was a time when they were most vulnerable. God is able to bring His good through all situations.

PSALM
I came to my senses : ‘I will go to the top – appeal to the highest authority
– Almighty God.
I will recall His glorious acts, His miracles, His works.’
You are holy in everything You do.
You are a great and awesome God.
Miracle-worker, mighty, powerful – all Israel, all Your people see and know You.
The waters You created see You – they ebb and flow.
The clouds respond to You – showering, thundering, hurling bolts of lightning.
The earth trembles in Your presence.
You stride through the deep seas, Your footprints hardly visible.

Yet, gently You lead us
like a shepherd with his sheep
in the hands of Moses and Aaron.’

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