Shemaiah Warns Rehoboam
(2 Chronicles 11.1-4)
21After Rehoboam returned to Jerusalem, he decided to attack Israel and take control of the whole country. So he called together 180,000 soldiers from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
22Meanwhile, God told Shemaiah the prophet 23to give Rehoboam and everyone from Judah and Benjamin this warning: 24“Don't go to war against the people from Israel—they are your relatives. Go home! I am the Lord, and I made these things happen.”
Rehoboam and his army obeyed the Lord and went home.
Jeroboam Makes Religious
25Jeroboam rebuilt Shechem in Ephraim and made it a stronger town, then he moved there. He also fortified the town of Penuel.
26-27One day, Jeroboam started thinking, “Everyone in Israel still goes to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord. What if they become loyal to David's family again? They will kill me and accept Rehoboam as their king.”
28 Jeroboam asked for advice and then made two gold statues of calves. He showed them to the people and said, “Listen everyone! You won't have to go to Jerusalem to worship anymore. Here are your gods who rescued you from Egypt.” 29Then he put one of the gold calves in the town of Bethel and the other in the town of Dan. 30The people sinned because they started going to these places to worship.
31Jeroboam built small places of worship at the shrines and appointed men who were not from the tribe of Levi to serve as priests. 32-33 He also decided to start a new festival for the Israelites on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, just like the one in Judah. On that day, Jeroboam went to Bethel and offered sacrifices on the altar to the gold calf he had put there. Then he assigned the priests their duties.
Out of love for his people, God intervened in this difficult political situation in order to avoid a civil war. Rehoboam did not understand that the Lord had caused the division of his people and he himself, could do nothing about it. Through the ages, humans have been too quick to wage war and their motives are almost always selfish.
After hearing the message of the prophet Shemaiah, all the Israelites and Rehoboam accepted the division of the kingdom.
God had made a conditional promise to Jeroboam, that if they remained faithful to him.
Jeroboam and his descendants would remain kings of Northern Israel. However, rather than obey God, this new king preferred, from the start, to disobey. Determined to keep his kingdom, he formulated a devious plan, which was to make two golden calves as representations of the God of Israel, so that the people would not return to Jerusalem to worship God. The scheme worked and the majority of his subjects became satisfied with a golden statue as a God, just like their ancestors with Aaron after the exodus from Egypt.
Many things in our lives would like to take preeminence and make us turn away from the living, invisible God, creator of the universe. Let us therefore, stay faithful to him whom we do not see, but who created everything we see, even if the majority of the world does not do so, for the pursuit of a few pleasures and some extra possessions.
Great and wonderful Creator, author of our days, we pray that you would strengthen us, so that we might be satisfied with the abundance that you promised to give us. Even if many around us have more than we have, may we remain faithful and rich in you. Amen.