After Rehoboam’s rule was established and solidified, he and all Israel rejected the law of the Lord.
Big mistake on Israel’s part. Why? Because God is most concerned about his glory above all else. When His people aren’t concerned with living for the glory of God, and instead, are unfaithful to the God who loves them, He allows them to suffer. Read the next verse….
“Because they were unfaithful to the Lord, in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem.”
Yep, you read that right… God caused the King Shishak of Egypt to attack Jerusalem because of the unfaithfulness and disobedience of His own people, Israel. Does a loving God do that? Yep. You’ll see why in a sec.
So what does God decide to do?
God doesn’t just forget about His own people. God acts. He loves His people. God sends his message through the prophet Shemaiah to King Rehoboam. He loves them enough to tell them what they’ve done, and why God is allowing this to happen to them. Here’s what God tells him through His prophet…
“This is what the Lord says: ‘You have rejected me, so I have rejected you and will hand you over to Shishak.’”
What do the leaders of Israel and King Rehoboam decide to do?
The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is just.‘”
So, they listened to God’s message about their sinful behavior. But they didn’t just listen…they confessed. Confession literally means “to agree with.” They agreed with the message, and spoke the truth concerning God… that He is just.
What’s interesting is that God did not say anything else. There was no promise that He would save them from His righteous judgment yet. He simply told them what He was going to do as a result of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to Him. So did they only agree with what God said? Would that be enough to stay God’s just hand against them? Or did they do more?…
When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, he gave this message to Shemaiah (his prophet): “They have humbled themselves, so I will not destroy them. I will deliver them soon. My anger will not be unleashed against Jerusalem through Shishak.
So, in the people’s acknowledgment of God’s rightful justice for their disobedience, they humbled themselves before God. It hit home and they understood that they were wrong.
Hmm… I wonder what that says about our unwillingness to agree with God and confess when He comes to us pointing out our disobedience and unfaithfulness to Him…
It was because they humbled themselves before God that it pleased God to spare them and not destroy them at the hands of King Shishak.
God relented from destroying His people, but His mercy doesn’t stop at simply sparing them from destruction. He wants to teach His people a lesson. He loves His people. Out of anger? No… out of His loving discipline, and for the sake of His name, so that they might come to appreciate God’s rule over them as their God instead of the rule of the surrounding nations.
Yet they will become his subjects, so they can experience how serving me differs from serving the surrounding nations.
God is so gracious. He could have easily and rightfully judged His people and carried out His initial plan to destroy His people (though not completely) at the hands of King Shishok. But He is patient. He uses His people’s unfaithfulness to teach them a very important lesson. He doesn’t just completely rescue His people from all consequences or affliction that comes with disobeying God. Would they (or we) really come to know God’s patience or His love for us as deeply if He did?
A couple of things…
1. God’s kindness led them (and leads us today) to repentance.
God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.
If not for God in His kindness leading them to humble themselves before Him, He would have utterly destroyed them, and would have been completely just and righteous in doing so. Same thing for us… God has said that hell is deserved and is coming for us because God is righteous in His judgment of us; but God has put to death His own Son so that we can be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus. God’s news of the death and resurrection of His Son for the world brings an opportunity for us to repent and believe so that we can be saved from the coming wrath of God for all who disobey the gospel.
2. God’s kindness demonstrates His sovereign patience.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God waited because He is kind. If God was impatient, He would have immediately destroyed His people. But God is patient towards all people, not wanting for any to perish. Why? Because He loves us. In fact, it even says in the Psalms that “His mercy is over all His works.”, and also “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness.”
3. God won’t always rescue us from the consequences of our sin, but will use the consequences of our sin to discipline us and bring us closer to Him.
Even though God demonstrated His grace and mercy in not destroying His people, He did allow for Jerusalem to be ransacked by a surrounding nation. Look what God did allow to happen to them…
King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and took away the treasures of the Lord’s temple and of the royal palace: he took everything, including the gold shields that Solomon had made.
God is also patient towards His often disobedient and unfaithful people, so that they might suffer for a little while (even at the hands of our enemy the devil), so that God’s discipline (and us not despising, but embracing His loving discipline) might bring us to repentance and to a greater appreciation of the greatness of God’s rightful place in our life, as Lord and God, so that we don’t continue in the wrong behavior that God condemns.
And He does this, just as He does everything that happens in this world, for His great glory.