2 Chronicles 13-15: Covenant of Salt

Chapter 13

Here, the rivalry is again described overall as the tension between the house of David and the house of Jeroboam, with the intention of the narrator being very clearly one of “priesthood versus heresy”.  Verses 3-12 is a beautiful proclamation made by Abijah, stating clearly what has been implied in Jeroboam’s removal of the Levitical priests in 2 Chronicles 11 (c.f. v.9-12).  Solomon’s household, as well as Rehoboam’s, were portrayed as the elected household in v.5 – “…the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt“.  This phrase “covenant of salt” is used in two other instances – Leviticus 2:13 and Numbers 18:19.  In my commentary of the book of Numbers, the covenant is explained as such:

“Salt is commonly used in two analogies: the covenant between LORD and man; and negative connotations (C.f. Ezekiel 47:11 and Zeph 2:9).  Leviticus 2:13 makes the point that all the grain offerings shall have the covenant of salt.  When placing this covenant alongside Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt, it is simultaneously an imagery of God’s sanctification/separation.  In 2 Kings, the usage of the salt is for purification of the water; in Ezekiel, the imagery of the salt is that of dirt and uncleanness.  The prophecy of Ezekiel 47:8 makes a distinction between fresh and salt water – and no doubt, the salt water being the water of punishment from the deluge from the window above heaven (c.f. Genesis 7 and 2 Peter 3), but the fresh water being the water on earth.

 

To bring these two imageries together, the feeding on the holy flesh (cow/sheep/goat) and the unmistakable “covenant of salt”, the picture is a two-fold manifestation of Christ’s work on the cross.  Through his blood, we can now feed continuously of the flesh represented by the communion bread as sanctified priests, symbolized by the anointing and separation of the covenant of salt.  It is by this covenant of salt that David and his sons were given the kingship over Israel forever?  Undoubtedly this salt-covenant to David and his sons is a conscious foresight of the Son’s eternal kingdom, an act of purification, just as the salt waters burst through the heavens to purify the world of the wicked creatures.”

This covenant of salt is a synonym to the gospel work completed through David’s lineage and not to Jeroboam’s lineage.  Jeroboam’s failure to see the importance of the Temple, of the Levites, of Jesus’ heritage are all the essence of all heresies – the failure to connect the dots in the Old Testament which all point towards the cross and not to oneself’s creation of truth.  “Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed” (v.12).  Indeed, David, Solomon, Rehoboam and Abijah are not the head of Israel – the LORD God Himself is the Head, and Jeroboam is challenging not Judah, nor Abijah, but the LORD Himself.

This explains Jeroboam’s utter debacle and loss in v.13-20, whereas Abijah grew mighty under the wings of the LORD.

Chapter 14

Again, chapter 14 records another victory achieved solely by relying on the LORD, in fulfillment of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6.  This time, it is not Jeroboam, but the Ethiopians (who have clearly forgotten the blessing of Solomon through their early Queen of Sheba in chapter 9) who challenged Israel with more men than Jeroboam (an army of a million men vs. Jeroboam’s 800,000 men).  Asa’s cry is similar to that of his father’s: “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak.  Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude.  O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.

Chapter 15

Upon the filling of the Holy Spirit, Azariah the son of Oded reminds king Asa of the “Golden Age” of Israel’s rule under David and Solomon, when the gospel was clearly communicated amongst the Israelites, all of whom were looking forward to the day of the Messiah’s first coming.  Azariah’s comment that “For a long time Israel was without the true God” (v.3) is an observation of Israel losing its way in the period since Rehoboam to Asa, due to the removal of the formal priesthood and compliance with the Mosaic statutes under the divided rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam.  The only comfort of the Israelites was through their oral teaching and remembrance of the LORD’s steadfast love in their times of distress (v.4).  However, Azariah wishes for the Christian walk to be filled with peace (v.5), and not to only call upon the LORD in times of brokenness (v.6).  Asa’s subsequent actions and reforms (v.8-15) are indeed the actions of a righteous Christian king, drawing in more and more of those previous defected (those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon v.9) with his testimony of the LORD.  It is with their collective sacrifice (v.11) and the covenant and oath (v.12-14) that the LORD gave them rest all around (v.15-19) between his tenth year (when he defeated the Ethiopians) and 35th year as king.  The LORD’s steadfast love to the house of David means that Asa’s compliance with the Spirit’s prompting is a key step towards ensuring the survival of Israel until the promise of the Messiah is fulfilled.  Although man has forgotten the law and priesthood, the LORD will never forget.  Although man may even forget the promise of the Messiah as their true hope, the LORD will never stop working to ensure the Messiah will come from the line of David and crush the Satan who leads His sheep astray time and time again.

2 Chronicles 13-15: Covenant of Salt

2 Chronicles 10-12: Servant Leadership

Chapter 10

Rehoboam had an opportunity to continue the peace held in the time of his father Solomon; however, he was the offspring of Satan.  He could have turned the heart of Jeroboam and the rest of Israel in refining the kingdom under Solomon’s headship by considering their petition seriously – and on the third day (v.5) he could have given them hope.  His failure to heed the counsel of the old men (v.6) and instead to side with the young men (v.8) (who, although were childhood friends, were not walking in the way nor experience of the LORD) has caused the opposite effect of what Jesus would have done under Luke 11:10-13.  V.15 – “So 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“…

Is this not strange, that the LORD’s “steadfast love” is challenged by his own discretion to turn the affairs of Israel into the eventual division of Israel into two – Judah, and the rest?  The rejection of Judah, the rejection of David’s house (v.16), the rejection of Jerusalem (v.18) – the centre of all attention, the Temple, is no longer accessible.  The centre of all attention, the work of the gospel (as prayed by Solomon in 2 Chronicles 6) is ignored by those under Jeroboam (chapter 11:13-17).  Yet, it is this very turn of events that we see a foreshadowing of the rejection of Christ even by his own kind; however, Rehoboam is an anti-type – where Christ walked in the Father’s bosom, Rehoboam did not.  Rehoboam divided the kingdom in his disobedience, but Christ divided the kingdom by his obedience.

Chapter 11

The steadfast love of the LORD is apparent in v.1-4: He does not want Israel to be divided; yet, Rehoboam’s decision to heed Satan and not Jesus has led to this division, an unsurprising outcome given Jesus’ response to Solomon in chapter 7:12-22.  Rehoboam’s leadership is that of secular might, of secular toughness, of Christless manhood – his intention is pure, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam.  However, the LORD would rather win people over with love rather than with might; with weakness and vulnerability as the defining elements of kingship than oppression.

It is in v.13-17 that we know Israel will survive until the day of the Messiah’s return, and that Jeroboam will be a name despised for generations to come.  For Jeroboam to cast them out from serving as priests of the LORD (v.14), knowing these were the same people appointed by the LORD through David in 1 Chronicles, is nothing short of foolish.  In God’s foresight, the lack of geographical restriction for the tribe of Levites, for this tribe of priests, also means that they are free to move around Israel knowing that the LORD is their portion.  They are living like Abraham, looking forward to the true home in new creation (Hebrews 11) – and it is these very Levites who made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon (v.17).  If only Rehoboam, too, walked in his forefathers’ way.

Chapter 12

Yet, Rehoboam did not walk in his forefathers’ way, despite the Levites’ efforts to maintain Israel’s status as priesthood to all the neighbouring nations, just as the Levites were the priesthood to the widespread heretical leadership of both Rehoboam and Jeroboam.  Hence, in Rehoboam’s fifth year (it is not explained why the Levites did not stay faithful to the LORD from the fourth year onwards), when all of Israel was unfaithful under his rule, the Egyptian king Shishak invaded Israel.  In fulfilment of Solomon’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 6, the invasion was stayed when the Israelites finally decided to humble themselves, knowing that any righteousness they have could have only been inherited from the LORD Himself (v.6-8).  What is interesting, however, is that the LORD chooses to discipline His children by providing them with works which allow them to see what it is like for the LORD to serve – a reminder once again of the LORD’s steadfast love and His servant-leadership which no other God can provide.  This also hammers another nail into the coffin of Marcionism, should anyone doubt that the gospel of the gracious Lamb of God is a truth inherent in the Old Testament.

And in v.9-12 we see and end to the “Golden Age” of Israel – now degraded to copper; a willing sacrifice the LORD has made in allowing Shishak to enslave Israel.  This house of the LORD has lost its glory for several reasons – yet the primary reason is that of Rehoboam’s sinful life (v.14); secondarily, that the house of the LORD is but a shadow of the LORD’s heavenly dwelling; and thirdly, that we begin to see a foreshadowing of Christ’s incarnation, that he will put on a flesh which is more bronze than gold, more servant than king – the same as Israel’s current predicament.  V.13 ends the chronicling of Rehoboam’s life with his background as a son of Naamah the Ammonite – a Gentile, though called “beautiful”, was likely a cause of Solomon’s own idolatry for beautiful distractions (1 Kings 11:8).

 

2 Chronicles 10-12: Servant Leadership

2 Kings 13-14: The LORD for the hearts of men

II Kings 13:

1 In the twenty-third year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years.

2 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them.

3 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Syria and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael.

4 Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them.

5 (Therefore the LORD gave Israel a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians, and the people of Israel lived in their homes as formerly.

6 Nevertheless, they did not depart from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained in Samaria.)

7 For there was not left to Jehoahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten thousand footmen, for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.

8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoahaz and all that he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

9 So Jehoahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria, and Joash his son reigned in his place.

Often the king’s actions lead to the nation’s victory or demise – and that tradition of the kings of Israel is still very much apparent up to the 13th chapter of the second book of Kings.  He sinned in the way of Jeroboam; and thus the LORD continued to give them into the hand of Hazael; yet, when he sought His favour, the LORD listened and sent a savior; instead of granting Jehoahaz victory, the LORD anointed another savior.

10 In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz began to reign over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned sixteen years.

11 He also did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them.

12 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, and the might with which he fought against Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

13 So Joash slept with his fathers, and Jeroboam sat on his throne. And Joash was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel.

Like his father, Joash too walked in the way of the sins of Jeroboam.  Yet, this king of Israel, also like his father, understood the LORD’s role in their lives.  They knew that without the LORD, they would not be able to secure any victories against Syria or any other nation.  Joash’s pleading to Elisha (as his “father”) in v.14 is focused on the “chariots of Israel and its horsemen”, as if highlighting the need for Elisha to bless his warfare.  Elisha’s response is typically prophetic:

14 Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”

15 And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows.

16 Then he said to the king of Israel, “Draw the bow,” and he drew it. And Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands.

17 And he said, “Open the window eastward,” and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot,” and he shot. And he said, “The LORD’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria! For you shall fight the Syrians in Aphek until you have made an end of them.”

18 And he said, “Take the arrows,” and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground with them.” And he struck three times and stopped.

19 Then the man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times.”

The LORD’s arrow of victory is but the equivalent to the war bow placed in the heavens (Genesis 9:13).  The window opened eastward was towards the country beyond Jordan, which Hazael had taken from the Israelites (c.f. Adam Clarke’s commentary).  The LORD’s arrow of victory struck the ground but three times; if moreso, then Syria would have been ended.  Yet, the bow in the heavens, the sign of the covenant between man and God, faced upward towards God Himself.  The victory of Joash is but temporary – by human means.  Although Syria may be destroyed even when Joash struck the ground five or six times, yet the true victory lies in conquering the hearts rather than numbers of enemies.

20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year.

21 And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

22 Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz.

23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now.

The fear of death and loss pervades much of the reasoning behind both Jehoahaz and Jehoash’s actions as kings.  As people not following Christ, they do not see that victories of this world are first and foremost subject to the victory already achieved by Christ.  Yet, we have this abrupt account of Elisha’s death, through which a man was brought back to life (v.21); a keen reminder that Elisha’s wisdom is built on life after death; our baptism to death through the arrow piercing Christ, so that we rise again just as He is risen today (v.21; Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).  Instead of clinging onto the God of Elisha, Jehoash sought only to defeat the Syrians and recover the cities of Israel – his sights sorely earthly and without divine intentions.  The life of the man touching Elisha’s bone is but a shadow of our resurrection by drinking of the waters of life through Christ.

24 When Hazael king of Syria died, Ben-hadad his son became king in his place.

25 Then Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again from Ben-hadad the son of Hazael the cities that he had taken from Jehoahaz his father in war. Three times Joash defeated him and recovered the cities of Israel.

II Kings 14:

1 In the second year of Joash the son of Joahaz, king of Israel, Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, began to reign.

2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jehoaddin of Jerusalem.

3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done.

4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.

5 And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand, he struck down his servants who had struck down the king his father.

6 But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the LORD commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

The woman whom Jehovah adorns, Jehoaddin, is the mother of the next king of Judah, Amaziah (the strength of the LORD).  Although not walking like David his father (a sign that the Messiah, once again, has not yet come), he still did what was right in the eyes of the LORD – striking down his servants who had struck down the king his father (v.5).  It is interesting to compare the lives of the kings of Israel in the previous chapter, seeking external victory and glory, summed up in Jehoash’s words to Elisha – “the chariots of Israel an its horsemen!”, to the kings of Judah.  Here, the life of Amaziah is first described in terms of the high places which were not removed, and him ensuring that the king’s household is not filled with wicked counsel, earmarked by his compliance with the Mosaic law that each shall die for their own sins (Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:4).  That is the law of Moses; and yet, this law points us to the grace, that Adam’s crime is therefore, indeed, our crime (Hebrews 7:10).  Indeed, unless Christ takes on Adam’s sin, and thus gifts us His righteousness as our righteousness, then this law would otherwise be broken.  In God’s salvific economy, this law remains testimony to God’s fulfillment of it – though, here, not yet.

Instead, Amaziah is looking on the immediate conduct of the children’s fathers, just as Amaziah should not be put to death because of his father’s failure to follow Christ; again, this is a contrasting picture between spiritual fatherhood and physical fatherhood; between our spiritual father Christ, and our physical father – whether they cling to Christ or not.  Here, Amaziah looks on the children and sees them innocent with regards to their father’s conduct; yet, like their fathers, they are born in sin.  Unless they cling onto Christ to inherit his righteousness as ours (Isaiah 61:11), then indeed our father’s sins are our sin.

7 He struck down ten thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt and took Sela by storm, and called it Joktheel, which is its name to this day.

Thus, instead of merely pleading to Elisha, it is Amaziah’s walk with God which secured his victory over the capital of Edom, the rock, Sela – and give due glory to the LORD by the name Joktheel (“subdued by God”).  This is more clearly laid out in 2 Chronicles 25:5-13, where Amaziah follows the counsel of a man of God, reminding him of the LORD’s power to lift up or cast down:

O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the LORD is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites.

8 But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.

8 Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us look one another in the face.”

9 And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah, “A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife,’ and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle.

10 You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”

11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah.

12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home.

13 And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate.

14 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.

15 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoash that he did, and his might, and how he fought with Amaziah king of Judah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

16 And Jehoash slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel, and Jeroboam his son reigned in his place.

17 Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel.

18 Now the rest of the deeds of Amaziah, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

19 And they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and put him to death there.

20 And they brought him on horses; and he was buried in Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David.

21 And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah.

22 He built Elath and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers.

Yet, despite comparing Amaziah’s more apparently virtuous life with Jehoash, we are immediately informed that Amaziah’s arrogance against Jehoash has led to the demise of Judah and the wall of Jerusalem, in the battle at the house of the sun (Beth-shemesh).  This defeat of Judah and the breaching of Jerusalem is an unfitting victory for a man who follows in the path of Jeroboam.  However, this is not described in 2 Kings but in 2 Chronicles 25:

14 After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them.

15 Therefore the LORD was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?”

16 But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.

 

Instead of destroying the objects that captured the hearts of the Edomites, he merely destroyed the Edomites.  That is contrary to the mandate to be a priesthood to all nations, for the LORD does not grant true victory except the victory through circumcision of the heart (Exodus 19:6).  He forgot that the LORD, though lifting him up in the victory over Edom, can equally destroy Amaziah because of setting up the Edomite gods and worshipping them.

Although the LORD is not with Jehoash, Amaziah’s fall and explicit denial of the man of God (who, if at all, is more suited to be a royal counselor than anything else) is a reminder that the true king of Israel – the true Messiah – is to heed wisdom from mere men not of immediate royal presence or stature.  In the downfall of Judah is the ironic death of Amaziah in the same manner as his father (2 Kings 12:20), even more ironically so dying in the Canaanite city Lachish (“invincible”).  Thus becomes the appointment of Azariah (“whom the LORD helps”), the son of Amaziah, whose first notable work was restoration of Elath to Judah.

23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years.

24 And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

25 He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

26 For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter, for there was none left, bond or free, and there was none to help Israel.

27 But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

According to Jesus, the Word Who spoke by his servant Jonah from the winepress of the well (Gath-hepher), even the LORD would use a man such as Jeroboam to restore the border of Israel.  This again is the LORD’s mercy, to ensure that not only Judah but the whole of Israel is maintained until the day that the LORD uses the Satan to also lift the curse of death by causing the death of the Christ on the cross.  Such is the irony – yet, follows closely with what the man of God stated:  “God has power to help or to cast down”.

28 Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam and all that he did, and his might, how he fought, and how he restored Damascus and Hamath to Judah in Israel, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

29 And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, the kings of Israel, and Zechariah his son reigned in his place.

2 Kings 13-14: The LORD for the hearts of men

1 Kings 15-16: the failed Sons of David

I Kings 15:

1 Now in the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah.

2 He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.

3 And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.

4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem,

5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

6 Now there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.

7 The rest of the acts of Abijam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.

8 And Abijam slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place.

 

V.4 ties the kings of Judah together – “nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem…”.  This is the prophetic hope – the gospel, that David’s son Jesus Christ is set up in the lineage of kings to establish new Jerusalem.  For what other reason are the kings maintained in spite of their faulty relationships with the Anointed Son of David as sung in Psalm 2?  Theirs is the true covenant of God’s unfailing love to us, that we cannot be removed far and wide from His warm embrace (Romans 8:38-39).

 

Chapters 15-16 record the history of Abijah and Asa – and there are interestingly different depictions of him in 1 Kings 15-16 and 2 Chronicles 13-16.  The narrator of Kings jumps immediately to the summation of Abijah’s life; and notably, in the book of Kings, Abijah is called Abijam – a name which now means ‘father of the sea’ instead of ‘the Lord is my father’.  With the sea connoting negative implications in biblical terms (Jeremiah 5:22; Ezekiel 47:9; Jude 1:13), the usage of Abijam over Abijah is fitting in the narrator’s negative description of Absalom / Abishalom’s lineage.  “He walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God” (v.3 – my emphasis italicized).  Though not ‘wholly’ true, 2 Chronicles 13 makes specific reference to Abijah’s holy proclamation against Jeroboam.  Though the narrator recognizes the book of Chronicles as recording Abijah’s life account (v.7), nonetheless the account of his life in this book is short, and not sweet.

 

It would seem, however, that the focus is not on the merits of Abijah – but contrarily on the evils of Maacah (“oppression”), the daughter of Abishalom (“father of peace”).  She is mentioned in v.2 but is again mentioned in verses 10 and 13 – it is quite clear that these two chapters focus on the comparison of the relationships which Abijah and Asa respectively had with Christ.  Contrast the description above with the following text from 2 Chronicles 13:

 

4 Then Abijah stood up on Mount Zemaraim that is in the hill country of Ephraim and said, “Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel!

5 Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?

6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord,

7 and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them.

8 “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made you for gods.

9 Have you not driven out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes for ordination with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods.

10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service.

11 They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him.

12 Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you cannot succeed.”

13 Jeroboam had sent an ambush around to come upon them from behind. Thus his troops were in front of Judah, and the ambush was behind them.

14 And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets.

15 Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.

16 The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand.

17 Abijah and his people struck them with great force, so there fell slain of Israel 500,000 chosen men.

18 Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers.

19 And Abijah pursued Jeroboam and took cities from him, Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and Ephron with its villages.

20 Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah. And the LORD struck him down, and he died.

 

What happened to the man who exclaimed these words against Jeroboam?  This is what 1 Kings 15 seeks to clarify by its current focus on Asa.

 

9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah,

10 and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom.

11 And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done.

12 He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

13 He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah. And Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron.

14 But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the LORD all his days.

15 And he brought into the house of the LORD the sacred gifts of his father and his own sacred gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels.

 

Immediately, in v.11 Asa is described as ‘doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done’ – comparing Asa and Abijah to David as the ‘standard’.  However, it is important that we do not assume the kings to look at David as some “God-king”, though he is a commonly used type of Christ (Luke 18:38; Revelation 22:16).  What David had done was but a shadow of Christ, but moreso, David had faith in Christ.  Here is a man whose deeds bore Christocentric meaning because of the Christocentric faith he had (Psalm 2, 72, 110; Mark 12:35-37).  As Matthew Henry notes in his commentary on Mark 12:35-37:

 

“Christ shows the people how weak and defective the scribes were in their preaching, and how unable to solve the difficulties that occurred in the scriptures of the Old Testament, which they undertook to expound. Of this he gives an instance, which is not so fully related here as it was in Matthew. Christ was teaching in the temple: many things he said, which were not written; but notice is taken of this, because it will stir us up to enquire concerning Christ, and to enquire of him; for none can have the right knowledge of him but from himself; it is not to be had from the scribes, for they will soon be run aground.

1. They told the people that the Messiah was to be the Son of David ( 35), and they were in the right; he was not only to descend from his loins, but to fill his throne (Luke i. 32); The Lord shall give him the throne of his father David. The scripture said it often, but the people took it as what the scribes said; whereas the truths of God should rather be quoted from our Bibles than from our ministers, for there is the original of them. Dulcius ex ipso fonte bibuntur aquæ–The waters are sweetest when drawn immediately from their source.

2. Yet they could not tell them how, notwithstanding that it was very proper for David, in spirit, the spirit of prophecy, to call him his Lord, as he doth, Ps. cx. 1. They had taught the people that concerning the Messiah, which would be for the honour of their nation–that he should be a branch of their royal family; but they had not taken care to teach them that which was for the honour of the Messiah himself–that he should be the Son of God, and, as such, and not otherwise, David’s Lord. Thus they held the truth in unrighteousness, and were partial in the gospel, as well as in the law, of the Old Testament. They were able to say it, and prove it–that Christ was to be David’s son; but if any should object, How then doth David himself call him Lord?  They would not know how to avoid the force of the objection. Note, Those are unworthy to sit in Moses’s seat, who, though they are able to preach the truth, are not in some measure able to defend it when they have preached it, and to convince gainsayers.”

 

Though Abijah fought and won military victories against Jeroboam, such victories are ultimately empty if the removal of such powers is not immediately replaced with God’s love through Christ (Romans 8:39).  Asa’s actions is therefore in stark contrast, by firstly his putting away of the male cult prostitutes, removing all the idols his fathers had made (fathers, notably linking this to Abishalom ironically titled the ‘father of peace’).  Instead, only Asa, the physician, can cure the nation of its sins by removing the idolatrous sacramental objects of their own faiths; by removing Satan’s stronghold within the church and cleansing it from inside out.  The key verse is v.13 – he removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because of her faith in Asherah.  By assumption, this means that Abijah did not remove his queen mother in-spite of her worship of Asherah – effectively making Abijah’s words of 2 Chronicles 13 empty if he did not carry out the implications of his proclamation against even the queen mother.  The stark image is that of Abijah’s omission and Asa’s proactive mission to destroy all that leads people astray, burning the image of Asherah in the brook Kidron – at the same time, the image of such burning burnt into the minds of his Israelite subjects.  The burning of the image of Asherah in this brook is especially symbolic, for it is a place of David’s weeping (2 Samuel 15:23, 30), frequently a place crossed by the LORD (John 18:1), and a place frequented by all types of impurities (2 Kings 11:16, 23:6; 2 Chronicles 29:16, 30:14; Jeremiah 26:23) but also eventually a place where the Jews would wish to be buried (Joel 3:2)

Remember the words of our LORD Jesus concerning idols, for He is the purifier of our spirits by the coming and filling of His Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:16; Revelation 9:20).

 

V.14 is testament to the LORD not seeking ‘perfection’ for the purpose of salvation; in fact, what He seeks is a type of worship which understands His will for mankind.  Asa clearly understood this – setting himself apart from Abijah by focusing on the house of the LORD.  This is a House which is heavily neglected – aside from David, Solomon and Asa’s respective foci on this central Temple of Israel, we will not come back to this House until 2 Kings 11, approximately 100 years later, under the direction of Jehoiada.  Yet, it is also the place where the light of Christ shines the brightest – the Levitical system of sacrifice, pointing clearly towards the work of the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered for the sins of the church of spiritual Israel (Romans 11:25-26).

 

16 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

17 Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah.

18 Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house and gave them into the hands of his servants. And King Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying,

19 “Let there be a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you a present of silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.”

 

Yet, almost immediately after what had been a bold imagery of the focus on the temple and house of God – we witness the fall of Asa by his reliance on “the son of the Syrian god” (Ben-hadad), who in turn is the son of he “who believes Rimmon is good” (Tabrimmon), the son of Hezion – king of Syria.  Like Ahijah earlier in his life, and just as Asa had torn down the Asherah images in the midst of her mother’s forced abdication of the throne, Asa could have relied on the LORD to defeat the wicked Baasha.  Instead, Asa would relinquish the treasures of the house of the LORD, implying that the mere worship and sacrifice of the Temple is insufficient that he should rely on earthly rather than spiritual alliances (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6).

 

20 And Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel and conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.

21 And when Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah, and he lived in Tirzah.

22 Then King Asa made a proclamation to all Judah, none was exempt, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them King Asa built Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah.

23 Now the rest of all the acts of Asa, all his might, and all that he did, and the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? But in his old age he was diseased in his feet.

24 And Asa slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place.

 

How strange that the later history of Asa’s life is not reflected here, though Abijah’s wickedness is displayed for all to see?  For Asa, just like Abijah, did not rely on the LORD fully in his latter days – 2 Chronicles 16:

 

7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.

8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.

9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

10 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time…

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.

 

Asa’s victory here seems to be won by Yahweh – but note that this is not a war fought under the banner of Anointed One.  Even though Baasha is painted as an evil conspirator against the son of Jeroboam in the following verses, the narrator is not providing a full picture of what this king of Judah is like: however, it is clear that the kings of Israel are portrayed in a decidedly worse picture to promote the primary message of the King of Kings to come from Judah.  However, the Anointed King is not any of the ones mentioned thus far – as Chronicles clearly shows.

 

25 Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years.

26 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

27 Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him. And Baasha struck him down at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines, for Nadab and all Israel were laying siege to Gibbethon.

28 So Baasha killed him in the third year of Asa king of Judah and reigned in his place.

29 And as soon as he was king, he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He left to the house of Jeroboam not one that breathed, until he had destroyed it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite.

30 It was for the sins of Jeroboam that he sinned and that he made Israel to sin, and because of the anger to which he provoked the LORD, the God of Israel.

31 Now the rest of the acts of Nadab and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

32 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha the son of Ahijah began to reign over all Israel at Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years.

34 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

 

Thus, the foretelling of the overcoming of Baasha bears the focused message of the author of this book of Kings – that the line of Judah prevailed over the line of Israel.  That the House of Judah overcomes the House of Israel which has been led astray by Jeroboam and Nadab and Baasha’s sins (v. 26, 34; 2 Kings 10:31, 15:9, 15:18 – constant reference to Jeroboam as causing Israel to sin, in fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy in 1 Kings 11-12).  Tirzah (pleasantness), an old royal city of the Canaanites, was destroyed by Joshua in Joshua 12:24.   Jeroboam chose it for his residence, and he removed to it from Shechem, which at first he made the capital of his kingdom. It remained the chief residence of the kings of Israel till Omri took Samaria (1 Kings 14:17; 15:21; 16:6, 8, etc.). Here Zimri perished amid the flames of the palace to which in his despair he had set fire (1 Kings 16:18) – and it is apparent that just as the brook Kidron was primarily a place of the burning of the Asherah image, so also Tirzah is a place where the kings of Israel can only find temporary solace before their ungodly demise (1 Kings 15:33; 16:6-23).

 

I Kings 16:

1 And the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying,

2 “Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin, provoking me to anger with their sins,

3 behold, I will utterly sweep away Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

4 Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

5 Now the rest of the acts of Baasha and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

6 And Baasha slept with his fathers and was buried at Tirzah, and Elah his son reigned in his place.

7 Moreover, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha and his house, both because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and also because he destroyed it.

 

Thus, we finally receive the due intervention for Baasha’s act, for his emulation of the wicked bloodline of Jeroboam.  A Christian prophet Jehu (Jehovah is the living), the son of Hanani (God has gratified me), has effectively pointed out the generations to come – the anti-Christ house of Jeroboam, in the line of the kings of Israel.  Contrarily, the line of the kings of Judah has David, the type-of-Christ.  It is from this point forward that the antithesis is more pronounced – the Davidic king against the Jeroboam-like king.  The former leading the Israelites back to the law, back to the house of the LORD, back to Jerusalem; the latter leading the Israelites to the brook Kidron, to Tirzah, to Ramah, to the false altars of worship.

 

8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah the son of Baasha began to reign over Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned two years.

9 But his servant Zimri, commander of half his chariots, conspired against him. When he was at Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza, who was over the household in Tirzah,

10 Zimri came in and struck him down and killed him, in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his place.

11 When he began to reign, as soon as he had seated himself on his throne, he struck down all the house of Baasha. He did not leave him a single male of his relatives or his friends.

12 Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet,

13 for all the sins of Baasha and the sins of Elah his son, which they sinned and which they made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols.

14 Now the rest of the acts of Elah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

Elah of Baasha died by hands of Zimri the commander – contrast this continuity with David’s fear of killing the king (1 Samuel 24:6) because of his understanding of what the ‘king’ means in the Israelite context (Psalm 24, 72).  The king is not a mere human title; it is a dignified delegated position to cause Israel to live in grace, not in sin; to cause Israel to live in faith by placing her trust in the Day of Atonement, amongst the other Jewish festivals which were witnesses of the gospel truths in themselves (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

 

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned seven days in Tirzah. Now the troops were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines,

16 and the troops who were encamped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired, and he has killed the king.” Therefore all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp.

17 So Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah.

18 And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire and died,

19 because of his sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and for his sin which he committed, making Israel to sin.

20 Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and the conspiracy that he made, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

 

Is it not apparent here that the life of Omri is very similar to that of Baasha’s life against Nadab at Gibbethon (1 Kings 15:27-30)?  This is the continuity and persistence of sin (1 Timothy 5:20), notably living under the father of lies (v.19; John 8:44).  What happened to the days when Israel was united as one man (Judges 20:11), but now it is divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah – but a third by the splitting of the people of Israel into two parts (v.21)?  That half should follow Tibni (straw / hay / intelligence), and half should follow Omri (pupil of Jehovah)?  That these false kings should build Samaria, a place of heresy – crafted by man and not God (Hosea 8:5-6)?

 

21 Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts. Half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri.

22 But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died, and Omri became king.

23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah.

24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver, and he fortified the hill and called the name of the city that he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill.

25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him.

26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in the sins that he made Israel to sin, provoking the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger by their idols.

27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri that he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

28 And Omri slept with his fathers and was buried in Samaria, and Ahab his son reigned in his place.

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.

30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.

31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.

32 He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria.

33 And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

 

And now we come to the 7th king since Jeroboam (inclusive of Jeroboam, from Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri) – who has allegedly done “evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him” (v.30).  Not only that, he took for his wife Jezebel (chaste) the daughter of Ethbaal (with Baal) king of the Sidonians and served Baal. The irony that Jezebel, as ‘chaste’ – is the daughter of he who serves and is with their ‘lord’ Baal.  He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, built in the evil city of Samaria – and he also made an Asherah, like Maacah the removed queen mother.  While Abijah and Asa promoted the reforms under Christ’s banner (in spite of their own deficiencies as types of Christ), the physical church of Israel continued to worship Baal, in their mock-house of their lord, with their mock elohim (Baal and Asherah).  This ends with the symbolic rebuilding of Jericho by Hiel of Bethel (life of God of the house of God), in fulfillment of Joshua’s curse in Joshua 6:26 –

 

26 Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he

lay its foundation,

and at the cost of his youngest son

shall he set up its gates.”

 

What further irony that the city of Jericho is rebuilt by a man who aligns himself with Ethbaal, with Jezebel, with Ahab – in their mock Bethel, their mock elohim and their mock city by the name of a man who is apparently the ‘life of God’.  This could not be further from the truth.  Yet, it is clear the narrator has one agenda by the end of chapters 15 and 16 – to portray the hypocrisy of physical against spiritual Israel; the hypocrisy of the kings of Israel against the kings of Judah.  By comparing Abijah and Asa’s life, we see that Asa’s faith followed through with the removal of idols, though he faltered in his walk with the LORD in a variety of times (highlighted in Chronicles instead of Kings).  And in highlighting Asa’s work, we see Abijah’s comparative deficiencies as to have the narrator identify him as ‘walking in the sins of that his father did before him’ (i.e. following in the line of Maacah and Absalom, though this is not the focus of Chronicles – see 2 Chronicles 13:2); whereas Asa walked in line with the heart of David v.11 and this is reflected in his removal of idols, of even his queen mother whom Abijah failed to remove.

 

Whatever glorious picture we see, however, is but a dim shadow of the Anointed Son whom David worshiped as no mere human king, but the Son of the Heavenly Yahweh.  Even in the heights of Asa’s reforms, these pale in comparison to the spotless work of the humble Lamb of God.  What we can say, though, is that their work points us firmly to Christ – who will remove all Asherahs, all Baals, all false kings, and that “All names will soon be restored to their proper owners.” (Aslan in the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia)  They will neither be Jezebel, nor Hiel – for the curse of Joshua will fall upon them as a mark against Satan, revealing Jezebel as the false prophetess (Revelation 2:20), and Hiel as the death cursed from God.

 

 

1 Kings 15-16: the failed Sons of David

1 Kings 14: The Two Houses

1At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. 2And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise, and disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to(A) Shiloh. Behold, Ahijah the prophet is there,(B) who said of me that I should be king over this people. 3(C) Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what shall happen to the child.”

 

Shiloh is within the realms of Israel, north of Bethel.  Yet, Jeroboam does not go to Shiloh himself lest he be called a hypocrite of his own religion.  Throughout the last two chapters he has established himself as a tour de force in the making of a new faith – faith in his new golden calves, as the false high priest of both Bethel and Dan.  The irony of the death of the man of God in chapter 13 is but a foretelling of the death of Jeroboam – that the wrath of God, though laid up on The Man of God His Son, is not propitiated from Jeroboam who steadfastly still refuses to say Yes in Jesus.  In fact, looking at the curse against the house of Jeroboam in v.7-16 (especially v.11) reminds us of the dignity of being buried with the Man of God, and rising in resurrection with him.  The LORD was in sovereign control over even the lion and the donkey who only served to kill the man, and in contrast, He in His sovereignty commands the death of Jeroboam’s kingdom by being fed to the dogs and birds.

4Jeroboam’s wife did so. She arose and went to(D) Shiloh and came to the house of(E) Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. 5And the LORD said to(F) Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus shall you say to her.”

When she came, she pretended to be another woman. 6But when(G) Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with unbearable news for you. 7Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:(H) “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel 8and(I) tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been(J) like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, 9but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and(K) made for yourself other gods and(L) metal images, provoking me to anger, and(M) have cast me behind your back, 10therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and(N) will cut off from Jeroboam every male,(O) both bond and free in Israel, and(P) will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. 11(Q) Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the LORD has spoken it.”‘ 12Arise therefore, go to your house.(R) When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him(S) there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. 14(T) Moreover, the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today. And henceforth, 15the LORD will strike Israel as a reed is shaken in the water, and(U) root up Israel out of(V) this good land that he gave to their fathers and scatter them(W) beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their(X) Asherim, provoking the LORD to anger. 16And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.”

Indeed – how can a Jeroboam’s wife presume to feign her position before the prophet, who though had dim eyes was in fact clearer in Spiritual sight than anyone else in the kingdom of Israel?  In the words of Matthew Henry:

“Those who think by their disguises to hide themselves from God will be wretchedly confounded when they find themselves disappointed in the day of discovery. Sinners now appear in the garb of saints, and are taken to be such; but how will they blush and tremble when they find themselves stripped of their false colours, and are called by their own name: “Go out, thou treacherous false-hearted hypocrite. I never knew thee. Why feignest thou thyself to be another?’’ Tidings of a portion with hypocrites will be heavy tidings. God will judge men according to what they are, not according to what they seem.”

By the Spirit, God spoke through him such a terrible prophecy that should only remind Jeroboam of why he was blessed to lead Israel in the first place.  It is the LORD’s favour, not Jeroboam’s self-making (v.7-9); and Jeroboam’s destruction, however, is his bondage to sin and to Satan, blindly denying the LORD’s exaltation (v.7), failed to keep his commandments (shamar, שׁמר, a priestly term, though Jeroboam became a priest of other gods)(v.8), making false images (v.9).  The following verses read almost like Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 1:

“The account here given of the wickedness of the Jews agrees with that which the apostle gives of the wickedness of the Gentile world (Rom. 1:21, 24), so that both Jew and Gentile are alike under sin, Rom. 3:9. (1.) They became vain in their imaginations concerning God, and changed his glory into an image, for they built themselves high places, images, and groves (v. 23), profaning God’s name by affixing to it their images, and God’s ordinances by serving their idols with them. They foolishly fancies that they exalted God when they worshipped him on high hills and pleased him when they worshipped him under the pleasant shadow of green trees. (2.) They were given up to vile affections (as those idolaters Rom. 1:26, 27), for there were sodomites in the land (v. 24), men with men working that which is unseemly, and not to be thought of, much less mentioned, without abhorrence and indignation. They dishonoured God by one sin and then God left them to dishonour themselves by another. They profaned the privileges of a holy nation, therefore God gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts, to imitate the abominations of the accursed Canaanites; and herein the Lord was righteous. And, when they did like those that were cast out, how could they expect any other than to be cast out like them?2. See here how weak and poor they were; and this was the consequence of the former. Sin exposes, impoverishes, and weakens any people.” – Matthew Henry

And such is the declaration of God’s judgment against Jeroboam; such transparency, which though Josiah would proclaim upon Israel in the latter chapters of 2 Kings 350 years later, are but types of the global disaster and restoration of the Noahic flood and the Day of Resurrection.  No righteous posterity shall come out to Jeroboam’s womb, far from the blessing of progenitors to Abraham and David’s line.  Here, the Father’s mercy does not extend to Jeroboam for reason of his failing to keep (as Adam was commanded in Genesis 2:15), and failing to cling onto the Judaic line of Christ through David’s offspring.  V.16 describes how Jeroboam sinned “and made Israel to sin”, and such is the effect of a king who does not make promises as Christ does to His church to mutually edify and glorify (John 17:24-26).  The scattering of Israel, under the Assyrian captivity, begins here – with the false leadership of Jeroboam outside of the house of Judah, the refined line of Christ’s tree line (represented by the scattering of Israel beyond Euphrates, v.15 c.f. Isaiah 8:7; Jeremiah 2:18).

17Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed and came to(Y) Tirzah. And(Z) as she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18And all Israel buried him and mourned for him,(AA) according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the prophet.

19Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam,(AB) how he warred and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20And the time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. And he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his place.

 

Though not described in detail here, note Jeroboam’s death in 2 Chronicles 13:18-22 which displays an important comparison to 1 Kings 14:

 

“18Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed,(AC) because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers. 19And Abijah pursued Jeroboam(AD) and took cities from him, Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and(AE) Ephron[e] with its villages. 20Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah.(AF) And the LORD struck him down,(AG) and he died. 21But Abijah grew mighty. And he took fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22The rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the(AH) story of the prophet(AI) Iddo.” – 2 Chronicles 13:18-22

Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah: why is that?  2 Chronicles 18 reveals it plainly:  “because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers”.  For the first time since Solomon’s death we see reliance on the LORD, not the golden calves, not the false elohim, but the LORD struck him down and he died (v.20).  The further fulfilment of the Shilonite’s words is described in 1 Kings 15 by Baasha’s overtaking of Jeroboam’s house: but the narrator purposely left it for later description.  Instead, the focus is on the parallel between Jeroboam’s heretical rule, and Rehoboam’s similarly rebellious activity though favoured by the LORD simply because he is the heir of David’s throne.

21(AC) Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem,(AD) the city that the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.(AE) His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. 22(AF) And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they(AG) provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. 23For they also built for themselves(AH) high places(AI) and pillars and(AJ) Asherim on every high hill and(AK) under every green tree, 24and there were also(AL) male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

 

So strange a comparison – that we see the LORD curse Jeroboam’s house so, to see the only ‘dignity’ to arise out of a death of a Christly child, almost a comparison to the death of the man of God!  Rehoboam, similarly led Judah to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to jealousy, more than all that their fathers had done (v.22).  They, too, built high places and pillars and Asherim (like Jeroboam – c.f. v.15; even the narrator makes this comparison obvious in v.24 noting that ‘they did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out’) – but the favour and mercy upon Rehoboam is simply because he reigned over the city that the LORD has chosen out of all the tribes of Israel; that he reigns in the line of the chosen.  Who is chosen?  Christ is the Chosen and Elected One of all ages (Isaiah 42:1).  That is why Rehoboam is not cursed; his household is not cursed, even though he is born of Naamah the Ammonite, repeated twice in this chapter (v.21 & 31) – that is not a purebred.  That is the comparison the narrator is trying to make.  Would the Shilonite’s prophecy prevail not only against the house of Jeroboam, but also against Rehoboam, forever cursing the coming of the seed (Genesis 3:15)?  No – even in Abijam’s sins, even in his mixed heritage, the house of David prevails for God’s promise in David, shadowed by Christ, shall not be broken, despite our sins.  He is faithful, even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13; c.f. 1 Kings 15:4-5).

25(AM) In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. 26He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house.(AN) He took away everything. He also took away all the shields of gold(AO) that Solomon had made, 27and King Rehoboam made in their place shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. 28And as often as the king went into the house of the LORD, the guard carried them and brought them back to the guardroom.

This alliance between Jeroboam and Shishak is now an unholy alliance against the church of Christ (Psalm 2) – established in 1 Kings 11:40, taking away the golden treasures of the LORD.  Such is the comparison made against the prophecy in Daniel 2:32-45 to Nebuchadnezzar, the kingdom of gold subsumed by a kingdom of silver and bronze – only to be entirely consumed by the humble element – the Stone and Rock of Ages.  The Stone that became a Mountain – the theology of the mustard seed (Luke 13:19).  Though the glory of Israel seemed to dim by the theft of Shishak, the true glory remained, though dim, in the men of God like Shemaiah, like the mysterious visitor from Judah buried in Bethel, the prophet who looks forward to the prophecy concerning Josiah, and undoubtedly Ahijah himself.  These are the little seeds, sown across a rebellious nation, as the lamp still shone in the city of Jerusalem for the day when the light of the world breaks into the darkness as sunlight does to the darkest of nights.

29(AP) Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 30(AQ) And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David.(AR) His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. And(AS) Abijam his son reigned in his place.

And so the chapter ends not on a note of negativity as one may assume, by Rehoboam and Jeroboam’s rebellion.  Rather, though the light is dim, Rehoboam is still managing the house of the LORD (v.28).  The temple is still not entirely neglected – and this is the mercy of our God through Christ’s redemptive work – that he redeems not those false priests and Pharisees of the purebred line of Israel like Jeroboam was from the house of Ephraim; but especially those of the line of David, whom David himself is a descendant of a Moabite, that Rehoboam should receive the same mercy for the beauty which Naamah the Ammoite bore is not physical – but a beauty inherited from Christ.  The chapter ends with Rehoboam keeping the commandment of the maintenance of this otherwise neglected temple, and we are reminded that he is of mixed heritage.  Yet, the LORD’s favour rests on him anyway – Romans 11.

1 Kings 14: The Two Houses

1 Kings 13: Scapegoat of God

1And behold,(A) a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the LORD to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar(B) to make offerings. 2(C) And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David,(D) Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.'” 3And he gave(E) a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.'”

 

Who this ‘man of God’ is, we are not told.  Just as mysterious as Melchizedek was, so this man of God bears no name unlike Shemaiah from the previous chapter.  What is key, however, is the precise description of his background, and the precision of his prophecy – a godly man from Judah, brought by God’s word to the house of God (Bethel), to proclaim against the false altar that a son of David, Josiah, shall destroy this false system of worship.  The predominate man of God is Jesus Christ Himself – as if this shadow of a godly messenger points us towards Christ, the man of Judah, the son of David, who himself shall also destroy this false system of worship.  Not by destruction of a mere altar in this mock-house of God, but a destruction of the house of God itself – the tearing down not of a mere altar (v.3) but the tearing down of the House of God (John 2:19).  Yet, the high priest that is sacrificed on this House of God, this Temple of the LORD built by Solomon’s hand and rebuilt time and time again, is Jesus Himself.

 

4And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. 6And the king said to the man of God,(F) “Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before. 7And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and(G) I will give you a reward.” 8And the man of God said to the king,(H) “If you give me half your house,(I) I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, 9for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.'” 10So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel.

 

This dried hand is but the true diagnosis of Jeroboam – dried up and lifeless (Ezekiel 37:11) – and only such healing could be achieved by the LORD Jesus (Jeremiah 8:22; Matthew 9:12).  Note, however, that Jeroboam does not pray to receive the LORD’s mercy, or the love of Christ – instead, he merely prays in v.6 that he may simply have his hand restored.  This is the classic sign of religion, that Christ is the means, and not the end.  In the words of Matthew Henry:

 

Jeroboam’s inability to pull in his hand made him a spectacle to all about him, that they might see and fear. If God, in justice, harden the hearts of sinners, so that the hand they have stretched out in sin they cannot pull in again by repentance, that is a spiritual judgment, represented by this, and much more dreadful.

But observe, He did not desire the prophet to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, only that his hand might be restored; thus Pharaoh would have Moses to pray that God would take away this death only (Ex. 10:17), not this sin.

 

And so this man of God rightly refuses fellowship with this king, who remains hard-hearted, stiff-necked, as according to the LORD’s command (v.9).  From v.1-10 thus far, the only faithful trustworthy figure has been the LORD Himself, using his agent (the man of God) to mercifully warn Jeroboam that He stays true to His word, demonstrated by the tearing down of the altar and ashes pouring out.  This is but the first fulfilment – the true horror is that the LORD knows Jeroboam would rebuild the altar despite this first sign, for it is on the rebuilt altar that Josiah will “sacrifice on you [the altar] the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.”  Thus, this horror is Jeroboam’s self-judgment – denying the first sign, denying the LORD’s faithfulness to His word and promises that Jeroboam’s false system of worship, false system of priesthood – Jeroboam himself, will all fall.

 

However, this faithfulness of the LORD means that the warning given to the man of God will also be fulfilled against the man of God should he be disobedient, though confirming the consistent truth that He is faithful; but we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).

11Now(J) an old prophet lived in Bethel. And his sons[a] came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel. They also told to their father the words that he had spoken to the king. 12And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him the way that the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him and he mounted it. 14And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” 15Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16And he said,(K) “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, 17for it was said to me(L) by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.'” 18And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.'” But he lied to him. 19So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water.

 

What plays out here is a close parallel to the history of garden of Eden.  This old prophet lies in v.18, for the LORD does not contradict His own word to the man of God – yet this man of God chose to heed the false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:3-5), and broke the two-fold command: not to return to Bethel, and not to have food fellowship during his mission.  Just as Eve received the command not to eat the forbidden fruit, so also she was deceived and did not stay faithful to the word of God and instead heeded the word of a creature.  Thus, the liar (v.18) triumphed over the man of God.  Witness the result of the liar’s words:

 

20And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, 22but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'” 23And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24And as he went away(M) a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where(N) the old prophet lived.

How strange that the false prophet, like Balaam, is prophesying the truth (v.20-22) against this holy man! The donkey which this false prophet rode is instead ridden by Christ into the wilderness (Zechariah 9:9; John 12:14-15) – it is a picture of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:22), the sin of the old prophet transferred onto the man of God; the declaration that the man of God has sinned, but the old prophet and Jeroboam remain unscathed.  And that is the alarming aspect of these chapters and feud between Israel and Judah; neither king stood in Christ, though Shemaiah and this man of God had clearly spoken words of truth.  Yet, only the LORD has been faithful throughout, and v.23-25 is a clear example of the LORD fulfilling his warning, v.24 and 25 (and v.28 – with particular emphasis on “the lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey”) in particular showing that once the animals have killed the man of God, they have refrained from mauling him further.  This is a picture of the foolishness of man’s lust, in the donkey, against the picture of the devil prowling like a lion (1 Peter 5:8).  As Dev Menon states in his “Donkeys” blog entry:

“Genesis 16:12 – He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Ishmael)

Jeremiah 2:24 – a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her. (Israel)

Hosea 8:9 – For they have gone up to Assyria, a wild donkey wandering alone; Ephraim has hired lovers.

Genesis 49:14-15 – “Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. 15 He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor. (blessings from Jacob)

Zechariah 9:9 – Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Jesus tames the wild donkey lusting after everything, living alone…
She was chained up by the law, restraining the lust – but still rebellious
Untied by the Master, she willingly bears this Burden
She carries Him to the cross….

Thus, the donkey brings the man of God, full of sin because of the false prophet’s deception, ‘devoured’ by the prowling lion, the picture of him sprawled across the road in between the two inanimate animals.  This is our Saviour, the Son of Man, who bore our sins for us.  Though this man of God has disobeyed, the parallel here is that the Son of Man obeyed till his death, bearing our sins upon him until he cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” (Mark 15:34).

26And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the LORD spoke to him.” 27And he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And they saddled it. 28And he went and found his body thrown in the road, and the donkey and the lion standing beside the body. The lion had not eaten the body or torn the donkey. 29And the prophet took up the body of the man of God and laid it on the donkey and brought it back to the city[b] to mourn and to bury him. 30And he laid the body in his own grave. And they mourned over him, saying,(O) “Alas, my brother!” 31And after he had buried him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave in which the man of God is buried;(P) lay my bones beside his bones. 32(Q) For the saying that he called out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against(R) all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of(S) Samaria shall surely come to pass.”

It is strange here therefore for the prophet to want to be buried with the man of God – save for only one apparent reason, that this prophet should partake in the man of God’s glory – v.32 – “For the saying that he called out by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the houses of the high places that are in the cities of Samaria shall surely come to pass”.  What privilege it is, therefore, that this prophet is buried with the man of God just as we are called to bury our old sinful lives of falsehood (Colossians 2:12) and rise in His truth, demonstrated through this man of God who is but a shadow of Christ, a prophet of the Old Testament pointing to God’s faithfulness to His overarching promise that judgment will be declared against the altars and false worship of this world by the very return of His true son Josiah, in the name of Christ Jesus.  Thus Adam Clarke states, “This argues a strong conviction in the mind of the old prophet, that the deceased was a good and holy man of God; and he is willing to have place with him in the general resurrection.”  And so the old prophet joins in the man of God’s prophesying, by himself prophesying the judgment in the cities of Samaria (though Samaria is not yet established until 1 Kings 16:24!), a display of the restoration of Israel spreading out to the surrounding Gentile nations (Isaiah 54:2-3). 

33After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34(T) And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam,(U) so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.

And how unsurprising that despite hearing the LORD’s faithfulness enacted against the man of God Himself, just as the Father’s wrath had been poured out onto the Son – the cosmic sacrifice of His only begotten Son (Genesis 22), that the man of God should have his Last Supper with the false prophet, drinking the cup of wrath upon Himself (Isaiah 51:17; Matthew 26:39) and being the living scapegoat, dying by the judgment at the house of God (Bethel) – prophesying the day that the altar shall be smashed once and for all, just as the true House of God is torn down by the Son who died not where he came, but will return to a renewed Jerusalem one glorious day.  That glorious day, for Josiah, is in 2 Kings 23:15-20, approximately 350 (half of the fullness of 700 years) years after 1 Kings 13:

15Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected(BD) by Jeroboam the son of Nebat,(BE) who made Israel to sin,(BF) that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned,[d] reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. 16And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it,(BG) according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. 17Then he said, “What is that monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him,(BH) “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted[e] these things that you have done against the altar at Bethel.” 18And he said, “Let him be; let no man move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones(BI) of the prophet who came out of Samaria. 19And Josiah removed all the shrines also of the high places that were(BJ) in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger. He did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel. 20And(BK) he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars,(BL) and burned human bones on them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

1 Kings 13: Scapegoat of God

1 Kings 12: the Divided Priesthood

1(A) Rehoboam went to(B) Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2And as soon as(C) Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for(D) he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from[a] Egypt. 3And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4(E) “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.” 5He said to them,(F) “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away.

 

Rehoboam is by no means the son whom Solomon was writing to in the book of Proverbs.  Instead of inheriting the Spirit Whom Solomon was filled with, the subject Wisdom in the very book geared towards the son of Solomon (Proverbs 1:8).  Yet, Rehoboam walks in exactly the opposing direction:

6Then 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?” 7And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8But 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. 9And 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’?” 10And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this 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. 11And now, whereas(G) 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.'”

Though Israel, like Solomon’s disciplining, were but servants of the LORD – the truth of being children of God by the Spirit and through Christ is a gospel foundation found throughout both Old and New Testaments, as Jesus expressly states in John 15:12-17:

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

Indeed, are we to remain as disciplined servant-slaves in the period of Solomon, ‘whipped’ by the law of Moses?  Or are we to abide in Christ after His victory on the cross, and as v.15 clarifies – that we are friends of the LORD, though we are also His servants.  The movement from slave to friendship is that of the beholding of the visible LORD as the Person through Whom we meet the Father also, such mystery revealed by His Spirit.  Yet – on the third day, such slavery is not abolished.  Instead, Rehoboam clings onto the law of the Old Testament, and failed to see the Spirit of the law who points exclusively to Christ (1 Corinthians 2).  Instead, on the third day, their yoke is made heavier – yet, on the third day of Christ’s work on the cross, the yoke of slavery is removed and instead we are given the yoke of Christ (Matthew 11:29-30; Galatians 5:1).  And so, Rehoboam failed by neglecting the priestly council of old (v.8 – c.f. 1 Kings 4), and instead took counsel from the young men who have grown up with him and stood before him.   What grand theology of servant-leadership which the old council of Levites and prophets is ignored – an incarnate theology of God-with-us, God-serving-us (Mark 10:45), twisted on its head to fulfill the theistic agenda of us-serving-God and us-trying-to-be-with-God.  Such is the advice of the young, not perceiving by the Spirit the teachings of the Torah and from history that the Angel fights for us (Joshua 5:14-15), pleads for us to the Most High (Genesis 48:16), leads us in the wilderness (Exodus 23:21) as the warm ambassador and Son of the One enthroned.  Rehoboam exudes coldness and a spirit of arrogance, ignoring once again his father’s mandate towards him (Proverbs 16:5), leaving the Son of the Most High to fulfill the true meaning of humility in His incarnation.

12So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said,(H) “Come to me again the third day.” 13And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, 14he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying,(I) “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15So the king did not listen to the people, for(J) it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which(K) the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

Again – is it the LORD’s fault that Rehoboam spoke and acted in the name of evil?  No – this turn of affairs was merely part of the prophecy by the LORD through Ahijah to Jeroboam (v.15), the LORD who hears us and listens to us against Jeroboam who does not listen to the people (repeated in v.15 and 16).  Jeroboam is a type of the deity whom we create and worship – a ‘god’ who does not hear (Habakkuk 2:18-20) for it is lifeless, an implication which can be imputed to Jeroboam himself.

 

16And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.(L) To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents. 17But Rehoboam reigned over(M) the people of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah. 18Then King Rehoboam sent(N) Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death with stones. And King Rehoboam hurried to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19(O) So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. 20And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David but(P) the tribe of Judah only.

 

There are interesting parallels between v.18 and the parable of Jesus in Matthew 21:33-41, regarding the stoning of Adoram (lord of heights / noble honour) as taskmaster over the forced labour and ambassador and sent one of Rehoboam.  The parallel is an ironic satire of the sending of prophets and servants of the LORD murdered by the world, though here Rehoboam, in following his parallel as the lifeless mock-Father sending Adoram, the lifeless mock-Son (for supporting Rehoboam’s Spirit-less agenda).  However, the Israelites have also sinned by murdering Adoram, important to note that the LORD does not favour the people under Jeroboam’s future rule because of their righteousness.  Quite the contrary, the favour clearly still lies with David (1 Kings 11:34-36, 11:39) and the other 10 tribes subject to whether Jeroboam clings onto Christ and His example of servant-leadership as well (1 Kings 11:38).

 

21(Q) When Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. 22But the word of God came to(R) Shemaiah the man of God: 23“Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the(S) rest of the people, 24‘Thus says the LORD, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home,(T) for this thing is from me.'” So they listened to the word of the LORD and went home again, according to the word of the LORD.

Though the LORD had permitted Rehoboam’s choice to follow the prostitute Folly instead of the Spirit, Wisdom (Proverbs 9), His plan to preserve Judah and Benjamin as the 1 tribe given to Rehoboam against the 10 tribes given to Jeroboam is actually a form of protection displaying the LORD’s favour to the line of Judah.  Can the house of Israel be won over with more brute force (of a pitiful 180,000 chosen warriors against Judah and Benjamin’s own countrymen ten times the size), just as the forced labour would be won over by scorpions?  Shemaiah, this man of God (a term applied to very few people, including David himself – 2 Chronicles 8:14), bearing a similar name to a Levite in the time of David (who with 200 of David’s men took part in the bringing up of the ark from Obed-edom to Hebron – 1 Chronicles 15:8), is a symbolic ‘conscience’-call, reminding them that the LORD is their king.  Either they continue to listen to Rehoboam and fall to their demise, or follow the man of God who supersedes the kingship of Rehoboam, following in line with Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha, Moses – the humble men who faced ruthless and Christ-less kings.  And it is for this very reason that Abijah, who proclaimed judgment upon Jeroboam as if it were Christ’s return in completion of his victory over Satan (2 Chronicles 13:8-12), would lead the men of Judah and Benjamin to victory against the Israelites.  There is no other reason for Shemaiah’s refusal to allow Rehoboam’s war, except that Rehoboam is not following the LORD’s will like Solomon and David have. 

25Then Jeroboam(U) built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. And he went out from there and(V) built Penuel. 26And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David. 27If this people(W) go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.”

 

What is the significance of Jeroboam’s building of Shechem and Penuel to his fear in v.26?  Abraham pitched his tent and built an altar under the oak of Moreh at Shechem (Genesis 12:6), noting that the Canaanites were already there in the land; when Jacob arrived there, it was a Hivite city (Genesis 33:18, 34), though he purchased from Hamor a parcel of the field given to Joseph (Genesis 33:19, Joshua 24:32, John 4:5).  Shechem thereafter becoming a city of refuge after the Canaanites were ousted (Joshua 21:20-21), and as a scene of the blessing and curses (Joshua 24:23-25).  Yet, it is at this very place that Rehoboam was announced as king (1 Kings 12:1), undoubtedly acting as a reminder to Jeroboam that Rehoboam comes from the true lineage of David, himself standing outside of the house of David only to be reminded of the Shilonite’s words of this sacred house of Christ, building Penuel (face of God) though without the same significance as what Jacob had done in Genesis 32:30-31 when he wrested with Jesus.

 

Yet, strangely, Jeroboam and Rehoboam are not such different creatures.  Both are not listening to their people; both are not listening to God – both are deaf by all accounts despite the LORD speaking to Jeroboam through Ahijah the Shilonite in 1 Kings 11, and Rehoboam approached by Shemaiah, the man of God.  The LORD is with both Rehoboam and Jeroboam – but neither is walking with Him.

 

What is interesting is how, despite the rest of Israel’s detachment from the tribe of Judah and Benjamin combined, the designated location of the temple and the future place of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God remains at ancient Moriah or otherwise named as Jerusalem now (Genesis 22:2, 2 Chronicles 3:1), which is in the region of Judah.  In protecting Judah and Benjamin by preventing a civil war (v.22-24; whereby Rehoboam’s men may be slaughtered especially if they are fighting not in the LORD’s direction), this is a second layer to understanding the LORD’s favour towards Judah (if not the primary reason for such favour) – that Jerusalem is the designated location of His House built by the hands of Solomon, the son of David.  Despite Jeroboam being the effective king of Israel, his leadership is only supplemented by the LORD if He were to allow the Israelites to continue to worship at the place of Christ’s future work on the cross.  Yet, His denial of Jerusalem as valid place of worship is not merely a denial of methodology.  It is a fundamental denial of the LORD Himself, of the joint work of the Father Son and Spirit to happen at that key location – Jerusalem where the city of peace truly fulfils the implication of its name.  Jeroboam’s fear is not entirely unfounded however – as it had been with Solomon that he was a king who focused much on temple worship (being the founder of the temple – 1 Kings 6, and having a wide-reaching reputation implicating the success of his kingship stemming from the one LORD – 1 Kings 10).  So v.27 reveals such a tie between temple worship and the king – “If this people(W) go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah”; however, Rehoboam is but a mock-son of God.  He is not the son spoken of by Solomon in the book of Proverbs.  If it only were true, that if the ancient church would go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn again to their lord, Jesus Christ.  Yet – it would appear that their hearts are far away because their king is not Jesus, but Rehoboam (c.f. Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

 

28So the king took counsel and(X) made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough.(Y) Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” 29And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30Then(Z) this thing became a sin, for the people went as far as Dan to be before one.[b] 31He also made(AA) temples on high places and(AB) appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. 32And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like(AC) the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And he placed in Bethel(AD) the priests of the high places that he had made. 33He went up to the altar that he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month that he had devised from his own heart. And he instituted a feast for the people of Israel and went up to the altar(AE) to make offerings.

 

And so Jeroboam conducts a string of blasphemous actions, by creating new gods.  As though Rehoboam is a mock-Father, so Jeroboam is a mock-Aaron – he who ‘saves’ the Israelites away from the tyrant Rehoboam but only to set up new ‘gods’ (Hebrew Elohim) of two calves of gold.  This is an echo of Aaron’s words in Exodus 32:4.  Instead of devoting to the temple in Jerusalem, he made several temples on high places and appointed priests not of the Levites, breaching Exodus 29:9.  Instead, the placement of these self-made priests in Bethel (house of God) is almost a direct mocking of the true house of God built by Solomon’s hands by the LORD’s edict.  This place, like Shechem, is symbolic of Abraham’s journey – but under Jeroboam it bears a mock-meaning.    Instead of a place of vision (Genesis 28:11-19, 31:13), or a place of counsel (Judges 20:18-31), or a place of the LORD’s presence (through the ark of the covenant c.f. Judges 20:26-28) in the day of the Judges – it is a place of false worship and man-made religion.  Jeroboam’s blasphemy knows no bounds – and thus only fitting for this place to be redeemed by Abijah in 2 Chronicles 13:19.  In particular, that such idol worship should take place geographically in the furthest south compared to the furthest north of Israel, Bethel and Jerusalem straddling the borders of Israel and Judah and Dan being not in the heart of the united Israel but far north, far away from the mandated place of Christ’s work.

Instead of the feast of booths representing the Father’s presence with us on the 15th day of the 7th month (Leviticus 23:34), on the 15th day of the 8th month, this mock-feast is done in worship of the two golden calves.  What blasphemy that Rehoboam chooses the 15th of Bul / Cheshvan, for it is in this very month that Solomon completes the temple, simultaneously the same month as a reminder that the Noahic flood began and ended.  The irony falls on Rehoboam’s choice of this month; where Solomon chose to complete the First Temple in the month of the ending of the flood (1 Kings 6:38), Rehoboam chose to have a feast on about the same day as the day when rain fell and consumed the earth (Jewish calendar records it as 17th Cheshvan / Bul), in a month which otherwise has no remarkable divinely ordained festivity.  In other words, the parallel is that Solomon’s worship in a month of bitterness is reversed by his son’s institution of false worship, fulfilling the meaning of the barrenness of the month’s activities.

 

Ultimately, just as Rehoboam worshipped a lifeless god by being the lifeless lord of Judah, so also Jeroboam reflects this same truth by creating lifeless religion – “devised from his own heart” (v.33 – c.f. Psalm 14:1).  Here, Jeroboam treads ever so close to revealing the two persons of the Trinity in the two calves of gold, just as Aaron has revealed the oneness of the Trinity by equally calling the one calf as the plural Elohim (Exodus 32:4) – such Israelite ancient tradition preparing the men of Israel and Judah for the LORD who sends His own ‘Adoram’, only that he came to take our burdens, to serve us, and to die for us though we are the Israelites who have stoned him effectively on the cross.

 

 

1 Kings 12: the Divided Priesthood