Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jeroboam II

I apologize, as I did not have a lot of time to review for grammatical mistakes.

Who was this dude? First of all let me confess that I used to just float right over many of the lesser Kings of Israel and Judah. I felt like I was pretty smart because I knew who Hezekiah, Josiah, Ahab (not from Moby Dick), and Joash were. Wrong, it turns out that I am still an idiot and have much to learn.

I think we can learn a lot from Jeroboam II’s reign. He is given 7 whole verses from 2 Kings 14:23-29. However, one of the intriguing things is that we have at least 3 “minor” prophets that were operating at the time of Jeroboam II.

Let me first put Jeroboam II in his proper context. After the reign of Solomon, the United Kingdom of Israel that had been fairly united divided because, among other things, Rehoboam (Solomon’s successor) chose to ignore his father’s advisors. They were so yesterday (and so is that term). Anyway the Northern tribes that included 9 of the tribes plus Simeon in the south formed the Kingdom of Israel (also called Ephraim as this was the largest tribe). The Southern Kingdom was called Judah and consisted of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah; also Jerusalem was located in the Judah. Jeroboam (the first) was the first king of Israel and established his own temples so that the Northern populace would not have to go to Jerusalem to worship. Israel tended to be more successful and influential than Judah. Judah’s kings were all in the dynastic line of David, while Israel’s kings were from various dynasties.

Jeroboam II reigned in Israel roughly a 130 years after the death of Solomon. As we know from reading in 2 Kings 14, Jeroboam did evil in the eyes of the Lord. As a reference point, 2 Kings 14 refers to a Jeroboam son of Nebat (this is Jeroboam I). The author is linking Jeroboam II to Jeroboam I even though they are not of the same dynasty. The second continued in the adulterous dynastic line of the first.

In spite of this Jeroboam II’s reign was defined by great military and economic (for some) success. Jonah, Hosea, and Amos all prophesied during his reign. Jonah is sent a message to Nineveh which was an Assyrian city (also he prophesied of God’s deliverance of Israel as noted in 2 Kings 14). The Assyrians were a hated enemy of the Israelites. Jonah’s anger over the patience of God for these people is well founded. Hosea and Amos were both very critical of Israel (Ephraim) and Judah. However, the major criticism was leveled at Israel. Amos prophesies regarding God’s judgment because they oppressed the poor and did not share the wealth of conquest. Hosea and Gomer were a living example of Israel’s adulterous life.

So what is the point of all of this? I think one of the points here is how we deal with success. Most of us equate success with God’s blessings. True, God does bless us with success from time to time. He also blesses us with failure. I ask you to examine your worldview and ask yourself how you view success and failure. God brought success to Jeroboam to deliver His people from suffering, not because of his righteousness. Also, it would have been easy to ignore Amos and Hosea. After Jonah correctly prophesied success and Hosea and Amos must not be correct. After all there were all sorts of false prophets out there and these must have been two of them.

You see deep down inside Jeroboam had to know that he was not honoring God. He knew that Amos and Hosea were right even though he could easily justify his actions by the success he was having. What did it matter? Did he consider that Jonah was handing out a prophecy to the Ninevites (part of Assyria)? Did he hear of the way the Ninevites repented before a foreign God and prophet? Did Jonah have the courage to tell him? Did he listen to Amos speak of God’s concern for the foreign people in the area? Could he see what was coming? The clues were all there for Jeroboam to see. Contrast the King of Nineveh versus Jeroboam II. The Ninevites repented in the hopes that the Lord might relent while Jeroboam quietly disregarded the prophets.

I ask you, are you ignoring the voices calling you to repentance and justice? Have you taken your heritage as a Christian for granted and come to think that God’s blessing will come regardless of your actions. I call you to consider Jeroboam II. Read the prophets Amos and Hosea and consider the conclusion to the story. You see about 30 years after the death of Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom was destroyed and was never rebuilt in any significant way. The northern tribes ceased to be (in any substantial way). Jew is short for Judah-ians. They were not called the Israelites (as a complete 12 tribes) because most of the tribes no longer existed. The Assyrians came in and exported most of the Israelites to the far reaches of their Kingdom. They then imported other people groups into the region of Samaria. Those Israelites that were left married in with the new settlers and combined to be called the Samaritans.

The corruption of Jeroboam II had consequences and so do our actions. Galatians 6:7-8 reminds us that God will not be mocked; we will reap what we sow. I ask you to please examine your actions. Stop ignoring the voices from within and without. Most of us sit in church every Sunday and here a fine sounding sermon that we promptly forget or ignore. Listen to God in the midst of all these sermons. Listen to God in the midst of your friends’ encouragements. I will leave you with this quote from one of my professors, Dr Stephen Seamands. He said, “To know God better, is to obey Him more.” If only Jeroboam II had repented and obeyed. If only we would too.


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