And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. (2 Chronicles 12:14)
The Fall Of Rehoboam
Solomon brought the nation of Israel to its zenith in the forty years of his reign. The kingdom had been united for 120 years when Solomon died and his son Rehoboam took control of the nation. Heading the advice of younger men the new king introduced a spirit of rebellion among the people resulting in ten northern tribes breaking away from Judah and Benjamin forming the northern kingdom of Israel. All of the kings of the northern kingdom were evil and would take the nation to oblivion. Much of what Rehoboam did for the southern kingdom was good for the people strengthening the kingdom, filling the cities with stores of food, oil and wine and making them very secure from enemies. But like many men who seek to do well and please God the king soon forsook the Lord and all Israel along with him. Five years into the rule of Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen and people without number. The Egyptians took the fortified cities of Judah and besieged the city of God. A prophet of the Lord named Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and told him the reason the Egyptians stood outside of Jerusalem is because the king had forsaken the Lord and this was the consequence for rebellion. Rehoboam had a choice: repent and receive the mercy of God or rebel and be destroyed. He chose to humble himself and beg for the kindness of the Lord. Seeing their humble hearts, God granted them some deliverance and allowed Shishak to only take the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house. The Egyptians took everything including the gold shields from the Temple that Solomon had made. Rehoboam humbled himself and the wrath of God was stayed but he paid the price of rebellion. The reign of Solomon’s son was only seventeen years when he died at the age of 58 years. He is remembered as a king who did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.
The family of Rehoboam was rich in history and spiritual legacy. His grandfather was David, a man after God’s own heart. Solomon, his father, was blessed by the Lord with incredible wisdom and elevated the small nation of Israel to a superpower among the nations. The wealth and prosperity of the world Rehoboam grew up in was unmatched by any known kingdom. There were so many things the son of Solomon should have seen and learned in his childhood to impress upon him the power of God’s grace and power but when he fortified himself as king of God’s people he turned his heart away. His epitaph is inscribed with the words, “He did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.” It did not matter he was the grandson of David or the son of Solomon. He had to make his own way with the Lord and somewhere along the way his heart was not fully prepared to serve the Lord. His father had written the wisdom literature that proclaimed that from the heart come the issues of life but Rehoboam had not prepared his heart. He enjoyed the bounty of his father’s material blessings and this lead him to forget the bounty of his spiritual father. Goodness comes from a heart that is prepared to seek God and Him alone. It does not come from national pedigree, spiritual heritage of families who served the Lord or the circumstances of life. Righteousness will only spring forth from a heart that has been prepared and is prepared to seek the Lord. Many years later when the final death blows of the southern tribes of Israel are executed upon God’s people, four young men will prove the worth of preparing their hearts to seek the Lord in the bondage of Babylon. Daniel and his friends took a stand against defiling themselves because their hearts were prepared from the Lord.
Serving God has always been about the heart. Abraham was a man who sought the Lord with his heart trusting in the words of the Lord to guide him and tell him where to journey. The Law of Moses was not a physical law that did not require preparation of the heart. There were multitudes of sacrifices demanded of God but the heart was always at the center of worship. Drawing all men to His Son, the Lord demands worship to be in spirit and truth because the heart is still the center of pleasing God. Rehoboam did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord and that is the same reason many do not follow the Lord today. They believe they can serve God any way they want without dedicating their hearts with complete obedience. Rote religion is very common as the people of God go through the motions of worship without any regard to truth. As long as certain acts of worship are accomplished religion is fine. Sadly without the heart this form of religion is vain and useless. Rehoboam had all the advantages of a spiritual heritage but failed to prepare his heart to worship God.