Now Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. (1 Kings 14:22-24)
The Fall Of A Great Nation
The zenith of Israel came during the forty-years of Solomon’s rule when the nation prospered and became a powerful and influential force in the world. Israel was the apple of God’s eye. The Lord blessed the people with the divine pleasures of His will as promised in the Law of Moses. There has never been a nation that had the personal hand of God working among them as the nation of Israel in the days of Solomon. Following the death of Solomon, the country became divided with Jeroboam taking the ten tribes of the north and the son of Solomon, Rehoboam, retaining the tribes of Benjamin and Judah to the south. It seems incredible that a shift could happen so quickly from the prosperous reign of Solomon to a divided nation that was corrupt, immoral, and filled with hatred. Israel was no longer the treasured nation of the Lord.
It did not take long for the people to turn away from the Lord and seek their own pleasures. Both Rehoboam and Jeroboam led the nation to be like the nations around them. The twenty-two-year rule of Jeroboam was marked by evil in the north. In the south, Rehoboam led the people of God to follow after the idolatry of the surrounding nations. The land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was filled with homosexuals. Egypt came against Rehoboam and ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace. They stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. Under the leadership of Rehoboam, the southern kingdom was reduced to the position of a vassal of Egypt. The kingdom of Judah sank more and more in moral and spiritual decay.
God allowed the rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam to destroy His nation. The heart of the people had become hardened to the word of the Lord as they desired to seek after the hedonism of the world around them. Solomon had begun the process when his heart had turned away from the Lord. Rehoboam could have brought the people back to the Lord as Josiah would do many years later but he chose to cower to the whims of the people. Instead of listening to the sound counsel of the elders, the king favored the young men who had grown up with him. The policies of his government were based upon human wisdom instead of the word of the Lord. Immorality filled the land. Worship turned to the gods of men. Perverted persons, sodomites, and homosexuals were allowed to freely practice their craft. Israel became like the nations around them. God gave the people what they wanted and they suffered because of it.
The northern ten tribes of Israel would last for a little over two hundred years before the Assyrians destroyed them. Judah and Benjamin would be a nation for 345 years when the Babylonians would march against Jerusalem the third time, destroy the city and burn the Temple. Why did this happen? The kings of Israel and Judah led the people to commit sin and to seek after the folly of humanism, immorality, and self-gratification. Perverted people filled the land. Justice was measured by the political whims of arrogant hearts. Corruption guided the decisions of those in power with deceit, lies, hypocrisy, and abuse of power. Israel had been a people guided by the principles of truth and righteousness but no more. They rejected God and the Lord rejected them. He put men in office that would corrupt and destroy His nation because that is what the people wanted. In the end, the destruction of Israel came at the hands of the people who refused to hold their leaders accountable. Their destruction came by their own power and by their own making. The ruin of Israel was orchestrated by the will of the people.