And after the Levites left, those from all the tribes of Israel, such as set their heart to seek the Lord God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 11:16)
Setting The Heart To Seek The Lord
Following the death of Solomon, his son, Rehoboam, reigned in his place. The forty years of Solomon’s rule was a period of immense wealth and prosperity. Israel was at peace as God blessed His people. Rehoboam inherited a kingdom blessed beyond any nation on earth. Sadly, the cost of the prosperity of Solomon’s kingdom came at a cost to the people. After Solomon died, the people hoped Rehoboam would ease the burden of his father’s rule. Instead, Rehoboam made the burden greater, leading to a revolt led by Jeroboam, the son of Nebat. Jeroboam had fled to Egypt after he revolted against Solomon. Because of Rehoboam’s harsh rule, ten tribes gave their allegiance to Jeroboam, and the northern kingdom was formed.
When Israel divided between the ten tribes in the north and Judah and Benjamin in the south, the priests and the Levites left their common lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem. Jeroboam created a false religion of convenience for the people of the north, but Rehoboam maintained control of the Temple built by his father. Jeroboam had rejected the priests and Levites who served according to the Law of Moses. He set up a different priesthood allowing anyone from any tribe to serve. Jeroboam set up two calves of gold in Bethel and Dan. He made shrines on the high places, changed the feast days, led the people to follow idols and other gods, and molded images. Jeroboam polluted the land with the wickedness of the nations around them.
As the northern tribes began to follow the idolatry of Jeroboam, there remained the faithful and true among the people of God. From all their territories, the priests and the Levites took their stand with Rehoboam. Leaving their ancestorial homes, the priests and Levites came to Judah and Jerusalem. Seeing the faith of the priests and Levites, many of the people set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel, and they, too, left their ancestorial homes and families for Jerusalem. The first three years of the southern kingdom of Judah were a time when the people followed the way of David and Solomon. Judah was filled with people who set their hearts to seek the Lord.
Moving from their territorial lands of the north to Jerusalem was an incredible example of faith. When Joshua conquered the land more than four hundred years before, the land was divided by tribes for people to dwell. According to the Law of Moses, the tribal lands always remained in the family of the tribes. The people of the northern tribes had lived on their land for more than four hundred years, and they abandoned this land for the security of the faithful few in Jerusalem. They walked away from homes, gardens, burial plots, and family. Turning their backs on everything they knew for generations took great faith.
The Holy Spirit explains why the faithful left their homes in the north for Jerusalem. They had purposed in their hearts to seek the Lord. Their decisions were not based on which tribe they belonged to, where their homes were located, how many years they had toiled on the land, or the comfort of friends and neighbors. The multitudes that left their homes in the north set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel. Jeroboam was turning their land into a place of wickedness, and the faithful refused to bow their knee to Baal. Many faithful remained like the little maiden of Israel captured by Naaman, the Syrian. But these people set their hearts on doing what was right and paid a high price.
There is a spirit in the people who left their homes which is the core of the Christian life. The world is a dark and wicked place growing darker each day. What the Lord needs to see are the spirits of the faithful who are setting their hearts to seek the Lord God – regardless of the cost. There was no question where their loyalties belonged. No one could deny the faith of those who left their homes. What did their neighbors say when they heard they were leaving? Were they laughed at, mocked, and ridiculed for leaving their northern homes? It did not matter because they had set their hearts on seeking God.
I must set my heart to seek the Lord. Nothing else matters. If I lose my job because I have set my heart, praise God. When times of trouble arise, and I must make a decision, mine will be to set my heart on the Lord. If the Lord requires me to give up all I have and give to the poor to follow Him, I set my heart to seek the Lord. Nothing stands in the way of my seeking the Lord because my heart is set – period. Face to the wind. Courage in my heart. Standing fast with the Lord God Almighty. My heart is set.