The Revolving Throne

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. 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, 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.

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. Thus Zimri destroyed all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, 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. 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? 1 Kings 16:8-14.

Say what you will about separation of church and state, but a government that does not answer to God is chaotic and unstable, especially if it already had a covenant with God and broke it. The kingdom of Israel has departed from God’s laws and worships an idol. The kingdom of Judah has the temple and the ark of the covenant, but is usually only one king away from rampant idolatry. Good takes a dim view of being cheated on.

America has a strong Christian tradition, but it is mixed at best. Our mishmash of denominations and our a la carte morality sends a mixed message to the world we are commanded to teach the truth about Jesus. Since our institutions are so confused, we are mostly wandering sheep with uncertain shepherds, at the mercy of many wolves.

A Bright Spot in Judah

In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa began to reign over Judah, and he reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done. He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 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. But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless, the heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days. 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. 1 Kings 15:9-15.

It appears that Asa and his predecessor, Abijah, had the same mother. And the two brothers were quite different. Asa brought the kingdom of Judah back to the Lord. He had a lot of idols destroyed and put out the cult prostitutes, but he didn’t root out all the high places. He was mostly a good king, and he reigned 41 years.

When your nation’s morality depends on your national leader, this is a fragile condition. It is better to have a righteous people enduring evil leaders than it is to have a wicked people putting up with a godly leader. And as far as I can tell, America is a mostly godless nation teeming with mostly evil leaders. We need national repentance, or it is not going to end well.

Go see the Prophet

At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise, and disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who said of me that I should be king over this people. 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.” 1 Kings 14:1-3.

Jeroboam treats the prophet, Ahijah, like magic eight ball. He learned nothing from his experience with the last prophet. The prophet of God is not just a seer that you pay for services. He is God’s messenger, and Jeroboam is not God’s servant. Jeroboam is an evil king who created substitute gods for Israel, to keep them from observing the law that required them to go to Jerusalem to worship. He feared that they would be reminded that a son of David was once their king, and that they would long for that.

We are also kept in separate camps, divided into denominations. We act like the other camps are inferior, deluded on some dogmatic point that the Lord did not use to set us against one another. We have forgotten that we are one body of Christ.

Jeroboam Confronted

And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. 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, 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.’” And he gave 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.’” And 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. The 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. And the king said to the man of God, “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. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” And the man of God said to the king, “If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for 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.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel. 1 Kings 13:1-10.

This no-name prophet not only comes to rebuke the king of Israel as he stands by his pagan altar, he brings the power of God to back it up. Then the king backs down and asks the prophet to restore the arm God just withered in public. After healing the king, he turns down a reward and a meal in order to obey God, who told him to return home by another way and not to stop for food.

Apparently this news travels fast, and another unnamed prophet wants to meet him. He invites the young prophet to his home, but the prophet refused because he has orders. So the older prophet LIES and says an angel appeared to him and that the orders have changed. The young prophet believes him, and it costs him his life.

Since the young prophet chose to believe the older man rather than God, the Lord actually uses the lying prophet to tell him his disobedience would be punished. Since the young man was willing to listen to this man rather than God, he listens to him foretell his death.

Yes, sometimes people in the ministry will mislead you. When you know what God has called you to do, do not let someone’s dream or vision supercede your own.

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “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.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. 1 Kings 12:12-15.

The older men probably knew that Solomon’s ambitious building projects and lavish lifestyle was burdensome for the people. But Rehoboam preferred the tough guy advice of the young hot shots of the court. This would be the last straw as the people knew they would be in for decades of harsh rule. So they chose someone who would lead them back to idolatry, but make their lives easier.

So, Solomon had forsaken following the Lord in his later life, and his son seemed no better. The people were between a rock and a hard place. There were no good government options. That is because godliness comes before good government, not the other way around.

Likewise, if we pay all our attention to out elections, and do not first seek the kingdom of God, we will only go from godless leader to godless leader. None of those people are our Messiah.