For the rest of the book of Kings the story not only moves rapidly, but also jumps frequently between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. I’ve found it helpful for myself to keep track of both the timeline and the geography, so I’ll be highlighting that as much as possible.
Our first timestamp is Solomon’s death, which takes place (according to the best archaeology) in 930 B.C. Even though this might be a few years off in either direction, what’s important is the sequence, so we’ll use that as a baseline.
Most of today’s events occur in Israel, beginning early in Jeroboam’s reign. In the opening moments the LORD sends a prophet to rail against the altars – and cult – that Jeroboam had devised from his own heart. There’s a subtle shift in the dialogue that I want you to notice: when Jeroboam asks the prophet for help he calls the LORD your God – not our God. Even Saul, in his worst moments, would not have denied the LORD’s jurisdiction over him. But Jeroboam has clearly moved on.
In chapter 14, we’ll learn that the LORD has moved on as well. The presenting story concerns the illness of Jeroboam’s son, but the real plot concerns the LORD’s displeasure with Jeroboam. A prophet is consulted, whose words of discomfort remind Jeroboam and all who would succeed him that, though the kingdom is divided, David’s faithfulness to the LORD is still the standard against which the kings of Israel will be measured. And because Jeroboam has not followed in David’s ways, his family, and kingdom, will be cursed. Listen intently to the prophet’s words for Jeroboam and hold onto them as you read the rest of Kings.
By the beginning of chapter 15, Jeroboam and Rehoboam have exited the stage, and we’ll see that after 30 years Israel and Judah are still at war. Asa in the South and Baasha in the North must make sacrifices and manage alliances to buttress these two weakened kingdoms. The Temple and Palace are pillaged in order to make peace, and the high places remain.
However, while Israel continues to follow in Jeroboam’s footsteps, Asa, Rehoboam’s grandson, was wholly true to the LORD all his days. These fits of faithfulness, and the LORD’s fidelity to His promises to David and his throne, will create critical distance between these two kingdoms.
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1 Kings 13 through 15. Now let’s read it!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.