Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan
Sermon Title:God & His Word in full control
Scripture Text: 1 Kings 12-14:20
It accomplishes what it says (1 Kgs 12:1-24)
It confronts the disobedient (1 Kgs 12:25 – 13:34)
It penetrates beyond the surface (1 Kgs 14:1-20)
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
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Last Sunday during the Easter sermon, Ps Luwin confronted us all with this very significant word. The word ‘IF’.
If Jesus did really rise from the dead, then there are great implications for all of us.
And for all of us as believers, I submit, we have moved from ‘If’ to ‘Since’.
Since Jesus has rise from the dead. Then our faith is not in vain.
And so may I recap the 3 implications which Ps Luwin shared last Sunday.
Since God raised Jesus from the dead, so God exists.
Since God raised Jesus from the dead and He now sits on the right hand of the throne of God. That means Jesus is Lord of all.
Since God raised Jesus from the dead, it means that God loves us. For Jesus came to die for our sin.
As we think of these 3 points, though Jesus was not revealed to the people of 1 Kings, yet I see that God had already revealed Himself in very similar ways in the Ten Commandments:
Deut 5:6 “ ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 “ ‘You shall have no other gods before me. 8 “ ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 10 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Yahweh exists and He is the only true and powerful God whom we should worship.
And it is in Jesus Christ that God’s steadfast love to His children is most clearly shown.
Because we know that Easter has already come. That God’s great promise of redemption has already happened in Jesus the divine Son of David.
Then this dark period of history that we will see in 1 Kings does not fill us with despair.
As we view the sinfulness of man and how the kingdom is nearly destroyed. Though we grieve over what has happened, yet we do so, not without hope.
Where we are in 1 Kings
With 1 Kings 12, we are entering into another portion of 1 Kings.
And so I thought it would be helpful for us to see the overall picture again.
Because of their stubborn refusal to be faithful to Yahweh, who has brought them out of Egypt and blessed them with Canaan, God disciplines them by allowing them to be taken into exile.
So 1 Kings 12 is like the beginning of the end. It’s all downhill from here. But we must always remember, the great hope that will come in Jesus the Son of David.
Now as we read on in 1 & 2 Kings, the writer will inform us of kings either from Judah the southern kingdom or Israel the northern kingdom. So it may be a bit confusing.
< Refer to table in the slide >
I hope this table would be useful reference for us. It’s taken from one of the commentaries.
If you need a copy of this table, do ask your CG Leader for it or email me and I’ll send it to you.
On the surface, our text today, centres on 2 kings. Rehoboam the son of Solomon and Jeroboam who takes the 10 tribes to form Israel the northern kingdom.
However, the writer gives us clues that the main character instead is God and His Word.
That God and His Word is in full control even through the chaos befalling Solomon’s kingdom.
And so may this aspect of God and His Word, comfort those of us who are weak and be a warning for those of us who are too comfortable.
It accomplishes what it says (1 Kgs 12:1-24)
Let’s begin with the first 24 verses of chapter 12. Here I’ve summarized that it shows us that God and His Word is in full control because it accomplishes what it says.
We observe that through the narrative of Rehoboam’s terrible decisions, the writer gives us 2 key comments which helps to divide the passage into 2.
1 Kgs 12:15 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 Kgs 12:24 ‘Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home, for this thing is from me.’ ” So they listened to the word of the Lord and went home again, according to the word of the Lord.
Verse 15 refers to the prophecy which prophet Ahijah told Jeroboam in 1 Kgs 11:30-33. This was the Lord’s punishment on Solomon for forsaking God and worshipping idols.
We note that Rehoboam on his own accord, listened to the advice of his younger counsellors. Making the already heavy yoke of burden of his father Solomon even heavier.
Though he sought both older and younger counsellors, why did he not seek the counsel of the priests or the prophets?
Why did he not seek those who would intercede with God for God’s direction?
Despite Rehoboam’s actions, we see that this was all part of God’s providential will being worked out.
Nothing that Rehoboam did surprised God. The writer says (v15) ‘it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord’.
As we view our own challenging situations, can we view them with quiet confidence that nothing surprises God? Would the sovereign hand of God enable us to exhibit resilience in the face of adversity?
For those going through a health, a relationship or a financial crisis, I pray that you take comfort in our God who is in full control.
In this first portion, may I summarize it as God’s sovereignty over Rehoboam’s stubbornness.
In the 2nd portion, we see the execution of the rejection by the people of Israel towards Rehoboam.
However, because of the repeated phase ‘house of David’ we get the sense that they were not so much rejecting Rehoboam, but the covenant promise which came through David.
The phase ‘house of David’ is repeated 4 times – v16 (2), v19, v20.
By this repeating of the ‘house of David’, I submit it is to stir in us, the feeling that God’s covenant with David seem to be in jeopardy.
That what was promised in 2 Sam 7 will not even last to the 3rd generation.
Then in v21, we see brothers taking up arms against each other.
If Judah which had 2 tribes could amassed 180,000 warriors, I’m sure Israel with 10 tribes could amass much more.
Will it be a bloody civil war that will end up destroying Judah and thus nullify the prophecy by God’s prophet:
1 Kgs 11:36 Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.
Here again we see that God is in sovereign control. His Word spoken by Shemaiah the man of God is obeyed.
This can only come about by the hand of God.
See, Rehoboam who is Solomon’s son is a proud man. He just boasted, my little finger is thicker than my father’s thigh.
Rehoboam has been humiliated, for his ambassador Adoram had been stoned to death by Israel.
I’m sure Rehoboam was boiling with anger and he just wanted to get out there and enforce his authority.
Yet he obeyed the instruction of Shemaiah – thus says the Lord, do not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home, for this thing is from me.
May I summarise it as God’s sovereignty enables Rehoboam’s humility. For surely only because of God’s gracious word was civil war is avoided.
In the first portion, God’s Word ensure that the kingdom was split. In this 2nd portion, God’s Word ensured that Judah is preserved.
Remember, we moved from ‘if’ to ‘since’ as we commemorated Easter. May this text has also helped us to gain more confidence in God’s Word, for it accomplishes what it says.
It confronts the disobedient (1 Kgs 12:25 – 13:34)
As we come to the 2nd segment of today’s sermon, we continue to see that the Word of God again is emphasized.
In chapter 13, the ‘word of the Lord’ is repeated 9 times – v1, 2, 5, 9, 17, 18, 20, 26, 32).
And as Jeroboam leads the people of the northern kingdom into idolatry, it is the word of God that confronts the disobedient king and Israelites.
I submit, such confrontations are God’s gracious way of discipline.
1 Kgs 11:30-31 was God’s promise to Jeroboam which he literally experienced fulfilled.
1 Kgs 11:30 Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes.
But does Jeroboam find security in God’s Word? No, as we see from 1 Kgs 12:25 – 33, he takes matters into his own hands.
He does not think that God, who has given him the 10 tribes will be able to keep the 10 tribes under him. Yet God had promised:
1 Kgs 11:37 And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. 38 And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.
He was so insecure, even though God had already said, I will build you a sure house. All you need to do is to obey my commands, walk in my ways like David my servant.
God said Jerusalem is where the temple is, where His name will dwell.
Jeroboam said I better have another place where they can focus their worship. Let me do it at Bethel and Dan.
Bethel and Dan were not just strategic locations, they were also significant in Israel’s history.
And to enhance these places of worship, he made 2 calves of gold. Alarm bells should begin to ring here for all of us. This brings back bad memories of Exodus 32.
Moses was up at Mt Sinai receiving instructions from God and when he was delayed in coming down, Aaron made a golden calf and led the Jews towards idolatry.
See how similar are the words of 1 Kgs and that of Exodus.
1 Kgs 12:28 Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
Ex 32:4 “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
So Jeroboam has substituted the place of worship (Jerusalem) and put an image of an idol where there should not be any.
Next, we see from v31, and then he began to create his own religious team.
1 Kgs 12:31 and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites.
God said only the tribe of Levi should provide priests. But Jeroboam wanted to select his own.
Finally, he had his own religious calendar as well.
1 Kgs 12:32 And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices on the altar.
God’s instruction for the Feast of Tabernacles, was instead to be on the 15th day of the 7th month.
What blatant idolatry that Jeroboam has committed. And all this began because he did not trust God to keep His promise.
May I submit that we are like that too.
We commit adultery in marriage because we do not believe in God’s promise that it is blessed to be faithful to the spouse God has given us.
We overwork ourselves, burning all our weekends as well as weekdays at the office because we do not believe in God’s promises that He will meet our every need.
Church, we make idols of things and people when we do not believe in God’s promises. That He loves us with an everlasting love and His plans for us is perfect.
At the height of Jeroboam’s disobedience, we see the gracious hand of God intervening.
As Jeroboam was about to make offerings on the altar of his idols, God sent a man of God with His Word.
Such grace – that God takes the initiative to reign in Jeroboam.
And the man of God predicts:
If we look at the table again, we will see that Josiah was a king of Judah that arrived in 640 BC. 300 years into the future.
As the prophecy is immediately fulfilled by the smashing of the altar, it signifies that the future sign of Josiah will also take place.
Not only did God’s Word of prophecy address the nation, it also addressed Jeroboam personally. For his hand became frozen as he stretched it out against God’s spokesman.
By the destruction of the altar, God has proven to all that He is more powerful than any of the idols.
By God’s healing of Jeroboam’s stricken arm, God is showing His wonderful graciousness.
Here we are reminded of Heb12:7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
God is caring for Jeroboam as his child, thus taking the initiative to discipline him. God was even gracious to answer his prayer for healing mercy, though it was part of his discipline.
Yet we will read in v33 – 1 Kgs 13:33 Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places.
Church, do we see the confrontation of our sins, by our siblings-in-Christ, using Scripture, as God’s gracious discipline?
Let’s not dismiss it as them, being too nosey. Let’s not criticise them, as trying to find fault?
Jeroboam displayed what I call the ‘perfume’ type of faith. The fair-weather kind. The one that sees God as a genie, to give us what we want.
He asked God for healing of his hand here and he will seek God again in chapter 14 to heal his sick son. Jeroboam only sought God when he wanted God to do something for him.
We need to be warned as well today. Let us not have this ‘perfume’ type of faith. Approaching God as a genie to fulfil our desires. Not wanting instead to obediently walk in God’s ways.
And this warning of full obedience is illustrated for us in the man of God that brought the judgement to Jeroboam.
The word of the Lord told this man what to say to Jeroboam and that he should not receive hospitality and to return by another route from the one that brought him to Bethel.
In the face of tremendous threat from king Jeroboam, this man was faithful to God’s Word.
Yet however we see sadly that he was not faithful fully and was undone by a lie from an old prophet, in a normal situation.
I know we would have many questions about this text which will go unanswered. Such as why so drastic a punishment for being deceived. How come the old prophet was not punished.
I don’t think the author will give us any clues. I think that’s not his focus.
But may I submit the following:
The old liar who had been faking about hearing from God was now shocked to actually receive, a true word from God.
It shows that God’s Word can work through anybody. He is sovereign.
Again God’s Word proves true. He is in full control. And He requires obedience in big and small ways.
As God’s word has proven true in the past, so God’s Word will be fulfilled in the future.
God’s word powerfully confronts the disobedient.
And so we are left to reflect, are we not like Jeroboam as well, repeatedly rejecting God even when His word graciously confronted us?
Will the young prophet also be a warning for us that God requires full and complete obedience?
And especially for those of us in leadership, God is also concerned about the small things, the private things.
It penetrates beyond the surface (1 Kgs 14:1-20)
I mentioned about the genie effect earlier. This plays out in again in chapter 14.
Even though Jeroboam rejects God’s Word that has graciously confronted him. When his child is dying, he again turns to God.
He now attempts to hide his wife’s identity and to bribe the prophet Ahijah.
I’ve entitled this section as God’s Word is in full control because it penetrates beyond the surface.
Ahijah is blind, but God informs him that Jeroboam’s wife is coming to see him regarding the health of her son.
We can fool man but God sees everything and discerns even our thoughts and desires. And so we are led to recall:
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
And in v7 – 9, we see that Jeroboam is judged because of his rejection of God’s grace.
V7 & 8 speaks about what God had firstly done for Jeroboam – torn the kingdom away from the house of David and given it to him. Yet in v9, Jeroboam has run straight into idolatry.
In my introduction, I mentioned the Ten Commandments in Deut 5. It begins significantly with God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery and then the appropriate response to put God first.
God is reminding Jeroboam of the same thing here.
In the light of Easter, this same principle applies to us as well:
1 Cor 6:20 You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
And we observe too, that God’s judgement on Jeroboam’s idolatry has both an immediate and a long-term impact:
And as surely as the first judgement is fulfilled, so too all the other two will come to pass. The final one is the exile of Israel in 2 Kings 17.
Though Jeroboam dies by v20, his terrible legacy has a lasting impact. The shadow of Jeroboam will cast long into 1 & 2 Kings.
1 Kgs 14:16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.”
This phase in v16 will be repeated as the benchmark that evil kings are compared with. They are repeated:
Jeroboam is benchmarked 14 times subsequently. As he followed Aaron with the golden calves, many others will follow Jeroboam in idolatry.
Church, I pray that this be never said of us as individuals and as a church.
I’ve emphasized frequently that the Christian faith is more caught than taught. And this is equally true for idolatry.
May the Lord have mercy on all of us and by His Holy Spirit, prevent us, from modelling idolatry for our younger generation.
From the historical point, this is the beginning of the end.
Yet we see throughout that God graciously sends His Word to control, confront, and bring out the truth. And God’s Word has been observed to be powerful, active and sure.
Yes, this is a dark period. It reminds us that we cannot put our hope in nations, in kings and even in priests.
On the road to Emmaus, after Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to two of His disciples Lk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Because the sure word of God points to Jesus the Living Word, we can place our hope in Jesus the Son of David. For He has fully obeyed God’s will.
In the light of Easter, because ‘If’ has now become ‘Since’, the apostle Paul says,
Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.