1 Kings 12:1-20 (Part 3) – Marriage Breakups, Rock Slides, Revolts – They Don’t Just Happen Overnight!

Posted: January 9, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 12:1-20 (Part 3)

The Northern Tribes Revolt

Marriage break-ups, rock slides, the uprising of the northern tribes of Israel against the king, what do they all have in common? They don’t just all of a sudden happen. What you see publicly is the end of a long process that led to what you publicly see.

Our neighbors are going through a marriage breakup. It seemed shocking to us when we first figured out that the wife and kids were no longer next door. We have been living beside them for nine months now. They are very private people and have been real slow to get to know us. Their kids are just soooo cute. They love “Mr. Mark” next door. We used to talk every day when I would come home from work and they would be outside playing. Their dad and I would talk and the kids would constantly interrupt so that they could talk to Mr. Mark. Then, all of a sudden, the kids were not there anymore. The wife’s car was never there overnight. We began seeing her come by in the mornings to drop the oldest child off with the dad (I assume so he could take the little boy to school) while she kept the smaller kids and would drive off. What happened to this marriage? This apparent breakup of the couple next door makes me profoundly sad. I liked both of them and their kids were so cute and so smart. This apparent break-up most likely was a long time coming though. To the outside world, the break-up just all of a sudden happened. No marriage, though, just breaks up on a single day. It’s the end of a long, arduous road.

From my own experience,  marriages break-up long before one of the two spouses walks out the door and says “it’s over!” Marriages breakup by the day, the week, the month and the year that passes by when one spouse feels disrespected and lonely and unimportant to the other spouse. Marriages break up long before the outside world sees the real, tangible effects of the break-up – people not living together anymore, exchanging children, children crying at these exchanges, lawyers being hired, divorce hearings being held, and so on and so on. Marriage break-ups begin with small cracks. Marriage break-ups happen when the cracks in the marriage are not mended. Marriage break-ups begin when we could care less what our spouse thinks. Marriage break-ups begin when we become self-centered and make our spouse our enemy. Marriage break-ups begin when we look for our spouse’s imperfections and demonize each one. Marriage break-ups begin when we start to idolize the single life of others. Marriage break-ups begin when we start to think that we are trapped in a marriage rather than blessed to have someone who knows all our imperfections but loves us anyway. Marriage break-ups begin when we place ourselves, our rights, our wants, our needs, our desires above the marriage.

Just as rock slides on a mountain highway appear to just happen overnight. But the rockslide is the end result of a process that may have begun as late as when the first started excavating the mountain when they were building the highway. It may have begun even before that – over years and years when a crack first appeared in a rock. With that crack unattended, weather and time made it larger and larger until the point of the rockslide that everyone sees. That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through this passage once again – how marriages don’t just all of a sudden break up. Let’s read how this idea of placing my own needs about the needs of others plays out in 1 Kings 12:1-20:

Chapter 12

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt,[a] for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. 3 The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. 4 “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”

5 Rehoboam replied, “Give me three days to think this over. Then come back for my answer.” So the people went away.

6 Then King Rehoboam discussed the matter with the older men who had counseled his father, Solomon. “What is your advice?” he asked. “How should I answer these people?”

7 The older counselors replied, “If you are willing to be a servant to these people today and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your loyal subjects.”

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. 9 “What is your advice?” he asked them. “How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?”

10 The young men replied, “This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! 11 Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s decision, just as the king had ordered. 13 But Rehoboam spoke harshly to the people, for he rejected the advice of the older counselors 14 and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!”

15 So the king paid no attention to the people. This turn of events was the will of the Lord, for it fulfilled the Lord’s message to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh.

16 When all Israel realized that the king had refused to listen to them, they responded,

“Down with the dynasty of David!

    We have no interest in the son of Jesse.

Back to your homes, O Israel!

    Look out for your own house, O David!”

So the people of Israel returned home. 17 But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.

18 King Rehoboam sent Adoniram,[b] who was in charge of forced labor, to restore order, but the people of Israel stoned him to death. When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. 19 And to this day the northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David.

20 When the people of Israel learned of Jeroboam’s return from Egypt, they called an assembly and made him king over all Israel. So only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David.

In this passage, we see that these events mark the beginning of the division of the kingdom that lasted for centuries. Of Israel’s twelve (12) tribes, ten (10) followed Jeroboam and called their new nation, Israel (the northern kingdom). Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam and called their nation, Judah (the southern kingdom). The kingdom did not split overnight. It was already dividing as early as the days of the judges because of tribal jealousies, especially between Ephraim, the most influential tribe of the north, and Judah, the chief tribe of the south. Before the days of Saul and David, the religious center of Israel was located for the most part, in the territory of Ephraim. When Solomon built the Temple, Jerusalem became the religious center of Israel. This jealousy and others eventually reach their boiling point after Solomon’s death and causes the split of the nation. What can we learn from this passage?

This passage has been part of a three part series that relates it to marriage. That remains today in this final installment on this passage. Here, we see the breakup of the nation of Israel into two separate nations. How did we get to this point? Dignitaries outside of Israel may have been shocked to learn that what was the mighty nation of Israel all of a sudden breaks into two smaller nations. In 1 Kings we go from the height of Solomon’s reign to his death rather quickly. The fact that the author of 1 Kings makes short shrift of the final years of Solomon’s life must mean that there was nothing spiritually significant occurring during that period, nothing that was worth instructing future generations about when it comes to our relationship with God. Therefore, Solomon must have strayed greatly from the Lord during this time and become self-centered and oppressive. There is mention of all the building he was doing (none of which was instructed by the Lord apparently) and all the taxes that he raised during that time. So the seeds of dissent and the road to the break-up of the nation were sown by Solomon’s own arrogance.

The same is true in our marriages. Break-ups don’t just happen overnight. People don’t just wake up one morning and say, “I think I will leave my wife/husband today!” It may seem that way to casual observers from the outside and we act shocked when it happens. However, on the inside of the marriage, break-ups are at the end of a journey where the spouses lose respect for one another and for the marriage that they entered into. Marriages fail long before the break-up. Marriages fail when we stop talking to one another. Marriage fail when we fail to consider the impact of our behavior on our spouse. Marriages fail when we do not treat our spouse as if their needs are greater than our own. Marriages fail when we do not try to understand our spouse’s point of view or our spouse’s feelings. Marriages fail when we lose the desire to spend time with and have things in common with our spouse (then marriage becomes simply logistics of life, particularly when you have kids). Marriages fail when spouses simply do not do life together. To do life together, you have to consider your spouse. When we focus on ourselves and only what we want, we are just people living in the same house. Just as Solomon did not consider what impact his actions would have on his people and did not consult them on anything and it resulted in resentment, so too can our self-centered behaviors cause resentment in our marriages.

Just as Jesus thought so much of us (even though we were imperfect creatures full of sin) and was willing to go to the cross for us, so too should we be about our marriages. To prevent trouble in our marriages, we need to let go of that cultural idea that this life is all about me. It’s not about me when I am married. It is about my spouse and me loving her so much that I would give my life for her. It is about me loving her even though she is not just like me and doesn’t think like me and doesn’t process information and feelings just like me. It is about me loving her anyway. Where did we get this idea that it’s all about me? Marriage is about two people becoming a couple. The trinity of God is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who have co-existed for eternity and yet they are one. Our marriages should emulate, though we are imperfect sinners, the wonderful, complementary functioning of the Trinity where we have our individual natures but we are one. Marriage is not about me. When we make it about ourselves, you begin sowing the seeds of the break-up of your marriage. Just as the seeds of the dissolution of the united kingdom of Israel, just did not happen overnight, so too it is with our marriages. When marriages break-up, it’s not just some sudden thing. It is the end of a road.

Father, in heaven, I pray that we treat our marriages with the same love that you had for us when you sacrificed yourself for us so that we could no longer be condemned. Help us to love our spouses with the same love that you have for us – willing to set aside our own rights and glory in order that we may live and thrive. May we love our spouses for more than what they can do for us. May we love them for what we can do for them. May we love them that we would make sacrifices so that they could be taken care, feel loved, feel communicated with, feel secure. Help us to love our spouses with the agape love of Christ and not with self-centered love as to what they can do for me. It’s not about me.

Amen and Amen. ess that

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