1 Kings 12:1-19
Understanding Israel’s national history and specifically Israel as a kingdom must be done by considering God’s redemptive actions through the restoration of His right to rule over all.
In this series of blogs we are going to look at the kingdom of Israel dividing under the rule of Rehoboam into a Northern and Southern kingdom. These blogs will attempt to investigate which events led to the divided kingdom, its consequences and what lessons we can draw from this historical account. The first question is why study ancient Biblical history at all? The Bible teaches that all of its writings are profitable for teaching and training in righteousness, so that we are in shape for the tasks God has for us (2 Tim. 3:16). Paul states that although the Old Testament was written long ago, it was in order to teach us what God has done and provide us with hope for what He will do next (Rom. 15:4). The history of Israel was recorded for us as both a warning from the past and guidance for the future (1 Cor. 10:6, 11). God revealed Himself initially in the temporal natural order of human history. Through His interaction within the actual history of His people, He opened up our understanding to spiritual realities which are eternal (1 Cor. 15:46, 47). The Old Testament was the shadow of the fullness of what God wanted to establish through His Davidic Messianic King (Col. 2:17). So lets us delve deeply into what lessons we can extract from this heartrending historical account.
In order for us to fully understand this specific national historical event within the context of God’s Kingdom, we need to take one step back and look at the grand overarching narrative of the Bible which is the redemptive story of God’s Kingdom. The revealed purpose of God is more than just the spiritual salvation of humanity; it is the establishment of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. In the Bible “…God by both his words and deeds claims that he is intent on bringing the kingdom of God to expression and restoring his liberating domain of authority.”[i]. The kingdom of God is the pivotal and central reality revealed throughout Scripture. The hopeful expectation of humanity for ultimate salvation is articulated in the concept of the kingdom of God [ii]. The Bible starts with God creating ex nihilo (out of nothing) and so establishes God’s right to rule His creation due to His sovereignty over it. God delegated His reign by giving humanity dominion over creation. Humanity is created in the image of God to represent God’s rule and reign on earth[iii]. Satan firstly defied God’s rulership and deceived humanity into seeking autonomy from God [iv]. The rebellion against the rulership of God (Rom. 3:23) by humanity’s original parents is redemptively restored through God’s dynamic reign against all opposition in human history [v].
The individual’s entry into the kingdom is accompanied by the forming of a community, “…a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (1 Pet. 2:9). This community has the privilege to participate in the ushering in of God’s kingdom (Eph. 3:10). God is saving individuals into a people for His name. The fullness of redemptive rule is discovered with in a called out community that will receive the fullness of the Kingdom. The fullness of the Kingdom is to be represented not by individuals or tribal Israel (Gal. 6:15-16) but a called people who will bear His name and fulfil His purposes [vi]. The nations are a concern of God since humanity’s communal life is expressed through nations [vii]. Mankind’s fallenness displayed in the nations is described as “…the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud” (Isa. 57:20). The Psalmist enquires why “do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD …” (Psa. 2:1-2). Genesis 11 records the account of nations rebelling against God at Babel. The Psalmist affirms that – “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.” (Psa. 72:11).
God chose the offspring of Abraham to be the vehicle of restoration to all nations. In order for God to work out His redemptive purposes on earth he called a man Abram out of Ur. Hebrews 11:16 states that he was looking for a heavenly country, whose source is God. The renamed Abraham’s primary concern was finding the perfect rule of God over society; this search made him the “heir of the world” (Rom. 4:13). In Genesis 12 God promises Abraham that His offspring will become a great nation with promises of territory and the fact that all nations were going to be blessed through his offspring. God chose the descendants of Abraham to be the vehicle of restoration to all nations. The promise is repeated to both Isaac (Gen. 26:3, 5) and Jacob (Gen. 28:13-14). God demonstrates His power against the national gods of Egypt and delivers Israel from captivity. In Exodus 19:6 God states that His purpose for choosing Israel is to create a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” that were to mediate God’s Kingdom to all nations. The climax in Israel’s national history was during the reign of David and his son.
[i] (Verkuyl 1979:168)
[ii] (Ladd 1981:13-23)
[iii] (Goldsworthy 2001:n.p.)
[iv] (Van Rheenen 1996:21)
[v] (Goldsworthy 2008:4)
[vi] (Fee 1996:1223)
[vii] (Wright 2006:454)
Fee, GD. 1996. Paul, the Spirit and the People of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Gaffin, RB 1988. “Kingdom of God.” in New Dictionary of Theology, edited by SB Ferguson and JI Packer. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Goldsworthy, G 2001. “Kingdom of God.” in Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by TD Alexander and BS Rosner. electronic ed. ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Goldsworthy, G. 2008. “The Kingdom of God as hermeneutic grid.” Southern Baptist Joernal of Theology Spring:4-15.
Ladd, GD. 1981. The Gospel of the Kingdom. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Meer, E v. d. 2008. The strategic level spiritual warfare theology of C. Peter Wagner and its implications for Christian mission in Malawi. Pretoria: UNISA.
Reid, DG 1993. “Triumph.” in Dictionary of Paul and his letters, edited by GF Hawthorne, RP Martin, and DG Reid. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Ridderbos, HN 1996. “Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven.” in New Bible Dictionary, edited by DRW Wood. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
Verkuyl, J. 1979. “The Kingdom of God as the Goal of the Missio Dei.” International Review of Mission 68 168-175.
Williams, JR. 1992. Renewal Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.