The Bible in a Year – 28 September

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

28 September. 2 Chronicles chapters 11-14

Sadly, with these chapters we return to the old story of war between the peoples of the near east.  The history is clearly written from the viewpoint of Judah, reigned during this time by three descendants of David – Rehoboam, Abijah and Asa.

Rehoboam is pictured as someone who starts off listening to God (taking the advice of the prophets not to start a civil war against the tribes that had broken anyway) but later in life turns away from God and is therefore defeated by the North Africans, an alliance of Egyptians, Libyans and Ethiopians  with “countless” infantry and 60,000 cavalry.

Abijah reversed his father’s policy towards Israel and fought against Jeroboam’s 800,000 “mighty warriors”.  Despite being outnumbered, and caught in a pincer movement, the fact that Abijah worshipped the true God while Rehoboam allegedly worshipped idols and “goat demons” meant that God gave victory to the Judeans.

In Asa’s day, this ‘good’ king did all he could to root out idols, destroying their places of worship. As a result, God gave him victory over, this time, an Ethiopian army numbering a million!

I’m sure these tales of derring-do and contrast between faithful worshippers of Yahweh and idolatrous worshippers of goat-demons are propaganda that have to be taken with a larger pinch of salt than covered Lot’s wife.  The bit that rings true to me, though, is the word of God to Rehoboam through the prophet Shemaiah: “You shall not go up or fight against your kindred. Let everyone return home, for this thing is from me.” (11:4).  That is God’s true nature: to call on people to be reconciled, not to gather armies and fight.  Human nature is always to seek revenge and turn to conflict, but as Jesus famously said several centuries later, “blessed are the peacemakers”.  Of these three kings, Rehoboam seems to have been the most godly.

The Bible in a Year – 17 April

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

17 April. 1 Kings chapters 12-14

Following Solomon’s long and apparently successful reign, things rapidly fall apart.  Firstly, as we read yesterday, there was a division in the nation between the majority of the tribes following Jeroboam and the tribe of Judah that remained loyal to Solomon’s son Rehoboam.  The theological reason given initially in chapter 11 was that Solomon was led astray by his foreign wives; in 14:22-24 we find that this idolatry had become widespread in the land.  But Jeroboam was no better: he repeated the sin of Aaron by making idols in the form of golden calves for the people of Israel to worship.


We are also given, in chapter 12, a more secular reason for the rebellion against Solomon’s house, which is the “heavy yoke” that he laid on the people by using forced labour. That was the real cost of his great buildings and royal splendour.  A ruler’s wealth is rarely acquired without someone, somewhere, suffering, whether it is the ruler’s own subjects, or people working as slaves in other parts of the world.


Both of these can still be seen today, only it is more obvious with the spread of globalisation and the internet.  We cannot plead ignorance of the people who suffer in developing countries to produce the cheap goods that we consume in the West, and justice demands that we do something about it, even if is just looking for Fairtrade products, boycotting the companies known to be the worst offenders, or supporting political action.  For instance, Traidcraft ran a campaign from 2014-2016 in which tens of thousands of people called for a change in the law to allow prosecution of UK-based companies who are “getting away with things in developing countries which just wouldn’t be allowed in the UK.”


Rehoboam could have saved the day, if he had listened to the counsel of the older advisers who said that he should become more of a servant to the people; but his pride would not allow this and he listened instead to his own sycophants who told him to oppress the people even more.  It reads like a repeat of the story of Israel in Egypt in the time of Moses, only this time, the oppression is by their own leaders, and instead of God rescuing his people from a foreign power, he would use foreign powers to remove his people from the land.  But for now, all that is yet to come.