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Seeds of the Kingdom

Could Have Done So Much Better

by John Sainsbury

Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the LORD’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah.
2 Chronicles 12:12, NIV

I’m not sure if the same sort of thing would be written on a child’s school report now, but in days gone by (well in my school days anyway), one expression seemed to appear quite often. “Could do better!”

When the chronicler gives his assessment of the reign of King Solomon’s son Rehoboam you get the feeling that he is saying something along similar lines. “Could have done so much better!”

I guess that coming after his father Solomon (‘the wisest man that ever lived’) was always going to be an incredibly hard act to follow. But Rehoboam made a very unpromising start by deliberately choosing to ignore the guidance of his father’s more experienced and mature advisors and listening instead to the younger men in his own circle (2 Chronicles 10).

The result was disastrous: the division of Israel, which left Rehoboam ruling over the much-diminished southern kingdom of Judah. Even then, though, the migration of many priests and Levites from the northern kingdom to Judah seemed to strengthen his position (2 Chronicles 11:13-17). However, it was after things had settled down, and Rehoboam’s position as king was established (2 Chronicles 12:1), that he committed his gravest mistake. ‘He and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the LORD.’

Because Rehoboam was unfaithful to the LORD, he exposed both himself and his people to attack from the king of Egypt. And it was only when Rehoboam humbled himself, that the LORD’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah (2 Chronicles 12:12).

How easy it is for any of us to fall into the same trap! When we go through times of struggle, we call out to God for help. But when things are better, and we feel strong again, how easy it is to forget the God who came to our rescue and rely instead on our own strength!

I guess the point of a report card which suggests we could to better is to encourage us to try harder. But for those of us who follow Jesus, it’s not more effort that’s required, but more reliance on the LORD. The God who made us, actually shaped us to need Him in all circumstances. We’re designed to seek Him, to lean on Him, to walk closely with Him. In times of struggle and in times of blessing may this be so.

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.

 

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