Jeroboam got off to a bad start and never did climb his way out of the pit. For that matter, it seems he never tried. Rehoboam, however, didn’t do much better.
All the priests, Levites, and other God-fearing people went to Judah to join Rehoboam, after Jeroboam rejected them, and for a few years, he seemed to be trying to please God. But then, for some reason, he started worshiping other gods, and Israel followed his lead. The reasons for this are not clear. One reason may have been pride. It says in II Chronicles that it was after Reheboam’s position was established and he became strong that he turned his back on God. It’s also possible, that his mother had a bad influence on him. Twice in I Kings, it mentions that his mother was an Ammonite. The only reason I can see for mentioning this is that she was the one responsible for corrupting him. But that is just conjecture on my part.
At any rate, many of the Israelites in Judah started to follow the religious practices of the nations around them, and as a result, God said to them,
You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak (king of Egypt). (II Chronicles 12:5)
Shishak, in fact, had already captured several cities and was now attacking Jerusalem.
Rehoboam and the people, upon hearing this, humbled themselves before the Lord, and as a result, the Lord relented somewhat on his judgment. He told Shemaiah the prophet,
Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands. (II Chronicles 12:7-8)
When we turn our backs on God and start serving sin, he basically tells us the same thing. Until we repent from our sin, he will let sin reign in our lives until we see the difference between serving him and serving sin.
What’s the difference? When we serve sin, it may seem fun for a while, but two things happen. While we may initially choose to serve sin, we soon find that we cannot stop. It enchains us and we are no longer in control. Rather, sin controls us. Many men, for example, get involved in pornography, but soon find that they cannot stop themselves. Even though it may be destroying their relationship with their wives, they cannot stop. Other people start abusing alcohol, and soon find that they cannot stop themselves even though it may be wrecking their families and their lives.
And that’s the second thing sin does. It destroys us, and robs us of the joy that God intended us to have. Instead it leaves us with a poor substitute. When Shishak came, among other things, he took away all the gold shields Solomon had made. So Rehoboam made new shields…out of bronze. And that’s what sin does. Instead of giving us a fulfilling marriage, it leaves us a series of broken relationships. Instead of giving us lasting joy, it leaves us a happiness that is only temporary, and then leaves us empty.
But when we follow Christ, he not only gives us eternal life, but he gives us a life on this earth that is full and complete. This is not to say that our lives will always be “happy, happy, joy, joy.” But when we look back on our lives, we will be able to say that we lived a life worth living.
Are you tired and burdened from serving sin? Then turn to Christ. He’ll take that burden that is weighing you down and give you rest. In the words of Jesus himself,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)