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“And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”
~ 2 Chronicles 12:7-8
Rehoboam had thought to lead Judah and Benjamin to war against Jeroboam and Israel. He had gathered an army for that purpose and was prepared to strike. Then God sent Shemaiah, His prophet, to tell Rehoboam not to go up against their brothers. Rehoboam obeyed the Word of God and a three year revival began. The kingdom of Judah was strengthened, Rehoboam was strengthened, and they walked in God’s way.
Chapter twelve begins with the sad report: “And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him” (verse 1). After the Lord blessed them remarkably, they left off from God’s Word to go their own way. In God’s purpose, He sent the king of Egypt up against Judah, “because they had transgressed against the LORD” (verse 2). Shishak captured the fenced cities of Judah on his march to Jerusalem.
With an innumerable host arrayed against them, Rehoboam was holed up in Jerusalem with the princes of Judah in council together. Shemaiah came once again to them with the Word of the Lord: “Thus saith the LORD, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak” (verse 5). At this word, Rehoboam and the princes humbled themselves in repentance and made the only right confession: “The LORD is righteous” (verse 6). The Lord would not allow Shishak to destroy them because they had humbled themselves before Him.
We could draw a number of lessons from chapters eleven and twelve, but we will confine ourselves to one in particular for this devotion. The thoughts are provoked from part of God’s response in our text: “Therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance” (verse 7). God said He would prevent their destruction, but He would only grant them some deliverance. God did not sweep away the Egyptians but rather allowed them to bring Judah under tribute and into service to the king of Egypt. Though He received their repentance, He still chastened them.
This brings us to what we want to consider in this event—the sovereignty of God and the consequences of wrong choices. Let’s consider a brief summary of this account:
- Rehoboam and company made a wrong choice—to fight against Israel.
- The Lord warned them about it—He sent Shemaiah with His Word.
- They obeyed—chose the right course.
- The Lord blessed them—three years of prosperity.
- Rehoboam and company made a wrong choice—forsook God’s Word.
- The Lord chastened them—sent Shishak against them and he took their cities.
- The Lord rebuked them—He sent Shemaiah with His Word.
- They were convicted and humbled themselves—confessed the Lord’s judgment against them was right.
- The Lord delivered them from destruction—restrained Shishak.
- The Lord yet chastened them to teach them—brought under tribute to Egypt.
- Things worked out in the end—in Judah things went well.
There is a way of reading these events and jumping to the end with an erroneous conclusion:
Well, everything worked out well in the end and it really doesn’t matter what happened before that.
God is sovereign. He will work everything out to His glory.
No matter what, what is done is what God intended to be done.
Though many would not put it in those exact terms, the practical application of this misunderstanding of God’s sovereignty is not uncommon among those who most profess to believe it. Though there may be some grains of truth in those statements, they exude flippancy and fall far short of our responsibility before God. Quite often, they merely mask our desire to do what we want or they cover up our refusal to do the hard work of finding direction in God’s Word.
It is tempting to expand on this subject, but I want to stick to the main point. We need to learn the lesson of Rehoboam: We are responsible for what we do and there are consequences for doing the wrong things. Their impending destruction was abated but God yet chastened them with service to Egypt. God had warned of this chastisement before:
- Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. (Deuteronomy 28:47-48)
All decisions do not have the same significance in our lives, the lives of others, or the life of the church. Some are small, near trivial, and some are profoundly important. Of course, wisdom is required to discern the difference. But all decisions should be submitted to the lordship of Christ. The desire of the regenerate heart is to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In His Word and in His Spirit, God has given us everything we need to live godly in this present world (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; Psalm 1:1-6; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Let us ever seek His face and never abuse His sovereignty to justify our laziness, selfishness, ignorance, pride, or rebellion. If we seek our own way, God may well deliver us into the hands of our enemies to learn better to see, love, and seek His service.