1 Kings 11.29-40 tells us about a very interesting prophecy. The prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found Jereboam (“he increases the people”) as he was leaving Jerusalem and was dressed (Ahijah) in a new cloak. When they were alone, Ahijah took his new garment and tore it up into 12 pieces. He told Jereboam to take pieces and said Yehovah is going to tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon (out of his family) and give ten tribes to Jereboam to rule over. He then goes on to give the reasons for this. They have forsaken the Lord and the Torah, but he will not do this during the days of Solomon because of David.
However, he will take it from his son’s hand and leave him with Judah and Benjamin so that David would have a “lamp” (heirs) always before the Lord in Jerusalem. Jereboam would reign over the ten northern tribes of Israel. Yehovah was going to afflict the descendants of David because of Solomon’s idolatry, but not forever. Judah will flourish under Hezekiah and Josiah, and ultimately Yeshua (Luke 1.32). So Solomon sought to kill Jereboam when he found out. This is another piece of evidence documenting the decline of Solomon. He thought he could thwart God’s plan about Jereboam, but he couldn’t do it.
1 Kings 11.41-43 will tell us about the death of Solomon. He reigned 40 years and it seems he died at about the age of 60 years old. God’s promise to him in 1 Kings 3.14 was not fulfilled because he disobeyed the Lord. He was buried with his fathers and some say there is no indication that he ever repented of his sins. However, some believe he wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes at the end of his life, renouncing all as “vanity.” So, that book is a full accounting of his “teshuvah” (repentance). The Golden Age of Israel ends with the death of Solomon.
1 Kings 12.1-33 now begins to tell us about Rehoboam (“the people are enlarged”), Solomon’s son, and the division of Israel. He was made king in Shechem and the conditions in which the kings were subject were renewed (1 Sam 8.10-17, 10.25). The people and the elders requested that their taxes be lighter. What they should have complained about they never mention, and that is the idolatry Solomon had set before them.
Shechem had a long history as we have seen so far in our Tanak Foundations study. Abraham worshiped there (Gen 12.6) and Jacob built an altar there and bought land (Gen 33.18-20). Joseph was buried there (Josh 24.32) and it was the center of the northern tribes. This showed that Rehoboam was in a position of weakness here, having to meet the ten tribes on their territory instead of representatives going to Jerusalem.
Jereboam heard about this in Egypt and came to confront Rehoboam. He was told earlier that he would rule over a portion of a divided Israel (1 Kings 11.26-40). The people wanted lighter taxes and God warned Israel about this in 1 Sam 8.10-19. Rehoboam talked with the elder counselors and they advised him to show kindness and be a servant, but he would not listen to them. Then he consulted his young friends, the ones he grew up with. He rejected the counsel of the older elders before he even talked with his friends. Rehoboam already knew what he wanted to do and what fit into his plans. He was looking for someone that would tell him what he wanted to hear. The younger group was more likely to tell Rehoboam what he wanted to hear.
Rehoboam was unwise here. Sometimes we need to seek advice from those outside our situation because they can see things more clearly. The young friends of Rehoboam advised the opposite of the elders. They wanted Rehoboam to be confrontational and more feared than Solomon. Solomon and the people had a shared purpose and believed in what he was doing (Temple, palace, fortresses, building the nation, etc). Rehoboam did not have a shared purpose with the people. He just wanted the people to follow what he said because they feared a tyrant. He was a dictator with no vision or talent and this will open the door to hundreds of years of distress, trouble and eventual destruction.
So he answered the people and Jereboam harshly (v 14-15) but this was a turn of events from Yehovah. The coming defection was God’s will which Ahijah the prophet had predicted (1 Kings 11.29-35). Rehoboam is rejected as king over the 10 northern tribes, but they not only rejected the foolish Rehoboam, the whole Davidic dynasty (v 16). So Israel “departed to their tents” which is an idiom meaning “went over” and it is a carryover expression from the time in the wilderness.
So Rehoboam sent Adoram to punish those who opposed him, making good on his promise. He was the wrong person to send. He was a harsh man (1 Kings 4.6, 5.14) and all Israel stoned him. Now Rehoboam knew the 10 tribes were serious. From this point on, the name of Israel will refer to the 10 northern tribes, and the name Judah will refer to the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Jereboam is made king and is known as King Jereboam I because a later king would come along known as Jereboam II (2 Chr 14.23-29).
Rehoboam wanted to go to war with Israel but Yehovah sent Shemaiah (“heard by Yehovah”) to Rehoboam to tell him not to go to war. Yehovah said, “This thing has come from me” (v 24). Shemaiah stopped 180,000 men from going to war, and then disappears from history. The question is, “Why don’t we have such prophets today?” So let’s look into that briefly.
There are four things to remember when judging a so-called “prophet.” First, does what they say come true? Second, does it line up with Scripture, including the Torah? Signs and wonders can be a sign, but not necessarily proving that that person was sent from God. The False Prophet will show “miracles” but he does not teach the truth. The purpose of a miracle is to draw attention to what the person who “did the miracle” is saying and teaching.
The third thing to know is when judging a prophet is that everyone knew who the prophets were in the Bible because Yehovah made sure the people knew who they were. These prophets were certified with signs from the Lord, and that’s why there were consequences for not listening to them. Elijah, Moses and every other true prophet was known by the people, and if the people didn’t know they were from God, they could prove it (1 Sam 3.20).
The last thing to remember is the prophet had a very specific word for the people from Yehovah before an event happened. He told them exactly what to do to avoid judgment. So-called “prophets” today are ambiguous about what they mean by “repentance.” They don’t tell people what to do like, “turn to the Torah and stop desecrating the Sabbath.” They say what will sell books and not offend anyone. But what they tell people to do better line up with the Scriptures, not Replacement Theology.
False prophets are all over an event after it happens. They will say, “I saw this in a dream” after the event happened. Or they will take some ambiguous statement they said years before and make it say that they predicted what happened in reality. The Lord does not do things that way. He will have a true, certified and recognized prophet (everyone knew who they were) come and predict an event, like Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh. The Lord will be very specific through the prophet and the prophet will say exactly what the Lord wants said so it cannot be confused with the natural order of things. Then he will tell the people what to do before an event happens. For a deeper look into the subject, see our teaching called “Are There True Prophets of God Today” on this website. There are no true prophets of God today (that we know of) because the Lord has not raised any up right now, however, we know during the Birth-pains that there will be the Two Witnesses and the 144,00 at least who will function as prophets and teachers. So, it is not that there will be no more true prophets, but there are no true prophets out there right now.
Next time we will pick up in 1 Kings 12.25-33 in Part 13.