Thursday, April 17, 2014

1 Kings 12-14 I will add to your yoke

From 1 Kings 12-14

1 Ki 12.1-15; Rehoboam; Rehoboam’s Folly
1 Ki 12.16-24; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; The Kingdom Divided
1 Ki 12.25-33; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; Jeroboam’s Golden Calves
1 Ki 13.1-10; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; A Man of God Confronts Jeroboam
1 Ki 13.11-34; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; The Prophet’s Disobedience
1 Ki 14.1-18; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; Prophecy Against Jeroboam
1 Ki 14.19-20; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; The Death of Jeroboam
1 Ki 14.21-41; Rehoboam; Jeroboam; Rehoboam Reigns in Judah

Passage and Comments
Once Solomon turns away, the LORD begins the raise up opposition to his rule. His name is Jeroboam. Because he was initially in charge of labour, I imagine him to be a bit like a workplace union leader. His opposition continues into the reign of his son Rehoboam. The reign of Rehoboam marks a significant element of the timeline of Israel. The nation divides into two groups known as Judah and Israel.
12 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. (1 Ki 12.1-5)
The yoke he refers to the workload that was imposed upon them by Solomon. He describes Solomons yoke as heavy. Note, Jeroboam at this point has not declined to serve Rehoboam, rather he wants a lessening of the burden upon the people he represents. If Rehoboam does this they will continue to serve him.
6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. 9 And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. 11 And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’ ” (1 Ki 12.6-11)
Its hard to understand why Rehoboam would take this advice over the advice of the older men. It will obviously increase tensions with his rule. Perhaps they had no idea of what it was like to work as Jeroboams people did and thought they were slacking off. None the less, what they instruct him to say will be very hard to accept.
12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13 And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, 14 he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. (1 Ki 12.12-15)
The king speaks to the people harshly. He does not listen to the people. He tries to lay a heavy burden on them he had no desire to put on himself. Ironically, in doing so he fulfills the LORD prediction of Jeroboams rule through Ahijah the prophet.
16 And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents. (1 Ki 12:16)
So Jeroboam and Israel spit the dummy and refuse to be ruled by the man who proved to be a bit of a tyrant. The story of Rehoboam is obviously a warning for leaders everywhere. Rehoboam's actions have split the kingdom.

Story of Israel
This isn’t the only kind of yoke the Jewish people have been subjected to. The first they were given was at Mount Sinai. The Jewish law. In the book of Acts Peter refers to the Jewish law as a burden. A yoke they themselves have found difficult to bear.
6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” (Acts 15:6–11)
Here are the main categories of the Jewish law.

(‘Works of law’)
Conditional laws
Idolatry and Foreign Worship
Festivals and holidays
Murder and Violence
Property, Land and Servants

Worship and Sacrifice
Sexual immorality
Punishment and Restitution

Purity and Washings
Social Justice and the Poor

False Witness


Food laws

Probably the main thing Peter thought difficult to bear were the 'works of law', the regular observances all Jews had to perform throughout the year. Week by week. Month by month. Year by year.

Story of Jesus
Jesus as he is prone to do changes all of this. He spoke about his own yoke. He doesn't eliminate yokes altogether, but he imposes a new and light one.
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt 11:25–30)
In the gospel, Jesus instructs his followers on how they are to live with him as king. He also removes a greater yoke from his people through his death and resurrection. The yoke of sin and death.