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“After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam provoked the people by his harsh policies leading to the division of the Kingdom. The ten northern tribes followed Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, while the two southern tribes remained loyal to David's house. 2 Chronicles tells us that the priests and Levites from the northern tribes defected to Judah because Jeroboam and his sons rejected them. Jeroboam appointed his own priests who would be loyal to his high places and not seek to convince the people of the importance of God's appointed worship in Jerusalem. Rehoboam’s hand was strengthened by the presence of these godly priests who were willing to forsake their common lands and possessions in order to obey the Lord's commands. God blesses those who obey,

Another essential truth is highlighted here. Jesus said, ‘whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’ (Matthew 23:12). Applied to worship, humility is the willingness to approach God as He commands, rather than to one’s own preference. It is prideful presumption to approach Him according to one’s own designs, as the testimony of Scripture amply demonstrates.

For three years, Rehoboam's kingdom was blessed because of the humility of the faithful priests who understood this truth. But we are told that ‘when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself… he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him.’ It was nothing but pride which led the king to depart from the commands of the Lord and pursue his own pattern of worship, like that in the northern Kingdom. God humbled him by sending Shishak king of Egypt against Jerusalem ‘because they had transgressed against the Lord.’ He also sent Shemiah the prophet to underscore the message: ‘you have forsaken Me, and therefore I have left you in hand of Shishak.’ The result of this judgment was that ‘the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves,’ and God's wrath was removed.

But the deliverance was not total. Though the nation would not be destroyed, God determined that Rehoboam and his subjects would continue to be servants of Shishak... Note carefully the reason God gives: ‘that they may distinguish My service from the service of the kingdoms of nations.’ The word ‘service’ here points to an all-important truth. The Hebrew word abodah, here translated ‘service’ refers to the activities that were to be done in God’s worship according to His explicit commands.

‘And their brethren, the Levites, were appointed to every kind of service of the Tabernacle of house of God (1 Chronicles 6:48)‘… also for the division of the priests and the Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and for all the articles of service in the house of the Lord.’ (1 Chronicles 28:13)

‘Also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings and with the drink offerings for every burnt offering. So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order.’ (2 Chronicles 29:35).

There is a contrast then in God's word of rebuke to the people, between His ‘service’ and the ‘service of the kingdoms of the nations.’ God’s worship is placed in the context of submission, obedience and conformity to His authoritative Word. Those who refuse to serve Him choose submission, obedience and conformity to the constraining authority of men.

Here is an indispensable lesson: Every man is a servant, either of God or of men. Those who pridefully reject obedience of God do not become a law unto themselves, but rather become subject to the laws of men.

Rehoboam's rejection of God's laws of worship only made him the servant of man's laws of worship. Thus, false worship inescapably involves the subjection of the conscience to the laws of mere men, which are far more oppressive than God's laws. We too must learn to distinguish the difference.” (Comin, 137-139)
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