King Rehoboam of Judah was on his way to some serious judgment for his role in leading the Southern Kingdom away from the worship of God. Under his leadership, the nation was moving away from God’s temple and covenant and was taking up the same demonic “religious” practices and idolatry that the Northern Kingdom was doing under Jeroboam, and that the previous inhabitants of the land had followed.
Judah was supposed to be the remnant of Israel that would hold onto the worship of God and the regal line of David even as the Northern Kingdom was turning away. The temple in Jerusalem and its ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was to be the center of worship, given to people as a gift from God, built by Solomon under the direction of his faithful father, David. But all of this was being discarded by Judah and its king. In its place, the people were worshiping other gods and idols in ceremonies built around carousing, drunkenness, and marital infidelity.
22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 1 Kings 14:22-24 (NIV)
God then began to turn up the heat on Rehoboam by sending in the king of Egypt to raid many of his nation’s valuables.
25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. 1 Kings 14:25-26 (NIV)
As a result of this disaster, Rehoboam’s eyes were opened to the foolishness of his ways, and he humbled himself before the Lord.
12 Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed, there was some good in Judah. 2 Chronicles 12:12 (NIV)
Because Rehoboam humbled himself before the Lord, God’s anger turned away from both him and from Judah. Rehoboam’s humility saved them from further serious judgment.
What is humility? Is it the same thing as being humiliated, such as when we are being laughed at by others because of some embarrassing situation?
No, it definitely is not. Humility is an extremely valuable gift originating from God and is vital for us to have in our walk with the Lord, especially when we have done wrong and are headed down the wrong path. It is essential if we are to be restored in our relationship with Him.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes humility as a freedom from pride or arrogance. It is a realization that we are no better or worse than those around us, and that we, like they, are very much dependent upon God and His mercies in everything. We realize that when we pridefully reject God and choose to worship other things, we are ultimately headed for a disaster of our own making. And if we are also leading others astray with our ways, we may soon find ourselves on the other side of God’s favor and in serious danger of His judgment.
Centuries later, Jesus described the importance of humility to His disciples.
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:1-6 (ESV)
Many of us have spent significant portions of our lives far away from the pursuit of God. But He has pursued us. In His great love, He has used difficult circumstances in our lives to get our attention and to draw us to, or back to, Him. When we are willing to humble ourselves enough and turn to Him, He will receive us with open arms and pour out uncountable blessings and favor upon us in love. Such humility is far different and far more valuable than the negative sting of humiliation.
The evil one continues to lure people away from God using a counterfeit “church”, as Russell Roseberry calls it. This church appeals to the independence of human nature, and offers to throw off all the “restrictions and conventions” imposed on them by God’s covenants. It encourages people to ignore God and to do what is right in their own eyes. This counterfeit church provides everything they seek. Fellowship (drunken parties), companionship (unfaithful affairs), worship leaders (bartenders and drug dealers), laughter and “fun”. But over time, the good times begin to fade, and the truly negative consequences begin to pile up. Troubles, despair, and fear fill our hearts, and the game is just not fun anymore. It has become more and more an unbreakable bad habit or addiction we are trapped in, and less and less a pleasurable experience. We find ourselves on a road of destruction and premature death.
The greatest gift in life is enjoying the presence of a loving and caring God within a faithful relationship with our families and fellowship with other loving people. The counterfeit church does everything in its power to destroy and deny this gift.
If we find ourself in this position, it is not too late to humbly turn back to God and to seek a good and peaceful life.
Like Rehoboam, God may have turned up the heat a bit to encourage us to return to Him. And like Rehoboam, we can humble ourselves before God and run back to Him, no matter how deep a pit of despair we find ourselves in. God regards us just as the Father regarded his son in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15. The son came to his senses after experiencing the consequences of living an immoral life. He ran back to his Father, who fully received him back with gladness and joy. God does exactly the same thing with each of us if we are willing to humble ourselves and turn, or return, to Him.
Father God, thank You for Your overwhelming and burning love for us. We need You, and humbly depend upon Your grace and mercy. Forgive all of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and by Your Holy Spirit, help us to walk a path of goodness, peace, freedom, and contentment in service to You and Your kingdom. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.