You may be tempted to ask ‘who?’ for this son of Solomon is not perhaps one of the best known characters in the history of Advent. However if this is the case, then we need to dig a bit deeper. Here in the OT following the establishment of the kingship, we have dynastic succession (as we still do in the UK) and it is of great importance for as the well known carol reminds us:
To you in David’s town this day
Is born of David’s line
A Saviour who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign
This means that each monarch who came to the throne of Judah, 22 in all, 21 Kings and 1 Queen is vital in the promised one reaching David’s town on that day.
Some were good and a few very good. Some were bad and a few very bad, but all were infected with the canker of sin and the progress of Advent history was therefore dependent upon God’s sovereign rule and this is demonstrated for us in the reign of Rehoboam.
He came to the throne on the death of Solomon but was quickly challenged by Jeroboam to whom we are introduced in 1 Kings 11.26ff who had ‘lifted up his hand against the king (Solomon)’. In spite of this Solomon gave Jeroboam a position in charge of forced labour in his kingdom but he thus had a problem right at the centre of his rule which, because of his turning away from the LORD, resulted in Jeroboam being promised rulership of 10 tribes, torn away from Solomon 11.31-32.
Thus immediately on becoming king, Rehoboam received a challenge from Jeroboam.
Jeroboam’s deputation sought from Rehoboam a promise that his rule would be softer than that of Solomon. (1 Kings 12). Rehoboam sought counsel from the ‘old men’ and from the ‘young men’ and chose to take the advice of the young who basically said ‘get tougher’!
On hearing this Jeroboam defected with 10 tribes, subsequently referred to as Israel, leaving Rehoboam with just 2 tribes, Judah and Benjamin.
The rest if the OT traces the development of both Israel and Judah. Sadly Jeroboam led Israel into sin and it is tragic to note that there was no good king of Israel, whereas, as noted above Judah fared better.
What does this kingdom split do for Advent history? Humanly speaking it looks like disaster for both Jeroboam and Rehoboam ‘did evil’ as did most of their successors but there is a glorious ray of light, that may puzzle us but which we must embrace, found towards the end of 1 Kings 12.21ff.
Following the split Rehoboam assembled an army with a view to recovering the 10 tribes but through the Prophet Shemaiah, God told him not to fight this battle for
‘This thing is from me’
The future of Advent history is NOT in the hands of man but of God!