In looking at Rehoboam and Jeroboam and the mess they left there are some things I have wondered about and then there are some “shadows” of their behavior that really are just scary. One thing that I will not find an answer for just because it does not appear to be there is the tribe of Simeon (see Simeon – Where Did They Go?). In Genesis 49:5 Jacob “scattered them” in Israel. When the land was divided by Joshua Simeon’s portion was in the middle of Judah’s territory. What happened when the Ten Tribes went to Jeroboam? They are mentioned twice after the split but before the exile of Samaria – 2 Chronicles 15:9 and 34:6. In 15:9 some have settled with Judah after seeing that the Lord was with them; King Asa has a covenant renewing party in the third month on the fifteenth day of his reign. The 34:6 reference is to Simeon’s towns that Josiah removes idols from. It would seem they may have left their allotted portion and then just settled wherever they could but the Genesis 49 prophecy did come to pass.
Another thing I noticed was in Ezra and Nehemiah only Levites and families from Judah and Benjamin are mentioned. Some of the lists are for people from a town but they were towns from those two portions. Most all of the tribes are mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelations when the land is again handed out or they are sealed in the last days. (See List of Tribes)
Musing on these two things will show you the love of God and that He does expect obedience to Him and the Word He gave us. His love for the Northern and Southern kingdoms was rooted in Abraham (2 Kings 13:23) and He kept having mercy on both kingdoms. 2 Kings 17: 7 – 23 summarizes it all and should be a warning for all who claim God.
In Matthew and Luke we find two family trees that are for the tribe of Judah leading to Jesus. Matthew’s tree is for Joseph and Mary’s is found in Luke and the common factors are David and Zerubbabel. Bathsheba is in David’s line because of Solomon and by extension in Mary’s line because of Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5); Solomon started Rehoboam’s problems but sin and the world certainly took its toll on the King’s of Judah.
The chroniclers of the two kingdoms judged the kings with very interesting phrases. Judah’s kings were judged against David and if they followed his ways OR did they do “right in the eyes of the Lord” or did they “walk in the ways of the kings of Israel.” Israel’s measure was “they did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat” and if they did “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
The wars and battles between the kings of the two kingdoms are another legacy that still shadows the people of God today. True peace between the two really was out of the question. Jeroboam made the separation a matter of religion, add in a lot of pride and top it off with the forbidden pagan deities and war had to follow. But in all of that the North seemed to be used by God to bring Judah to repentance or punish her for disobedience. Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 18 + 19 seemed to have a relationship with Israel but 19:2 clearly states what God thought about working with the enemy (people who did love Him). Having said that I also noticed that Father God sent two of the great prophets to Israel in order to get them to repent: Elisha and Elijah.
The Books of Kings and Chronicles are snapshots of the lives of the leaders of the people of God. Many of them are not real pretty. Closing the Temple, killing his children, ordaining anyone with the right price to be leader of your church are just some of the sins they did. The people’s reaction to all of this is also recorded and is a lesson in its self. At times they were forced to follow God and at other times they rejoiced to see their leaders acting, as they should. It would seem that the people followed their leader both in doing good and doing bad. But as you read the prophets in is easy to see that they just finally were going to do their own thing. Jeremiah and the women who made cakes to the “queen of heaven” show the degree that most of the people had sunk too. So where was the remnant? God always has a remnant! Did they have to go with the others or were they directed to flee and find safety? Were they the poor ones left in the Land? We know there were people in both Israel and Judah who still thought about God: they took care of prophets, wrote letters, wanted to hear about God and His plan for them and their families. We know these survived because there is still a Jewish nation/people!
Several of the kings of Judah did follow God and some of the kings of Israel at least showed an interest about the things of God. King Saul and kings Jeroboam and Jehu were offered a dynasty if only they would obey the Lord and follow His plan but these kings turned and did what they wanted to do. David had problems but the difference is he believed God AND acted on the promise by staying true to the Lord. So while Solomon’s kids were having varying success as king and Jeroboam’s family was eliminated quickly Nathan’s family was living in Bethlehem not knowing that the Christ would come through them.
A sad fact in our world today is that we still have leaders like Rehoboam and Jeroboam running things today. They may have a small church or a big one that really is not the question; do they have a heart to follow Jesus, a concern for people, and a plan to reach out to them with the Gospel?