And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation … —Matthew 12:25a
Key Verse Thought: Have you ever heard the phrase “there is strength in numbers?” Think of the following instances to help in the understanding of this concept: Work is completed faster with more workers; a choir has a stronger voice with more choir members singing; the more papers you have stacked together, the harder it is to tear them in two; it is harder to break a bundle of sticks bound together than just one stick, etc. What happens when more than one person tries to explain rules to a game (especially if they list different rules)? Unless everyone agrees, or works together, it is almost impossible to play the game or even to accomplish a task. Also remember the following: “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). In this lesson we will see what happened that caused the nation of Israel to become divided. In our key verse for this lesson, the word desolation means “be laid waste; be made desolate (deprived of inhabitants; neglected; destroyed).”
Emphasis: We must learn from history. Israel rejected God and chose idol worship bringing division and destruction to the nation. The same division and destruction will occur in our lives if we reject God.
Lesson Summary: Now that we have completed the Personal Books (mostly written by David and Solomon), we will continue with the History Books. If you remember, the people rejected God as their king and wanted a man like all of the other nations to rule over them. God gave the people a man to become their king, just like they wanted. We learned about the first three kings: Saul, David, and Solomon. Saul disobeyed God, and the kingdom was removed from him and his family. David was known as a man after God’s own heart, and God promised him the kingdom would never be removed from his family. Solomon, David’s son, became the next king, but he ended up allowing his heart to be turned from God to idols. God promised to divide the kingdom because of this great sin, but because of God’s promise to David, two tribes would be left to his family.
In this lesson, we will learn that Rehoboam, Solomon’s only son, was a very foolish king. God left two tribes for him to rule. They became known as Judah (also known as the Southern Kingdom). God gave the other ten tribes to Jeroboam, and they became known as Israel (the Northern Kingdom). When Jeroboam became king over the Northern Kingdom, Israel, he did not allow the people return to Jerusalem to worship God. He was afraid that he would lose his kingdom, and the divided kingdom would reunite as one. So he set up two places of worship, Dan and Bethel, with golden calves in each city for the people to worship. When Jeroboam was warned by a prophet of God while offering at the altar, Jeroboam rejected his words. King Jeroboam’s hand was withered and then restored. Later, when confronted with his wickedness, he rejected God’s prophet, and God rejected Jeroboam telling him the kingdom would be removed from him and his family. And it came to pass – just as God said.
Israel and Judah warred against each other continually. After this lesson, we will primarily continue our study with the Northern Kingdom (Israel). Afterward we will learn of the Southern Kingdom (Judah). To help keep the kings straight and find out a verse listed where they became king, refer often to the chart “The Kings and their Prophets.”