God-less Living Vs Godly Living.
2 Chronicles 11-12, 1 Timothy 2
When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. – 2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV
After the split of the kingdom, Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, retained two tribes – Judah and Benjamin – as well as control of the city of Jerusalem. And when he made plans to attack Jeroboam and the people of Judah, God told him, “You shall not go up or fight against your relatives. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me” (2 Chronicles 11:4 ESV). God had brought about the split of the kingdom because of the disobedience and unfaithfulness of Solomon. Because Rehoboam listened to the word of the Lord, he was able to maintain control over the nation of Judah. He even found that those living in the northern kingdom of Israel, who were appalled by Jeroboam’s idolatry, soon joined forces with him and “they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon” (2 Chronicles 11:17 ESV). In other words, they remained faithful to God for three years. Then something happened. “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him” (2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV). As his kingdom became stronger, Rehoboam became increasingly more independent and saw less and less need for God. He let his success go to his head and it had a direct impact on his heart.
What does this passage reveal about God?
So God stepped in. He brought the Egyptians, along with the Libyans, Sukkum and Ethiopians against Jerusalem. And God made it clear to Rehoboam why this was taking place. “You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak” (2 Chronicles 12:5 ESV). As had happened all throughout the period of the judges, God brought “plunderers” against His people in order to teach them a lesson. And this latest threat had the same impact as all those before them. “Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous’” (2 Chronicles 12:6 ESV). They acknowledged that what God was doing was just, righteous and right. They deserved it. They were guilty. And when God saw their response, He said, “I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries” (2 Chronicles 12:7 ESV). The NET Bible translates that last line as, “Yet they will become his subjects, so they can experience how serving me differs from serving the surrounding nations.” They were going to learn the difference between faithfully serving God and having to unwillingly serve a pagan nation. God wanted His people to be godly. He wanted them to live with Him as the focal point of their individual and corporate lives. But because the people of Judah had turned their backs on God and, in essence, become God-less, He allowed them to experience what life could be like without Him. Shishak and the Egyptians ransacked the temple, taking away all the treasure David and Solomon had accrued. Yet, God spared Judah from complete destruction because they humbled themselves before Him, admitting their guilt and His justified actions against them.
What does this passage reveal about man?
It is amazing that God continued to bless Rehoboam in spite of all he had done to forsake Him. “So King Rehoboam grew strong in Jerusalem and reigned” (2 Chronicles 12:13 ESV). He would reign for 17 years in Jerusalem, “the city that the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel to put his name there” (2 Chronicles 12:13 ESV). And yet, Rehoboam would not learn from his mistakes. He would not respond to God’s grace and mercy with godly living. Instead, “he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14 ESV). Like Israel’s first king, Saul, and his own father, Solomon, Rehoboam would forsake God. He started out well, but finished poorly. He went from godliness to godlessness. And the amazing thing is that his actions took place even while God was in the midst of blessing him and prospering his kingdom.
Over in the book of 1 Timothy, Paul encourages his readers to live godly lives. He challenges them to be people of prayer. He instructs them pray for “all people”, including kings and all who are in high places. His goal? “That we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV). Our prayers are to be focused on asking God to provide a safe and fertile environment in which to live god-focused lives so that we might influence the culture around us. We are to pray for an atmosphere in which we can live for God and share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone we meet. Paul encourages the men to be prayerful, uncontentious, and not quarrelsome. He tells the women to be modest in their dress, respectable in their appearance, and self-controlled in their behavior. At the heart of Paul’s message is the power of and need for prayer in the life of the believer. As Dr. Thomas L. Constable so clearly explains, “Prayer is so important because it invites God into the situation we pray about and it secures His working on behalf of those in need” (Dr. Constable’s notes on 1 Timothy, 2007 Edition). Prayer expresses our dependence upon and need for God. It is at the core of godly living. To live a life without prayer is to live a god-less life. It communicates to Him that we have no need for Him in our lives. When Rehoboam and the people humbled themselves before God, they were acknowledging their need for His help and forgiveness.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
God desires His people to live godly lives – lives that are empowered by His Spirit, obedient to His Word, and dependent upon His help. To forsake God does not require that we completely turn our backs on Him or worship other gods in place of Him. It can simply mean that we have chosen not to depend on Him. We can become self-sufficient, autonomous in our decision making, and convinced that we can somehow live our lives in our own strength and according to our own wisdom. I can’t help but keep reflecting on the fact that Solomon had wisdom and knowledge that had been given to him by God. Yet he ended up turning his back on God and worshiping idols made with human hands. Not exactly the wisest decision he could have made. But even godly wisdom is useless if we don’t put it into effect. It is useless to us if we choose to disobey it. Godliness is nothing more than God-centeredness – living our lives completely dependent upon Him. It is leading peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV). When we live godly lives, made possible through the work of Christ on the cross, we become living testimonies of God’s grace and His life transforming power.
Father, I want to live godly. I want my life to reflect my dependence upon You and reveal Your power through me. I want to be a man of prayer, a man who lives to serve, please and obey You in all that I do. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men