1st Kings, Chapter 15, 1- 24
By Elie Nessim
July 7, 2002
The 1st Book of Kings, Chapter 15; we're going to work our way through this Chapter together. We see how over and again GOD is showing us in very easy to understand language, what it means to live a life that is honouring to Him, and vice versa, so that we can be encouraged to go the right way and we can be warned of the pitfalls that await every Believer.
1st Kings, Chapter 15, III read just a few verses with you.
"In the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem His mother's name was Maachah, the granddaughter of Abishalom And he walked in all the sins of his father which he had done before him His heart was not loyal to the LORD his GOD, as was the heart of his father, David. Nevertheless, for David's sake, the LORD his GOD gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah, the Hittite.
And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life. Now the rest of the acts of Abijam and all that he did are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam So Abijam rested with his fathers and they buried him in the City of David. Then Asa his son reigned in his place. "
"In the eighteen year of King Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah." We see the spotlight switches from Israel to Judah and then back again. And right now the spotlight is on Judah in these opening verses. He reigned three years, not even the three full years as we see, because in verse 9, in the twentieth year of Jeroboam, king of Israel, Asa became king over Judah. So he reigned from the eighteenth to the twentieth year, that means part of the eighteenth, part of the twentieth, and the nineteenth – not even three full years. And underlining
the important influence of mothers, we have his mother's name here, verse 2, Maachah, the granddaughter of Abishalom.
When Shaul wrote to Timothy he said, “I see that you have the same sincere faith that first dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and in your mother, Eunice, and I'm persuaded in you also." How important the influence of a mother and of a grandmother is. You can't overestimate the importance of a mother's influence; a godly mother's influence, or a godly grandmother's influence. In this case, alas, it was opposite. She was a bad example. She was an idol worshipper. His mother's name was Maachah, the granddaughter of Abishalom. The word 'mother' can mean in Hebrew either mother or grandmother. In the 2nd Book of Chronicles she is called the daughter of Uriel; here she is called the granddaughter of Abishalom. Now there are two explanations for that: One is the obvious one that in Israel people took two or three names. They didn't have just one name; they had two or three. Solomon's name was also Jedidiah, and so it could be that Uriel is the same as Abishalom. Or there is another possibility; that when Absalom died, he died in battle when trying to take the kingdom from his father, it could be that a man called Uriel adopted little Maachah, because she was still very small.
In the Book of Ester, we have an example of how Mordechai adopted his cousin; Esther, Hadassah, and he became like a father to her. She was like his daughter. So you see how it could have happened that you have two fathers or two different names.
But we read in verse 3 about this King Abijam, "he walked in all the sins of his father which he had done before him." His father was Rehoboam. We find the story of Rehoboam in 2nd Chronicles, that when the prophet came to him and said because you have disobeyed GOD, because you have left Him, GOD has left you in the hand of Shishak, king of Egypt. Shishak, king of Egypt, had come up from Egypt and had invaded Judah and he was besieging the strongholds of Judah as well as the City of Jerusalem. And the prophet came and said to Rehoboam, "Because you have deserted GOD, GOD has abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.” Then we read that Rehoboam and the princes humbled themselves; they repented. And they said, "The LORD is righteous." But alas, that repentance was a very shallow one, because it was only a temporary thing.
Usually GOD does not repeat mention of the sins of those that have truly repented of them. GOD's usual procedure is once we have truly repented of our sins; there is no more mention of them. There never will be. But if it is a false one, it is repeated. And that's what we have with Rehoboam. Verse 3; "His heart was not loyal to the LORD his GOD as was the heart of his father, David." And in saying that about this king, Abijam, we are saying that of his father as well, Rehoboam. "He walked in all the sins of his father." And one of the sins of his father was a disloyal heart towards GOD. Hypocrites – there will always be in the Church. And, amazingly,
someone said, "It would be a sad day for the Church if there were no more hypocrites." Do you know what he meant by that? If there were no hypocrites any longer, he would say there is nothing left to copy; nothing left to counterfeit that is of any value. Hypocrites are a kind of a backhanded compliment. Nobody will counterfeit a five-dollar bill; it will be a fifty-dollar bill, as they have been doing recently, or a hundred dollar bill. If there is something of value in the Church, you will have the hypocrite there.
But in this case, we see that the thing of value was not Rehoboam, The person of value was his father, David. And in verse 4 we read, "That for David's sake, the LORD gave him a lamp in Jerusalem." That lamp means an earthly successor. In Psalm 132, GOD speaks about a lamp, and by that He means, of course, successor, a successor for David. Psalm 132 and verse 17: "There I will make the horn of David grow. I will prepare a lamp for My anointed." Speaking about the dynasty of David, He would always provide some one for him. And GOD was very gracious. Do you remember Solomon's prayer, how he had prayed at the end of his dedicatory prayer in Chapter 8, verse 28 and 29? "Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, 0 LORD my GOD, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today, that Your eyes may be open towards this Temple night and day; toward the place of which You said, 'My Name shall be there.' That You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes towards this place." And GOD honoured that prayer, in spite of the failure of so many of the kings of Judah. For centuries GOD honoured that prayer. GOD's faithfulness is not to measured by human measure.
We read also about David, in verse 5, (1st Kings, Chapter 15), "Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him, all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah, the Hittite." I have already said GOD does not repeat our sins. But for the sake of the historical record, this was mentioned because this was the one exception. All the other sins of David we could not say were premeditated for evil. This one was. This and this alone. It was premeditated evil, and so this is why it is mentioned here.
"There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life." There was a kind of overt conflict between them, open and active hostilities. We read it in the 2nd Book of Chronicles, Chapter 13. Verse 7; "Now the rest of the acts, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?" What rest of the acts? We don't find anything else. We find very little after that battle that Abijam had with Jeroboam (2nd Chronicles, 13); he had a big battle with Jeroboam and GOD helped him in that battle, but the rest of his acts, not worth mentioning. Every day the scribe of the king wrote down the events of the day and they compiled all these records, until they had, what you would call a historical diary of day-to-day events. But on this case, there is nothing worth putting in the sacred record. Although Abijam may have been an able man, he may have been a worldly character that was
respectable. Not in the sight of GOD. So nothing was left to record of him, except his battle; the one time when he trusted in GOD and yet, even that trust was imperfect. And so he slept with his fathers and his son, Asa (means physician), reigned. Verse 9; "In the twentieth year of Jeroboam, king of Israel, Asa became king over Judah."
It was only twenty years since Solomon had died. So much water has passed under the bridge. So many things had passed. So many things had transpired. We read, also, about his grandmother's name. "His grandmother's name was Maachah, the granddaughter of Abishalom." Same one as the mother of his father, Maachah, in verse 2. Really she was his grandmother. In Hebrew, the word is 'mother'. Here it is translated grandmother to make sense.
In 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 11, verse 20 and 21, we have mention of that. 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 11, verse 20 and 21. Here is where Maachah came into the picture - Rehoboam's wife, Rehoboam's favourite wife. 2 Chronicles 11, verse 20: "After her," (that is after taking Mahalath for his wife), "he took Maachah, the granddaughter of Absalom, and she bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza and Shelomith. Now Rehoboam loved Maachah, the granddaughter of Absalom more than all his wives and his concubines, for he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines and begot twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters." So she was his favourite wife and that's why he made her son the king.
We read about Asa, coming back to our 15th Chapter, verse 11; ''Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David." He was better than his father or Jeroboam, because this is what he did right; verse 12, "And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his father had made." All he could find, that is. We read he banished the perverted persons from the land, later on we find that there were still some left, probably in hiding. In Chapter 22, Jehoshaphat, his son finished the job, which Asa had begun. "He also removed the idols, all the idols that his fathers had made." Those 'his fathers' would be, not only his own father, Abijah, but Rehoboam. Rehoboam had made idols, 2nd Chronicles, Chapter 13 and verse 10, we read about those idols there. Here's what Abijah says; it's bending the truth. He says 2nd Chronicles 13, verse 10: "But as for us, the LORD is our GOD and we have not forsaken Him." But that was a little difficult to swallow, because he did forsake GOD. He only trusted GOD when he needed GOD's help in the battle. But otherwise, he had idols, so did Rehoboam his father, and so did his grandfather, Solomon.
Now Asa cleared all those away, despite all the time-honoured veneration that was given to those idols, he swept them all away. Not only did he do that, he not only made sure that the people had no idols to worship, he also cleaned his own house. Verse 13; ''Also he removed Maachah, his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah, and Asa cut down her obscene
image and burned it by the Brook Kidron." The word 'idol' is 'mifleset' in Hebrew, which means an object of horror. It was obviously something horrible to look at, and he utterly destroyed it. He did what Moses did to the golden calf. He burned it and he smashed it to pieces.
That's what GOD commanded the children of Israel, “When you come into the Promised Land, you shall destroy all the idols of the heathen, in whose land you come." All the idols of the Canaanites, Asa did that. So he cleaned his own house as well as cleaning his kingdom. “But," we read in verse 14, - there is always a 'but'. Alas, we are not perfect in this life. Verse 14, “But the high places were not removed. Nevertheless, Asa's heart was loyal to the LORD all his days."
Those high places were not shrines for idols. They were places that were alternative places of sacrifice. GOD had told the children of Israel, if you go back to Deuteronomy, Chapter 12, over and again, there is only one place you are to offer sacrifices. Now, while they were without a Temple, GOD tolerated different places for sacrifice. But He said to them, 'Once the Temple is built, you are no longer to use those places.'
Verse 4: "You shall not worship the LORD your GOD with such things, but you shall seek the place where the LORD your GOD chooses out of all your tribes to put His Name for His dwelling place, and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the LORD your GOD…” He repeated it in verse 11, verse 14, verse 18, verse 21, verse 26. Over and again, the LORD hammered home the point - there is only one legitimate place where you can offer your sacrifices, and once that had been built, the others had to go.
But Asa felt, maybe it was too radical. That maybe the people wouldn't tolerate him; that he would not be able to take the people with him in this move. And so, through expediency, he sought to compromise for the sake of peace. But that was a serious error. Sometimes it's very difficult for us to do what GOD said to Joshua; “Be very courageous and do all that is written in the Law. "
By not removing those high places, he reverted to the past. He felt, 'Well, these are time-honoured places, and after all, they are places where people offer sacrifices to GOD, so what harm is there?'
The LORD YESHUA was faced with something like that with the woman at the well. The woman at the well said, “You say that you should worship in Jerusalem; our fathers say that this mountain, Gerizim, is the place where we should worship." The LORD said, “Believe Me woman, the time will come when neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, you will worship the Father. The Father
seeks those that will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth." In other words, those were preparatory. These were steps that were leading on. We are not to go backwards; we are to go forward. Our people have always been resistant to change, and when you find Stephen defending himself before the Sanhedrin, the thrust of his message was, you're always living in the past; you're always digging in your heels. You are not moving with GOD; you are always holding back. Maybe that's why the Bible says, "Be not as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding. " You know what the mule does? We talk of people who are mulish; they dig in their heels; they won't move forward.
Asa was going backwards. The very ceremonies of the Torah were meant to teach us of heavenly realities. The very Tabernacle was meant to teach us about Heaven. All these things were meant to be types and shadows. They are of value to us ceremonies and customs and so on. But we don't rest in them – we look at the thing to which they point. And these ceremonies; these customs, are all to teach us some aspect of the Person and of the work of the Messiah. The Law had a shadow of good things to come, but not the very image of the things. Those sacrifices that were brought were to teach our people of the one great sacrifice of Messiah. But they dug their heels in.
Asa made a mistake there. We read in verse 15; "He also brought into the House of the LORD the things which his father had dedicated and the things which he himself had dedicated, silver and gold and utensils. Now there was war between Asa and Baasha, king of Israel, all their days. "
"He brought in the things which his father had dedicated." It's obvious his father had dedicated them, but had proceeded no further. Hell is paved with good intentions. You've heard that saying? People decide yes, I'm going to do this and that, but they don't follow through, and obviously, his father had not followed through. Yes, I dedicate this to GOD, but he didn't give it to GOD. He held it back. Well, he finished the job his father began. He gave the things to GOD that belongs to GOD, as Messiah said, "Give to Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to GOD the things that are GOD's."
There was war. It wasn't open war; it was more like overt hostility.