20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.
This is where it gets confusing. First there’s Jeroboam. Call him Jay. Jay was a young man, an official in King Solomon’s court. One day a prophet of God named Ahijah told him that God would set before him ten of the twelve tribes of Israel because Solomon had been disobedient to God. Only one tribe would remain in Solomon’s rule. Jay would become king over Israel. Solomon wasn’t thrilled with that idea, naturally, so Jay fled to Egypt when his life was threatened.
Then there was Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who became king after Solomon died. Call him Ray. The people asked Ray to lighten the yoke of heavy labor Solomon put on them, but Ray refused. He rejected advice his elders gave him and chose to make the burden on his people even heavier.
Meanwhile, Jay came back from Egypt where he had been exiled, and the people made him King, except for the tribe of Judah who remained faithful to King Ray. Ray wanted to go to war and regain the rest of his kingdom, but a prophet of God, Shemaiah, told the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go home and not fight against their brothers.
God was clearly in the middle of Israel’s plans. God is clearly in the middle of our plans too. God is ready to encourage us, but God can also chastise and discipline us when we need it. God’s bigger plan is for us to mature in faith and character, to fit us for heaven.
God of love, your plans are always good, even if we cannot see clearly the fullness of your plan. Help us be obedient to your will and way, through the grace of our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.