1 KINGS 12
So what did they all do wrong? Rehoboam, Jeroboam, the Prophet of God, the Old Prophet, Israel, and Judah… all of them sinned in some way against the Lord and were duly punished. Let’s start at the top with Rehoboam (in 1 Kings 12):
As a King of Judah, he needed to renew the royal covenant with the rest of the Israelite tribes in order for him to become King over all Israel. Jeroboam the natural leader of them returned from exile in Egypt and all the tribes asked Rehoboam to renegotiate the terms of the covenant – making them less harsh than previously. Wisely, Rehoboam asked for three days to consult and return with his answer; unwisely, he rejected the sound advice of the elders and accepted the reckless suggestions of his peer group. Wisdom is a function of age – all other things being equal – and those who have served the Lord the longest are usually the best ones to ask advice of. We should all learn from Rehoboam’s error here. In addition, he did not pay any attention to the people, ignoring all their pleas.
1 Kings 12:15 goes on to say that all this was from the Lord, in order to fulfil the prophecy he had spoken to Jeroboam about his ten shares in the kingdom – see 1 Kings 11:29-39. So we see again here that God can achieve his sovereign purposes through another person’s sins against Him.
So Israel rejected Rehoboam and chose Jeroboam as their new king, in fulfilment of that prophecy. Furthermore, God prevented Judah (the Southern Kingdom) from attacking the Northern Kingdom of Israel. However, Jeroboam was unwilling to trust the word of the Lord in his promise to give freely the kingdom to him but thought that he ought to take some steps to prevent his subjects from travelling to Jerusalem for the festivals. So he created some forbidden idols (golden calves) and set up unauthorised places of worship at Bethel (in the South) and Dan (in the North), with alternative rituals and seasons of worship. To further offend the Lord, he appointed priests from the non-Levite tribes.