The United Kingdom; Northern Kingdom
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #017
April 30, 2000
"Father, we do thank You so much for this privilege to look at Your Word today to see how You work through Israel in the Old Testament and to gain an overview of all the major trends and themes and doctrines that You have for us in the Old Testament that were laid out as a preparation; that these events occurred as an example for us in the church age that we might learn from them; that we might be challenged by them; and that we might avoid the same mistakes. Father, we pray that You would help us understand and assimilate these doctrines into the thinking of our soul. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
We are continuing our study of the Old Testament, 17th lesson, now we are in the divided kingdom. When we think about where we have come; we started off with an orientation to the Old Testament text and then we began with Creation in Genesis. We saw that God had a plan for the human race and that is related to the angelic conflict in the Fall of Satan and that man and human race are designed to be a testimony to angels in respect to how God works through the human race and His grace and justice. God created man distinct from all other creatures; man is said to be in the image and likeness of God. That tells us that man has a role. The image and likeness, as we studied, doesn't just mean that man possesses an immaterial nature that is similar to God; that is true, but there is a function to that; there is a purpose to that. Man is given that immaterial image so that he will represent God. That is the function of an image; it is a representation. So we are to represent God over the Creation as His overlord of Creation, a vice-gerent, as in one terminology as a vassal of the Great King.
So we have studied that there is this overarching concept of "covenant" in the Old Testament that expresses the outworking of God's purposes for mankind. It is analogous to the secular treaty, the secular covenant that we studied, called the Suzerain-vassal treaty. In that treaty, and its greatest example I guess in the Old Testament, it is really the Mosaic Covenant, there is a section of blessings and cursing to Israel. God called God's appointed man and made him in His image; then we had the Fall of Adam. Then we had the second major judgment, which is the universal worldwide Flood of Noah. That was followed again by another decline in human history down to the Tower of Babel, man's rebellion against God; and then God called out a particular individual through whom He would restrict His revelatory work and that is Abram. God made a special covenant called a royal grant type of covenant with Abram, the Abrahamic Covenant, which is foundational to understand everything else in the Old Testament in relationship to Israel because it is through Abraham now and the Jews as a special servant of God.
Coming back to that image theme and focusing on Israel, that Israel will be the specific nation through whom God will work out His redemptive purposes for mankind; it is through Israel that God will reveal Himself. It is through Israel that God will be a blessing to all mankind, to all the nations. The fortunes of the nation Israel are directly related then, according to the Mosaic Covenant, to their spiritual life. If they are walking with the LORD; if they are obedient to the LORD, learning doctrine, positive to the LORD, then God will bless them and consequently the nations will receive an overflow of blessing. But if they are disobedient then God cannot use this disobedient nation, carnal nation Israel, to bless the Gentiles. God will reverse things and He will use the Gentiles to come back and discipline through conquest and other means the nation Israel. This works itself out throughout the whole history of Israel in the Old Testament.
We started off with looking at the conquest, the period of crisis under the Judges, and then the rejection of the theocratic model by the nation. They did not want God to be their King anymore; they wanted to have a king like every other nation, 1 Samuel. The first major prophet, Samuel, then anoints the first king, Saul. That begins the first period in the nation's history. So when we look at this we go back to the key verse in Exodus 19:5-6, for God says, "if you will obey My voice and keep My covenant then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation;" a distinct nation, a set apart nation. So there is something about the nation of Israel as the centerpiece of all of human history that is the aim here. So to understand history we really have to understand theology; and to understand history apart from Israel to misunderstand history.
One of the things that we will see from our study of the development of the history of Israel and the kings and what happens during the period of the divided kingdom is that as goes Israel, so goes the rest of the world. If Israel is walking in obedience to the LORD; the things is that if you read literature and history influenced by liberal theology what they will say is that, well, during a certain period of time because Assyria was having some problems and they were falling apart, or because Egypt was going through certain internal crises, that in this power vacuum Israel was enabled to increase her power. The Scripture reverses that. The Scripture says that because Israel is walking with the LORD and therefore God is blessing them to increase their power, the Gentile nations diminish in power. Then when Israel is disobedient to God, God rises up and empowers these Gentile nations so that He can use them as rods for correction on Israel.
So that the mechanism of human history is determined by the spiritual orientation of Israel; everything depends on how Israel is related to the Law and related to God. So it is the spiritual dynamic that moves history. As goes the believer so goes the nation, so goes the history of the world. That same principle is just as true today. As goes the believer in any nation, so goes that nation. The fortune, the ebb and flow of prosperity and the fortunes of any nation is directly related to what is taking place in the church in that particular country and that is also related to God's working out of His purposes and preparing things on the planet for the ultimate judgment of the Tribulation and the Return of Christ. So that it is an invisible unseen impact that we have. You do not see this direct correlation. You can look at history; you can look at a person's life, for example; you look at a child and you see them sometimes reach out and want to touch something hot. You slap their hand and you learn over cause and effect in your life not to touch things that are hot because there is an immediate reaction.
The thing is that in the spiritual domain that reaction is not so immediately felt. So that the positive and negative volition and the flow of that may not work itself out in a way where you see that immediate cause and effect. Sometimes it is easier to deceive ourselves into thinking that, well my spiritual condition really doesn't matter; it is not that determinant. Yet the Scripture says that that is the issue in faith. It is that determinant. We walk by means of faith and not by means of sight.
Now we laid out the organization of the Old Testament. We saw that the first five Books are called the Law, written by Moses in about 1440 BC, also called the Torah, the PENTATEUCH. Then we have the Historical Books, the historical section that extends from 1440 to about 1080 BC, which is the conquest in crisis, years of wandering in the wilderness, from about 1040 down through 931 BC you have the united kingdom. We will come back and look at this in detail in a minute.
Then you have the split in Israel, the northern kingdom and Judah in the southern kingdom. The northern kingdom goes out under Divine discipline when the Assyrians finally wipe it out under Sennacherib in 722 BC. Judah goes out under Divine discipline in 586 BC under Nebuchadnezzar when the temple is destroyed and Jerusalem is overrun and sacked by Nebuchadnezzar's army. Then there is the 70-year period of exile in 536 BC under Ezra, the first deportees begin to return; the first exile begins to return to rebuild the city and to rebuild the wall. You have what is called the post-exilic period. We looked at then at the writings, the wisdom writings in Job, Psalms, all of Solomon's collection, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; and we saw how they fit into the overall history of Israel.
Now as we look at the development of Israel's history we will se where the prophets fit in. Isaiah in 600 BC, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all write. Jeremiah and Ezekiel begin their writings just prior to the exile and into the exile. Jeremiah is exiled. He goes out with the group to Egypt. Ezekiel is in Babylon. Daniel spends his whole ministry in Babylon. We will see the pre-exilic minor prophets, where they fit in, as well as the three post-exilic prophets, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi. That is the overview. Now let's look at our specifics this morning. We have looked at the Law; now we are into the historical section. The nation of Israel can basically be divided into five distinct periods of history.
The first is the period of the united kingdom. The united kingdom, which extends from Saul's inauguration as king in 1051 BC down through 931 BC when there is the revolt of the ten northern tribes and they separate from Rehoboam the heir to Solomon's kingdom. The united kingdom has three kings, Saul, David, and Solomon. Saul as we have seen is very self-centered. He is not God-centered. He doesn't really understand God's purposes for Israel. He is like the many of the Israelites and unfortunately like so many Christians, he just doesn't have a concept of God's plan for human history and how he as an individual fits into that plan. He doesn't have a heart for God. He seems to be a rather moral, upright individual, especially if you compare him to David.
I think this is quite an interesting contrast because the distinction between Saul and David on the outside is pretty extreme. Remember, I pointed out the contrast that Saul is finally removed. The Holy Spirit removes from Saul's ministry and God's approval on Saul's ministry is removed because Saul refuses to execute, legitimately execute all of the Amalekites including king Agag. So for not killing somebody he is removed, but David commits murder, adultery, cover-up, all sorts of heinous crimes, capital crimes and sins. God not only takes away the death penalty, but keeps David on the throne and doesn't remove the Holy Spirit from him. Now that is quite a contrast. See the modern legalistic Christian looks at that and says, why is it that this guy who was an adulterer, he's a murder, he has all this cover-up; and then we have Saul who is really fairly moral. He seems to have all the wonderful reasons for not killing Agag. We can use all this for a human good type of rationalization. Yet God removes His blessing.
What is the difference? The difference is the "heart" attitude. The basic issue in Saul's life is that he is never concerned about the things of God; he is not on positive volition at all. He may have been when he was young. I think he is clearly a believer. Samuel, when he comes back at that very unusual episode with the witch of Endor, when Samuel comes back from the grave and says, Saul, you and your sons will be with me today. Of course that indicates that where Samuel was Saul would be, which would be in paradise of the Old Testament prior to going to heaven. So from that I think there is good evidence, along with the Holy Spirit coming on Saul, all of the things that happened back after the inauguration of Saul indicates that he is a believer. But he doesn't have a clue spiritually. He is just out to lunch. He just wants to use the kingdom for his own purposes and to establish his own house and his own dynasty and the result is that he loses it all.
What we learn from all that is the doctrinal principle that when we are out there trying to develop our own name and trying to build our own reputation, then that is self-centeredness and God will destroy us. God is the One who built the house and it was on the principle of humility and service to God. So Saul is removed; he is replaced by David. This is really God's ideal king. God had promised a king and indicated that there would be a king as far back as Deuteronomy. So that was always within God's plan to give them a king. Saul was given to show the negative side. David is the ultimate model of the ideal king. He is God-centered. He is said to be a man after God's own heart, which indicates that God's priorities are David's priorities.
We all have a sin nature like David. The trends of your sin nature may be different from the trends of David's sin nature; but we all have a terrible sin nature and David gave into his just as we give into ours at times. Yet the bottom line when everything was said and done, despite his sinfulness, despite his carnality, David was a man who cared deeply about God's program for his life and for the human race. He was oriented to that. David is honored by God with a special covenant, the Davidic Covenant, which is just an expansion of the second area of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant covered three areas: they would be a blessing to all the nations; Abraham would have a Seed that would go on eternally; they would have a land. So the Davidic Covenant expands on the Seed promise and that this Seed would go through the line of David. Of course Joseph has prophesied concerning the House of Judah, that the royal scepter would never depart from the house of Judah and David is of the Tribe of Judah.
Saul was not, Saul was of the House of Benjamin. So David is going to be the seed. That is critical for understanding what goes on throughout Israel's history, especially in Judah. There is always a witness to David on the throne. No matter what happens the sign of the Davidic Covenant is that there is the seed of David and that never disappears. There are a couple of times when the light seems to flicker dimly, and one wonders if there will be a seed of David on the throne, but ultimately that ends up being fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ, who after the resurrection will never die and He will come back and sit on the Davidic throne and fulfill that aspect of promise forever. So David has this special covenant and that plays a role. If you understand what is happening in all this confusing names and events and all the stuff that happens in Kings and Chronicles, our thrust is to separate everything out and really look at and remember all the details.
You always have to keep your eye on the ball. You old sports addicts keep your eye on the ball and the ball is the Seed of David and as long as you watch that you can watch how everything else is related to working out that theme of the Seed of David and the outworking of God's covenant promises. So David is represented as the ideal king. That doesn't mean that he is the ideal man. It doesn't mean he is sinless. It doesn't mean that he reaches any level of human perfection at all. I think we tend to paint David and some of these Old Testament heroes through somewhat distorted glasses. These men were all tremendous spiritual failures at times. We have to understand that that is just as much a part of the biblical record as anything else. That is not the focus. The focus is that they did at times, at crucial times, trust the LORD exclusively.
David is succeeded on the throne by his son Solomon. Solomon has a divided heart. David has a heart for God; Solomon has a divided heart. He can't really make up his mind where his priorities are. He is completely enamored with the details of life and spends the majority of his life in carnality away from the LORD; trying to find happiness in all the details of life. He has 700 wives; I always wonder why a man with 700 wives would want to 200 concubines? Solomon was enamored by all of the trappings of royalty and that was a sign of royalty and your prestige in the ancient world was how many wives and concubines you had. So he is a man of divided loyalty.
He (Solomon) wants what God wants, but like in 1 Kings 3:3 the word is "except," he loved the LORD and walked in His ways except he did not remove the high places. He loved the LORD, but he married Pharaoh's daughter, which had been forbidden by the LORD, warned against having multiple wives. He had also been warned against marrying foreigners, but he loves the LORD but he marries Pharaoh's daughter. In 1 Kings 6 we are told that he wanted to construct the LORD'S house. He has the desire to build this beautiful edifice to glorify the LORD, and it takes seven years to build the temple. You read all of the descriptions in 1 Kings 6 it is just an incredible structure with all of the gold that is involved and the wealth of the temple was phenomenal. But then you read later on in the next chapter in 1 Kings 6 that Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house.
So we see the divided loyalty and the split emphasis in Solomon's life. Solomon leaves the legacy of his writings of wisdom and proverbs; the Song of Songs, which is the picture of the love relationship between a man and a woman and is a great Book, a fantastic Book to study on both courtship and marriage. Hopefully someday we will get there. But Solomon leaves a legacy. He is divided in his heart and it works itself out in terms of what he bequeaths to the nation. The nation by the time he leaves is split. It is split because in order to build the temple; in order to build his own house he has a heavy tax system. People are crushed under the tax system and so there is the wind of revolt in the air. People want to get out from under that heavy tax burden. See tax revolts are not new; they are very old and it has always been the larger the government the more oppressive it is.
People need to realize that freedom is always related to how much money is going out of your pocket into the federal government. When you realize and we realize, what is it now? We work, the average person works from January 1st until the middle of June or somewhere there about, just in order to support the federal government. We ought to make that a little more real and say, everything you make from the 1st of January until the middle of June goes to pay the salary of all the bureaucrats. You are really working to put food on their table whether you realize it. The rest of the time you get to work for yourself. Somebody told me recently that there was an article in the New London paper that an accountant down in Maryland did a study of the total tax structure; not just the income tax and sales tax, but it includes property tax and every tax, car tax, everything in any state.
The state that had the highest tax burden in the country was Connecticut; and the number two state was 37% less than Connecticut and that was New Jersey. 37% less! So that probably means that the people that live in Connecticut here work until September or October to pay for the bureaucratic salaries. That means we are slaves. That basically means we are slaves to the government and we just haven't caught on to the fact that because they do not teach American history anymore; that the founding fathers understood that there was a direct relationship between taxation and freedom. That is why they made such an issue about taxation without representation. But that was a major problem that Solomon had in his administration.
You see for the first time in Israel's history the development of a genuine class society because of the burden of taxation. There is the aristocracy is developed for the first time; a wealthy class and consequently a poor class. There is more of a division that takes place there and the warning that God gave through Samuel to the nation back in 1 Samuel 7, when they wanted to have a king. He said that the king was going to increase the burden of taxation on you. It is going to going to become oppressive and you are going to lose freedom and it finally comes to fruition in Solomon's kingdom.
Now what happens then is that the kingdom divides in a revolt in 931 BC. It divides into the northern kingdom of Israel; the ten tribes go out under Jeroboam I. Solomon's son Rehoboam is inaugurated as king, and it is interesting that instead of being inaugurated in Jerusalem, which is the capital, he goes back to Shechem to be inaugurated. Shechem is the site where Joshua had called all of the people together after the conquest in order to renew their covenant with God, in order to review all of what God said in the Mosaic Law and what their responsibilities were and what the blessings and cursings were. So there is an emotional element to Shechem. It would be like the President of the United States 100-150 years ago, back when we still had a historical sense of dealing, deciding that instead of getting inaugurated in Washington he would get inaugurated in Valley Forge or perhaps Gettysburg, on some battlefield where there was tremendous emotional content to it to try to reunite the people.
So that is what Rehoboam does. He realizes that the nation is divided and goes to Shechem to be inaugurated. Then when he calls his advisors together he realizes that there is a group of citizens that come under Jeroboam, and they present a petition to Rehoboam to lighten the tax load. There is a little bit of a tax revolt there to lighten the tax burden. He calls his advisors together, Rehoboam does. His advisers, he goes to the old men and they advise to lighten the load but the young men say, no, no, let's increase the tax load. We want more money; we want to take advantage of letting the people work to support us; the typical bureaucratic mentality. So Rehoboam in a lack of wisdom decides to go with the young men and increase the tax burden on the people and there is a major revolt led by Jeroboam in the north and ten tribes go out with him. The tribe of Benjamin in the south unites more closely with Judah.
So you have two nations now, the nation Israel in the north and the nation Judah in the south. So the next section we go through we see that the northern kingdom separates themselves politically, socially and theologically from the south and that lasts from 931 BC to722 BC, which is just over 210 years, not a very long period of time. They did not last as long as the United States of America has lasted as a nation. So they were rather short lived before God finally takes them out under Divine discipline. The southern kingdom goes from 931 BC to 586 BC and they are taken out finally under Nebuchadnezzar. From 931 to 722 BC you have a period of the divided kingdom and then from 722 to 586 BC you have Judah alone. So that would be:
1. The united kingdom
2. The divided kingdom
3. Judah alone
4. Judah in captivity and that goes form 586 BC to 536 BC when the first group begins to return from captivity.
5. The last section is the post-exilic period.
So you have the exile. We talked about the pre-exilic, the exilic, and the post-exilic period. It extends from 536 BC to a rough date of 400 BC. That is when the last Book of the Old Testament is written. From 400 BC up to the time of Christ is a time of silence called the Intertestamental period. That is basically the rest of the outline that we will cover this morning and then probably at least next couple of sessions to just give us an overview of this particular period. So we will look at the development of these five kingdoms.
So let's go back and look at the first kingdom, which is the northern kingdom. The northern kingdom goes from 931 BC to 722 BC. The reason for beginning with the northern kingdom is because that is the way the writer of Kings develops this. We will look at this from 1 Kings 14 on. It covers the period of the divided kingdom. I have given you a handout just to try to help you organize your thinking and to help us see some things. We have this overhead to look at. You might want to take that out and put down a few little notes (no handout available).
The first king in Judah (divided kingdom) is Rehoboam, from 931 BC to 913 BC. The first king in the north in Israel (divided kingdom) is Jeroboam. Now if you look at that chart, you see that Jeroboam reigned from 931 BC down through 910 BC. So the way the writer of Kings records the history it that he tells us first about Jeroboam. That will cover up to 910 BC, and then he goes to the southern kingdom. He talks about Rehoboam. Rehoboam reigns from 931 BC to 913 BC when he dies. 913 BC hasn't gotten us up to 910 BC yet, the end of Jeroboam's reign. He then talks about the son and heir of Rehoboam, Abijah. Abijah only reigned for two years, from 913 BC to 911 BC. But that still hasn't gotten us to 910 BC. So he goes to Asa, the third king in the south, who then reigns from 911 BC to 870 BC.
Well he covers those three kings, so now of course, that has gotten us past the 910 BC date, the end of Jeroboam's reign. So he has to go back to the north to catch up. So he goes back to the north and he covers Nadab, who was only on the throne for two years; then Baasha, the Elah, and Zimri; that finally gets us up to Zimri and Omri. That gets us up to the 870 BC date, the end of Asa's reign. So he will go from Omri, from 874 BC and then to Ahab; then he will switch back to Jehoshaphat. You see how that goes; that is his order. Always he takes the north first, because I think the point of the writer of Kings is to make us understand the serious consequences of spiritual rebellion. If you want to understand what is going on with all of the kings, you have to realize that every single king in the north is bad; period. There is nothing good about any king in the north. They are all in idolatry; they are all in rebellion against God; so no king in the north is a good king.
In the south there are five good kings. The first is Asa (handout unavailable). On the first page you have Asa, followed by Jehoshaphat, and then the next good king is Joash, 835 BC to 796 BC; he is a good king, then Uzziah; he has co regency with his father Amaziah. Amaziah reigns from 796 BC to 767 BC. Uzziah's dates are from 790 BC to 740 BC because his father had a foot ailment Uzziah steps in as a co-regent. Then he is followed by the next good king, Hezekiah. Hezekiah from 715 BC to 686 BC is probably the best king of the southern kingdom overall. The Word of God gives tremendous accolades to Hezekiah and the spiritual reforms that take place there. He is succeeded by Manasseh, the most evil of all the kings in the south; and then there was a tremendous true revival under Josiah the last one. Hezekiah is a good king and Josiah is the last of the good kings. So there are only five good kings who are positive to doctrine and spiritually oriented in the southern kingdom: Asa, Joash, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
It is easy to get somewhat confused regarding some of these names. For example, in the southern kingdom you have Jehoram or Joram; sometimes they have alternate names just like we call a person Robert, Bob, Bobby, Robby, Rob. I mean you can come up with five or six different terms. You can have John, Jack, Johnny, all kinds of different names. So they are called different names. Some of them are their formal name; some of them are their regal names; some of them are family names; and so it gets confusing. For example, on this chart you have Jehoram following Jehoshaphat. Usually he is referred to as Joram and then the king in the north, because it is almost at the same time has a very similar name. He is Jehoram as well. You also have other names such as Joash and Johoash, Joaz and Jehoahaz. So you have these different kings mentioned, which can confuse us a little bit. So we will try to avoid that to a certain degree and just catch the main trends of what is going on historically.
So the northern kingdom begins in 931 BC and the first king is Jeroboam I. There are two kings named Jeroboam in the northern kingdom, Jeroboam I and Jeroboam II; Jeroboam I is set aside by a prophet. He is designated by a prophet even though he is a rebellious king. It is announced that he will be a king. So God gives Divine approval to Jeroboam because it is a part of discipline on the house of David for their rebelliousness, for Solomon's divided heart. God is still going to be faithful to His covenant to David, there is still going to be a seed of David on the throne in the south; but He is no longer going to bless the nation fully because of their spiritual apostasy. So God authorizes this split and Jeroboam split, but God does not authorize Jeroboam to split in the fashion he does because what Jeroboam does, he is a masterful politician. He realizes that in order to have legitimacy to his reign; rather than trusting God he is looking at things from pure human viewpoint.
Understand when I say this that he is looking at this as a typical politician in pure human viewpoint. In order to have any kind of substance and unity to his reign, he has to give it some sort of spiritual legitimacy. He understands the role of religion in the history of Israel so he has to legitimize their independence. He can't have all of his people trotting down to Jerusalem six times a year to participate in all of the religious festivals because then now we will continuously remind his citizens that they have this inherent connection to the south and that there should really ideally be unity between the north and the south. He can't have that; he wants to have unity so he must set up some sort of foundation politically and religiously in the north so he rewrites history. He rewrites history. He is one of the first historical revisionists typical of politicians and people in power that if they want to legitimize their position what they do is rewrite history and if you can somehow develop a religious system to legitimize that will legitimize your reign so much the better. It sort of reminds me of what Henry VIII does when he cannot get the pope to legitimize his divorce. So he just says, well, we are just going to leave the Roman Catholic Church and set up our own religious system, the Anglican Church and they will recognize and legitimize my position, my authority, and I will continue as king.
Now you are always going to hit some idiot secular historian who will tell you that the Reformation in England was thoroughly motivated by political stuff; that just shows that they are secular and they don't know what they are talking about because while politically it operated that way, what was going on in England spiritually at that time was that they had been deeply affected by the Lutheran Reformation and by the Calvinistic Reformation in Switzerland. Many of the pastors in England, especially under some of the oppression by Henry VIII toward the Protestants; they had left and gone to Geneva to study under Calvin. They were coming back to England and preaching the truth. So you did have a true bottom-up reformation taking place in England at that time. The only thing that Henry did was just do his own thing politically, which God used in order to provide an umbrella of protection for what was going on at the grass roots level in terms of the true spiritual reformation in England.
Now that is just an aside because you always have some confusion there. Secular historians never understand the fact that the real mechanism in human history is spiritual. It is not politics; it is not economics; it is not markets; it is spiritual because this is God's kingdom, God's earth, and God is still on the Throne of Heaven and He is working out His purposes in human history.
So Jeroboam leads a revolt against the southern kingdom. He sets up an altar in the capital in Shechem. He rebuilds the ancient city now. It has tremendous emotional connotations and patriotic connotations to Israel; so he chose that sight carefully and he established his capital city there. But he is a spiritual apostate; he has no concern for the things of the Lord. God had promised him that He would have made his house; he would have established a permanent dynasty for Jeroboam in the north if he had been obedient to God's Word, but he was not. In fact, in the short 200-year history of the northern kingdom, you will see that there were five different dynasties. Five different dynasties over a 210-year period spells instability and they also spell Divine discipline.
So Jeroboam decides to legitimize his reign by inventing a new religious system. He sets up the center point of that religious system at two places, Bethel, in the south, which has a lot of ancient, historical sites because of Abraham. Bethel means "house of God." Abraham had built an altar in Bethel. So by developing this alternate religious site, instead of going to Jerusalem you would go to Bethel. It would legitimize and will relate their new religious system back to Abraham. He is rewriting history. Then he set up another one in the north in Dan, another site. There he erected idols of golden calves, just as Aaron had built a golden calf coming out of Egypt, but now he builds golden calves and says, "This is the God who brought you out of Egypt." Notice how he is going back and picking up partial truth and partial error. That is typical of historical revisionists. It isn't the truth that is the issue; it is the error that is the problem. That is where all the deception takes place.
Dan is significant because three generations removed from Moses you have his grandson Jonathan who was a complete idolater and he goes up to Dan during the period of the Judges and it was at Dan that he established a religious center and developed a new religion of idolatry. You see the spiritual decline there. So Jeroboam, in his brilliance, decides and uses these things. Jonathan, Moses' grandson, had a worship site in Dan. Bethel goes back to Abraham; we are still worshiping the God of our fathers; we are going to build a golden calf. This is what Aaron built; this is the true God who brought us out of Egypt and so we are going to go back to the true foundation of our religious system. Notice how he brilliantly reverses everything and rewrites history. He appoints a new priesthood and does away with the Levitical priesthood. In fact, most of the Levites during this time decide to get out of Dodge, so to speak, and they head south to Judah. Now you have the Levitical tribe re-established in the south. You have the Benjamites in the south and Judah in the south and the remaining ten tribes are in the north. He (Jeroboam) appoints a new priesthood, new centers of worship, and he goes forward.
Now Jeroboam is on the throne from 931 BC to 910 BC and then is succeeded by his son Nadab. Nadab does not last long because the house of Jeroboam is under Divine discipline and God says that He will remove them from the throne. He lasts two years and then he is assassinated by Baasha. Then Baasha is on the throne from 909 BC to 886 BC. There is reference to him in some historical documents from other sites. Finally his son Elah takes the throne from 886 BC to 885 BC. He is on just a very short time and he is assassinated by Zimri who lasts about 6 days. It is just a bloody trail. Zimri assassinates Elah and then the army is under the generalship of a brilliant man by the name of Omri. They decide they don't want Zimri to reign, so they assassinate Zimri; by accolades they proclaim Omri to be king.
Now Omri sets up a dynasty that has the most devastating consequences for both the north and the south. Omri is crucial for understanding what happens from his reign on. He reigned for 11 years, 885 BC-874 BC; but what he does changes Israel's destiny in the north and the south for the next few hundred years. He is a very powerful, influential king. In fact, he is so powerful that we have records from Syrian monuments and other monuments that continue for the next 100 years to refer to the ruling house of Israel as the House of Omri, even though Omri's house goes out under Jehoram, the last of his line. Yet they are still referred to as the House of Omri because of his tremendous legacy. He is a very powerful king. He established stability and economic prosperity in the land and he begins to enter into various alliances with the surrounding powers.
Now if we go back here to our map of Israel; up here in the north, just north of Israel we see the land of Phoenicia. This is Tyre and Sidon, which was the seat of the old Canaanite culture. Remember they were not annihilated as God had mandated by Joshua or the tribes in the conquest and so the Canaanites had now taken refuge up north in Tyre and Sidon. The king of Tyre and Sidon was a man by the name of Ethbaal. Just as you have people like Isaiah, Yah; Yah being the name of God. It is part of their name. You have people who are Baal worshipers using the name of Baal in their name. The king-priest of the Canaanites is Ethbaal and he had a daughter by the name of Jezebel who is very beautiful and in order to cement the economic ties and trading ties; remember Tyre and Sidon are located on the coast. They are major ports. The Phoenicians were known traders throughout the world.
There is even evidence that the Phoenicians may have made it to the North American continent during this same time, which indicates it wasn't really discovered by Columbus. He was just the last in a long line and it was only in God's plan and Columbus showed up at that time because of what had taken place with the Protestant Reformation in Europe to bring the North American continent into a greater area of visibility and prosperity.
So the Phoenicians are dominating Omri in order to cement those ties together. He has his son Ahab marry the daughter of Ethbaal, Jezebel. And so Jezebel then will come down to Israel and she will introduce and legitimize Baal worship and outlaw the worship of Yahweh in the northern kingdom. That meant that now everything has reversed. God had called the Israelites to be a witness for Him, a witness to truth. Instead of being a witness for truth, they succumbed completely to the Baal worship that they were supposed to annihilate when they came into the land. Then his daughter, Ahab and Jezebel have a daughter named Athaliah, who then marries Jehoram in the south, the southern kingdom. So Jezebel's daughter becomes the queen of Judah, and at one point everyone is wiped out in the Davidic line except for a six-month-old baby; and Athaliah is the queen and her agenda is to unite the south under the north and to again outlaw the worship of Yahweh.
So we see how Satan is working behind the scenes to destroy the ability of God to fulfill His covenant promises to David and consequently His covenant promises to Abraham and to prevent the Messianic line and to block it. Satan always thinks he can do that but God in grace always takes evil and in grace finds a solution. If you do a careful study of the line of our Lord Jesus Christ you will discover that Jezebel is in that line; as is Athaliah. So that just shows that grace always wins and God overcomes and this is the background for our victory.
So the House of Omri comes into power; Omri from 885 BC to 874 BC. Then Ahab, 874 BC to 853 BC. So now you understand the background here in the prophet Micah. (Marking map in class … ) Now you see the inclusion of the different prophets and where they fit. You see that Elijah has his ministry during the reign of Ahab and he is succeeded by Elisha during Jehu's reign. Then in the southern kingdom you have approximately at that same time Obadiah and Joel were overlapping with Elijah and Elisha. You might want to indicate that on your black and white copy (unavailable).
We need to say something briefly about the religious systems that are developing here. You have three main periods of religious apostasy in the north. The first deals with the sin of Jeroboam when he sets up a state religion and he uses the name of God to do it. He said it was the true worship of Yahweh, the golden calf that we are worshipping at Dan and at Bethel. And so they went around and everyone talked about the fact that they were worshipping Yahweh. It is sort of like a spell game. You deceive people by changing the meaning of terms. This is what happened in 19th century Christianity in one sense in what you call Neo-Orthodoxy. An orthodoxy, which is standard, traditional, biblically based Christianity; you have the worship of God. Then you had the rise of 19th century liberalism; and then you had a man by the name of Karl Barth come along and he was raised as a classic 19th century liberal. But then he was a chaplain in the army in WWI and he saw the horrors of the war he could no longer go along with the optimistic assumptions of liberalism. He said we have to get back to the Bible; then he only got half way back. That is why they call it Neo-Orthodoxy.
You have to go back and believe the Bible. He used all the biblical terminology, but he gave it new meaning. What is interesting is that I was one time attending a church, a Presbyterian church in Houston that is quite large; and this pastor gave a fairly good presentation of the Gospel, except I knew the pastor and I knew that what he meant by Jesus wasn't what I meant by Jesus. What he meant by "died for you on the Cross" wasn't what you and I mean by "died for you on the Cross." He did not believe in substitutionary atonement. He believed in an example view of atonement. He really did not believe in the resurrection either. In fact I just found out when I was in California that there use to be a fairly good Christian liberal arts school out there called Claremont. Now one of their theology professors doesn't even believe in a bodily physical resurrection.
So you talk about, you use the God word; you talk about resurrection and Jesus and all of this, but you don't really mean by those terms what the Bible means. That is how Satan works deception. He changes the meanings of words. So it may sound like you are talking about the same thing, but you really are not. That is exactly what was going on with what Jeroboam did. It was very crafty, very deceptive, and extremely successful. He rejected the Mosaic Covenant. He rejected Jerusalem as the center of worship. He rewrote all of the history, but he continued to attach the name of Yahweh to everything that they did so that people think that they are orthodox Jews when they are in apostasy.
The second period of religious apostasy takes place under the influence of Jezebel and Ahab from 1 Kings 16 and on. Ahab next to Manasseh in the south is probably the worse king in the entire history of Israel because of what he does spiritually. The introduction of Baal worship and everything that that entailed, ritual prostitution, the sacrifice of children on the altar, burning them alive, fertility worship, phallic worship, and everything that was related to all the Canaanite perversion introducing homosexuality was a major aspect of Baal worship took place in the temple under the auspices of religious worship. So it is a very evil and decadent system.
The third period in the north is after Jehoram. God anoints Jehu from a different line. He is going to wipe-out the Omri dynasty. He anoints Jehu to be king. Jehu comes in and he wipes out and kills all the descendants of Ahab, but he doesn't take the northern kingdom back to the true worship of God. He just takes them back to the sins of Jeroboam. All throughout the kings, when you read about these kings, Jeroboam's first sin becomes the paradigm for all kings. So and so ruled but he followed in the path of Jeroboam according to all the sins of Jeroboam. So you read that over and over again. And so the third period of religious apostasy in the north is just a restoration of Jeroboam's idolatry in the northern kingdom. He still denies what they have for the Bible; he denies the Mosaic Law; he denies the centrality of worship down in Jerusalem and yet he still attaches the name of Yahweh to everything.
The next great king in the north is Jeroboam II. There is a restoration of economic prosperity in his time but it is accompanied by tremendous moral collapse. This is God's grace before judgment. You see how God graciously blesses the nation. Its tremendous economic prosperity, its growth. There is some military prosperity; they have victory once again over some of the foreign powers, especially the Arameans from the north who have been attacking. The nation seems to have a sense that there is blessing from God. But what they do is they use that economic prosperity and the military security as just a further excuse to further develop their apostasy and their depravity becomes an excuse and a tool for their own evil. This then secures their eventual demise. This is in 753 BC that he dies, Jeroboam II dies and by then Assyria is the ominous dark cloud on the eastern horizon. They have now become a dominant military player. Jeroboam II down to 753 BC and the last few kings were increasingly evil and wicked until just 31 years after the death of Jeroboam II the northern kingdom is destroyed by the Assyrians during the reign of Hoshea and that wipes out the northern kingdom.
The prosperity that you see under Jeroboam II is merely recognition of the principle of grace before judgment. Now the prophets at that time are Jonah in the south and Amos in the north. Amos is the one who comes and says that you are built like a wall and you were suppose to be the plumb line and according to your apostasy that wall is tottering and getting further and further away from the plumb line. So the further you get from it you will collapse. Then he switches the metaphor and he says that like pigs you will soon become totally rotten. So it is the warning here of Amos that this is God's last grace provision for you as a nation. It is the last opportunity for them to repent - turn back to God - and avoid the judgment and if you don't, then God will destroy the nation. They don't. God destroys the nation, and that is the end in the north.
Now that outlines the northern kingdom and I want to go back and look at one other major development that takes place; a major theme that goes through the history and that is the development of the office of prophet but we are just about out of time so I do not want to break in the middle of that. So we will come back and look at the office of prophet next time; the development of the office of prophet under Samuel and how that becomes sort of a theological seminary for the training of prophets who will continuously be a thorn in the side of many of the different kings who challenge them with the truth of God's Word down through history. We will see how the none writing prophets, such as, Elijah, Elisha; and the writing prophets and how that fits in, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah; how those Books fit into the history of Israel. So keep those charts with you to have next time and we will continue to work through those to help you put this together in your thinking (charts are unavailable.)
"Father, we thank you for the opportunity to look at Your Word and see how You work throughout the Old Testament period of the ancient world to bring about Your provision of salvation and how You always provided for Israel; that there was always grace, always the offer of salvation; there was always the anticipation of a Messiah; and that You never let the land die out and ultimately Your prophesies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Father, we pray too that if there is anyone who is unsure of their salvation, that is here this morning, that they will take this opportunity to make that salvation certain in their own thinking. That they would realize that there is salvation in no other than Jesus Christ. That He is the culmination of all the Old Testament prophesies and that everything in the Old Testament anticipated His coming and His payment as our substitutionary sacrifice. He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. Father, we pray that right now, if any of us who are believers, that we will be challenged by realizing the consequences of our actions, and that our decisions have consequences not just in our own lives, but for our nation; for as goes the believer, so goes the nation. Father, we pray that we would be challenged to positive volition and to continue to pursue spiritual maturity. We pray these things now in Jesus' Name, Amen."