When Rehoboam was firmly established and strong, he abandoned the Law of the Lord, and all Israel followed him in this sin. Because they were unfaithful to the Lord, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign. He came with 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horses, and a countless army of foot soldiers, including Libyans, Sukkites, and Ethiopians. Shishak conquered Judah’s fortified towns and then advanced to attack Jerusalem.
The prophet Shemaiah then met with Rehoboam and Judah’s leaders, who had all fled to Jerusalem because of Shishak. Shemaiah told them, “This is what the Lord says: You have abandoned me, so I am abandoning you to Shishak.”
Then the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is right in doing this to us!”
When the Lord saw their change of heart, he gave this message to Shemaiah: “Since the people have humbled themselves, I will not completely destroy them and will soon give them some relief. I will not use Shishak to pour out my anger on Jerusalem. But they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.”
(2 Chronicles 12:1-8)
In today’s passage, “Israel” refers to Judah, the southern kingdom. During his first three years on the throne, Rehoboam made an attempt to obey God, and as a result Judah prospered. But then, at his peak of popularity and power, he abandoned God. Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah thought they could succeed in their own strength, but they were wrong. The result was destruction because God allowed Judah to be conquered by Egypt. God, however, eased his judgment when Israel’s leaders confessed their sins, humbled themselves, and recognized God’s justice in punishing them. Subjection to other kings was the price Judah had to pay for disobeying God.
It’s never too late to repent, even in the midst of God’s discipline. Regardless of what we have done, God is willing to receive us back into fellowship. Are you struggling and feeling alone because sin has broken your fellowship with God? Perhaps you or someone else you know is feeling discouraged at the hard consequences that resulted. Confession and humility will open the door to receiving God’s mercy.