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Posts Tagged ‘Abijah’

At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise now, and disguise yourself so that they will not know that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh; behold, Ahijah the prophet is there, who spoke concerning me that I would be king over this people. Take ten loaves with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy. Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. Now the Lord had said, to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. You shall say thus and thus to her, for it will be when she arrives that she will pretend to be another woman.”  (I Kings 14:1-5)

The Bible doesn’t give us this brave woman’s name, but we know who she is. We know that she was a queen, the wife of King Jeroboam. She was courageous, submissive to her husband, and a loving mother.

There are many things that we learn about this courageous woman by her actions. It seems that her faith in the only true God was stronger than her husband’s. First, here’s a little background to the story. It is necessary to see how the wife of Jeroboam ended up in her predicament.

In his old age King Solomon did some foolish things. He took many wives. He allowed his wives to practice their false religions. Solomon was actually led by his pagan wives to worship Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the “detestable idol of the Ammonites”. God was angry with Solomon and declared, “Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statures, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” (I Kings 11 5-13)

After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam became king. Rehoboam angered the people with harsh rules. As prophesied, Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s servants, led a revolt. Ten tribes followed Jeroboam. Rehoboam assembled some soldiers to try and win back the ten tribes, but the Lord intervened. God said that the split of the nation of Israel into two kingdoms was part of His plan. Rehoboam went home, king of Judah and later included Benjamin. Jeroboam went to Shechem as king of ten tribes..

jeroboam golden calfJeroboam in the meantime was afraid that the Israelites from the northern tribes would want to go to Jerusalem to worship God in the temple. He feared that that would lead to their return to Rehoboam and the Southern Kingdom. So Jeroboam set up new places of worship in Bethel and Dan. He made golden calves for the people to worship. The foolish people did as they were led. Of course, this also made God angry.

God sent a “man of God” to warn Jeroboam, but Jeroboam continued in his evil ways. Jeroboam made priests to worship the idols and “this event became sin to the house of Jeroboam, even to blot it out and destroy it from off the face of the earth.” (I Kings 13:34) Unlike in the Southern Kingdom, where God promised a descendant on the throne of David perpetually whether the kings were good or bad, in the Northern Kingdom, God brought an end to the would-be dynasties of the evil kings. In fact, in the Northern Kingdom there would never be a king that would wholly follow Yahweh.

The very first king of the Northern Tribes, Jeroboam would also be the first to experience the end of his dynasty. It started when his son Abijah became sick. Jeroboam knew that the prophet of God had foretold ruin for him because of the his own egregious evil, idolatrous deeds. Jeroboam didn’t have the courage to face the prophet himself to ask for his son’s life to be spared, so he sent his wife.

Jeroboam’s wife was to disguise herself and take along a present. She immediately jeroboam wife Ahijahobeyed. We can only guess at her feelings. What was she expecting the prophet to tell her? How could she trust his words if he didn’t know who she was? Did she really believe that he was a man of God or not?

We don’t know what her thoughts were – they are not recorded for us. We only know that she obeyed her husband and then also obeyed the prophet. She sat through the message of the prophet who foretold the eventual ruin of the whole of the Northern Kingdom. While this prophet told her that God would make a “clean sweep” of the house of Jeroboam, and all males would die, she sat submissively not uttering a word that we know of. The prophet painted a terrible picture of destruction of Jeroboam’s house to her. God said, “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the Lord has spoken it.” (I Kings 14:11) In other words, they will not receive proper burials.

What a horrible picture. This woman must go back and tell her husband that not only would their child die but that all males of his house would die in horrible ways. Why didn’t she just take off and go back home to her family and leave Jeroboam to his just deserts?

Only the love of her son could compel her to go home and be with her child. And the prophet did give her one glimmer of hope – her son would die a natural death and receive a proper burial. Abijah would be spared the cruel death that the other males in Jeroboam’s house would suffer. He would receive an honorable burial and the people would mourn for their prince. This was because “in him (Abijah) something good was found toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” (I Kings 14:13) Abijah was the only one of the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom whom God could say had any good in him. How tragic.

Though she knew her son would die even as she arrived home, the faithful wife and mother obediently returned. Things did turn out as the prophet said.

The wife of Jeroboam is important in biblical history because of the prophecy that she received and then passed on to her husband and the people. God would uproot Jeroboam’s house and eventually the whole Northern Kingdom as He foretold. This judgment was against Jeroboam who had “done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back.” (I Kings 14:9) Jeroboam’s son would have to die, but God gave Abijah a dignified death.

God rewarded this faithful mother and her son. Though the news was bad for Jeroboam and all of his descendants, God showed special care for Abijah. I believe that this was His way of blessing the wife of Jeroboam. The judgment was against her evil husband not her.

What can we learn from the wife of Jeroboam? Perhaps it is important to remember that even if we are married to a “less than stellar” man, we need to be faithful to God. Even if tragedy comes, as it did to her husband, God will comfort us with the knowledge that He is in control. There are worse things than persecution or death. The worst thing is to deny God as Jeroboam did.

 

 

 

 

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