Day 163: Faith Over Success
1 Kings 13:1-34 An unnamed “man of God” refused Jeroboam’s hospitality in accordance with God’s instruction but was tricked into accepting an invitation from the prophet of Bethel, thereby causing him to lose his life. The prophet of Bethel saw the death of the man of God as a confirmation that the curse against the altar was authentically from God. Jeroboam, on the other hand, did not heed the signs and continued his apostasy. (CCC 2089)
2 Chronicles 12:1-16 This book emphasizes clearly the relationship between the fidelity of the king and the benefits he reaped during his reign. When Rehoboam strayed from God’s ways, Egypt waged war on Judah and was permitted by God to inflict heavy damage on the cities and the Temple. When Rehoboam repented of his sin, the siege abated and Judah recovered.
Ch 13:1-22 Abijah’s discourse stressed that Judah represented the true Kingdom of Israel because it preserved the line of David and that the people of Judah continued to offer proper worship to God led by the Levite priests. By contrast, the Northern Kingdom was in rebellion against Judah, fell into idolatry, and replaced the Levitical priesthood with its own.
Ch 13:5 Covenant of salt: This metaphor for an everlasting covenant refers to the use of salt as a preservative (cf. Num 18:19)
Song of Solomon 2:1-7 After exchanging mutual praise, both lovers express how their love for one another exceeds human bounds. In the Sacrament of Matrimony, grace is given so spouses can love each other with the heart of Christ Himself. “By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, Christ himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to ‘receive’ the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life” (CCC 1615).
Ch 2:8-17 The luscious setting of springtime is poetically complemented by the nurturing love of the lover and his beloved. Here we find multiple allegorical images that point to the poem’s deeper meaning: the lover is depicted as a shepherd, an image used for the Father to relate how God cares for his flock, his people. The author refers symbolically to Israel as a vineyard that requires diligent care and protection from its owner, who is God himself. In the New Testament, Christ is described as the Good Shepherd, and the sheep as the members of his Church; the New Testament also compares the Church to a vineyard that is planted by God and rooted in Christ, the true vine, from which his people take life and nourishment as branches. (CCC 754-755)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
At this point many readers rightly stop aghast.
How could Jeroboam be so arrogant, and Israel so foolish, as to worship the Egyptian golden calf again?
The answer is quite simple.
Jeroboam, as a descendant of Joseph’s son Ephraim, has an Egyptian heritage (Gn 46:20).
After a sojourn of some time in Egypt, Jeroboam returns to Israel and leads the people back into Egyptian idolatry.
Unfortunately, Jeroboam recapitulates Israel’s worst act of apostasy and makes it permanent.
A prophet from Judah proclaims the word of the Lord to Jeroboam in the midst of an assembly at Bethel.
He foretells that the altar where Jeroboam is officiating will be torn down and the false priests killed by a king of Judah named Josiah.
The sign that this word is true is that the altar before Jeroboam shall be broken and its hot ashes poured out (1 Kgs 13:2-3).
Since, according to Leviticus 6:10-11, the ashes were not to be poured out on the ground, this action would signify the desecration of the burnt offering and the divine rejection of the cult.
Jeroboam, once divinely favored, now stands condemned.
Jeroboam stretches out his hand toward the prophet and commands that he be seized.
Suddenly, Jeroboam’s arm stiffens, the altar is miraculously torn down, and its ashes are poured out.
The chastened king beseeches the man of God to “entreat...the favor of the Lord YOUR God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me” (1 Kgs 13:6), which the prophet does, restoring Jeroboam’s hand.
However, Jeroboam’s prayer sadly reveals that the Lord Yahweh is NOT Jeroboam’s god.
It is likely this story of Jeroboam’s rejection of the Jerusalem Temple and the God who dwelt there that led the psalmist to declare, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!” (Ps 137:5).
Despite this prophetic sign and warning, Jeroboam’s rebellion and apostasy continue.
When his son falls ill, he sends his wife in disguise to Ahijah, the one prophet who spoke well of him.
Many years have passed and Ahijah is now old and blind.
Jeroboam hopes to hide the identity of the child from the prophet, who may now not look with favor on Jeroboam.
But God reveals the identity to Ahijah, who sends Jeroboam’s wife back with grim tidings.
The child will die, but because there is something pleasing to the Lord in him, he will be buried, an honor no other male from Jeroboam’s line will have.
Indeed, the line of Jeroboam will be cut off.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
The Kingdom of Judah is the SOUTHERN KINGDOM
The Kingdom of Israel is the NORTHERN KINGDOM
So from now on, when we refer to “ISRAEL,” it is the NORTHERN KINGDOM
The Kingdom of Judah is the BLOODLINE OF DAVID all the way to JESUS
We will be preoccupied with THEM mostly
At the same time, God had PROMISED that the People of Israel would be BLESSED
That means ALL TWELVE TRIBES
So we will hear about how Israel went up against Judah in Civil War
Who do we root for? (Anyone but those Cowboys 🤪)
Judah is the smaller kingdom
AND YET...it is through JUDAH that God will BLESS THE ENTIRE WORLD
It is through JUDAH that God is going to RESTORE WORSHIP
It is through Judah that God will bring forth the KING OF KINGS
So we are mostly interested in the Kingdom of Judah
We are also interested in the Kingdom of Israel, for different reasons
The Song of Solomon is love poetry and GOD IS THE PURSUER
God is PURSUING US
God is PURSUING THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
God is PURSUING THE PEOPLE WHO BELONG TO HIM IN THE CHURCH
It is Christ the Bridegroom pursuing His Bride, the CHURCH
It reveals this LONGING of God FOR US
A desire of God TO BE ABLE TO LOVE US
And it is our response to God’s DESIRE
It is not that we have loved God, but God FIRST LOVED US
That is a KEY THING to realize
It is not I who chose the Lord, but He has chosen me.
It is God who loves us FIRST
God loves you FIRST
This is SO important
That means we don’t have to WORK for God’s love
That means we don’t have to do anything to EARN God’s love
GOD ALREADY LOVES YOU
Our task, essentially, is to LET GOD LOVE YOU
Will you LET GOD LOVE YOU?
Will you LOVE GOD IN RETURN?
Will you GIVE LOVE FOR LOVE?
1 Kings and 2 Chronicles show us how incredible it is that these two different books are telling the SAME STORY
As we travel along this division of the kingdoms
Kingdom of Israel in the NORTH
Kingdom of Judah in the SOUTH
One of the things that plays out is FAITHFULNESS
One of the THEMES of this whole BIBLE is FAITHFULNESS
We recognize that when the people of Israel, or the people of Judah, are UNFAITHFUL, then BAD THINGS HAPPEN
When they are FAITHFUL, then they are BLESSED BY THE LORD
Rehoboam is the son of Solomon
He is unfaithful
2 Chronicles 12:2 says, “In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen.”
So what happens?
Judah will get defeated
Shemaiah the prophet REMINDS Rehoboam and he REPENTED of his sins
There is the king
There is the people of God
There is a prophet who speaks
Sometimes the people listen
Sometimes the people DO NOT listen
So God says because of repentance, they will not be destroyed
BUT THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES
Shishak comes up and despoils the Kingdom of Judah
In all of Solomon’s and David’s reign, they amassed this INCREDIBLE FORTUNE
Remember those hundreds and hundreds of Gold Shields?
2 Chronicles 12:9 “So Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house.”
In FIVE YEARS Rehoboam loses the massive wealth his father and grandfather had amassed over the course of EIGHTY YEARS
He loses the majority of it
That is REMARKABLE
How easy is it for us to have a lifetime of virtue, a lifetime of grace built ON THE LORD that we can LOSE if we TURN AWAY FROM THE LORD?
Rehoboam instead of having GOLD SHIELDS now, has BRONZE SHIELDS made
They went from a KINGDOM OF GOLD to a KINGDOM OF BRONZE in FIVE YEARS!!
That is DEVASTATING and HORRIBLE
But that’s how it goes, isn’t it?
So Rehoboam dies and his son Abijah rises to power
Abijah turns out to be a relatively good king at this time
He is FAITHFUL
When Abijah fights against Jeroboam and the Northern Kingdom, he does not rely upon HIS OWN STRENGTH
He says, “You are fighting, Jeroboam, against the Lord YOUR God. Are you going to keep trusting in these golden calves that Jeroboam made? You can never with your false gods ever defeat the LORD GOD.”
Abijah shows himself to be a solid, faithful king
That is the measure of the kingship
Are they FAITHFUL?
Are they UNFAITHFUL?
When it comes to following the lord, it is not necessarily are we successful as much as it is, ARE WE FAITHFUL?
St. Mother Teresa said, “God does not desire me to be SUCCESSFUL. He merely desires me to be FAITHFUL.”
This is one of those cases where Abijah, the King of Judah, who is SUCCESSFUL BECAUSE HE IS FAITHFUL
THAT IS THE KEY
1 Kings Ch 13 shows us the story about a “Man of God” who comes from Judah
He is unnamed
He goes from Judah in the south to Jeroboam in the north
Jeroboam is worshipping FALSE GODS
The Man of God has a prophecy for Jeroboam
“If you keep doing this, bad things are coming for you.”
There is a sign
Jeroboam’s hand gets withered and then gets restored
Things get strange
The Man of God is invited by Jeroboam to have a meal
The Man of God says, “No, I was told by the Lord to just simply go home. To neither eat nor drink anything while I am here and to go back by a different way.”
Now, there is ANOTHER PROPHET in Bethel who decides to go get the Man of God after he leaves and he finds him under an oak tree
He LIES and says an angel told him that it would be ok if the Man of God ate and drank with the lying prophet and it would be fine
As a result, the Man of God believes him
As a result of that, the Man of God eats and drinks with the lying prophet
As a result of that, the Man of God gets KILLED BY MUFASA!! 😉
And now this lying Prophet of Bethel somewhat repents of what he did
He KNOWS that he LIED to the Man of God
He REALIZED that what the Lord God asked the Man of God and HE LIED TO HIM
He LIED so that the Man of God went against God
So he BURIES the Man of God in HIS OWN GRAVE
He tells his sons that when he dies, to bury him with the Man of God, whose death he was responsible for
It is a very INTERESTING, very STRANGE story
One of the themes is consistent with this WHOLE BOOK
When you KNOW what God wants you to do, JUST DO IT
When you KNOW what God has asked you to do, JUST DO IT
The temptation for us is to ask, “Wait, does someone else have a different teaching?”
“Does someone else have a different kind of insight to this?”
Even St. Paul in Galatians 1:8 said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.”
DO NOT BELIEVE THEM
That is a veiled reference to 1 Kings Ch 13 where the Man of God DID BELIEVE the lying prophet of Bethel, who said he had received a message from an angel of God
We are called to do what we KNOW God has called us to do
Even if someone we respect were to say, “Go against that.”
We know that God has NOT told me to go against that
I MUST BE FAITHFUL TO THE LORD
THAT IS THE KEY
FAITHFULNESS AND UNFAITHFULNESS ARE THE THEME
We pray that we are FAITHFUL because are hearts have a tendency to be MASSIVELY UNFAITHFUL
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we give you glory. We thank you so much for your Word and for continuing to speak to us and for continuing to pursue us. Lord, our hearts are broken and yet you draw near to mend them. Our lives are full of darkness and yet you bring your light into them. Heal what has been broken. Bring light to where there is darkness and may everything that we do and everything we say and everything that we are give you praise and glory. Now and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
1 Kgs. 12:
13:33 The ministerial priesthood simply is not for everyone; it is only for those whom the LORD calls. One cannot simply “decide” to be a priest, nor can those with impediments to ordination (as defined by the Church) be ordained to the priesthood. The priesthood is a vocation, not a career.
My Study Color Code
■ Suffering, Martyrdom ■ Places ■ The Church, Sacraments, Divinity ■ Horticultural Imagery ■ People ■ Messianic Kingship ■ Sin, Death, Decay