Lessons Learned the Hard Way

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According to the record found in 2 Chronicles 12, during those early days following the schism, Rehoboam focused on strengthening his hold on the kingdom. However, once secured, “he forsook the law of the LORD” (2 Chr. 12:1) and took the nation with him. This created a crisis in Judah as Egypt moved against the southern kingdom. Shemaiah the prophet then explained, “Thus says the LORD: ‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak’” (2 Chr. 12:5). In response, the leaders humbled themselves, and the Lord in turn promised not to allow Shishak to destroy them (2 Chr. 12:6-7). However, he did allow Egypt to take much of their wealth from the temple, causing Rehoboam to replace gold with brass, which humbled him before the LORD (2 Chr. 12:9-12). In explanation of these events, the chronicler notes that Rehoboam’s mother was from Ammon and implies this led to Rehoboam’s own failure to “prepare his heart to seek the LORD” (2 Chr. 12:14).

The story of Rehoboam should resonate with many people who have lost their way spiritually. It grieves our heart to think of how many people grew up in the church and yet allowed Satan to lead them astray after they left the direct influence of their parents. But that is also why the lessons Rehoboam learned should be so meaningful. They demonstrate the basic principles most people know all along but can have difficulty accepting all the same.

  1. Forsaking God is always the wrong decision (2 Chr. 12:1). No matter how hurt you may feel or how tempting some worldly option is, going against God is the wrong way to go.
  2. Spiritual rebellion carries spiritual consequences (2 Chr. 12:2-5). If you go your way instead of God’s way, do not fool yourself into thinking you can drag God with you.
  3. You can come back—really (2 Chr. 12:6-7). No matter how far you have fallen or how long it has been, God will accept true repentance.
  4. However, you cannot escape some of the consequences of your sin, even after repentance (2 Chr. 12:8-9). It is essential to emphasize returning to be right with God rather than making some changes in hopes of relieving yourself of the problems you have created for yourself. Repentance is about taking responsibility—not avoiding it.
  5. Sin costs you dearly, and that is the real lesson we all must learn (2 Chr. 12:10-12). Whatever we must sacrifice to get right with God is less than what staying away from God will cost us.
  6. Making the necessary changes requires that we recognize what has influenced us negatively so that we can prevent making the same error again (2 Chr. 12:13-14). Whether family ties, the influence of the wrong friends, or pressure at work, we need to be aware of what puts our soul at risk and guard against it in the future.
  7. In the end, your life itself will speak volumes. Now is the time to make sure it is a positive message (2 Chr. 12:15-16).
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