1 & 2 Kings Part Three Dive
WHEN ONE BECOMES TWO
There are so many heartbreaking moments in the books of 1 & 2 Kings that I can’t honestly say which one is the worst; the sin of Jeroboam worshipping the Golden Calf, the worship of Baal throughout the text? One moment can be quickly overlooked as an insignificant blip on the radar, but I want you to know the true significance of this moment and how it impacts not only the rest of 1 & 2 Kings and Chronicles, but the entire the Old Testament.
So what am I talking about? I wish I was talking about a beautiful moment of marriage but unfortunately, I am not! I’m talking about the division of the Kingdoms from one Kingdom into two in 1 Kings. This is our third part in the book of Kings, so I realise you have read beyond this, but allow me to recap so I can show you the significance of this event and how it impacts what you are reading from that moment on.
THE STORY SO FAR
Up to this point in our historical narrative, Abraham has received his promise from God – that he would have offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky – and as we have journeyed throughout the Old Testament, we have seen this one family become one nation. The family of Abraham continued through Isaac, Jacob or Israel and Israel’s sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Genesis 35:23-26). Twelve sons are listed in Exodus 6:13, as Moses and Aaron record the tribes of Israel that came out of Egypt. In Joshua 16-18, after the Promised Land is taken, we are shown the distribution of land for these tribes and their children. Twelve is the number of governmental authority, so it is important for them to remain as twelve.
God’s promise to Abraham, found in Genesis 15 and called the Abrahamic Covenant, has come to pass before our eyes as we have journeyed through the Old Testament. But there is one tribe I want us to remember and focus on as we come to the pinnacle point in our story: the promised Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah. So let's focus in on this tribe to follow the faithfulness of God in our story.
THE PROMISES TO THE TRIBE OF JUDAH
In Genesis 49, the father of these twelve sons was dying, and they gathered around him as he prophesied over them, which you can read in Genesis 49:1-28. Each prophecy is lovely, but I want you to take note of the prophecy over Judah, the fourth eldest:
G 49:8-12, ‘Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse him? The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until He to whom It belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations will be His. He will tether His donkey to a vine, His colt to the choicest branch; He will wash His garments in wine, His robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, His teeth whiter than milk’.
This is the promise that Jesus the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah; from this brother and his descendants will come the One who will rule the nations with a sceptre. It is from this verse that we get the term 'The Lion of the tribe of Judah', which is seen again in Revelation 5:5, ‘Do not weep! See the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals’.
From this point on, the tribe of Judah used the lion as their symbol, and it’s from this tribe that King David came, as did Daniel, and Boaz in the story of Ruth. Trashing tip: if you flip forward to Matthew 1:1-17, you can see the significance of the tribe of Judah as Jesus’ heritage.
It's really important for this tribe to remain in the lineage of David to fulfil the promise of God. Let's look at 2 Samuel 7:11-16, ‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD Himself will establish a house for you; When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he will be My son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But My love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me; your throne will be established forever’. God promises David that his throne will be established forever – we know that that is through Jesus!
So let me ask you, how important is the tribe of Judah remaining under the lineage and family of David? How important is it that this one tribe remain under the family line of Abraham? How important is it that Jesus is in the line of David and the tribe of Judah according to the verses we just read? Super important!
Let’s go back to 1 Kings, where we find the nation together under King David in Jerusalem, and the tribe of Judah with him – but at the end of Solomon’s life in 1 Kings 11, it all goes horribly wrong. But notice the two tribes that remain with David are the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin – it has to because it is from the tribe of Judah the Messiah is to come, which is hinted at in 1 Kings 11:34, ‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David, My servant, whom I chose and obeyed My commands’.
Being able to read the Bible in the 21st century, the story of the coming Messiah and the unfolding of His heritage are not as shrouded in mystery as would have been to those living in the time of Kings. Today, we know that Jesus was born the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and we know that through Him the lineage of David was established on the throne forever. Can you see how God was in control even in this heartbreaking moment, when the nation of Israel was divided in two? It may not look like it, with the nation divided but the remnant is still there, but the Davidic promise still continues. God is faithful! Despite humanity's failures, God's will prevails!