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business leader at board meeting June 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Chronicles 12:13-14; 1Kings 14:21; 1Kings 12:1-19; 2Chronicles 10; 1Kings 12:20-24; 2Chronicles 11:1-4; 1Kings 12:25-31; 2Chronicles 11:13-17; 1Kings 12:32-13:34

What Should Motivate Leaders?

Almost everyone is a leader in some capacity. You may be a parent, business owner, pastor, military leader, politician or some other kind of leader. Whose interests will you seek to please - your own or those you lead?

In our chronological Bible study, King Solomon is dead and his son Rehoboam reigns in his place. One day “the whole assembly of Israel” (1Kings 12:3) met with King Rehoboam with their newly reappointed labor leader, Jeroboam. They said to Rehoboam, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you,” (1Kings 12:4, NIV). Apparently, Solomon ruled somewhat ruthlessly over his labor force. The new king's elderly advisors counseled him to listen to the labor leaders. His younger peers, however, were very proud and advised King Rehoboam that he should answer the labor leaders harshly to show them that he is even a more powerful leader than his father. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders and followed the counsel of his peers. This show of brutal strength, instead of compassion, caused ten of the twelve tribes of the united kingdom of Israel to reject him as king. What is our interest in leadership; to show others who is the boss or to serve in the best interests of those we lead?

Rehoboam was intent on putting down the rebellion and getting the ten tribes to submit to his rule. He mustered 180,000 men to fight Israel, but God stopped him. 1Kings 12:24 records,

This is what the LORD says: “Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again as the LORD had ordered (NIV).

Why did God tear Rehoboam's kingdom in two? The impetus for the division was not just poor labor relations 1Kings 11:33 says,

“I [God] will do this because they [King Solomon and Israel] have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon's father, did.” (NIV)

Because King Solomon allowed his many wives to influence him toward idolatry, he led the entire nation away from God and toward judgment. God used the labor dispute to bring about his judgment on Israel. We also need to be careful how we lead; obedience to the LORD usually brings his blessing and prosperity, while disobedience brings his discipline and judgment.

In 1Kings 11 God promises Jeroboam a lasting dynasty if he will obey the LORD, but what does Jeroboam do when he is made king of the northern ten tribes of Israel? He does not trust in God but lives by his own wits and acts in fear. He sets up calf and goat idols and his own festival days so that the people will not go to Jerusalem in Judah to worship and possibly revert to Rehoboam's rule. He even sets up his own priests to replace the Levites living among them in their own towns. He does not want the Levites to teach the people the law of the LORD and encourage them to worship in Jerusalem. This idolatry becomes what is termed “the sin of Jeroboam.” Instead of leading the Israelites to follow the LORD, he leads them to follow idols. How do we act when given positions of authority? Do we act in self-preservation, seeking security for our new position, or do trust in God? Do we lead people in righteousness or do we act in our own self interests? As leaders our security should be in God.

When Jeroboam is rebuked by a prophet of the LORD for leading the people into idolatry, he is angry. “When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, ‘Seize him!’”(1Kings 13:4, NIV) That hand, however, instantly withered. How do we handle rebukes? Are we angry when challenged or do we respond with humility, consider the rebuke and, if necessary, repent? What is our interest - our will or God's will? After suffering the affliction from God, Jeroboam was forced to humble himself and ask the man of God for prayer to heal his hand. God was gracious to Jeroboam and restored his hand, but unfortunately, as we will see in future lessons, Jeroboam did not learn from the experience.

Grateful for the healing of his hand, or possibly to curry favor with the prophet, or perhaps to kill him, Jeroboam invites the man of God to his house to dine with him and to receive a gift. The man of God, however, had a word from the LORD not to accept any charity but to deliver the message to Jeroboam and then go back home by a different route. This was not a pleasure trip for the man of God; it had one purpose: to proclaim God's judgment on Jeroboam. On the way home, however, an old prophet of Israel deceives him with a different message “from the LORD.” We are not certain of the purpose of the prophet's deception. Perhaps this man of God was tired and hungry from the journey, and God's “new” message appealed to him. Perhaps the old prophet was testing the man of God to see if he would follow God's original revelation. Because the man of God believed this false prophet and did not follow the original counsel of the LORD, he is killed for not honoring the Word of the LORD. This seems harsh. Why would God do that? The Bible says to those of whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). Because he was a true messenger of the LORD, he needed to be completely faithful in carrying out his assignment. What about us; are comfort and profits our interests or do we seek to fulfill God's Word completely? We need to beware of false teachers or believers who would seek to distract us or compromise our testimony.

Lessons to live by:

  • Our interest in leadership should not be to show others who is the boss but to serve in the best interests of those we lead.
  • True spiritual leaders realize their positions are from God. They give him thanks and seek counsel from him. They trust in him. They walk in humility and in fear of the LORD. They seek to serve the people entrusted to their care to the best of their ability.
  • We need to be careful how we lead; obedience to the LORD usually brings his blessing and prosperity, while disobedience brings his discipline and judgment.
  • A leader's security should be in God.
  • When challenged, leaders should put off their anger, respond with humility, consider the rebuke and, if necessary, repent. Their interest should be doing God's will, not their own.
  • Spiritual leaders should seek to fulfill God's Word completely. They need to beware of false teachers or believers who would seek to distract them or compromise their testimonies.

Today's Bible memory verses: Matthew 20:26-28

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (NIV)

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