- Cross of Glory home page for The Story – Get All Weekly Reading Guides Here
- Enter the Bible from Luther Seminary – A Lutheran Perspective
- Map of Ancient Israel – Map from Inside Front Cover of The Story
- The Story – Full Timeline
- The Story – Publishers Web Site
- Map – Tribes
- Map – Empire of David and Solomon
- Kings of Israel and Judah
- Timeline for Chapter 15
Week 10 Resources:
- Audio for Chapter 14 – YouTube Post from Publisher
- Audio for Chapter 15 – YouTube Post from Publisher
- Sermon on Chapters 14 -15
The Story – Chapters 14 and 15: A Kingdom Divided and God’s Messengers
This week, we look at two chapters of The Story and discover how after Solomon’s death, things go downhill pretty quickly for God’s chosen people. Although Israel experienced unprecedented achievement and prosperity during most of Solomon’s reign, at the end, his oppression of his people through taxes and conscripted work, and his worship of foreign gods, led to a divided kingdom after his death.
There’s a lot to cover in these two chapters. If you don’t have The Story book, you can read 1 Kings 12-19, 2 Kings 2, 4, and 6; Hosea 4-5, 8-9 and 14; and Amos 1, 3-5 and 9.
Summary of Chapters 14 and 15 – A Kingdom Divided and God’s Messengers
Solomon’s worship of foreign gods near the end of his life and his oppression of his people had catastrophic consequences for God’s chosen people. Upon his death, his son Rehoboam refused to provide any relief from Solomon’s heavy taxation, resulting in a divided nation. Only Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam. The other 10 tribes to the north seceded, took the name of Israel and made Jeroboam their king. However, Jeroboam, like Aaron centuries before, set up idols of counterfeit worship, leading Israel into idolatry. Prophets predicted the end of Jeroboam’s reign, which occurred soon thereafter.
In Judah, Rehoboam allowed God’s people to fall into the same idolatry as in the North. The years of peace under Solomon ended when Shishak, king of Egypt attacked Judah and carried off the gold and silver treasures. Rehoboam replaced them with bronze, but the decline in moral and spiritual values was even sharper than the drop in value from gold to bronze.
The series of idolatrous kings continue, as both Judah and Israel were led further and further away from God. Abijah son of Rehoboam became the next king of Judah. His tenure was short and sinful like his father’s. No good kings reigned in Israel after the split of the kingdom. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Israel sank deeper into idolatry under Ahab and Jezebel.
But God did not sit idly by. Instead, God called prophets to speak on His behalf and demonstrate that there is no God but YHWH. The prophet Elijah warned King Ahab that Israel would experience a 3-year drought because of their worship of the pagan god, Baal. Then, atop Mount Carmel, Elijah challenged the idolaters to the ultimate faceoff—YHWH vs. Baal. Baal failed to show up but the LORD made a dramatic statement when He consumed the water-logged sacrifice with fire. However, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, responded with threats to kill Elijah, so he fled into the desert. God revealed Himself to Elijah at Mount Horeb, much like He had done nearly 600 years earlier to Moses at Sinai. He told Elijah that he had kings and prophets to anoint – one of whom was his successor, Elisha.
While the two prophets were traveling together, a whirlwind took Elijah up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elisha, who succeeded Elijah, performed many miraculous feats for the benefit of the faithful remnant in Israel. However, even with the powerful ministries of Elijah and Elisha, the deeply embedded idolaters remained powerful, numerous, and unrepentant in Israel.
God sent Amos to warn Israel that her prosperity, injustice, and sinful ways would soon be judged. He promised them that if Israel did not repent, they would be taken captive. God also sent Hosea to Israel as a living object lesson of God’s faithfulness and Israel’s unfaithfulness. However, Israel continued to ignore God’s pleas to return to Him.
As you read, remember there are discussion questions for each chapter beginning on page 473 of the book and also questions that can be found on The Story bookmark (which is also on our website). Also, feel free to consider some of the questions below:
- Solomon’s son Rehoboam sought counsel from the elders who had served his father first and then to the young men who had served him. He received very different advice and ultimately chose to follow the advice of his contemporaries To whom do you turn when you need advice in making difficult decisions? Why? Who else would you like to include in this circle? Whose advice are you most likely to follow? Why?
- Chapters 14 and 15 are full of stories of conflict. Do you tend to avoid conflict, provoke it or address it head on? What lessons about conflict and conflict resolution can you learn from the stories in this chapter?
- Even in the midst of these stories of conflict and idolatrous kings, God’s upper story still reveals how God relentlessly pursues his people. How do you see God pursuing you when conflict and chaos seem to be a part of your life?
- Elijah experienced a great miracle – defeating the prophets of Baal – but then he began to fear for his life. Why do you think this miracle was not enough for him? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where God has come through big-time, but you still have trouble relying on him. What happened? And then, after a dramatic series of events, God revealed himself to Elijah in a very undramatic way. Why do you think God might choose to dwell in a whisper? When have you experienced God’s whisper in your life?
- The kings in Israel and Judah were supposed to be servants of God who implemented justice and led people to follow God so all nations would know God. But most didn’t embrace that role. Do you think servant leadership is important? As a leader, how do you embody servant leadership?
- The split of Israel and Judah led to continual warfare for hundreds of years. What issues divide God’s people today? What practical ways can you think of to promote unity within your church? What about unity with other Christians?
- Amos and Hosea had some pretty tough words for the people of God in their day. What do you think they would say to Christians in this country today? What would they say to the people in your congregation? If you think that Amos’ and Hosea’s messages are still meaningful today, what can you do to be that prophetic voice?
- What questions came up for you while you were reading these chapters?