The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph. And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road. Now Ahijah had dressed himself in a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the open country. Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did. I Kings 11:28-33 ESV
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world. I Samuel 2:6-8 ESV
There are stories told of old England about Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Life was hard for the poor in those days. They were often oppressed by the rich and could hardly make a living for themselves and their families. The noble people had plenty to eat and lived in luxury. When rich people traveled through the greenwood, Robin Hood and his men would sometimes capture them. They would throw a big party and feed them and entertain them with games and contests of strength, but before Robin Hood would let the rich people go, he would take away their money and use it to help the poor. Robin Hood brought down the rich and the proud and lifted the spirits and the fortunes of the poor and humble.
Robin Hood is only a story, but he’s a picture of the way God sometimes acts. When the rich and powerful become proud, God sometimes brings them down and lifts up someone poor and humble in their place. Solomon had incredible wealth and strength, but he became proud and turned away from the true God. God told a prophet named Ahijah his plans to discipline Solomon’s dynasty by taking away a lot of its power and giving ten of the tribes to a different king. The king God chose was Jeroboam, a man who worked for Solomon’s kingdom. He was a good, hard worker and Solomon had noticed his work and promoted him to a position of authority. Ahijah took Jeroboam out into the open where they wouldn’t be overheard and told him about God’s plans. He tore his cloak into twelve pieces and gave ten of them to Jeroboam to give him a picture of what was going to happen.
We were poor and humble, lost and helpless in our sins. God brought himself down for our sakes, not because we were good or worthwhile, but because he loves us. He became a human person in Jesus, and let himself be taken down by being arrested and beaten and put on the cross. Jesus was brought down for us, and because of what he did we are lifted up to be God’s people and members of his heavenly kingdom. Jesus’ death wasn’t the end for him. He rose again from the dead and has been lifted up to the highest throne of heaven. He is able to lift us up and forgive our sins and help us in our troubles every day.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being brought down for us and lifting us up. Amen.