When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. And the people were without number who came with him from Egypt—Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians. And he took the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem. Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and to the princes of Judah, who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.’” Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said,“The Lord is righteous.” When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” II Chronicles 12:1-8 ESV
[Jesus said:]“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
William was tired of his life at home with his parents. He didn’t like to go to school or to study. He was tired of doing chores such as sweeping the front and back porches, bringing in buckets of coal for the stove, and running errands for his father’s business. Most of all, he hated his parents’ rules. He wanted to be free and to do things his own way. So one day, when his father sent him on an errand, he didn’t come back home. He decided to live his own life, and got a job at a factory. But William wasn’t happy in his new life. The place he had to live was cold, and he didn’t always have enough to eat. Factory work was hard and dangerous, and the hours were long. The only day he was free was Sunday, but he was so tired by then that he didn’t really have much fun. It wasn’t long before he realized he had made a big mistake in running away from his parents.
After a few years, Rehoboam and his people in the southern kingdom turned away from God. They were tired of living by God’s rules and wanted to do things their own way. So God allowed Shishak, the king of Egypt, to invade their country and take some of their fortified cities. A prophet came to King Rehoboam to explain why God had allowed this to happen. Then Rehoboam and his princes realized that they had been wrong, and they were sorry. God forgave them and protected the capital city of Jerusalem, but he let them be under the rule of Egypt for awhile. God wanted his people to understand the difference between living under his rule and living under the rule of another country. It was a painful lesson for them to learn.
We were under the rule of sin and death, but Jesus came and set us free by dying for us on the cross and rising again from the dead. Now we are free to serve Jesus and follow his ways. But sometimes we get tired of going God’s way. We feel as if we’re not free, and wish we could go our own way again. God helps us by sending us his Holy Spirit to call us back to him and to help us continue to live for him. When we turn away from God in sin, he always calls us back and forgives us for Jesus’ sake. He gives us joy in the freedom of living in his good way.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive our sins and call us back every day to live for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.