This lesson covers the reign of Rehoboam and Jeroboam and continues our series on the Kings of Israel. Click here to see the lesson index.
Studying these first kings that reign in the divided kingdom will reveal how God’s people must guard their hearts from being led astray. This lesson was prepared for older students and can be adapted for different ministry needs. The lesson is created as a guide for teachers to prepare for the needs of his/her own classroom. We encourage you to adapt this outline to meet your own needs.
Bible Story: Rehoboam and Jeroboam Reign
Scripture: 1Kings 12:21-14:31; 2 Chronicles 11-12
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: 1 piece of red construction paper, 1 piece of blue construction paper, outline of a person (to trace on the red and blue construction paper), two circles cut out of construction paper (to create a smile face or sad face), markers, Bible,
Learning Goal: Students will learn that a heart that fully seeks the Lord pleases Him.
Learning Indicator: As students participate in a character study on the reigns of Rehoboam and Jeroboam they will discover whether their choices pleased God or not. Students will demonstrate their understanding of the Bible passage by being able to answer review questions.
Gospel Connection: In the history of Israel we see many examples of wicked and selfish rulers. These stand in stark contrast with the coming King Jesus who would serve his people and even die for their salvation. By learning about imperfect human rulers, we can better appreciate the King of Kings.
Learning Activity #1: Using the red and blue construction paper (the kings from Judah are red as a reminder of God’s promise to David that a king from his family would reign forever-Jesus) write Rehoboam in the center of the outline of the red piece and Jeroboam in the center of the blue piece. While teaching the lesson and character traits/decisions that Rehoboam and Jeroboam make are discovered have students write those items on the outline. At the end of the lesson ask the question: “Did this king live a life that pleased the Lord?” If the answer is yes have a student draw a smiley face on one of the circles. If the answer is no have student make a sad face on the circle. Tape the circle below the king that it represents. These outlines with smiley face or sad face can be taped to the wall and each week as the different kings are studied they can be added to the wall. This will create a visual for the students to see how many kings pleased the Lord and how many did not.
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: 1Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
Teaching the Memory Verse: As we studied Rehoboam’s and Jeroboam’s reign over their kingdom we learned that their lives did not please God. 2 Chronicles 12:14 (referring to Rehoboam) “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” A life that pleases the Lord doesn’t happen by accident. Our verse today shows us what believers need to do in order keep their hearts right with God. Say the verse together. Why does a believer need to be on guard? (Allow students to respond. 1 Peter 5:8-the devil roams around looking for someone to devour). Does anyone remember what happened to guards who fell asleep or were not on guard and the prisoner they were supposed to be guarding got away? (They were put to death) If you were a guard and you knew you could lose your life how would you spend your time while guarding your prisoner? The devil cannot take away the gift of eternal life from believers but he can try to destroy their reputations as believers. If a believer is not on guard the enemy can lead us into sin and it can destroy our reputation as a Christian. What does it mean to stand firm in the faith? (Allow responses. To stand firm in the faith is to trust God in every area of life and not to doubt.) What are things believers can do to help them stand firm in their faith? (Pray, read Bible, obey what God says, etc).
Bonus Memory Verse (for students who want extra memory verses): 2 Peter 1:5-7 “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
Bible Lesson: Rehoboam and Jeroboam Reign
Why bother? Have you ever said that or thought that about trying to live a life that pleases God? Sometimes it feels like so much work to live an obedient life following God. When we look around and see people doing whatever they want we wonder if it is worth it to live according to what God tells us in His Word. You may not have thought that or said that but there may come a point in your walk with Jesus that you will. As we study the lives of the kings that ruled the divided kingdom we should pray that God enables us to decide to live a life that pleases Him because it does matter and it is worth it!
Before we get into our lesson today, let’s refresh our memory. Why was Israel’s kingdom divided? (Solomon sinned against God) The kingdom was divided into the northern and southern kingdoms. How many tribes were part of the northern kingdom? (10) Which tribes were part of the southern kingdom? (Judah and Benjamin) After Solomon died which king ruled over the 10 tribes? (Jeroboam) Which king ruled over the 2 tribes? (Rehoboam) What makes the southern kingdom different than the northern? (A king from David’s family would be born from this kingdom who will rule forever-Jesus)
In our lesson today we are going to examine the lives of the first two kings who reigned in Israel’s divided kingdom. Rehoboam was Solomon’s son. What do you remember about his character from our last lesson? (He was not wise, listened to bad advice, answered the people harshly)
The history of Israel’s kings is written in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles. We will examine Jeroboam’s reign as king first. Let’s turn to 1 Kings 12:25. After Jeroboam became king he went to live in Shechem.
Who remembers who told Jeroboam he would be king over the 10 tribes of Israel? (God) Do you remember what God promised Jeroboam? “If you do whatever I command you and walk in My ways and do what is right in My eyes by keeping My statutes and commands as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.” 1 Kings 11:38
God made a conditional promise to Jeroboam. In your own words what was that promise to Jeroboam? (If Jeroboam obeyed God he would have a kingdom that lasts)
Choose volunteers to read 1 Kings 12:26-27. What was Jeroboam focusing on? (Losing his people to Rehoboam’s kingdom when they went to Jerusalem to worship the Lord) What should he be focused on? (God’s promise to him that if he obeyed God’s laws his kingdom would endure)
Jeroboam did not seek God’s wisdom about his concern. Let’s read 1 Kings 12:28-29 to see what Jeroboam did. Was Jeroboam’s decision a wise one or foolish? (Foolish) Why? (He was leading people to worship idols so they wouldn’t go to Jerusalem) Was Jeroboam obeying God? (No) If Jeroboam would have obeyed God and not made golden calves for the people to worship would God keep His promise that Jeroboam would have a kingdom to rule? (Yes)
- Jeroboam told his people that it was ‘too much’ for them to go to Jerusalem to worship God. As believers the enemy of our souls (Satan) tells us it is too difficult to obey God. When that lie is whispered to our hearts remember what God’s Word says: 1 John 5:3 “This is the love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome.”
Jeroboam made a wicked, foolish decision to have Israel worship idols. Instead of being remembered as a king who honored and obeyed God, he would always be remembered for his wickedness. Let’s finish our examination of Jeroboam by reading 1Kings 13:34.
As we examine Rehoboam’s life let’s turn in our Bibles to 2 Chronicles 11:13-17. Why did the Levites come to live in Rehoboam’s kingdom? (Jeroboam had rejected them as his priests and made others who were from other families (The Levites were God’s choice to serve as priests) to be the priests in his kingdom.) Who else came to live in Rehoboam’s kingdom (verse 16)?
Why do you think the people with their hearts set on seeking the Lord left Jeroboam’s kingdom and went with the Levites to Rehoboam’s kingdom? (Allow responses) If you are a person who wants to please God, what do you think it would be like to live in a kingdom that worshiped idols?
Things were going well in Rehoboam’s kingdom. Read 2 Chronicles 12:1. Unfortunately when things were going well for Rehoboam he went away from God and began to disobey God’s commands. If we flip over to 1 Kings 14:22-24 it is recorded what they did that was evil in God’s sight.
God must punish sin and He sent Shishak the king of Egypt to attack Rehoboam’s kingdom. Shishak invaded Jerusalem and stole treasures from the temple and the royal palace.
2 Chronicles 12:5-8. Rehoboam and the people living in his kingdom humbled themselves. “Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger turned from him, and he was not totally destroyed. Indeed there was some good in Judah.” (Verse 12)
Rehoboam is recorded in history as a king who “did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” (Verse 14)
We have examined the first kings who reigned in the divided kingdom. What are some lessons we have learned that we can use in our own lives?
- Set our hearts fully on seeking the Lord
- Obey God’s commands
- Don’t forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:10-19)
Close in prayer asking God to help each person to keep their hearts focused on Him.
Our memory verse will help us to set our hearts fully on seeking the Lord. (Teach Memory verse)
- Why did Jeroboam not want his people to go to Jerusalem to worship? (He was afraid that the people wouldn’t return to his kingdom)
- How did Jeroboam try to keep the people from going to Jerusalem? (Made 2 golden calves for the people to worship in Bethel and Dan)
- Why did the Levites and others leave Jeroboam’s kingdom? (The Levites were rejected as his priests and people who set their hearts on seeking the Lord followed the Levites to Jerusalem)
- How will Jeroboam be remembered? (Evil king who led his people to worship idols)
- What happened after Rehoboam’s kingdom became strong? (He and his kingdom abandoned God’s laws)
- How will Rehoboam be remembered? (As a king who did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord)
- How do you want to be remembered? What do you need to do to be remembered as a person who set your heart on seeking the Lord?
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God's Promise to Jeroboam
26 Another man who turned against King Solomon was one of his officials, Jeroboam son of Nebat, from Zeredah in Ephraim. His mother was a widow named Zeruah. 27 This is the story of the revolt.
Solomon was filling in the land on the east side of Jerusalem and repairing the city walls. 28 Jeroboam was an able young man, and when Solomon noticed how hard he worked, he put him in charge of all the forced labor in the territory of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. 29 One day, as Jeroboam was traveling from Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh met him alone on the road in the open country. 30 Ahijah took off the new robe he was wearing, tore it into twelve pieces, 31 and said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, because the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, ‘I am going to take the kingdom away from Solomon, and I will give you ten tribes. 32 Solomon will keep one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be my own from the whole land of Israel. 33 I am going to do this because Solomon has rejected me and has worshiped foreign gods: Astarte, the goddess of Sidon; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god of Ammon. Solomon has disobeyed me; he has done wrong and has not kept my laws and commands as his father David did. 34 But I will not take the whole kingdom away from Solomon, and I will keep him in power as long as he lives. This I will do for the sake of my servant David, whom I chose and who obeyed my laws and commands. 35 I will take the kingdom away from Solomon's son and will give you ten tribes, 36 but I will let Solomon's son keep one tribe, so that I will always have a descendant of my servant David ruling in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen as the place where I am worshiped. 37 Jeroboam, I will make you king of Israel, and you will rule over all the territory that you want. 38 If you obey me completely, live by my laws, and win my approval by doing what I command, as my servant David did, I will always be with you. I will make you king of Israel and will make sure that your descendants rule after you, just as I have done for David. 39 Because of Solomon's sin I will punish the descendants of David, but not for all time.’”
40 And so Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he escaped to King Shishak of Egypt and stayed there until Solomon's death.
The Death of Solomon
41 Everything else that Solomon did, his career, and his wisdom, are all recorded in The History of Solomon. 42 He was king in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 43 He died and was buried in David's City, and his son Rehoboam succeeded him as king.
The Northern Tribes Revolt
1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all the people of northern Israel had gathered to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had gone to Egypt to escape from King Solomon, heard this news, he returned from Egypt. 3 The people of the northern tribes sent for him, and then they all went together to Rehoboam and said to him, 4 “Your father Solomon treated us harshly and placed heavy burdens on us. If you make these burdens lighter and make life easier for us, we will be your loyal subjects.”
5 “Come back in three days and I will give you my answer,” he replied. So they left.
6 King Rehoboam consulted the older men who had served as his father Solomon's advisers. “What answer do you advise me to give these people?” he asked.
7 They replied, “If you want to serve this people well, give a favorable answer to their request, and they will always serve you loyally.”
8 But he ignored the advice of the older men and went instead to the young men who had grown up with him and who were now his advisers. 9 “What do you advise me to do?” he asked. “What shall I say to the people who are asking me to make their burdens lighter?”
10 They replied, “This is what you should tell them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's waist!’ 11 Tell them, ‘My father placed heavy burdens on you; I will make them even heavier. He beat you with whips; I'll flog you with bullwhips!’”
12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to King Rehoboam, as he had instructed them. 13 The king ignored the advice of the older men and spoke harshly to the people, 14 as the younger men had advised. He said, “My father placed heavy burdens on you; I will make them even heavier. He beat you with whips; I'll flog you with bullwhips!” 15 It was the will of the Lord to bring about what he had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh. This is why the king did not pay any attention to the people.
16 When the people saw that the king would not listen to them, they shouted, “Down with David and his family! What have they ever done for us? People of Israel, let's go home! Let Rehoboam look out for himself!”
So the people of Israel rebelled, 17 leaving Rehoboam as king only of the people who lived in the territory of Judah.
18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, who was in charge of the forced labor, to go to the Israelites, but they stoned him to death. At this, Rehoboam hurriedly got in his chariot and escaped to Jerusalem. 19 Ever since that time the people of the northern kingdom of Israel have been in rebellion against the dynasty of David.
20 When the people of Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned from Egypt, they invited him to a meeting of the people and made him king of Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to David's descendants.
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he called together 180,000 of the best soldiers from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. He intended to go to war and restore his control over the northern tribes of Israel. 22 But God told the prophet Shemaiah 23 to give this message to Rehoboam and to all the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin: 24 “Do not attack your own relatives, the people of Israel. Go home, all of you. What has happened is my will.” They all obeyed the Lord's command and went back home.
Jeroboam Turns Away from God
25 King Jeroboam of Israel fortified the town of Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there for a while. Then he left and fortified the town of Penuel. 26-27 He said to himself, “As things are now, if my people go to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices to the Lord in the Temple there, they will transfer their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah and will kill me.”
28 After thinking it over, he made two bull-calves of gold and said to his people, “You have been going long enough to Jerusalem to worship. People of Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt!” 29 He placed one of the gold bull-calves in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 And so the people sinned, going to worship in Bethel and in Dan. 31 Jeroboam also built places of worship on hilltops, and he chose priests from families who were not of the tribe of Levi.
Worship at Bethel Is Condemned
32 Jeroboam also instituted a religious festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival in Judah. On the altar in Bethel he offered sacrifices to the gold bull-calves he had made, and he placed there in Bethel the priests serving at the places of worship he had built. 33 And on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the day that he himself had set, he went to Bethel and offered a sacrifice on the altar in celebration of the festival he had instituted for the people of Israel.
1 At the Lord's command a prophet from Judah went to Bethel and arrived there as Jeroboam stood at the altar to offer the sacrifice. 2 Following the Lord's command, the prophet denounced the altar: “O altar, altar, this is what the Lord says: A child, whose name will be Josiah, will be born to the family of David. He will slaughter on you the priests serving at the pagan altars who offer sacrifices on you, and he will burn human bones on you.” 3 And the prophet went on to say, “This altar will fall apart, and the ashes on it will be scattered. Then you will know that the Lord has spoken through me.”
4 When King Jeroboam heard this, he pointed at him and ordered, “Seize that man!” At once the king's arm became paralyzed so that he couldn't pull it back. 5 The altar suddenly fell apart and the ashes spilled to the ground, as the prophet had predicted in the name of the Lord. 6 King Jeroboam said to the prophet, “Please pray for me to the Lord your God, and ask him to heal my arm!”
The prophet prayed to the Lord, and the king's arm was healed. 7 Then the king said to the prophet, “Come home with me and have something to eat. I will reward you for what you have done.”
8 The prophet answered, “Even if you gave me half of your wealth, I would not go with you or eat or drink anything with you. 9 The Lord has commanded me not to eat or drink a thing, and not to return home the same way I came.” 10 So he did not go back the same way he had come, but by another road.
The Old Prophet of Bethel
11 At that time there was an old prophet living in Bethel. His sons came and told him what the prophet from Judah had done in Bethel that day and what he had said to King Jeroboam. 12 “Which way did he go when he left?” the old prophet asked them. They showed him the road 13 and he told them to saddle his donkey for him. They did so, and he rode off 14 down the road after the prophet from Judah and found him sitting under an oak tree. “Are you the prophet from Judah?” he asked.
“I am,” the man answered.
15 “Come home and have a meal with me,” he said.
16 But the prophet from Judah answered, “I can't go home with you or accept your hospitality. And I won't eat or drink anything with you here, 17 because the Lord has commanded me not to eat or drink a thing, and not to return home the same way I came.”
18 Then the old prophet from Bethel said to him, “I, too, am a prophet just like you, and at the Lord's command an angel told me to take you home with me and offer you my hospitality.” But the old prophet was lying.
19 So the prophet from Judah went home with the old prophet and had a meal with him. 20 As they were sitting at the table, the word of the Lord came to the old prophet, 21 and he cried out to the prophet from Judah, “The Lord says that you disobeyed him and did not do what he commanded. 22 Instead, you returned and ate a meal in a place he had ordered you not to eat in. Because of this you will be killed, and your body will not be buried in your family grave.”
23 After they had finished eating, the old prophet saddled the donkey for the prophet from Judah, 24 who rode off. On the way a lion met him and killed him. His body lay on the road, and the donkey and the lion stood beside it. 25 Some men passed by and saw the body on the road, with the lion standing near by. They went on into Bethel and reported what they had seen.
26 When the old prophet heard about it, he said, “That is the prophet who disobeyed the Lord's command! And so the Lord sent the lion to attack and kill him, just as the Lord said he would.” 27 Then he said to his sons, “Saddle my donkey for me.” They did so, 28 and he rode off and found the prophet's body lying on the road, with the donkey and the lion still standing by it. The lion had not eaten the body or attacked the donkey. 29 The old prophet picked up the body, put it on the donkey, and brought it back to Bethel to mourn over it and bury it. 30 He buried it in his own family grave, and he and his sons mourned over it, saying, “Oh my brother, my brother!” 31 After the burial the prophet said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in this grave and lay my body next to his. 32 The words that he spoke at the Lord's command against the altar in Bethel and against all the places of worship in the towns of Samaria will surely come true.”
Jeroboam's Fatal Sin
33 King Jeroboam of Israel still did not turn from his evil ways but continued to choose priests from ordinary families to serve at the altars he had built. He ordained as priest anyone who wanted to be one. 34 This sin on his part brought about the ruin and total destruction of his dynasty.
The Death of Jeroboam's Son
1 At that time King Jeroboam's son Abijah got sick. 2 Jeroboam said to his wife, “Disguise yourself so that no one will recognize you, and go to Shiloh, where the prophet Ahijah lives, the one who said I would be king of Israel. 3 Take him ten loaves of bread, some cakes, and a jar of honey. Ask him what is going to happen to our son, and he will tell you.”
4 So she went to Ahijah's home in Shiloh. Old age had made Ahijah blind. 5 The Lord had told him that Jeroboam's wife was coming to ask him about her son, who was sick. And the Lord told Ahijah what to say.
When Jeroboam's wife arrived, she pretended to be someone else. 6 But when Ahijah heard her coming in the door, he said, “Come in. I know you are Jeroboam's wife. Why are you pretending to be someone else? I have bad news for you. 7 Go and tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to him: ‘I chose you from among the people and made you the ruler of my people Israel. 8 I took the kingdom away from David's descendants and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who was completely loyal to me, obeyed my commands, and did only what I approve of. 9 You have committed far greater sins than those who ruled before you. You have rejected me and have aroused my anger by making idols and metal images to worship. 10 Because of this I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will kill all your male descendants, young and old alike. I will get rid of your family; they will be swept away like dung. 11 Any members of your family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and any who die in the open country will be eaten by vultures. I, the Lord, have spoken.’”
12 And Ahijah went on to say to Jeroboam's wife, “Now go back home. As soon as you enter the town, your son will die. 13 All the people of Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He will be the only member of Jeroboam's family who will be properly buried, because he is the only one with whom the Lord, the God of Israel, is pleased. 14 The Lord is going to place a king over Israel who will put an end to Jeroboam's dynasty. 15 The Lord will punish Israel, and she will shake like a reed shaking in a stream. He will uproot the people of Israel from this good land which he gave to their ancestors, and he will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they have aroused his anger by making idols of the goddess Asherah. 16 The Lord will abandon Israel because Jeroboam sinned and led the people of Israel into sin.”
17 Jeroboam's wife went back to Tirzah. Just as she entered her home, the child died. 18 The people of Israel mourned for him and buried him, as the Lord had said through his servant, the prophet Ahijah.
The Death of Jeroboam
19 Everything else that King Jeroboam did, the wars he fought and how he ruled, are all recorded in The History of the Kings of Israel. 20 Jeroboam ruled as king for twenty-two years. He died and was buried, and his son Nadab succeeded him as king.
King Rehoboam of Judah
21 Solomon's son Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the territory of Israel as the place where he was to be worshiped. Rehoboam's mother was Naamah from Ammon.
22 The people of Judah sinned against the Lord and did more to arouse his anger against them than all their ancestors had done. 23 They built places of worship for false gods and put up stone pillars and symbols of Asherah to worship on the hills and under shady trees. 24 Worst of all, there were men and women who served as prostitutes at those pagan places of worship. The people of Judah practiced all the shameful things done by the people whom the Lord had driven out of the land as the Israelites advanced into the country.
25 In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign King Shishak of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. 26 He took away all the treasures in the Temple and in the palace, including the gold shields Solomon had made. 27 To replace them, King Rehoboam made bronze shields and entrusted them to the officers responsible for guarding the palace gates. 28 Every time the king went to the Temple, the guards carried the shields and then returned them to the guardroom.
29 Everything else that King Rehoboam did is recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah. 30 During all this time Rehoboam and Jeroboam were constantly at war with each other. 31 Rehoboam died and was buried in the royal tombs in David's City and his son Abijah succeeded him as king.