Online Bible Commentary
God Does Not Let Persecution of His People Stand
2 Chronicles 11:1 Now when Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled from the house of Judah and Benjamin one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might restore the kingdom to Rehoboam. 2 But the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying, 3 "Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, saying, 4 'Thus says the Lord: "You shall not go up or fight against your brethren! Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.'" Therefore they obeyed the words of the Lord, and turned back from attacking Jeroboam. (NKJV)
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, had increased the persecution of Israel that his father had started. As a result the people of Israel rebelled and divided the kingdom that had once belonged to David. Israel and Judah had united under David, but now, because of persecution, Israel seceded from that union and named Jereboam its first king. Jereboam ruled over Israel from 975 B.C. to 954 B.C.
Previously, during Solomon’s reign, the Prophet Ahijah had approached Jereboam with the word from God that, if he would obey God’s laws, God would establish for him a kingdom equal to David’s. (1 Kings 11:29-40). God ordained that the line of David would lose Israel because Solomon had turned away from God.
When Solomon discovered this, Jereboam, because of threats from Solomon, had to flee to Egypt. He returned upon Solomon’s death. Then when Rehoboam increased the persecution upon Israel the Israelites forsook the line of David and named Jereboam its king.
In this passage, Rehoboam is all set to reunite his former kingdom by military force (v.1). He gathers an army of one hundred and eighty thousand men from Judah to make war on Israel.
But the Lord instructed the prophet Shemaiah to deliver His word to Rehoboam (vv.2-3). The name Shemaiah means “heard by Jehovah.” Shemaiah later wrote a chronicle about the events of Rehoboam’s reign (2 Chronicles 12: 5, 15).
In verse four the Lord’s word to Rehoboam was to not fight against his Hebrew brothers. The Lord said that the dividing of the union was His idea. Rehoboam obeyed and withdrew his troops.
However, throughout the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam there was continual warfare (2 Chronicles 12:15). God was pained to see His people split and fighting each other. It was all because a group of officials, Rehoboam and his young advisors, decided to persecute God’s people, the people of Israel.
Today, God’s people are Christians. Just as in this passage, God’s people in America are being persecuted by their government officials. This is not pleasing to God. The Lord is telling the persecutors to stop persecuting His people, just as the Lord told Rehoboam, the Pharaoh of Egypt, and Paul, on the road to Damascus.
In this case God’s remedy for persecution was for Israel to secede from their union with Judah. We do not know what the extent of His remedy will be this time, but we know there will be one. That is the nature of God.