Read 1 Kings 11-12 at Bible Gateway.
Thus says the LORD: “You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.” 1 Kin 12:24
The LORD hardened Rehoboam’s heart so that he would make a foolish answer to the people, in order to split the kingdom in two. When Rehoboam was going to restore the kingdom to himself, the prophet came and told him and all the house of Judah with him, not to go fight, because the division was from the LORD.
Now why did the LORD want a divided kingdom? One of the kingdoms was the house of Israel with ten tribes in the north, called by the name Ephraim because Ephraim received the blessing of Abraham from Jacob on his deathbed, so to Ephraim went the blessing for the entire house of Israel. The other kingdom was the house of Judah in the south with the tribe of Judah, and Benjamin with him (Judah became surety for Benjamin, and Benjamin has stayed under the protection of Judah all these millennia since. Isn’t that awesome, that God regards the vows of our mouths so seriously?)
Jesus taught us that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And the first thing that the new kingdom of Israel/ Ephraim did was bow down to golden calves. Jeroboam even made new feast days, all in an effort to turn the ten tribes from the worship of the one true God who had given him the kingdom!
So why would this thing be from the LORD?
The LORD established two witnesses of Himself in the earth, because by two witnesses let every fact be established (Deu 19:15, 2 Cor 13:1). The nations had rejected Him as Creator and God at Babel. So God has a fact to establish to the nations: that He IS Creator and God. But two witnesses are required to establish every fact. He only had one witness to Him in the earth, the nation of Israel. By dividing the kingdom in two, He was making two witnesses to Himself in the earth.
But how could there be two witnesses, when the first thing Israel did was forsake the LORD? Yes, and not a single king which followed Jeroboam on the throne of Israel worshipped the LORD either, for the entire time that the kingdom of Israel existed in the north. But the LORD has a great plan in mind, His patience is great. He was after every nation of the earth, and He was going to get it.
As we go through the Scriptures we will see His great plan unfold. But we need to make note of the places where He points out the two witnesses, the two tribes of Judah and Joseph (or Ephraim). We noticed He already did this in the story of Joseph in Genesis, sandwiching the story of Judah right in the middle of Joseph’s story where it made no sense. We noticed He did this by using the Hebrew paragraph divisions to highlight the blessing which Jacob gave to Judah, and Joseph. We noticed He did this by having Jacob split the promise of Abraham into two, and giving the birthright part of the promise to Judah (the leadership of the nation) and the blessing part of the promise to Ephraim (the prosperity of the nation).
We noticed that the two witnesses surfaced again, when twelve spies were sent to spy out the land of Canaan, but only two of the twelve witnessed to Israel that the word of the LORD could be trusted, and that His promise could be believed and obeyed. The two which witnessed, were Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim, and Caleb of the tribe of Judah (Num 14-15). By many different means, the Scripture is pointing out these two for a reason. And now here again, the LORD divides the kingdom into two, the kingdom of Judah, and the kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), and forbids the house of David from doing anything about it, because the division is from Him.
We will keep looking as we go through Scripture, to see if the Scripture continues to highlight Judah and Joseph or Israel/ Ephraim.
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