“Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance.” (2 Chronicles 12:7)
It isn’t often that we find anyone in Judah or Israel listening to the Lord during the reign of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. The kingdom had been torn apart because of the sins of Solomon, his son, and all of Israel. Because of the rebellion against God by David’s heirs, Rehoboam finds that ten tribes of Israel have rebelled against him. Worship of false gods becomes rampant as David’s faithful example gives way to idolatrous leadership.
Yet even while both Judah and Israel rebel against the Lord God, He provides an intercessor for peace on their behalf. He sends his servant Shemaiah to King Rehoboam as he is about to march north with a hundred and eighty thousand men set on wresting the kingdom back from the rebellious tribes: “This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’ So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered” (1 Kings 12:24).
Shemaiah’s intercession for peace in the midst of sinful rebellion is reminiscent of the greater Man of God, Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of our rebellion, God sent His Son to give us peace; peace with Him, peace with our neighbors, and peace in our own hearts through the forgiveness of sins. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God’s love for us didn’t stop on account of our rebellion. Rather, it was our sinful rejection of Him that led to the ultimate display of love at Calvary.
As Rehoboam establishes his reign, he gradually abandons God and walks into disaster. But God equips Shemaiah with His Word, and through this Word the man of God is able to soften even these hard hearts and turn them to repentance. God has mercy on Rehoboam and Judah: “Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance” (2 Chronicles 12:7). Because Rehoboam turns back to God, the remainder of his rule is blessed and God gives him faithful children to rule after him for three generations. But God gives more than earthly deliverance to Rehoboam. Through the Law, God turns the hearts of Judah to repentance and saves them through the Gospel by faith in Him and in the Messiah that would soon come and give deliverance to the whole world.
Though he is spoken of little in Scripture, Shemaiah is a hero of the faith in every way. He preaches God’s just and perfect Law along with His righteous judgment to the people, and he also points ahead toward Jesus by proclaiming the Gospel of peace and salvation. He reveals the same pattern of a loving God that all faith heroes demonstrate; One who gives us peace now and forever through forgiveness by God’s grace.
“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever – holy and awesome is his name.” (Psalm 111:7-9)
Prayer: Lord, help me ever to be a man of God, faithfully proclaiming Your Law and assuring repentant sinners of Your Gospel. Send out Your Word to soften the hard hearts of our world, that all may turn to You in faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.