A man in the early 19th century opened a newspaper one morning and read, “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, died yesterday.” He devised a way for more people than ever before to be killed in war, and he died a rich man.” He was shocked to read those words – because he was Alfred Nobel and he had not died!
Actually, it was Alfred’s older brother who had died, and the papers had misunderstood the information. Nevertheless, this two sentence conclusion of his life shook him to the core.
One day, every one of us will have a conclusion written about our lives. What Alfred Nobel had prepared to seek, up to this point in his life, made a statement by which he did not wish to be known.
The same could be said of a man we find in the Bible named Rehoboam. The summary of his life is found in 2 Chronicles 12:14, “And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.”
Rehoboam was the son of Solomon and Naamah, an Ammonitess. Solomon may have started out well, but he did not end well. He took strange women as his wives, including Naamah, and chased after a life of luxury. His son followed in his footsteps. However, the verse did not say he did evil because of his mother, nor because of the choices of his father. Neither can you nor I use excuses about our weak walk with the Lord for accomplishing His will in our lives. There is not one reason you or I can give as to why God’s grace is not active in us or in our families today.
Rehoboam did evil simply because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord. There are two of his wrong actions to ponder in our text that reveal how he failed to prepare his heart:
I. His heart was not a prepared heart because he FORSOOK the law.
2 Chronicles 12:1-2, “And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him. (2) And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the LORD.”
Rehoboam did not start off his reign as his father, acknowledging his need for wisdom from God. Instead he strengthened himself, and as a result, forsook the law. Proverbs 28:9 warns, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”
At Reformers Unanimous, Principle #1 prepares the heart for seeking and searching for God’s grace in our life. “If God is against it, so am I.” The law was never designed to show us how we should live, but rather how we fail to live, thus revealing our need for God to intervene on our behalf. A person who is interested in their heart being prepared will always remember their driving need – grace.
II. His heart was not a prepared heart because he FORGED the symbols.
2 Chronicles 12:9-12, “So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (10) Instead of which king Rehoboam made shields of brass, and committed them to the hands of the chief of the guard, that kept the entrance of the king’s house. (11) And when the king entered into the house of the LORD, the guard came and fetched them, and brought them again into the guard chamber. (12) And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether: and also in Judah things went well.”
The gold shields were a symbol of God’s protection made by his father in the generation before. Those shields were replaced with a weak metal called brass, yet he polished them to appear as though nothing had happened.
It is one thing to be right in appearance; it is altogether another thing to be right in the heart. I believe this is one reason why Jesus, in Matthew 5:21-22, made reference to the law when he said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Racca, shall be in danger of hell fire.” We find this to be the context because of the phrase he gives to the one who commits adultery. “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Two lessons I learn from Jesus here are: First, because of my sinfulness and unworthiness, without His grace in my life, I am hopeless. Secondly, until Jesus gets my heart, my actions will never change. The heart is the seat of the mind, will, and emotions. We transform by the renewing of our mind (heart). We hear truth, we accept that truth, and confess that to be truth, then our emotions (heart) sear us to that truth and obedience is the result.
I want to challenge each reader to summarize every sermon you hear this year and how God is applying that sermon to your heart. This can be done in two or three short sentences. Once you have written the summary in a journal or the back of your Bible, place your index finger on it and say aloud, “I believe that!” The changing of the heart from wavering to preparedness is necessary for the heart to be prepared.
Alfred Nobel didn’t want to be remembered as the man who got rich selling explosives. He changed his will to award money each year to people who promote peace. Today, when you hear the name Nobel you don’t think of dynamite, you probably think of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nobel later wrote, “Every man ought to have the chance to correct his obituary in midstream and write a new one.” If you could read your obituary tomorrow, what would you want it to say? A newspaper obituary only runs one day and then it’s forgotten, but your choices regarding Jesus Christ have eternal consequences.