Saturday, December 26, 2015

Some Measure of Deliverance

“When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:1).

“When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, ‘They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them SOME MEASURE OF DELIVERANCE” (2 Chronicles 12:7). 

Scripture declares that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  But, “I find...the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.  For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:21-23).  And such is the experience of all the sons of Adam who are also the sons of God; full deliverance is promised, assured, and something we patiently wait for—the redemption of our bodies.  Though sin repented of is forgiven, the consequences of sin—the reaping and sowing principle behind it—remains in full force except as God occasionally disrupts and nullifies consequences as He sees fit.

What God declared to Moses concerning Himself, He declares to all: “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; BUT HE WILL BY NO MEANS LEAVE THE GUILTY UNPUNISHED [emphasis mine], visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers upon the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers]” (Exodus 34:6-7).  Clearly “the guilty” which God “will by no means leave...unpunished” are not those who occasionally sin, but are those who sin long enough and strong enough to make themselves staunch haters of God, because the following elaboration of similar words as that of Exodus 34:6-7 brings it out more explicitly.  “You must have no other gods before me.  Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.  Do not bow down to them or worship them because I, the Lord your God, am a passionate [jealous] God.  I punish children for their parents’ sins—even to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me.  But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:7-10).  The progressive revelation in Scripture concerning genealogical culpability or benefit starts with God unambiguously declaring to man that He will punish children for their father’s sin as far out as the fourth generation.  That punishment, however, is prefaced by a declaration of His loving and longsuffering essential nature.  Then the revelation expands along two tracks, one positive and one negative, reaching as far as “the thousandth generation” along the positive track of love and obedience, and reaching only as far as the fourth generation along the negative track of hate; and therefore, in ultimate and mathematical terms, love reaches two-hundred and fifty times as far as hate does.  It is noteworthy that the number one thousand, in spiritual significance, means, “divine completeness and the glory of God.”  Four means “cosmic, world, God’s creative works”; four also “stands for the WEAKNESS found in the world and man.”  Two-hundred and fifty is a combination of two-hundred (“insufficiency”) and fifty (“Holy Spirit”).  All quotes about number significance (here and throughout this writing) are from Biblical Mathematics: Keys to Scripture Numerics, by Evangelist Ed. F. Vallowe.  Putting it all together, and relating it to God’s formulaic response to those who either love or hate Him, we see that love, in generational extension, reaches all the way out to “divine completeness and the glory of God,” whereas hate, in generational extension, only reaches as far as “the WEAKNESS found in the world and man.”  Nonetheless, and notwithstanding man’s free-will hate and God’s sovereign love (and how those contrary facts ultimately play out for each individual soul in final destiny), the Holy Spirit added to insufficiency and multiplied by that hateful weakness in man and his fallen world reaches exponentially beyond the material facts and brings man to “divine completeness and the glory of God.”  Finally, the prophet gets to the core of the issue when he says, “You may wonder why a son isn’t punished for the sins of his father. It is because the son does what is right and obeys my laws.  Only those who sin will be put to death. Children won’t suffer for the sins of their parents, and parents won’t suffer for the sins of their children. Good people will be rewarded for what they do, and evil people will be punished for what they do.  I will judge each of you for what you’ve done. So stop sinning, or else you will certainly be punished.  Give up your evil ways and start thinking pure thoughts. And be faithful to me! Do you really want to be put to death for your sins?  I, the Lord God, don’t want to see that happen to anyone. So stop sinning and live!” (Ezekiel 18:19-20, 30-32).

Matthew Henry, speaking on these seemingly contradictory ideas of genetically transmitted sin (or the proclivity to be tempted along the same genetic predispositions) and sin that the individual commits wholly of his/her own volition (without any genetic influence whatsoever), made these salient points:

God had often said that he would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, especially the sin of idolatry...and the heavy punishments he would bring upon idolaters that parents might be restrained from sin by their affection to their children and that children might not be drawn to sin by their reverence for their parents.  God does not punish the children for the fathers’ sins unless they tread in their fathers’ steps and fill up the measure of their iniquity (Matthew 23:32), and then they have no reason to complain, for, whatever they suffer, it is less than their own sin has deserved.  And, when God speaks of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, that is so far from putting any hardship upon the children, to whom he only renders according to their works, that it accounts for God’s patience with the parents, whom he therefore does not punish immediately, because he lays up their iniquity for their children (Job 21:19).  It is only in temporal calamities that children (and sometimes innocent ones) fare the worse for their parents’ wickedness, and God can alter the property of those calamities, and make them work for good to those that are visited with them; but as to spiritual and eternal misery (and that is the death here spoken of [Ezekiel 18]) the children shall by no means smart for the parents’ sins. This is here shown at large; and it is a wonderful piece of condescension that the great God is pleased to reason the case with such wicked and unreasonable men, that he did not immediately strike them dumb or dead, but vouchsafed to state the matter before them, that he may be clear when he is judged. 
                   
Now in the case of Rehoboam and his people, the primary subject of this writing, God gave them only SOME MEASURE OF DELIVERANCE; likewise, when we sin, deliverance is sometimes slow and partial.  The ultimate measure of deliverance is when this mortal puts on immortality, but until that happens in the hereafter, God in the here and now, and in His perfect wisdom, often deems it necessary that we pay the price for our sin in temporary but redemptive discomfort.  Even when we are not the sinner, we pay the price of others’ sins (most often our father’s and mother’s and relative’s), and thus we share in our Lord’s sufferings.  But not aimlessly without purpose.  Our ultimate goal, like Paul’s, needs to be “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).  While full deliverance is the ideal and ultimate reality—and that which we will undoubtedly secure in the end—some measure of deliverance is most often our experience while we are pilgrims in a strange land.

But also in the case of Rehoboam, is the sin of his father Solomon in particular (and perhaps an evil proclivity also inherited through his Ammonite mother).  “Now king Solomon [defiantly] loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites, ‘You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for the result will be that they will turn away your hearts to follow their gods.’  Yet Solomon clung to these in love” (1 Kings 11:1-2).  “So the Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel,” and ultimately, “the Lord said to Solomon, ‘Because you have done this and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.  However, I will not do it in your lifetime, for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son (Rehoboam).  However, I will not tear away all the kingdom; I will give one tribe (Judah) to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:9, 11-13).  Though it is not Rehoboam’s fault that his father Solomon sinned and that his mother was a “foreign woman,” that commingled inheritance set him up for failure before he even began.  And such were some of us, born of incest and adultery, spiritual and natural.  But thanks be to God!  Indeed, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [by perversion], nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers [whose words are used as weapons to abuse, insult, humiliate, intimidate, or slander], nor swindlers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.  AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU [BEFORE YOU BELIEVED]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior]” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). 
        
Since “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), and I see in the story of King Rehoboam a lesson for us today regarding some measure of deliverance, I proffer this exegesis of 2 Chronicles 12 to elaborate my points.

2 Chronicles 12:1.  “When the kingdom of Rehoboam was established and strong, he and all Israel with him forsook the law of the Lord.”

The Lord had warned the children of Israel, and because “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction” (Romans 15:4), so He warns us today likewise: “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His commandments and His judgments (precepts) and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have increases, then your heart will become lifted up [by self-conceit and arrogance] and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14 Amp.).  It was not when Rehoboam was fledgling and weak that he and his fellow citizens of Judah forsook the law of the Lord, but it was when they were “established and strong.”  It is a perfect law of causation that always, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18).

Just as time would fail listing all the champions of faith, “of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:32-34), so time would also fail listing all the unfaithful missteps of many of the kings of Israel; of Amaziah who “sought the gods of Edom” (2 Chronicles 25:20); of Uzziah who, after being greatly helped by God, became “so proud that he acted corruptly, and ... was unfaithful to the Lord his God, [entering] ... the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense [something only priests were allowed to do, not kings]” (2 Chronicles 26:16); of Hezekiah who “gave no return for the benefit he received [being healed of a mortal disease], because his heart was proud; therefore wrath came on him and on Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:25); and of Josiah who interfered with God and was consequently killed by not listening “to the words of Neco from the mouth of God” (2 Chronicles 35:22).

2 Chronicles 12:2-4.  “And it came about in King Rehoboam’s fifth year, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen.  And the people who came with him from Egypt were without number: the Lubim, the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians.  He captured the fortified cities of Judah and came as far as Jerusalem.”

There are many precious nuggets of truth to be mined from these three verses, and though the mining is strenuous and the nuggets complex, it is worth the time and effort to unearth them and bring them to heavenly light.  Before I do this, however, we must first understand some place and name meanings and what certain numbers signify symbolically.  Rehoboam means “enlarges the people.”  Five (the “fifth year” of his reign) is the number of grace.  Shishak means “present of the bag; of the pot; of the thigh.”  Egypt has a complex etymology and means roughly, “a place where the projection of an attribute of divinity [an aspect of God] manifests via the physical projection of the soul.”  Lubim means “dwellers in a thirsty land.”  Sukkiim means “dwellers in tents.”  Ethiopian means “a black countenance” or “full of darkness” or “scorched countenance.”  Judah means “praise.”  Jerusalem means “dual peace,” or as Lonnie Lane elaborates, “The name Jerusalem is divided between two root words: Yara (pronounced as yahr-ah) and shalem. We already know what shalem means [“safe” or “peace”].  Yara means: dual, as related to the two hills on which Jerusalem sits. And it also means: founded peacefully, to flow as water (i.e. rain), to shoot as an arrow, to point out (as if by aiming a finger), to teach. It also means to cast, direct, inform, instruct, show, teacher, teaching and through (as in the way to go through).  Put Yara and Shalem together as the Hebrew word for Jerusalem and we have a picture of the intent of the Bible in its entirety, of God’s instructions and ‘teaching’ to mankind. The meaning of the name of Jerusalem reveals the very nature and character of the Kingdom of God. Put all this together and we see God’s motive or intention always for JERUSALEM TO BE THE PLACE WHERE HE INTERACTS WITH MEN IN THE WAYS THAT DEFINE ITS NAME [emphasis mine].”  Concerning the 1,200 chariots: Ten (“law and responsibility [intensified]” or “perfection of order”) times ten times twelve (governmental perfection) or one hundred and twenty (a divinely appointed period of probation) times ten equals twelve hundred.  Concerning the 60,000 horsemen: Six hundred (warfare) times one hundred (God’s election of grace) or ten times ten times six hundred equals sixty thousand.

Putting all this information together, we begin by seeing God’s response to unfaithfulness in His people.  In the fifth year of Rehoboam, in that year, grace is given to him and the children of Israel (in spite of faithlessness on their part), and God begins to enlarge them through sufferings, to feed them on the fruit of their own ways, on the dainties or presents of their real king (Shishak), the alien king of soul power (Egypt).  And God allows this to the extent that extinguishes praise (Shishak captures the fortified cities of Judah), but short of a complete desecration of all that is holy (Shishak came as far as Jerusalem, but not in and beyond what Jerusalem means).  But to the degree that thirst (Lubim) and displacement (Sukkiim) and darkness covers the glory of their countenance (Ethiopian), God allows Rehoboam and Israel to suffer.  To the degree of 1,200 chariots of force, a period of probation is enacted until spiritual Israel, the new creation man, is perfectly governed by the Holy Spirit.  Physical circumstances of constraint and material blows of punishments are for the lawless, for those not fully developed after His image, those not yet spiritually mature.  To the degree of 60,000 horsemen warring against God’s people, so God allows the enemy to come in like a flood in order to teach them that only God is able to deliver us from evil. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).  “It is [indeed] of the LORD'S mercies” and not because of our righteousness or strength “that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22).  “You can only come this far and no further,” says God to the enemy.  Shishak/Satan can only plunder the outskirts of our persons; only the fortified cities of Judah, the strongholds of praise, can be overrun (and then only temporarily).  Only during the time of God’s punishment—during His spanking sessions—does joy flee.  But the peaceable fruit of righteousness, which is the direct result of that punishment, is never completely disturbed.  Shishak/Satan can only come as “far as Jerusalem,” as far as—but not completely into—that center of our beings where God lives and reigns in us as the King of Shalom (peace, harmony and wholeness/completeness).

Moreover, in King Rehoboam’s first year he set precedence by rejecting the sound and tried advice of the elders who served his father for the foolish and untried advice of the young men who had grown up with him and served him.  Consequently, he lost the ten northern tribes of Israel, retaining only the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin (see 1 Kings 12:1-17).  The fact that this was ordained by God, decreed to his father Solomon (perhaps before he was born), does not mean that he is not also complicitous.  The sovereignty of God and the free will of man coexist—how?—even human genius cannot figure.  Nonetheless, we are accountable to God for our behavior regardless of what sovereign context it occurs in.
                   
2 Chronicles 12:5-6.  “Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “You have forsaken Me, so I also have forsaken you to Shishak.’”  So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous.’”

Shemaiah means “heard of the Lord,” and undoubtedly, he genuinely heard the Lord and obediently conveyed the Lord’s message to Rehoboam and “the princes of Judah.”  Thankfully, they listened to the word of the Lord from the mouth of the prophet Shemaiah and humbled themselves.  They admitted the Lord was right and responded properly.  “It is a trustworthy statement: for if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; IF WE DENY HIM, HE ALSO WILL DENY US [emphasis mine]; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).  When they forsook the Lord, they denied the Lord.  Thus God forsook them to Shishak/Satan, and denied their pleas for help until they humbled themselves sufficiently to reestablish the idea in their hearts that God alone is righteous and true.  And such He does with all His children!  The Lord says that when we are faithless, He remains faithful, BUT deny Him, and He denies us.  It is faithlessness unchecked that must eventually spawn denial, maybe not by external behavior or even by empty and idle words that we speak, but God reads our hearts and knows our secret thoughts (expressed and unexpressed).  Where can we go from His Spirit?  If we are faithless at our core, we deny Him His rightful place at the center of our being.  No matter how strong and mature we become in Christ, we remain dependent on Him for our continuance in strength and maturity.  Thus humility is always in order every step of the way, the truth, and the life if we are to remain strong and mature to the end.  As soon as we arrive and relax, we regress and agitate ourselves.

As Scripture teaches: “Brothers and sisters, if a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted” (Galatians 6:1 GWT).  With even more emphasis, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB); and the same verse explained more explicitly, “These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 MSG).
           
2 Chronicles 12:7-8.  “When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, ‘They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them SOME MEASURE OF DELIVERANCE [emphasis mine], and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak.  But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.’”

There is debate among theologians about whether Christians can ever be demon possessed.  The answer is no in the ultimate and spiritual sense, but yes in the temporary and body/soul sense.  When God granted “some measure of deliverance” to Rehoboam, and specifically withheld His wrath from Jerusalem, He basically did what the Apostle Paul did many years later when a member of the Corinthian church committed grievous sin.  Paul said, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.  You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.  For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.  In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I HAVE DECIDED TO DELIVER SUCH A ONE TO SATAN FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS FLESH, SO THAT HIS SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED IN THE DAY OF THE LORD JESUS [emphasis mine]” (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

To my point, demonic oppression pushes down upon the whole man, but it can never breach the inner sanctum of His Spirit living in our spirit and possess that holy of holies location at the center of our Christian heart.  “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).  Thus no wrath will be poured out on [spiritual] Jerusalem (another name for that inner sanctum at our center).  But to teach us the difference between the holy and the profane, demons can gain access to us in SOME MEASURE; they can, and often do, make inroads into our persons.  Whereas Satan had no place in Jesus Christ—and therefore no place in the new creature/spirit in us—Satan does have access to us insofar as any inroad of sin reaches the depth of our misbehaving flesh/soul.  Satan and his demons can oppress to the point of possessing the Christian—if, and only if we sin and thereby give permission—and then only to the depth of our outer man’s extent (the body and soul aspects of us).  Just as Rehoboam had to learn to be “slaves so that [he might] learn the difference between [God’s] service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries [the world],” so do we!  Demonic oppression/possession is more near to us than we like to admit, but assuredly, the reason it does not lift from us FULLY is remedial in nature.  Just as a son is treated like a slave until the age of inheritance is fully arrived, so we are oppressed and possessed in varying degrees of bondage until God deems us responsible enough to handle the freedom that full deliverance brings.  
  
2 Chronicles 12:9-12.  “So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s palace.  He took everything; he even took the golden shields which Solomon had made.  Then King Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place and committed them to the care of the commanders of the guard who guarded the door of the king’s house.  As often as the king entered the house of the Lord, the guards came and carried them and then brought them back into the guards’ room.  And when he humbled himself, the anger of the Lord turned away from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and also conditions were good in Judah.”

God not destroying Rehoboam completely means God destroyed him partially, and the golden shields being replaced by bronze shields is significant to that point.  Gold is a single element metal, soft and compliant, precious and representing heavenly things; bronze/brass is a compound metal, hard and inflexible, common and representing earthly things.  God allowed Shishak/Satan to break into and remove the soft, precious and heavenly defense of the golden shields, not because golden shields are strong enough by its intrinsic material substance to physically ward off ransacking hordes of evil, but because God, in some measure, removed His protection.  The replacement shields of bronze, more suited to physically protect, was now Rehoboam’s only defense (God and His divine protection having, in large part, departed).  Bronze/brass speaks of judgment, and though the “conditions were good in Judah,” they were not the best, and certainly not as God intended.  It is noteworthy that several Israelite kings and judges, when they were judged, were bound by chains or shackles of bronze.  In no particular order, there was Sampson—who did not know that the Lord had departed from him—so insensitive had he become to spiritual reality.  “Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and BOUND HIM WITH [TWO] BRONZE CHAINS; and he was forced to be a grinder [of grain into flour at the mill] in the prison” (Judges 16:21).  Then there was Manasseh.  “Now the Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.  So the Lord brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks [through his nose or cheeks] and BOUND HIM WITH BRONZE [CHAINS] and took him to Babylon” (2 Chronicles 33:10-11).  Finally, there was Zedekiah.  “Then the king of Babylon blinded Zedekiah, BOUND HIM WITH BRONZE SHACKLES and took him to Babylon and there he put him in prison [in a mill] until the day of his death” (Jeremiah 52:11).  It is also noteworthy that bronze, representing judgment, is nigh unto cursing; it is one of the metals that God calls the dross of silver (which symbolically represents redemption).  “I [the Lord] have set you as an assayer [O Jeremiah] and as a tester [of the ore] of My people, that you may know and analyze their acts.  They are all the worst [kind] of [stiff-necked, godless] rebels, going around spreading slander.  They are [not gold and silver ore, but] bronze and iron; they are all corrupt.  The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed by the fire; in vain they continue refining, but the wicked are not separated and removed.  They call them rejected silver [only dross, without value], because the Lord has rejected them” (Jeremiah 6:27-30).  And Ezekiel agrees, “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross (metallic waste) to Me.  All of them are (useless) bronze, tin, iron, and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver” (Ezekiel 22:18). 
     
A note of clarification: bronze/brass is used interchangeably across many versions/translations/transliterations of Scripture, but it is near certain that the correct rendering is “bronze,” a mix of copper and tin.  Brass, which is either a mix of copper and zinc, or, of copper, zinc and tin, was not used in biblical times.  This is important because bronze and brass are often confused, and therefore, for our purpose anyways, we must regard them as synonomous in symbolic meaning.  The reason for this explanation lies in the fact that Rehoboam used “bronze” and Wigglesworth “brass” (in the next paragraph), and because I want to demonstrate a parallel between their respective stories, we cannot afford to dilute or confuse types and/or symbols if we are to understand the deeper things of God aright.
         
Julian Wilson, in his book Wigglesworth: The Complete Story tells of a “remarkable supernatural manifestation [that] took place” in late May of 1922 in Wellington, New Zealand.  In Wellington’s Town Hall meeting house, Wigglesworth, related “to the audience the story of a young woman suffering from tuberculosis who was raised from the dead as he prayed.  During the night, the woman had died and Satan appeared at the foot of the bed and sniggered malevolently at him, saying ‘I’ve got her safely held.’  Recalled Wigglesworth, ‘I seemed to be in hell and everything in the room turned to brass.’”
“Then, according to Roberts [Harry V. Roberts, who wrote a book entitled “New Zealand’s Greatest Revivals”], an extraordinary phenomenon occurred:”

That Wellington audience witnessed the weirdest thing that ever happened in a public hall.  Everything in the Town Hall appeared to turn to brass.  What the Evangelist experienced in that death chamber was precipitated into the meeting by the power of the Spirit.  That vast crowd just felt it had been ushered into the portals of hell itself.  It was an ineffaceable and awful sensation.  The lights, chairs, walls, the people, the grand organ all looked like solid brass.  The tension [was] only broken when he [Wigglesworth] told how his own faith had fled away in the leering, faith-sapping presence of Satan himself.  But he cried to God for help and pleaded the blood, and as he cried, the faith of God filled his soul.

Ultimately, the alchemy of heaven turns brass/bronze to gold, but the alchemy of hell does the opposite, it turns gold to brass/bronze.  Perhaps nothing better illustrates this then one of the curses God promises to place on the disobedient: “The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze [giving no rain and blocking all prayers]” (Deuteronomy 28:23).  Also, the first time bronze is mentioned in Scripture is extraordinarily provocative.  “Zillah gave birth to Tubal-cain, the smith (craftsman) and teacher of every artisan in instruments of bronze and iron” (Genesis 4:22).  The name Tubal-cain means “flowing forth of Cain,” and Cain means “possession” or “acquisition”; so together, Tubal-cain means “flowing forth of possession or acquisition.”  Eve, in naming Cain (her firstborn son), supposed he was the promised Messiah, and therefore she declared, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1).  Cain of course was a tiller of the cursed earth, and a murderer; to flow forth from that stream is to flow forth rivers of bronze (judgment).  The fact that Tubal-cain was the originator and “teacher of every artisan” in—not only bronze but iron—speaks of someone expert in manipulating the Adamic nature to its logical and matured end.  But to propagate the curse is to propagate the evil behind it, no matter how beautiful or useful the instrument or implement is that is fashioned from it.  The fact that his mother’s name is Zillah, meaning “shadow,” suggests that he manifested his masteries from the shadows, not the substance.  This is not to suggest that working with bronze and iron are inherently sinful, but only in the symbolic sense.  As we see his name and nature and work in context within Scripture, we see a colossal root of error (all those who flow from the wrong stream, those who flow unimpeded from their Adamic nature). 
    
Next we read, and seemingly insignificantly, that “The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah” (Genesis 4:22).  And if it were not that Rehoboam’s mother was also named Naamah—“And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 12:14)—I would not have commented on it.  But as it is, note how his mother being an Ammonite and he doing evil are mentioned in connection, as though he, being “born from incest” also (like his mother: the meaning of Ammon/Ammonite) causes him not to be inclined to seek God (not being a pure Israelite).  Hybrid people—Moabites and Ammonites—are people born of Lot’s daughters, of incest; they inverted the stream of progeny, polluted it, and produced unnecessary antagonism, commingling the righteous stream of spirit with the unrighteous stream of flesh.  Symbolically, carnal Christians today are Moabite and Ammonite people, eventually redeemed, but only after much decimation (the Ammonites and Moabites are completely, if not nearly, destroyed from off the face of the earth).  Apparently, the last vestige of hope concerning them is found in Rahab the Ammonitess and Ruth the Moabitess as they were both inserted into the lineage of Christ (see Matthew 1:5).  I think these carnal Christians are like that Corinthian Christian that Paul spoke of, the one that prompted him to say “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Furthermore, “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.  No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.  Nevertheless, the Lord your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.  You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days” (Deuteronomy 23:2-6).  Though this is scathing and seemingly inapplicable to us today in Christiandom, I see in it food for enlightenment, and more importantly, since “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), a meaty lesson on spiritual truth.  Anyone only born of Adam is illegitimate to genuinely enter the assembly of the Lord; only spiritual Israel is born-again and therefore the only legitimate Christian.  The tenth generation removed hybrid man is still illegitimate, and can never, as constructed (without being born-again—or if born-again—backslidden and joined to idols), enter the household of faith.  The destruction of their flesh by Satan, as a last resort, is their only hope.  In varying degrees short of this extreme measure, is SOME MEASURE OF DELIVERANCE for the bulk of us.  But may we never, as Abraham did, birth Ishmael (“Why spill the water of your springs in the streets, having sex with just anyone?”—Proverbs 5:16)—streaming our life-force off on a tangent course and dispersing indiscriminately and foolishly; but even more so, may we never birth Ammon or Moab (children of incest)—streaming our life-force back in on itself and destroying its flow altogether.  If wisdom is justified of her children, no doubt, foolishness is justified of hers.  The ending verse, “You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days,” flies in the face of tolerance and mushy mother love, that brand of love that most Christians today delusionally believe to be God’s love.  Carnal Christianity can never be coddled and/or embraced; to preach peace when war is coming and prosperity when condemnation is decreed, is both cruel, false and unrighteous.  Peace and prosperity is not helpful along the wrong line; in fact, to put flesh in a nursery and indulge its every whim is to spoil it without remedy.  Only in the vein of truth and spirit is lasting peace and prosperity obtained and maintained.

Mortality must put on immorality, not be redeemed like the new creature; we must mortify our flesh by the Holy Spirit, not embrace it or befriend it.  I am not speaking of harshly treating our bodies, but we must curb its appetite and control its impulses if we are to walk in the spirit and manifest Christ in our mortal flesh.  God threshes us, purifies us, refines us, and brings us to maturity, but assuredly, He never does this to flesh, only to spirit.  When Satan desired to sift Peter like wheat—and the Lord allowed it—it was because he doubted any useful part of the wheat existed in Peter; only the Lord’s prayers concerning Peter not losing his faith (not his substance) saved him from destruction.  Even with that, a monumental failure occurred.  As David conveyed in his last mortal song, “Truly is not my house so [blessed] with God?  For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and secured.  For will He not cause to grow and prosper all my salvation and my every wish?  Will He not make it grow and prosper?  But the wicked and worthless are all to be thrown away like thorns” (2 Samuel 23:5-6).  Thorns and thistles are always associated with the curse, and the curse is upon Adam/earth; God has thrown away that construction of man.  Only the plant of Christ in that cursed Adam, the true supplanter, is nourished and cared for by God.  God promises to punish to the third and fourth generation them that hate God; Amorites were given to the third and fourth generation to fill up the measure of their sins only to be removed from the Promised Land forever.  Amorites represent all of us to some degree or another (which YES, secretly hate God); it corresponds to that part of our natural mind which is high and lifted up and speaks its natural mind nature into the holy work instead of the mind of Christ into the holy faith.  It is refining flesh; it is threshing thorns.  It is worthless and not worthy of being refined of course, but alas, we often waste much time trying to extract the precious from the vile of something that is nothing but vile all the way through.  Why does the threshing never end?  Perhaps we’re threshing the wrong crop in the right field.  When God was displeased with His people He said to His prophet, “They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; they have strained themselves to no profit” (Jeremiah 12:13).  In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that some of the Seed (the Word of God) fell among thorns, and when those thorns came up they choked the Seed out; next, and only to His disciples (those disciplined into the narrow way), He explained that “The one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit” (Matthew 13:22).  We can never thresh the thorn!  We cannot expect God to refine “worries” and “distractions of the world” and “deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches”; no, they can only be, as David said, “thrown away like thorns.”  God does not redeem the works of the flesh, He destroys them!

“Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded down with wickedness [with sin, with injustice, with wrongdoing], offspring of evildoers, sons who behave corruptly!  They have abandoned (rejected) the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel [provoking Him to anger], they have turned away from Him.  Why should you be stricken and punished again [since no change results from it]?  You [only] continue to rebel.  The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint and sick.  From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing healthy in the nation’s body, only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil [as a remedy]” (Isaiah 1:4-6).  Whenever the air clears and our ways clarify—but without His presence—instead of joy, mourn, because He has left us to subsist on the fruit of our own ways.  Yes, there is much truth in these words, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the obstinate [for their lack of honor and their wrong-doing traps them]; he who guards himself [with godly wisdom] will be far from them and avoid the consequences they suffer” (Proverbs 22:5); also, “The way of the lazy is like a hedge of thorns [it pricks, lacerates, and entangles him], But the way [of life] of the upright is smooth and open like a highway” (Proverbs 15:19).  But there is a grieving of His Spirit away that mimics “the way [of life] of the upright”; it too “is smooth and open like a highway,” but it is deceitful.  There is, to be sure, pleasure in sin for a season, but afterwards it yields only bitter and putrid fruit.  When Moses chose “rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), he did so with his eyes on Christ and the reward in heaven that awaits all those who are patient and faithful while clothed in mortal flesh.

   
2 Chronicles 12:13-14.  “So King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess.  He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord."
 
          Ah, but there is no other place but Jerusalem to really strengthen ourselves, because strengthening ourselves outside the scope of spiritual reality is not strengthening but weakening.  Whenever we fail to humble our soul with fasting (things of this world, not just food) we inflate our pride and enlarge ourselves by mere neglect of spiritual discipline, enough to allow our soul life to magnify itself and grow too large and strong, enough to eclipse our still and quiet spirit into relative obscurity and insignificance.  Though King Rehoboam gets kudos for making himself strong in Jerusalem, he nonetheless did evil there because “he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.”  It is clear that God only sovereignly, without Rehoboam’s help or genuine agreement from the heart, established Jerusalem as a praise throughout the earth.  When God punished Rehoboam’s father Solomon, he tore away much of Israel from Solomon’s house, but for Solomon’s father David’s sake, none of this occurred in Solomon’s lifetime.  Instead, Rehoboam took the brunt of punishment.  God’s last words of punishment to Solomon were, “However, I will not tear away all the kingdom; I will give one tribe (Judah) to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:13).

          God’s purposes, in spite of our deflections and failures, are never abandoned, but are accomplished with or without our agreement and participation.  Rehoboam reigned powerfully in relative obscurity in the diminished scope of one prominent city surrounded by little but strong support.  “Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign” and forty-one, as a number, represents the sovereignty of unity made between a probationary period of testing (40) and the advents of the Lord (both His first and second comings)(42).  In the case of Rehoboam’s life, God sovereignly unified His concerns at the outset of Rehoboam’s reign as king; this, in spite of the failure on Rehoboam’s part to pass the probationary test of his first forty years of existence.  At the back end of everything, inclusive of Rehoboam’s entire life span, is the two-fold coming of Jesus Christ “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place” (Daniel 9:24).

          Once Rehoboam gained the throne, he reigned seventeen years.  The number seventeen signifies victory or completeness of testimony.  It is not insignificant that attached to the pronouncement that Rehoboam “reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem” is this further elaboration, that Jerusalem is “the city which the Lord had chosen from all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there.”  Thus the completeness of testimony or victory attached to Rehoboam reigning strongly in Jerusalem was not so much about him, but about God’s interest in preserving Jerusalem as the place that “reveals the very nature and character of the Kingdom of God”; and also that “place where He interacts with men in the ways that define its name” (both quotes, Lonnie Lane). The advents of Christ are about establishing Jerusalem (the center of spiritual Israel; the center of our new creature beings) as a praise on the earth.  Indeed, “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed and stationed watchmen (prophets), who will never keep silent day or night; you who profess the Lord, take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest [from your prayers] until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise on the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7).  “If anyone does not love the Lord [does not obey and respect and believe in Jesus Christ and His message], he is to be accursed.  Maranatha (O our Lord, come)!” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

2 Chronicles 12:15-16.  “Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, according to genealogical enrollment? And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually.  And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David; and his son Abijah became king in his place.”   

The phrase “according to genealogical enrollment” is mostly lost to the western mind, but to the eastern mind (of which Israel obtains), it is of paramount significance.  Whereas westerners often think too individualistic, easterners often think too communal or tribalistic.  Nonetheless, God chose the communal thinking Israelite, and not the individualistic westerner to be the apple of His eye, so we westerners need to move closer to communal thinking to better understand God’s overarching intent with man.  Undoubtedly, however, Scripture teaches both communal and individual responsibility and openly rewards or punishes any discharge or negligence of duty enjoined to either type of responsibility.  Both types of responsibility are explicitly outlined in these words of Paul the Apostle:  “CARRY ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS [communal] and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].  For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself.  But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another.  FOR EVERY PERSON WILL HAVE TO BEAR [WITH PATIENCE] HIS OWN BURDEN [individualistic]” (Galatians 6:2-5).  Rehoboam received both genealogical advantages and disadvantages, but in the end, just as the apostle taught us, we must each bear our own burden.  How fair and gracious is God concerning this matter?  Look at the disparity between the punishment length and severity of those who hate God and the reward length and graciousness extended to those who love Him.  “You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol [as an object to worship], or any likeness (form, manifestation) of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely mine], visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, guilt) of the fathers on the children [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers], to the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing graciousness and lovingkindness to thousands [of generations] of those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:7-10). 
     
   Finally, Shemaiah the prophet, as we learned earlier, means “heard of the Lord”; Iddo the seer means “timely.”  Together, they recorded “according to genealogical enrollment” things both heard and seen.  Thus they alternately either affirmed or condemned both genealogical and personal behaviors in Rehoboam as God either told them or showed them (or even both...maybe God told and showed them).  Anyways, Rehoboam, as we might recall, means “enlarges the people”; Jeroboam means “whose people are countless.”  The one enlarges a small contingent of committed disciples, while the other merely amasses masses.  The tension between those who enlarge people they already have and those who numerically increase the number of people they gather to themselves is a type of warring between spirit and flesh respectively.  Just as ten spies gave a bad and faithless report concerning the Promised Land, and two spies gave a good and faithful one, so ten tribes (the number of law and that which is only numerically superior [quantity]) attached themselves to Jeroboam, and two tribes (the number of true witness and that which is numerically inferior [quality]) attached themselves to Rehoboam.  This is of course only symbolically true and typed by God, not man, because in the final analysis neither Rehoboam nor Jeroboam were typecast by only their respective behaviors.  Behind their lives then, as ours now, is the wonderful and almighty sovereignty of God and the genealogical placement of our lives into a context that both undergirds and overwhelms us simultaneously.  Our free-will decides our narrow fate, but never outside the confines of the broad and sovereign will of God, a context that includes seemingly contradictory things (only because of our shortsightedness).  God wholeheartedly “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3), but He will nonetheless “destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth” (Revelation 11:18).  If we are wise, we will accept SOME MEASURE OF DELIVERANCE above full deliverance temporarily—in the course of our life here on earth—if, by so doing, it restrains us from destroying the earth and ultimately ourselves.