The Choice We Make After We Fall

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 13:33-34; 14:1-18, 22-24, 30; 15:1-5; 2 Chronicles 11:5-12, 18-23; 12; 13

After Solomon's death, the kingdom was divided. Solomon's son, Rehoboam, who ruled over Judah, "abandoned the law of the Lord" and "did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord" (2C 12:1,14). Jeroboam, who ruled over Israel, aggressively promoted the spread of idol worship and contemptuously disregarded the laws of God. Following the corrupt leadership of these two kings, "the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites" (1K 14:24).

Both kings chose the path of evil but, when confronted by the Lord, one did an about-face while the other continued in sin. Rehoboam turned his face back to the Lord, so "the Lord's anger turned from him" (2C 12:12). Because he "humbled himself" and acknowledged that "the Lord is just," God promised that he would not destroy him and his people, but would soon bring deliverance (2C 12:6, 7,12). "Indeed, there was some good in Judah" (2C 12:12).

When Jeroboam was confronted by the man of God, the idol altar was split apart and the king's hand was shriveled up and then miraculously restored. After this grand display of God's power, the consequence of not obeying God's instruction was vividly illustrated when the same man of God chose to disobey and was killed by a lion on his way home (1K 13:1-32). Yet, "even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways" (1K 13:33). He "thrust God behind his back", and did "more evil than all who lived before him" (1K 14:9; 2C 12:6). Because Jeroboam would not turn from his sin, the Lord brought disaster and destruction upon him and his people (1K 14:5-16).

We don't have to be trapped by the bad choices we've already made. Hope lies in the choice we make after we fall. When we stagger back to our feet, will we turn around and face God, or will we throw God behind our back and keep walking away from him?

Even when we provoke God's anger, God does not stay angry forever, but delights to show mercy (Micah 7:18). He never throws us behind his back. Instead, he is quick to forgive when we humble ourselves and recognize that he is "just." Even when we see nothing of value in ourselves, God sees "some good" (2C 12:12) in us. He treats us, not as our sins deserve, but with mercy and compassion (Ps. 103:10-13). When we stray from him, he eagerly waits for us to acknowledge the ugliness of our sin, fall on our faces before him in humility, repentance and tears, and come running back into his loving arms. As we learn to hate the sin that once enticed us, he delivers us from the path that was headed for total destruction.

Deliverance or destruction: the choice is ours.