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Humility or Humiliation

2 Chronicles 12:5-8 (NIV)
5 Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, "This is what the LORD says, 'You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.' "
6 The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, "The LORD is just."
7 When the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the LORD came to Shemaiah: "Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. 8 They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands."

Early on in the era of the divided kingdom (Judah separating from the rest of Israel), both sides fall into a religion of self reliance. Jeroboam, in the northern kingdom (Israel), initiated idol worship motivated because of his fear of losing his power. Rehoboam, Solomon's son, allowed it in the south (Judah) because of his relative success; cites in the region became fortified, people moving south because of Jeroboam's religious "adultery," and out of loyalty to the house of David. . Despite Rehoboam's heavy hand, the region prospered. It seemed to validate his authoritarian rule. But like any man who refuses Godly council and chooses instead to secure his own position, any future success is dependent upon one's own skill and wisdom and not on the favor of God. There is a measure of success that can be self-created, but sustaining it where the problems begin. When success is self-created, spiritual complacency sets in. (g)ods of our own choosing, and eventually our own creation, replace our dependence upon the one true God. That's why the phrase "and they did what was right in thier own eyes" defines the Divided Kingdom era.

Early on, the people were still sensitive enough to know when they had violated God's relational principles (usually when they're facing some kind of hardship or attack). In this case, Egypt and invaded and had taken control of Jerusalem. At least Judah knew what they needed to do - they humbled themselves before the Lord. The Lord acknowledged their humility, but allowed them to experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness. This seems to be the pattern. Pride (self-reliance and self-sufficiency) is always followed by either humility or humiliation. Humility is realizing that you're way in over your head and you can't get yourself out. You repent, and God responds on your behalf. He still allows you to experience the consequences of your choices, without bearing the full weight of them. This experience serves as a discipline. Humiliation is what happens when you bear the full consequence of your self-dependence. This punishment is self-inflicted.

I need to be reminded of the difference between serving God and serving the other things that want to rule my life. I can choose humility or experience humiliation.


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