I think it was sometime last week in my “read through the Bible in slightly less than a year” plan that I came across a reading in 1 Kings 14 that I’d either never read previously or that for the first time, the Holy Spirit impressed this particular passage on my mind. As I continued to ponder over these words for several days, I keep coming back to these words spoken by the prophet Ahijah to the mother of Abijah, the son of king Jeroboam. “‘ For I am charged with unbearable news for you… Arise, therefore, go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam‘” (1 Kings 14: 6b, 13-14, bold print, mine).
It seems a little background should be given here. We know from other Scripture that Israel had its share of wicked, corrupt kings; Jeroboam was among them. A former servant of king Solomon, he made calves of gold, constructed temples on the high places, and appointed priests from the people rather than from the Levites. He urged the people not to return to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to worship. His motive was to establish his government; he was greedy for power. Because Jeroboam did not follow in the way of the Lord and encouraged the people of Israel in idol worship, the Lord vowed to destroy the the house of Jeroboam. Not only would the members of the Jeroboam’s household die, but their bodies would be consumed by dogs or birds. The only person in the family who was spared this ignominious end was Jeroboam’s young son because “in him was found something pleasing to the Lord in the house of Jeroboam”.
To learn of the death of your child is indeed “unbearable news”. But even in death, the Lord extends grace. Jeroboam’s young son went to his grave untouched by the dogs and birds which devoured the bodies of the household of his father. He was mourned by all of Israel because in him “was found something pleasing to the Lord” despite the wickedness in his father’s house. The people of Israel mourned upon learning of the death of Jeroboam’s young son not because he was well known, nor because he had established a name for himself, and not because he had great wealth; but “because in him was found something pleasing to the Lord”.
When at the end of our lives the Lord looks at those of us who call ourselves His children, may He find something in each of us that is pleasing to Him, that is, the righteousness of Christ which conforms us to His likeness, despite our proclivity to sin. Perhaps Jesus in Matthew 18: 3 says it best, “‘ Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'” In and of ourselves, we are unable to “turn and become like children”; it is all of grace.
That grace is extended to us only because of the life and death of another small child who was born 2000 years ago, about whom we sing at His Advent,
“One small child in a land of a thousand/One small dream of a Savior tonight/ One small hand reaching out to the starlight/ One small Savior of life.” Song by David Meece, “One Small Child”
One small Child who changed His world, and ours.