Are we ‘KEEPING UP APPEARANCES’ before GOD & PEOPLE?
April 11 Bible Reading: 1 Kings Chapters 13-15
"It happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house; he took away everything. He also took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king's house. And whenever the king entered the house of the Lord, the guards carried them, then brought them back into the guardroom." (1 Kings 14:25-28)
Not too long ago (1990-95), there was a funny British sitcom broadcast by the BBC called ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ that was targeted on the daily life of an eccentric, socialite called Hyacinth Bucket (who insisted that her surname be pronounced as Bouquet). She was obsessed about what others would think about her, and was continually looks for opportunities to climb the social ladder, despite having a working-class background and rustic relatives.
This may have been true in the life of Rehoboam, the third ruler of the Davidic dynasty as well. Having grown up in the splendor of elegance and luxury of his father Solomon, Rehoboam had a difficult time when the circumstances changed drastically for him. Due to some bad choices that he made, he lost most of the tribes to the upstart Jeroboam. He followed the idolatrous worship introduced by his father, as a result of which God allowed King Shishak of Egypt to besiege and plunder Jerusalem en route to his other military objectives farther north during Rehoboam’s fifth year of rule in 925 B.C. Jerusalem and Judah was spared from complete destruction only due to the fact that Rehoboam had repented before God (2 Chr. 12:6–12).
Shishak, the king of Egypt, not only invaded Israel and inflicted widespread destruction, but also took away all the treasures that King Solomon had stored in the temple (7:51). The golden shields in the hands of the temple guards were confiscated by the Egyptian army as well. Since the kingdom of Judah was too small and too poor to be able to replace the golden shields, King Rehoboam ordered bronze shields to be made in place of the gold ones that were taken away. How ironic it is that King Solomon had married the daughter of Pharaoh for protection from Egypt, but very shortly after his death, the army of Egypt took away much of the treasures that Solomon had accumulated!
Actually, when King Shishak of Egypt had cleaned out the treasury from the temple (14:26), he effectively ransacked the bank of Jerusalem, and King Rehoboam lost both the quantity (the tribes) and the quality (the treasures) of his kingdom. King Rehoboam should have discarded the shields altogether from being a part of the armory of the temple guards. However, he wanted to continue ‘keeping up appearances’ before everyone, and show others that ‘nothing’ was changed during his rule. That was the reason that King Rehoboam had replaced the shields with the cheap bronze variety, and had the guards carry them around whenever he was visiting the temple of God.
This is an accurate picture of the lives of some God’s people and their ministries today. On the outside, everything looks the same, but their inward value has disappeared. Today, let us look deep within ourselves and ensure that we are not ‘keeping up appearances’ as well (just as the Pharisees in Matt. 23:1-36).