Read 2 Chronicles 11
Focus on verse 4
King Rehoboam returns to Jerusalem and begins preparing an army to go up against Jeroboam to take back the rest of what was his kingdom. As he is preparing the man of God named Shemaiah informs him he is not to go to war for this division of the kingdom is from the Lord. Perhaps Rehoboam learned something from his experience of rejecting the advice of his elder counselors for in this this case he listens to the counsel of Shemaiah and refocuses his effort on defensive measures pouring resources into fortifying cities and fortresses to defend what remained of his kingdom.
The result was that the territory of Judah and Benjamin remained under Rehoboam’s control while the territories of the other ten tribes followed Jeroboam. In the years that follow the two separate kingdoms become established as Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom). Jerusalem remains the capital city of the southern kingdom and Samaria is eventually established as the capital of the northern kingdom.
It would be difficult as well as pointless to speculate what may have happened if Rehoboam had not listened to the man of God and had chosen to enter into a civil war against the rebelling tribes. The fact that he listened seems to have worked in his favor as many of the priests and Levites that were alienated by Jeroboam chose to settle in the southern kingdom, and perhaps contributed to the southern kingdom remaining faithful to the Lord more consistently than the followers of Jeroboam.
What strikes me about this narrative is that God is never phased by the actions of humanity. It is impossible for us to surprise Him. Goes had decreed that the kingdom would be divided, so the kingdom was divided. The question that lingers in the back of my head is did the kingdom divide because God desired this to happen, or did God simply know that Rheoboam would divide it? Did Rheoboam really have the option to wage war against Jeroboam, or would God have intervened some other way to stop him? The question is really one that pits God’s sovereignty against human free will. Is it really possible to have it both ways? Can God truly be sovereign if man truly has a free will? And can a person really be free to choose their destiny if God has already ordained it? I admit I do not understand exactly how this is possible, but I believe that it is because with God all things are possible. It is one of the many things that makes faith not only possible but essential.