Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Monday, 25 October 2004

Today we hear much about how taxes oppress both people and business institutions.  We all know that taxes are necessary, but must they be unfair or oppressive.  In the example below, king Rehoboam of Israel decides to oppress his people with heavy, burdensome taxes, resulting in the splitting of his kingdom.

by Jim Jordal

After the death of the great, wise, but somewhat oppressive king Solomon, all Israel joined to make his son Rehoboam king. After this event some people of Israel, led by Jereboam, came to speak to the new king, saying, “Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you.” Then king Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon. They told him, “If you will be kind to this people and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” But Rehoboam forsook the wisdom of the elders, turning instead to the counsel of the young men who had grown up with him. They advised Rehoboam to tell the people, “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So when Jereboam and the people returned to hear Rehoboam’s answer, they understood that he would further oppress them. So when all Israel heard that the king had refused to listen to the people, they said, “What portion do we have in the Davidic kingdom. Every man to his tent.” So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day. But this thing was of God, that he might establish the word He spoke to Ahijah the prophet concerning Jereboam, the son of Nebat.
                                                                                                               Paraphrase of 2 Chronicles chapter 10

As you perhaps know, in his later years king Solomon turned aside from following the Lord, being influenced by his 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom he took in an attempt to establish alliances with surrounding tribes and to solidify his rule over Israel. Earlier, God had warned him against foreign wives, who would turn his heart toward their idolatrous ways and worship of strange gods. But Solomon’s very success became his undoing. He began depending upon human advice rather than upon instruction by God. And soon only vast armies of servants and soldiers supported by ever increasing taxes and regimentation could protect his increasing wealth and power.              
And so the nation of Israel found itself in the very situation promised by the prophet Samuel when he told them what their demand for a king would bring upon the land. As you may remember, Samuel told them that their destiny lay in being ruled by God, not men. But they insisted on a king so they could be like other nations. So God gave them their wish in the form of the handsome and charming, but perfidious and mercurial Saul, who fulfilled Samuel’s prophecy of affliction by taking the best of everything for himself and his servants.

Now Israel has another king doing the same thing. Rehoboam decides, against the advice of wise elders, to eclipse his father Solomon in oppressing the people through increasing regimentation and taxation--exactly the wrong thing to do. The result was rebellion by the northern ten-tribes, led by headstrong, resolute Jereboam. From this time forward Israel was split into the ten tribes centered in Samaria, and the tribe of Judah, allied with Benjamin, living in and around Jerusalem.  
So what formerly was a unified, prosperous kingdom became split into hostile segments over the issues of political and financial oppression. If this sounds like the political situation in America today, perhaps that’s because it’s very similar to what we see developing between the two political parties. Some commentators see us developing into two nations. One is a nation of wealth beyond imagining, worldwide influence, awesome military power, and an almost total unconcern with “peripheral” issues like poverty, oppression, corruption, and injustice. In the view of this “nation,” what is just and right is what exists, as the conserving of affluence overshadows justice and righteousness. It’s as the prophet Isaiah lamented, “…judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (Isa. 59:14, KJV).                                           
The other nation is multitudinous, poor, oppressed by the minions of power, only marginally employed, with little political or economic influence, and increasingly without hope. For them, the American dream is just that, a dream, with little possibility of realization. They slip steadily downward toward financial insolvency, family dissolution, social disorganization, homelessness, and even incarceration. And few care, other than to offer temporary palliatives like welfare, food shelves, and homeless shelters.                                                     
If you think I overstate the case, look at the figures. More and more Americans cannot “make it” in the land of opportunity and wealth. And national policy seems increasingly dedicated to the transfer of wealth from the “have-nots” to the “haves.” And even this would not be so bad were this situation not tolerated and even supported by the religious ultra-right.

Yes, as in ancient Israel, there is rebellion brewing in the land. God’s handwriting is on the wall. It’s time for deliverance, not enslavement. It’s time for justice, not oppression. It’s time for truth, not lies. And it’s time for Christ’s kingdom justice to overtake the unjust and oppressive world political, economic, and social systems. As you listen to the political exaggerations, untruths, and “spins” of politicians from both sides, please consider what God wants and is bringing forth upon this earth.

Last Updated ( Friday, 25 November 2005 )