Revitalization is tough. When difficult times come into an organization, there is a temptation to ignore reality and pretend things are just fine. That’s what Judah’s king, Rehoboam, did. When his nation fell on hard times, Rehoboam went into denial and built a set of bronze shields.
To understand the significance of this, we need to rehearse a little Old Testament history. In 1 Kings 14:21, we learn that Rehoboam was the son of Solomon. Because Rehoboam acted foolishly during his coronation, God split the nation of Israel and only allowed Rehoboam to rule over the much smaller nation of Judah. As king, Rehoboam took evil to a whole new level, leading his people to do everything that the Canaanites had done that had gotten them kicked out of the Promised Land (v. 22-24).
When Solomon was king, he had so much gold, that silver was worthless. Solomon lined his palace with 200 large and 300 small golden shields that eventually became a symbol of Israel’s prosperity and security. These shields were passed down to Rehoboam, but not for long. In Rehoboam’s 5th year as king, God allowed Egypt to defeated Judah and take away all their treasure, include the golden shields. This loss signaled the end of an era and the loss of God’s blessing and protection (v. 25-26).
Instead of facing reality and admitting his sin, Rehoboam had a set of bronze shields made to replace the golden shields that were lost. In order to show that things were just as spectacular as they were in his father’s day, Rehoboam had his palace guards carry the bronze shields out in public whenever he went to the temple. But when they returned to the palace, they put the “show” shields away (v. 26-28).
Rehoboam will forever be remembered as the king who spilt the nation of Israel and lost Solomon’s treasure. His legacy should be an eternal warning to Christian leaders and even churches today who construct and carry a “bronze shield.” Instead of being open and honest about their present difficulties – and changing – some people would rather recreate things that were successful in the past so they can preserve their reputation. Ministries, programs, or emphases can all become “bronze shields” when they become excuses for going through the motions.
Here are 3 warning signs you or your church is carrying a “bronze shield.”
- Consequences, conclusions, and change are avoided.
- Energy is expending to recreate the past.
- Things that are done in public are not repeated in private.
Does that describe you or your church? If so, are you willing to put down your “bronze shields” for a chance to be restored?