From: Heaven on Earth
Rehoboam follows his father Solomon to the throne. His poor leadership skills and oppressive policies lead the nation to the verge of civil war. Ten tribes in the north break away and make Jeroboam their king. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south remain loyal to Rehoboam.
Because Israel has forsaken its covenant pledge to God, (Exodus 19:6-8), by rejecting his rule and embracing idol worship, he allows the northern and southern portions of the kingdom to separate from each other, (1 Kings 11:31-35). The north will take the name Israel, and the south will go by the name Judah. Except for sporadic instances in the south, both kingdoms choose to serve their interest rather than God’s. The divided and weakened nation becomes prey to invasions from surrounding nations. Both Israel and Judah find themselves making moral compromises and entering into political alliances with their heathen neighbors in order to survive.
Everything the people hated about living in Egypt, they experience under their own rulers. Cruelty, tyranny, oppression, injustice, high interest rates, heavy taxation, and even enslavement become their lot under the failing monarchy and divided kingdom. There are few if any distinguishable differences between God’s kingdom and the peoples of the world. The nation has failed dismally at its mission of being an alternative society that lives obediently under the reign of God in contrast to the other nations.
Undaunted by circumstances, Yahweh commissions prophets to call on the national leaders to repent lest they cause judgment to fall on the people. The prophets denounce a host of defiant acts, including unholy political alliances, bribery, halfhearted worship, the charging of usury, and the oppression and affliction of the poor, disenfranchised, aliens, orphans, and widows.