Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Peter Langbroek
Rrrriiiip! What was that? Did your pants get caught when you crawled under the barbed wire fence?

ÒHow many times did I tell you not to do that?Ó

Did someone rip the hood off your coat when you were playing tag?

ÒDonÕt be so rough! That was your Sunday pants! You werenÕt supposed to play in that!Ó

You know that sound, donÕt you? Rip spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e! Mom can sew the rip, but it will never be the same, especially if it did not tear at the seam.

No wonder the Israelites would rip their clothes when someone died, a battle was lost, or a plague came to their town. Ripping was a sign of mourning in Bible times. When they were in mourning, they would rip good clothes, change into rags, and throw ashes or dust on their faces. That is how they showed that they felt torn apart inside by the bad news they had received.

You will find many stories in the Bible about the Israelites doing such things. One story is about Ahijah and Jeroboam (read 1 Kings 11:20-40). Jeroboam was the foreman of a building project in Jerusalem. King Solomon had just given him this job. One day as he was leaving Jerusalem, Jeroboam was met on the way by a prophet named Ahijah. Ahijah stopped in front of him, took off his new outer coat, then É rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, rip, ripÑAhijah ripped his coat into twelve pieces. He said to Jeroboam, ÒTake thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend {rip or tear} the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to theeÓ (1 Kings 11:31). Ahijah prophesied GodÕs judgement on Solomon for worshiping idols. Israel had followed his example and therefore it would be torn apart: ten tribes for Jeroboam and two tribes for SolomonÕs son, Rehoboam.

Besides the ripping, God also gave a promise. Ahijah said: ÒAnd unto his {SolomonÕs} son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light away before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name thereÓ (1 Kings 11:36). Ahijah gave Jeroboam a promise too. If he loved God like David, he would have a strong, long-lasting kingdom. If Rehoboam humbled himself and Jeroboam honoured Him, God would continue His relationship with both the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah.

This story is about a Òfriendship rip.Ó A Òfriendship ripÓ has an awful sound, doesnÕt it? She is your best friend, but now sheÕs withÑrip. The soccer games were fun but now they tell you to get lostÑrip. There is trouble in your familyÑrip.

ÒFriendship ripsÓ make no sense. They are caused by the greatest Friendship Rip: the ÒFriendship RipÓ between God and man. King Solomon, who was given much wisdom by God, exchanged the friendship with God for friendship with strange women and their idols (1 Kings 11:1,2). Jeroboam did not love God like David his father did. He threw God behind Òhis backÓ (1 King 14:9). Rehoboam too, did evil, because he did not resolve to seek God with his heart (II Chronicles 12:14).

When you feel the loneliness and hurt of a Òfriendship rip,Ó consider the ÒGreat Rip.Ó That is where the hurt and loneliness began, when Adam and Eve, our parents, turned away from God.

What friendship matters most to you, your friendship with God or your friendship with others? When you feel hurt and alone it is a good time to think about this. You may never get your friend back again and you may never fit into that crowd. You may continue to have troubles in your family. But God put a lamp in Jerusalem that would never go out. That lamp shines brightly in the dark and lonely nights when DavidÕs great Son, GodÕs Son, came to this dark earth: Jesus. He brought true friendship back into the world. He has mended the ÒGreat Rip.Ó He forgives His peopleÑthe humble ones, those who seek God with their whole heart, who forsake idols, who put God before and not behind) themÑmen, women, boys and girls after GodÕs own heart, like David, GodÕs servant.

It is no wonder that the Israelites ripped their clothes, put on sackcloth, and threw dust or ashes on their faces when they felt the pain of plagues, deaths and defeat. Only those who seek God find comfort in their pain and tears. Real and lasting friendship is only found with God.

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