How did Rehoboam and Jeroboam get into such messes? Ignoring God and listening to bad advice. Remember, Rehoboam received wise counsel from his father’s experienced advisers; however, he rejected it in favor of the foolish advice of his buddies he appointed as advisers:
“This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier!’” (I Kings 12:10a, 11a, NLT).
And how about Jeroboam? “On the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves” (I Kings 12:28a).
Two men who had been given the privilege and opportunity to rule over God’s chosen people totally blew it. So where do we find these guys at this point? First, let’s take a look at Jeroboam. He’s been made king over ten of the tribes and has built a new capital city of Shechem and set up golden calves to worship, hoping to keep the people from going to Jerusalem, Rehoboam’s territory of Judah (and Benjamin), to worship in the Temple.
And he was just getting started with his wrongdoing. “Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people – those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense” (I Kings 12:31-33).
Jeroboam intended the gold calves to represent Jehovah. But what had He Himself told the people? “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea” (Exodus 20:4).
Jeroboam had “instituted a religious festival in Bethel.” But what was it? An “imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah.” Phony worship. He feared losing his kingship more than he feared disobeying God.
What else did he do? “Ordained priests from the common people.” Only the tribe of Levi was to serve as priests, but Jeroboam ignored this, too.
What was the significance of Jeroboam’s festival time? It was “a day he himself had designated.” He simply chose that date, like drawing a number out of a hat.
And since his so-called priests weren’t Levites, he apparently appointed himself as high priest because Scripture tells us that “Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel” and that “he went up to the altar to burn incense.”
Anyone who cared about honoring God didn’t stick around to be a part of Jeroboam’s mockery. Second Chronicles 11 tells us:
“All the priests and Levites living among the northern tribes of Israel sided with Rehoboam. The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property and moved to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons would not allow them to serve the Lord as priests. From all the tribes of Israel, those who sincerely wanted to worship the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem, where they could offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their ancestors” (verses 13-14, 16).
You’re making a cake that requires a half-cup of oil. Problem is, all you have is motor oil. “Oil is oil,” you say and mix it into the batter. I wouldn’t recommend eating that cake, would you? Any ol’ oil isn’t the right oil any more than any ol’ worship is truly worship.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates