Daily Thought for: 24th May

JEROBOAM (2)

1 Kings 12. 25-33

We have already recalled that Jeroboam’s name is often followed by the censure, ‘he made Israel to sin’ (see, for example, 1 Kgs. 15. 26, 34; 16. 26). The succeeding kings of Israel followed his evil footsteps. Jeroboam ‘made Israel to sin’ in three ways. 

1. He introduced new gods. He made ‘two calves of gold’, vv. 26-30. Men are ‘without excuse’ when they reject the testimony of creation, and change ‘the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things’, Rom. 1. 19-23. Jeroboam belonged to the nation ‘to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law’, Rom. 9. 4-5. How much greater his responsibility! He said about the calves: ‘Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt’, v. 28. These words take us back some five hundred years to the foot of mount Sinai; Exod. 32. 4. Jeroboam followed an ancient precedent when he established calf-worship at Bethel and Dan. What we do and say often has a far wider effect than we could ever imagine. We must avoid setting others a bad example, and be equally careful in avoiding the bad example of other people. 

2. He introduced a new priesthood. He made ‘an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi’, v. 31. They functioned at Bethel! The very place where Jacob said, ‘This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’, Gen. 28. 17. Bethel, with all its sacred associations, became the centre of idolatry. The New Testament describes the local assembly as ‘the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth’, 1 Tim. 3. 15. But just anything can happen when Christ ceases to be the gathering-centre of His people. 

3. He introduced a new feast. ‘And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah’, vv. 32-33. It was ‘devised of his own heart’. It seems likely that he was imitating the feast of tabernacles which commenced on the ‘fifteenth day of the seventh month’, Lev. 23. 34. The religious world abounds with unauthorised and unspiritual imitations of divinely-instituted practices. 

 

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