Jeroboam: Man in his Own Spirit
The “condition” God installed in Genesis 2:17 dominated the “Monarchs” of Israel and Judah. The world also can slice off a piece of the pie of “good and evil,” and so can every person. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows of his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reaps eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9). There is no mention of any spiritual activity or divine intervention after Solomon’s second dream until Elijah confronted Ahab, Jezebel, and Baalism (I Kings 9:2; 18:12). Elijah represents a period when the human spirit was energized by the need to produce action.
The separation of Church and State, or God and Politics is not a modern invention. For Judeo-Christianity, it began when Samuel was coerced to set up a “Monarchy” against God. And since King David, God had to occupy a second place to the kings and leaders, even to religious men like the Hebrew council, that adopted the traditions of their elders, very much that we do in our time, accept the rulings of our judges. God stopped speaking to the people that sat in Moses’ seat (Matthew 23). Therefore, God gave His Message to men and women with a child-likeness faith. Jesus’ prayer is utterly important for us to understand how God communicates with us through His chosen messengers:
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was they gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him (Matthew 11:25-27).
The Son of God’s entrance into the world was God’s final revelation to the childlike in faith. The Son of God’s entrance is just as much a mystery to the human mind as the Spirit was in Solomon’s time. No one, among us, can get the whole picture of the Son of God! No one can get the whole picture of the Holy Spirit! Even with Jesus as our interpreter, we have difficulties understanding small bits of insights that are given to us. Imagine how difficult it must have been for the prophets and for the people since Israel occupied Canaan. After the Levites stopped following the Law of Moses, God temporarily chose men and women to help his leaders to preserve what He had created. The prophet Nathan only was sent to David to correct David’s sin with Bathsheba. There was no Mosaic approval for Nathan’s siding with Bathsheba or with Solomon. The prophet Ahijah was not sent to Solomon, but to Jeroboam and Ephraimite (Joseph’s son) to take the kingdom away from Solomon. And when Jeroboam left Jerusalem, running from Solomon, the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him on the road:
Now Ahijah had clad himself with a new garment; and the two of them were alone in the open country. Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel. ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon, and will give you ten tribes, (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because he has forsaken me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and has not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, as David his father did. Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand; but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes; but I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it to you, ten tribes. Yet to his son I will give one tribe, that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name. And I will take you, and you shall reign over all that your soul desires, and you shall be king over Israel. And if you will hearken to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you, and build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you. And I will for this afflict the descendants of David, but not for ever.’” Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam; but Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon (I Kings 11:29-40).
Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, did not yield to the petition to ease the financial burden and literally drove the ten tribes into the hands of Jeroboam with the help of bad advice. Jeroboam spoke for ten tribes:
“Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Depart for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then king Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advice me to answer this people?” And they said unto him, “If you will be a servants to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servant for ever.” But he forsook the council which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advice that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put upon us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but do you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. And now, whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel which the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” So the king did not hearken to the people; for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfil his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat. And when all the Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king, “What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel departed to their tents. But Rehoboam reigned over the people of Israel who dwelt in the cities of Judah (I Kings 12:4-17).
The result was that two kingdoms had to learn to live side by side, who never learned to share the God of their fathers. First, we shall deal with Jeroboam in this chapter, and with Rehoboam in a separate Chapter. Jeroboam’s huge problem was how to wean his people of God who was located in Jerusalem. Jeroboam made a shrewd political move by installing two places of worship with two idols, or calves at Bethel and at Dan. He set up his headquarters in Shechem. The historian recorded:
Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and dwelt there; and he went out from there and built Penuel. Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will turn back to the house of David; if this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will again turn to their lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.” So Jeroboam took counsel, and made two calves of gold. And he said to the people, “You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to the one at Bethel and to the other as far as Dan. Jeroboam also built houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites. And Jeroboam appointed a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month like the feast that was in Judah, and he offered sacrifices upon the altar; so he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places that he had made. He went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he ordained a feast for the people of Israel, and went up to the altar to burn incense (I Kings 12:25-33).
Jeroboam’s attempt to replace God with idols and sacrifices did not end well on that day. “And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar thus says the Lord: ‘Behold a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and he shall sacrifice upon you the priests of the high places who burn incense upon you, and men’s bones and shall be burned upon you.’” And he gave them a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord had spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.’” And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Lay hold of him.” And his hand which was stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the Lord; and the king’s hand was restored unto him, and became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” And the man of God said, “If you give me half your house, I will not go with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place; for so it is commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall neither eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way that you came.’” So he went another way, and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel (I Kings 13:1-10).
Jeroboam turned his back on everything King David stood for and he caused Israel to sin as no other man before him had done. The man of God from Judah was halted and misled by a false prophet and was killed by a lion, and his prediction of the demise of Jeroboam and his prophets and idols was carried out by Josiah son of David (II Kings 23). The warning of the man of God had no impact on Jeroboam and he continued to practice his idolatry and assured his own downfall and of Israel as a nation (I Ki. 13). Jeroboam disrespect and transgression against God has infested every generation in Israel, some in Judah, and many in the world to this very day. The conflict between man verses God has not changed, even while the Son of God was on earth. The sword has triumphed over the word (Matthew 10:34).
Jeroboam knew what he had done was wrong, but it was not in his favor to do what was right. When his son lay dying, he did not consult his prophets and priest, but he had his wife disguised and sent her to Ahijah with gifts to heal his son. The eyes of the man of God had failed and the Lord told him that Jeroboam’s wife was on her way and what to tell her.
As soon as he heard her footsteps, Abijah said to her, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam; why do you pretend to be another? For, I am charged with heavy tidings for you.” Go, tell Jeroboam, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “Because I exalted you among your people, and made you leader over my people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you; and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments, and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all that were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods, and molten images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back; therefore behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will utterly consume the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat; for the Lord has spoken it.”’ Arise therefore, and go to your house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him; for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the Lord will raise up for himself a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today. And henceforth the Lord will smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and root up Israel out of this good land which he gave to their fathers, and scatter them beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their Asherim, provoking the Lord to anger. And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and which he made Israel sin (I Kings 14:6-16).
Jeroboam’s son died and he was succeeded by his son Nadab, who was killed by Baasha of the tribe of Issachar. Baasha also annihilated all the males from the family of Jeroboam, but continued in the footprints of Jeroboam’s man-made idolatry, and so did all the kings of Israel until Assyria dispersed and replaced the population of Israel forever. During the time of Jesus, they were known as the Samaritans who had adopted the Law of Moses and worshiped on the mountains where Jeroboam set up the calves. One man, by the name of Jeroboam, a descendant of the God-fearing Joseph, had instituted a new religion and a way of life that destroyed a nation, which was chosen by God Most High. What Jeroboam did to Israel, hundreds of individuals have done to their faith, and to their nations that now rest in ashes. The USA and her contemporaries are pursuing the same course of changing their lifestyles, their religions and their gods. I, myself, have lived through three such changes while I watched other nations falling apart in the same way. Unfortunately, right now I am living in one where one man has altered the face of the country. The men and women of God could not halt or change the Jeroboam’s and the drifting away of Israel from God; Jesus could not change Judea from being destroyed by the Romans. And what makes us think, that we can resurrect our nation from sinking into sin and into death? What was Jesus’ final word in Revelation? “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and let the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:10-13).
Please do not regard the prophetic word of the Book of Revelation as some future event or some speculation. For me, it all begins and ends with my demise here on earth. It matters little whether there is rapture tomorrow or a thousand years from now — but what really matters is — whether I die in Christ or whether I die without Christ. Christ is the only one that can defend me for the mistakes that I have made and for which I am unable to correct or to be forgiven. It matters a great deal to have the right God or the right Savior on my side. Even here on earth, it matters greatly what God I follow that can secure me an eternal resting place. What I do here in this life, immensely affects what I will inherit in the hereafter. I have decided to lean on Paul’s words in Romans:
So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh –- for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (children) of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him (Romans 8:12-17).
It is an amazing relationship to be a child of God!