Editors note: this series of articles also appear in both the Sentinel Echo newspaper, Friday edition, weekly, London, KY and the Saturday edition of the Corbin Times-Tribune. They are a part of the teaching/evangelism efforts of the Mill Street church of Christ, 415 N. Mill St., London, KY.
Is your preacher a false teacher?
The Bible “character profiles” a false teacher...Jeroboam
Last week, from 1 Kings 11 we looked at the background circumstances as to why Jeroboam acted as he did. We noticed his real motivation for changing the worship and the effects of his actions upon future generations. From this study of Jeroboam, we will see that modern-day false teachers follow the same tactics as Jeroboam, which is to conceal their real motives.
We also noticed both Solomon’s sins and the reason why God punished him for his sin from verse 33. In verses 37-38, God told Jeroboam that if he would obey Him that God would be with him, and build him a sure house, as he did for David, and would give Israel unto him. The significance of this promise from God is that IF Jeroboam had followed God, he would have ruled over Israel, AND pleased God by his obedience. But, as we shall see, he went against God and lost both the kingdom and his life.
This week we will notice how the selfish behavior of Rehoboam further contributed to Rehoboam’s decision to make perversions in worship. But as was pointed out in last week’s article, two wrongs never make one right. 1 Kings 11 closed with these words, “ And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.” We now take up with the story in 1 Kings 12:
1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.
2And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) 3That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,
4Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.
5And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.
6And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?
7And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.
8But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:
9And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?
10And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins.
11And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
12So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.
13And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him;
14And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
15Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
16So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.
20And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.
(This is how the kingdom over which Saul, David, and Solomon had ruled, came to be divided.)
26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:
27If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.
28Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
29And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
30And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
31And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
32And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 33So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
Notice from verse 30, “And this thing became a sin...”.
WHY were these changes in worship sinful?
Because God had commanded thru Moses years earlier on Mt. Sinai how that the children of Israel were to worship; and when to offer worship as well as who were to be priests! Notice:
In the Ten Commandments, (listed in Ex. 20 and Deut. 5), the second commandment was: “Thou shalt NOT make unto thee any graven image.”
Lev. 23:34 and Num. 29:12 show that the feast was the Feast of Tabernacles, also commanded by Moses and the month of observance was to be the 7th month; Jeroboam “...ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah...”.
The tribe of Levi was chosen from the twelve tribes to be priests and offer the animal sacrifices for the rest of the nation back at Mt. Sinai. The story is found in Ex. 32:26-29, and occurred when the sons of Levi showed zeal for God in the matter of the golden calf that Aaron had made while Moses was upon the Mount. Read also in Numbers 3:9, 11-13, 40-41, 45; and 8:14-19 to see that ONLY those from the tribe of Levi were authorized to be priests.
Eighteen years into Jeroboam’s reign, Abijah came to the throne in the southern kingdom of Judah. There was war between Jeroboam and Abijah and when Abijah went out to the battle, he spoke these words to Jeroboam, recorded in 2 Chron. 13:5-9: “Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord. And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them. And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with your golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods. Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands?”