One thing that is so wonderful about God’s word is the fact that, regardless of whatever the era, generation, culture or government system, the Word of God is never out of date, never out of touch and never ‘at a loss’ for an answer. The truths contained in scripture are timeless and eternal, and will always be found relevant, appropriate and valid in any age. For the Word of God tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”. James 1:17
For our Saturday Morning Bus Ministry/Sunday School prayer time, we will look at how the acts of an Old Testament king speak to our situation today. The King’s name was Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, whose legacy was pretty much wrapped up in the label that God would later give him; “Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin”. The Lord makes this reference to him fourteen times. So, safe to say he was a pretty bad King.
In the book of 1Kings, after a series of events that followed the death of King Solomon, the kingdom would become split, and Jeroboam, who was a servant of Solomon would be proclaimed King of Israel in the north, taking with him ten of the 12 tribes of Israel, and Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, would become King of Judah in the south, reigning over the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin from the capital city of Jerusalem.
All that led up to this division can be found in the books of 1Kings 12, and 2Chronicles 10, so to limit the length of our devotion I’ll not go into much of the details except to say this …Sin was the root cause of it…as always. But rather the focus will be on what would be the ultimate goal of that division.
1. The ‘new normal’
Jeroboam, as the king of Israel, new that his success as king would depend heavily upon this; that the ten tribes under his control maintain their identity as God’s people. But Jeroboam would re-establish that relationship on new terms..his and not God’s. He knew that he had to do something to keep them from going to Jerusalem to worship…as they should have. This he couldn’t allow, knowing it would cost him the kingdom; “And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If 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” 1Kings 12-26,27
Understanding that their desire to worship would draw them back to Jerusalem and back to the truth, he had to give them some kind of an ‘alternative’. So, what does he do? He does what is the unthinkable and turns the people to idols. He sets up two images of golden calves, one in Dan and the other in Bethel. He then appoints Priests at his leisure, not from the tribe of Levi, as God had ordained in Num 1:47-53, but from among the common people. He continues the imitation game by establishing Temples (high places) as new centers of worship. All of this because he knew that if they went “up” to Jerusalem to worship, that the truth would win, they would return to the house of David (King Rehoboam) and ultimately return to serve God as God would have it. It seems that King Jeroboam may have been the first to coin the popular phrase, “new normal” And sadly we don’t have to look too far to see the same thing happening in our world today, especially in this hour.
2. Idols are never idle
Jeroboam’s idols represented much more than a just a corrupted alternative to worship, they stood, by design, as spiritual roadblocks to the children of Israel; intending to keep God’s people from true worship and the truth of God’s Word. We can see the same “imitation game” being played out today, not only to keep the lost in darkness, but to keep God’s people from dwelling and abiding in the truth. Would the Devil move to capitalize somehow on our current state of separation from the norms of congregational worship? I think yes, and his own declaration in Isaiah 14 would sustain the accusation; “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north”. To imitate God is the Devil’s nature and this is a game that He understands very well. Satan has made the imitation game to be his primary precept and practice ever since the day of his creation; “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High”, Isa 14:4. But Praise the Lord, verse 15 comes after 14, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit”.
That’s right, he is defeated!
3. Our God has a desire
There are great lessons we can learn from this passage and the acts of Jeroboam, but the greater of them is this: That the truth of God will always prevail. In 1kings 13:1 God sends a prophet to rebuke Jeroboam and remind him that his imitation game was known of God and that a King out of the house of David would later burn the bones of his prophets upon his altar. This “man of God”, sent by God, came to declare the truth of God, by the Word of God, “And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel”. And there he “cried against the altar in the word of the LORD”.
Although this prophet would later err, his willingness to rebuke the evil of his day is what I would like to be our focus. Isn’t this what we need today, the man of God to declare the truth of God’s word and the boldness to do it. We know well that our God is an omniscient God, that our God is omnipresent and omnipotent, and we know that He needs nothing. God certainly has a desire and design though for the “Man of God”.
Does the Lord have a design and desire for His children?” Yes, He does…He desires that the Preacher would preach the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ. He desires His people to raise up holy hands in prayer, rather than to corruptible idols. He desires for a Sunday School Teacher to share and teach Jesus Christ crucified, buried and risen again. He desires for Bus Captains to go out into the highways and hedges and bring them in that they may come to know the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Yes, He desires much for you and I!
He desires a nursery worker to whisper hymns in the ears of those little ones, He desires today, more than ever, that men and women will take the time to love and teach Teens and Juniors. Beloved, have our young people ever needed God more than right now? Suicide, drug use, anxiety, godlessness, hopelessness; only look around…has it ever been this dire? God desires that His people would step up to accomplish these wonderful works.
4. The High Places of Jeroboam
The Covid Virus pandemic has taken the lives of so many, and with it has come a pandemic of fear and unrest. But it also brought out a lot of good from the citizens of this great country; health care workers, first responders and retail workers have really put it on the line for all of us. But the actions of some has not been to heal and lift us up, but to tear down and promote chaos. However, we know who and what it is that we wrestle against, Eph 6:12.
5. What will it take?
Ultimately we understand this, that the focus of the evil of this world is trained on Jesus Christ and Him alone, for the world hated Him long before it hated us; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you”, John 15:18.
What did it take to set Jeroboam back on his heels? It was God’s man crying against those works with the “Word of the Lord”. The Word of God, that is the weapon of warfare, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…” Heb 4:12a.
And what will it take for us to set the evil of this day back on its heels? The same thing; Men and Women of God, crying against it with the “Word of the Lord”, for we do not depend on the arm of flesh but on God, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds”, 2Corith 10:4
The sum of the matter is this: That God is in control and none of this has taken Him by surprise. Even in the days of Jeroboam and the division of the kingdom, God never once had his hand off the wheel. He raised up a voice then, and He will do it again today. And when the devil lifts up his hand and points his finger at those who declare the truth of God’s word, the Lord will cause it to dry up, just as he did with Jeroboam’s in 1Kings 13:4.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” Isaiah 6:8
Is He asking you to be that voice?
- Spencer Close, Bus Ministry Director, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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