Lord, help me always to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Read 1 Kings 12:21–33
21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.
22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.
Golden Calves at Bethel and Dan
25 Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.[a]
26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.[b]
31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32 He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.
a 1 Kings 12:25 Hebrew Penuel, a variant of Peniel
b 1 Kings 12:30 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text people went to the one as far as Dan
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectGod loves his people, but his people don’t always love and follow him. Jeroboam’s impulse was to reshape God and revise his Word.
The divided kingdom of Israel adopted different versions of following God. When King Rehoboam mustered his army to fight Jeroboam, God intervened to stop the war. This reminds us that it was God’s decision to tear away much of Israel from Rehoboam’s rule. Rehoboam wasn’t in favor of God’s plan, but when God’s prophet spoke, Rehoboam’s soldiers obeyed.
Jeroboam worked to consolidate his kingdom after his reprieve. Yet he faced a practical spiritual challenge. Worship, according to God’s Word, called for visits on special occasions to the Jerusalem Temple. But Jerusalem was part of Rehoboam’s kingdom.
How did Jeroboam solve the problem? He ignored God’s Word and turned instead to Aaron’s golden-calf scheme from an earlier day. Jeroboam made two golden-calf idols to replace God. One was placed in a shrine in Dan, in northern Israel, and the other in Bethel to the south. Both were more convenient for Jeroboam’s people than making trips to Jerusalem.
But this wasn’t God’s solution. And God’s invitation to Jeroboam to become a new David faded away.
What happens when God’s ways don’t fit human ambitions?
Lord, help me be attentive to Your Word and to follow Your ways.