Lord, keep me from disastrous mistakes.
Read 1 KINGS 12:25–33
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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“Take my intellect, and use / every power as thou shalt choose” (Frances Ridley Havergal, 1836–1879).
Solomon may have tried to kill Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40), the newly installed king of the ten northern tribes of Israel, but not even the most powerful king can thwart the Lord’s will. Jeroboam is a strong and clever ruler with genuine leadership qualities. Unfortunately, he has not submitted his gifts and abilities to the Lord’s control. The Lord has given him the opportunity to succeed, instructed him in the right path and pointed to David as a model to imitate (1 Kings 11:38) , but the love of power has so
corrupted his thinking that he mistakenly associates worship of the Lord with the rule of his hated rival, Rehoboam of Judah (27).
Furthermore, like Rehoboam, he simply can’t bring himself to trust his people, even though they have invited him to be their king (20). So he springs into action in an attempt to secure his power base. First he fortiﬁes Shechem in the north and Peniel on his eastern border. Then, in imitation of Aaron’s sin rather than David’s obedience, he constructs two golden calves (28; cf. Exod. 32:4). This betrays his supreme foolishness, exchanging “the glory of… God for images” (Rom. 1:21–23). Third, he places his calves in two newly designated centers of worship, Bethel and Dan, to discourage the people from going to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. Fourth, he builds shrines on the high places and appoints non-Levitical priests to serve at them. Fifth, he institutes a new festival to rival the one in Judah. These moves are all politically astute but rooted in one disastrous lie (28). So Jeroboam leads his people into sin and engineers his own ultimate downfall (1 Kings 13:34). His people are given many years of opportunity to repent, but will stubbornly persist in idolatry until ﬁnally exiled to Assyria (2 Kings 17:22,23). Thus, as would later happen at the cross, the Lord has frustrated worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18–21).
How fully have you put your own gifts and talents under the Lord’s control? Consider how he would have you use them in his service and pray accordingly.
Lord, cause me to recognize the gifts and abilities that You have bestowed upon me and to use them constructively.