The Man who Made Israel Sin
In Chapter 11 of 1Kings, it is recorded that the Lord clearly instructed the people of Israel to not marry foreign wives. The Lord explained His reasoning as “They will turn your hearts to other gods”.
Yet, Solomon insisted on loving foreign woman anyway. Its chronicled he had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. This chapter of the bible further tells us that, indeed, Solomons wives did turn his heart away from the Lord. He worshipped the gods of his foreign wives and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. The Lord had warned Solomon twice about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lords rule.
“In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lords sight. He refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.”—1Kings11:6
In response to Solomon’s repeated disobediences, the Lord told Solomon “I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates”. Yet, the Lord promised to not take it while Solomon was alive. The Lord would take it from Solomon’s son. He further promised to not take away the entire kingdom. For the sake of the Lords faithful servant David (Solomon’s father) and for the sake of His chosen city (Jerusalem), Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) would rule over one tribe.
The Lord sent a prophet, Ahijah from Shiloh, to meet Jeroboam, the subordinate. Jeroboam was told by Ahijah that he would reign over ten tribes of Israel. After this, Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt and resided there until Solomon died.
After Solomon’s death, All Israel had gathered in Shechem to make Solomon’s son the King. Jeroboam heard of this and returned from Egypt. The leaders of Israel and Jeroboam went to speak with the new elect King and asked that the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes of the late King Solomon be lightened.
The new King considered the request and took three days to think it over. He sought counsel through his father’s advisors and from the young men that he had grown up with. To his own detriment, Rehoboam ultimately rejected the advice of the elders and concurred with the younger men. He spoke harshly to the people of Israel saying, “My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions”.
As a result, the northern tribes revolted.
The people called on Jeroboam and made him king over Israel. From this point, only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David.
God said to Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah:
“I will place you on the throne of Israel, and you will rule over all that your heart desires. 38 If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you. 39 Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David—though not forever.”~ 1Kings 11:37-39
Nevertheless, in Chapter 12 of 1 Kings, it is noted that Jeroboam thought to himself:
Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.~ 1 kings 12:26-27
Consequently, after seeking the advice of his counselors, King Jeroboam made two gold calves. He placed the golden calf idols in Bethel and in Dan – at either side of his kingdom.
Jeroboam feared losing his kingdom despite God’s promises to him. He made idols for the people so that they would not have to go to Jerusalem to worship. Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and he ordained counterfeit priests. He instituted a religious festival in imitation of the Annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at this imitation festival he himself sacrificed to the golden calves that he had made. He even credited the gold calves for bringing the Israelites out of Egypt.
This was a huge sin that resulted in considerable destruction.
During this same time, Jeroboam’s son became sick. Jeroboam sent his wife to find the prophet, Ahijah, to find out what will happen with his son.
The Lord spoke again through the prophet Ahijah:
I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, 10 I will bring disaster on your dynasty and will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. I will burn up your royal dynasty as one burns up trash until it is all gone. 11 The members of Jeroboam’s family who die in the city will be eaten by dogs, and those who die in the field will be eaten by vultures. I, the Lord, have spoken.
12 Then Ahijah said to Jeroboam’s wife, “Go on home, and when you enter the city, the child will die. 13 All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only member of your family who will have a proper burial, for this child is the only good thing that the Lord, the God of Israel, sees in the entire family of Jeroboam.1Kings 14: 6-16
And so, it was.
Jeroboam was the first king of the Northern Kingdom. He reigned 22 years from 930 BC – 909 BC. He was an Emphraimite (a decedent of Ephraim/ Josephs Son and Jacobs brother). Jeroboam promoted idolatry and appointed his own priests instead of the Levites whom God had previously appointed. Jeroboam changed God’s system of worship and sacrifice into a man-made system of idolatry. Some bible scholars say that Jeroboam is a powerful example of the negative influence one can have over others.
Jeroboam’s story is an illustration of man’s rejection of Gods ways and subsequently the destruction that follows. His reign was a pivotal moment that set Israel on its path for centuries to come. Many future kings would follow the ways of Jeroboam. Jeroboam created his own legacy as “the man who made Israel sin”
Some bible scholars suggest that Jeroboam is a portrait of the anti-David and that his life validates why God could not trust humans to save humanity.
From learning about this bible story, I personally see the importance of being cautious about whom to seek counsel from. Furthermore, I recognize how Jeroboam “thought” himself out of the perfect Will of God. I am convinced that “Thinking” is dangerous. Make sure you “seek God” when you “think”.
Take a moment now to look at the decisions you are presently making. Are your decisions based in fear? Or are you walking in God’s promises and favor?