10/4/2016 LESSON 6:
JEROBOAM: A KING WHO MISLED A NATION
Quarter’s Theme: PORTRAITS OF JEWISH KINGS
Unit 3 – Portraits Of The Kings Of Divided Kingdom (Lessons 5-12)
Suggested Hymns: G.H.B. 306, 416
Devotional Reading: 1 SAM. 2:1-10
Topic For Adults
DON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON GOD
Topic For Youths
SET YOUR HEARTS FULLY ON SEEKING THE LORD
Topic For Intermediates
OBEY GOD’S COMMANDS
1 KGS. 11:28-38; 12:19-33; 15:29-30
(SOUL WINNERS CROWN COMPETITION MONTHS)
For the Lord is the God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed (1 Sam. 2:3b) NKJV
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READING
Evil Prophets Are Already In The World
1 Kgs. 13:1-24
At the outset of this story, we saw a very courageous prophet as he relayed the message of God to the wicked king, Jeroboam. The king had the power to put to death anyone, who brought a message which he did not want to hear, but the prophet delivered the message fearlessly. The prophet also had the courage to refuse the good favour of the king because God had commanded him not to accept anything, even bread and water, while he was in Bethel (13:8-9). He continued to show courage by initially refusing to accept the old prophet’s invitation to come into his house and eat bread (13:16-17). But then, he allowed himself to be deceived by the old prophet at a point in his life that he probably felt that he was the strongest. He was overcome by the little word, “lie”. Verse 18 says, “But, he lied to him”. Apostle Paul told the Galatian Christians: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; … if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed”. (Gal. 1:6-9) It seemed the prophet of God rationalised his actions in his mind, because he thought the old prophet was speaking the message of God. But, the truth of the matter was that he did not. As we study or talk with those whom we contact on a daily basis, they may indicate that they have been spoken to by God. We need to “test” the things they affirm, and of course, the only test or standard that matters is the established Word of God. If they believe or attempt to teach something different, then we know it is not from God. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn. 4:1)
Point of Emphasis: The only test or standard that matters is the established Word of God.
Prayer Point: O Lord, do not let me and my household fall prey of false prophets in Jesus’ name.
Jeroboam was the son of Nebat, from the tribe of Ephraim. Solomon raised him to
the rank of superintendent over the taxes and labours exacted from the tribe of Ephraim. God promised Jeroboam a secure kingdom and a long lasting dynasty if he would trust the LORD, but Jeroboam didn’t believe God would deliver on His promise. In order to achieve security, he abolished the national worship of the LORD and inaugurated the golden calf cult. Sexual immorality had long been part of calf worship, and in this way Jeroboam drove his people away from the LORD and into sin. In the light of this act, 19 times, scripture calls Jeroboam the man “who caused Israel to sin.”
NOTE ON THE TEXTS
PART 1: THE PROPHECY ABOUT THE ENTHRONEMENT OF JEROBOAM (1 KGS. 11:28-38; 12:19-20)
Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim under king Solomon. Due to his diligence, he was promoted to the rank of superintendent and served King Solomon well until Ahijah, a prophet, intercepted him in the middle of a country road. The prophet took off the brand new cloak he was wearing and tore it up into twelve pieces. Then he held the pieces out in front of Jeroboam and said: “Take ten pieces of this coat for yourself. Yahweh, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will tear the kingdom away from Solomon and give you ten tribes.” (1 Kgs. 11:31). At this time, God was furious with Solomon because of his constant idolatry and worship of gods that required human sacrifices. How would Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, become king since he was not related at all to the royal line from Judah? God spoke further through the prophet. “I will make you rule over everything you want. You will rule over all of Israel, and I will always be with you if you do what I say is right. You must obey all my commands. If you obey my laws and commands as David did, I will be with you. I will make your family a lasting family of kings, as I did for David, and give Israel to you.” (1 Kgs. 11:37-38). When Solomon heard about this prophecy, he sought to kill Jeroboam for treason. Jeroboam saved his life by moving to Egypt.
When Solomon died after ruling for forty years, Jeroboam came back from Egypt. Again he was a popular leader among the people. As they gathered to crown Solomon’s son Rehoboam as their king, Jeroboam and other leaders representing all Israel went to Rehoboam and asked him to lighten the harsh labour and the heavy yoke his father, Solomon, put on them. They promised to be loyal subjects of the new king if he would only lighten their burdens. The business of government was new to Rehoboam, and the request made probably surprised him. He needed time to think it over. The elders who had helped Solomon knew more about the needs of the people and about what should happen when Rehoboam gave his answer. Rehoboam wisely asked them for advice. The elders advised Rehoboam “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants” (1 Kgs. 12:7). Rehoboam was displeased with their advice and turned to the young men who had grown up with him in the luxury of the king’s court for advice. They knew little about the serious business of government and cared little about the common people. The young men advised Rehoboam to let the people know he was the boss by making taxes higher, demanding more work, and punishing people more severely if they displeased him. Very unwisely, Rehoboam took the advice of the foolish young men and this tore the country apart. The Lord had known in advance that Rehoboam was going to make a foolish decision. “So the King did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.”(1 Kgs. 12:15)
Meanwhile, all the tribes except for Judah rallied around Jeroboam and appointed him as their new king. The nation of Israel had two kings in her history. Israel split into two kingdoms: the ten northern tribes keep the name Israel while the southernmost tribe of Judah and its small northern neighbour of Benjamin became the kingdom Judah. Rehoboam’s kingdom was reduced by 83%. He was furious and gathered up 180,000 of the best soldiers from his two loyal tribes for war. Rehoboam was getting ready to take back his kingdom by force when another prophet of God named Shemaiah came onto the scene. “Yahweh says: ‘You must not go to war against your brothers, the Israelites. Every one of you should go home, because I made all these things happen.’” (1 Kgs. 12:24). With God declaring that He would not support Rehoboam in battle, the proud king finally gave up.
PART 2: JEROBOAM LED ISRAEL TO SIN (1 KGS. 12:25-33)
Jeroboam became the first king of divided Israel. He rushed to secure his new Kingdom. Immediately they broke off from Rehoboam’s kingdom, the son of Solomon, he chose Shechem as the capital city in his homeland of Ephraim and fortified it. He said to himself, “The kingdom will probably go back to David’s family. If the people continue going to the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, they will want to be ruled again by Rehoboam. Then they will kill me and follow Rehoboam king of Judah.” (1 Kgs. 12:26-27). With this concern in his heart, he consulted with his associates and did something absolutely shocking by telling 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.’ One [golden calf] he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 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.” (1 Kgs. 12:28-30) He stopped all pilgrimages to Jerusalem and gave all the glory for the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, forty years of guidance through the wilderness and the conquering of the Promised Land to two golden calves after all God did for him. In addition to sacrificing to these two golden calves, Jeroboam “built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.” (1 Kgs. 12:31) God’s entire system of holy days, sacrifices, and worship was changed into a man-made system focused on worshiping golden calves. In addition to the idolatry, the cities of Bethel and Dan became the places of worship rather than God’s chosen city of Jerusalem (cf. 2 Chro. 6:6).
The sin of Jeroboam was doubly tragic in that he had been promised blessing from God if he had just followed the path of David. “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you” (1 Kgs. 11:38). In turning to calf-worship, Jeroboam spurned God’s goodness and brought about his own demise. The sins of Jeroboam haunted the later kings of Israel, of the 18 kings of Israel who succeeded Jeroboam, 15 were reported to have acted like “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” The exceptions were Elah, Shallum, and Hoshea, who, though not compared to Jeroboam, were nonetheless evil kings. Jeroboam’s reign included many sins, yet the “sin of Jeroboam” is a specific reference to idol worship that marked his reign and the reigns of the kings of Israel who followed him. This sin was one that angered the Lord and ultimately led to judgment upon Israel.
PART 3: GOD’S WRATH AGAINST JEROBOAM AND HIS HOUSEHOLD (1 KGS. 14: 7-19; 15:29-30)
Jeroboam’s counterfeit religion, with its own priesthood, gods and religious festivals and observances, was destined to play a major role in Israel’s downfall. Through Ahijah (the prophet) God had encouraged Jeroboam to rule properly and obey His commands so that God can build an enduring house, as God built for David, Jeroboam did not heed this warning. Instead, Jeroboam failed to exploit his remarkable opportunity. He instituted an idolatrous form of worship as the official religion of the new kingdom. In spite of God’s warnings, Jeroboam refused to turn from his idolatrous ways.
God pronounced a sobering final edict against Jeroboam: “…I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. Yahweh has spoken!” (1 Kgs. 14:6-11)
Wild dogs gnawing on human corpses and vultures pecking at human flesh. This is what God was going to make happen to Jeroboam’s descendants. To have one’s body so abused after death was a horrifying thought to the Jews. They believed that a proper burial was an essential step in helping the soul transition smoothly into the next realm. Here God uses their superstitious beliefs against them by describing the worst possible scenario: a body left exposed and devoured by savage beasts.
Jeroboam sinned, and then he made the people of Israel sin. So Yahweh will let the people of Israel be defeated.” (1 Kgs. 14:14-16) The description of Israel being scattered beyond the Euphrates was a reference to the people being exiled by foreigners. About 200 years after Jeroboam—which is God’s idea of soon – He would bring in the king of Assyria to totally defeat the northern kingdom of Israel, and drag the people away in exile. That king would then repopulate the land with pagan foreigners. By Jesus’ time, the region would be known as Samaria, and the ancestors of those pagan foreigners would be known as Samaritans. The Jews would despise the Samaritans as illegitimate imposters. But it will be because of Israel’s own rebellion against God that her land will be filled with non-Jewish bloodlines. The Jews turned away from God of their own free will, and ran after disgusting gods who required them to abuse themselves and burn their children alive. There can be no sympathy for such a rebellious people. Jeroboam’s reign lasted twenty-two years and his son reigned for two years after him before he was killed, and the man who overthrew Jeroboam’s son ended up destroying the entire Jeroboam’s family line according to the word of the Lord. In fact, the Bible says in 1 Kgs. 15:29-30, that this man, “…struck down all the household of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam any persons alive, until he had destroyed them, according to the word of the Lord “…because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger.”
One of the worst things about Jeroboam is that he did not only mess up his own life, he also got hundreds of thousands if not millions of others to follow in his footsteps – not just during his own lifetime, but for at least 200 years into the future, from 931 BC when the kingdom divided, to 721 BC when the Assyrians finally came in and destroyed the nation. Even in death, the evil influence lived on. Jeroboam’s got the ball rolling, and the nation followed that path for several generations. Jeroboam’s life stands as a warning every time he is mentioned in the Bible: Do not be like Jeroboam.
- How did Jeroboam become the king in Israel?
- How did he lead the people to sin against God?
- What was God’s judgment against Jeroboam and his household?
- What are the fake religions of our age?
- How can we guard against being isled into counterfeit religions?