A Turn For The Worse.
“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, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” – 1 Kings 12:28 NLT
Solomon is gone. But he has left behind a legacy far more significant than his wisdom, magnificent royal palace and powerful kingdom. His son, Rehoboam, would inherit his throne, but also his love of women and his habit of worshiping the gods of his foreign-born wives. We are told in 1 Kings 11 that while he was still alive, Solomon “followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done” (1 Kings 11:5-6 NLT). As a result, God warned Solomon of he consequences of his rebellion. “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates” (1 Kings 11:11 NLT). God would choose Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s servants, and give him ten of the tribes of Israel. Later the tribe of Simeon would later migrate north and join the northern tribes, leaving Rehoboam with only the tribe of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s once powerful kingdom would be no more. And God makes it clear why all this was going to happen: “I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did” (1 Kings 11:33 NLT).
In chapter 12 we see all that God had predicted taking place. It is almost painful to watch as Rehoboam, the son of the wisest man who ever lived, effectively destroys all that his father had spent years building. Rehoboam is the consummate expression of the fool lived out in real life. He refuses counsel, is wiser than his elders, and rash in his decision making. His foolish leadership causes the people to rebel, splitting the kingdom in two. Even in the northern kingdom, now led by Jeroboam, they end up walking away from God, worshiping gods of their own making. “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, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there” (1 Kings 12:28-30 NLT). A split kingdom with two rulers, both with divided hearts. Somehow they both forgotten all that God had done for them. They had failed to remember that God had made them a people. He had given them this land. He had made them His own. He had set them apart for His use and for His glory. But they had made this story all about them. It was their will in place of His. It was their way rather than His. In their eyes, God was replaceable. They didn’t stop worshiping. They just stopped worshiping Him alone. They turned to other gods, rather than to the one true God. They created gods they could control – gods of their own making. And that tendency is alive and well among men today. We are still finding ways to make replacements for God in our lives. We look elsewhere for someone or something to bring us comfort, peace, joy, fulfillment, pleasure, power, confidence, and acceptance. We end up making idols out of just about everything. We worship and adore all kinds of things besides God. And the easiest way to discover what it is we worship is to look at where we spend our time, money, and attention. What do you worry about the most? That is your god. What do you think about the most? That is your god. What do you look to to bring you pleasure? That is your god. Where do you turn when you are in trouble? That is your god. Rehoboam and Jeroboam were both guilty of turning from the one true God to seek after false gods. But their spirit of rebellion didn’t die with them. We have inherited their tendencies. We are tempted to do the same thing. But do we recognize it? Will we turn from it? In his book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller defines an idol this way, “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” Simple, straightforward and convicting. We could each stand to examine our lives and see what we have placed on the altar of our hearts in place of God.
Father, You alone are God. Forgive me for erecting my own gods in an attempt to meet my own needs and live my own life according to my own terms. Help me to learn from the lessons of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Open our eyes so that we might see the replacements for You we have allowed to come into our lives. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men