King Jeroboam

 

 

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King Jeroboam- the king who corrupted the heart of worship

Dr. Alex Tang

 

In the Old Testament, the Mosaic Law governed the heart of worship. In the New Testament, the heart of worship is by spirit and by truth offered by our bodies as living sacrifices. We corrupt the heart of worship when we counterfeit God’s instructions.

In a perfect world, the World Trade Center in New York will not be destroyed by terrorists using an airplane full of innocent victims. In a perfect world, there will not be bombardment of a poor country like Afghanistan by the combined might of the world’s rich countries with the weapons that inflict massive damages. In a perfect world, brothers will not be fighting brothers. In a perfect world…

ISA 11:6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

 ISA 11:7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

 ISA 11:8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.

 ISA 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

 

…..the world will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In a perfect world, there will be true worship of the Lord.

In a perfect world, the kingdom of David and Solomon will not be broken into the kingdom of Judah and Israel. The Chinese has a saying that any business will not last 3 generations. The first generation will start the business. The second generation will consolidate the business. And the third generation will break it up. Look at the Lees, the Mui, and C.K.Tang. Seems to apply to the Jews too. David built up the kingdom, Solomon consolidated it and Rehoboam broke it up.

Solomon

1KI 11:9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command. 11 So the LORD said to Solomon, "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. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen."

 

Jeroboam

1KI 11:26 Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon's officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah.

    1KI 11:27 Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the supporting terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. 28 Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph.

   1KI 11:29 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, 30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. 32 But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. 33 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.

    1KI 11:34 " `But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes. 35 I will take the kingdom from his son's hands and give you ten tribes. 36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name. 37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. 38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in my ways and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes 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. 39 I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.' "

 

Rehoboam

1KI 12:1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you."

    1KI 12:5 Rehoboam answered, "Go away for three days and then come back to me." So the people went away.

    1KI 12:6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. "How would you advise me to answer these people?" he asked.

    1KI 12:7 They replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants."

    1KI 12:8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, "What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, `Lighten the yoke your father put on us'?" 1KI 12:10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, "Tell these people who have said to you, `Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter'--tell them, `My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.' "

    1KI 12:12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, "Come back to me in three days." 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, "My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions." 15 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.

    1KI 12:16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

  "What share do we have in David,

    what part in Jesse's son?

  To your tents, O Israel!

    Look after your own house, O David!"

So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.

Jeroboam rose to prominent during Solomon’s reign as an organizer of forced labor in Ephraim and Manasseh. He is designed future king by Ahijah, a prophet from Shiloh, and had to flee from Solomon and take refugee in Egypt. When he heard that Rehoboam had succeeded Solomon, Jeroboam returns to Israel and takes part in a meeting between Rehoboam and ‘all Israel’ in Shechem, which ends in the revolt of the ten tribes. Jeroboam was made king. At the third generation, the kingdom was split into two parts – Judah and Israel.

1KI 12:20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.

Jeroboam is an insecure king. Remember God has promised him the kingdom. Yet he worried.

1KI 12:26 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."

There are six annual festivals and holy days inaugurated as part of the Mosaic worship system : the Passover (and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread), the Fest of Firstfruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev.23)

Three of these festivals required all Israelite males to travel to Jerusalem and worship at the Temple: the Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Exo 23:17)

 

    1KI 12:28 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, O 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 went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.

 

    1KI 12:31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.

 

The priests as specific in the mosaic laws consist of two groups of people. The descendents of Aaron and members of the tribe of Levi. Generally they are known as the Levites and they have no land allocated to them. One from the Aaronic lineage was chosen and ordained high priest for life (Lev 21:10). Those from the tribe of Levi serve in the function of the sanctuary in a subordinate role. The high priest supervised sacrificial worship.

 

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.

 

Jeroboam’s false system counterfeited the pattern established by God in the Old Testament Law. Instead of the people of the northern kingdom (ten tribes) looking towards Jerusalem to worship and to travel there 6 times a year (Jerusalem is located in Judah, the southern kingdom), he wants to set up alternate worship sites. He established worship centers at Dan and Bethel, but rather than erect temples, he put up idols—golden calves on whose backs the invisible God was imagined to ride. Jeroboam turned out the Levitical priests who would not go along with his apostate plans, and ordained volunteers from among the people. And he set up his own priestly class and sacrificial system. Finally Jeroboam copied the great feasts of the Law in which all Hebrews were commanded to participate. He established his own festivals, set for different times than those ordained by God.

 

The following are elements of Jeroboam’s false system:

A. Two calves of gold served as idols, even though the invisible God was supposed to be riding astride them. Jerusalem was replaced by Dan and Bethel as worship centers. The Canaanite religion has Baal as the symbol of the bull with goddess Asherah riding on the bull.

B. Priests not of the priestly line were appointed to serve at Bethel and Dan, as well as at “high places” (like roadside shrines).

C. A system of festivals that counterfeited those ordained by God was established.

D. Sacrifices were offered at the northern worship centers, which was again a direct violation of God’s Law.

  1. Jeroboam offered the burnt offers at the altar, usurping the role of the high priest

 

This whole pattern is summed up in 1 Kings 12:33, which contrasts the system Jeroboam devised in his own heart to replace that which had been devised and revealed by God. It starts with an intention to set up or modify or improve the existing belief system. 

This false religious system had a dual impact on the Northern Kingdom, Israel. First, the godly slipped over into Judah and settled there, so they could worship the Lord as He had commanded. These immigrants were a significant number. At the time of the division Judah was able to mobilize only 180,000 men (2 Chron. 11:1). But just 18 years later, Judah’s army entered the field with 400,000 fighting men (2 Chron. 13:2).

2CH 11:13 The priests and Levites from all their districts throughout Israel sided with him. 14 The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property, and came to Judah and Jerusalem because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them as priests of the LORD. 15 And he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made. 16 Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their fathers. 17 They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, walking in the ways of David and Solomon during this time.

A second impact was on the character of the Northern Kingdom. The first king made a conscious and overtly rebellious decision to break with God and His Law. Each succeeding king continued in the pattern Jeroboam set!

 

What is worship?

The vocabulary of worship in the Bible is very extensive, but the essential concept in Scripture is ‘service’. Heb. Ôab_oĆd_aĆ and Gk. latreia both originally signified the labor of slaves or hired servants. And in order to offer this ‘worship’ to God his servants must prostrate themselves—Heb. hisűtah\awaĆ or Gk. proskyneoµ—and thus manifest reverential fear and adoring awe and wonder.

In tabernacle and Temple worship ritual was prominent. Apart from the daily morning and evening sacrifices, the celebration of Passover and the observance of the Day of Atonement would be highlights in the Jewish religious calendar. The ritual acts of shedding of blood, presenting incense, pronouncing the priestly blessing, etc., would tend to emphasize the ceremonial to the detriment of the spiritual aspects of worship, and even tend to introduce a sense of tension or conflict between the two attitudes (Pss. 40:6; 50:7-15; Mi. 6:6-8).

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the High Priest (Heb 5,7), the Temple (Heb 9) and the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin (Heb 10). The New Testament worship can be briefly summarized as:

John 4:24 [principle of worship]

24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

 

How do we worship in spirit and in truth? Paul gave us the answer.

Rom 12:1 [act of worship]

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

 

So the heart of worship is to worship in spirit and in truth, offering our bodies as living sacrifices.

 

Corruption of the Heart of Worship

We corrupt the heart of worship when we…..

i.                    glorified the gift rather than the Giver [golden calves]

(a)               Materialism in the church

We acknowledge God as our Father. And we know that as a father, he will not give us a stone when we ask him for bread. But what happens when we keep asking him for a ten-course Chinese dinner. Why  have plain bread when you can indulge in your sense of gluttony. We have seem how the church associate being a Christian to being blessed by God. Being blessed by God is to have a comfortable income, big house, luxury cars and security. That is why in the current economic turndown, we suddenly begin to ask God why?  Why what? When we are rich and comfortable, we never ask God why? We select the Bible verses that told of God rewarding his people with wealth and riches but not those verses where God allow his people to suffer. We expect God to give us riches but not suffering.

I was listening to a tape of a sermon by a pastor from a large church in Singapore some time ago. He was narrating how God has blessed his congregation. He was telling of the testimonies his church members have been giving in church. It seems all of them have become millionaires. One told of how he was caught by the economic recession of 1998. He joined the church and the pastor prayed for him. How the next day, there is suddenly a buyer for his container load of goods and now he is a multimillionaire. How another member was facing a court case for some financial irregularities, they prayed and suddenly the case was dropped. Testimonies after testimonies of how God has blessed his church members financially. The church is growing rapidly. After all, who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?

But if your theology is based on money. On the gift rather than the giver, then you have corrupted the heart of worship.

 

(b)               Spiritual gifts

Recently there is a lot of emphasis on spiritual gifts especially on the gift of prophecy. There is a Money & Wealth seminar in town – a prophetic conference on money and wealth in the last days by a prophet. I believe in the spiritual gifts. I believe the Holy Spirit is giving spiritual gifts to church members so that the church is built up. I believe that the Holy Spirit still bestows the gift of apostleship, of prophecy, of pastoring, of evangelism and of teaching. But I am worried if the gift become an office. If one prints on his name card, Apostle so-and-so.

 

ii.                  emphasis works rather than accepting the completed work of Christ [sacrifice]

(a)               activism

The trouble with many of us as we feel the love of God is that we want to do something for Him. That is not wrong. What is wrong is that we feel we must be active for him all the time, that if we are not active, not stressed out, not burning out for him, we are not giving our all for God. This spirit of activism is present in our church. So we have more programs, more meetings. Some of us are in church 2-3 nights a week.

George Ortiz from the Sentinel Group (Spiritual Mapping) wrote in his book, God’s Trademarks:

“Although some Christians yield to program idolatry because they have been seduced by fleshly ambition, an even greater number succumb to the sin of presumption. Having recognized a particular need or opportunity, they are filled with an irrepressible urge to do something. Convinced that this urge is tantamount to a divine call, they plunge headlong into activities that God has not ordained.”

Our activism is equated to works when one’s commitment to Christ is questioned when one is not active in church activities.

 

(b)               Compartmentalization

The other side of the coin to activism is to limit our worship to one and a half-hour every Sunday. This belongs to God. The rest of the time is ours. Worship, which is the offering of our bodies as living sacrifices, involves our every living waking and sleeping moments.

iii.                fossilized worship services and commercialized Christmas and Easter [rituals and festivals]

(a)               type of worship service- songs, instruments, hymns

Many of us associate worship with a certain type of format, a certain type of songs and a certain type of musical instruments. As a result most of our church service are AWFULL (Arrive, Worship, Fellowship, Usher, Listen, Leave). But worship service can be of so many forms. So many diversity. From the vibrant worship of the Africans and Pentecostals to the solemnity of the Catholics. So enjoy the worship rather than criticizing the service. Rather that insisting that only old hymn should be sung. Rather than insisting that the worship leader be trained in Hollywood. Rather than insisting that drums and keyboards and electric guitars are not appropriate musical instruments for church worship service, worship God. If we spend less time critiquing and more time expecting God to speak to us.

 

(b)               commercialization of Christmas and Easter

The world has taken over Christmas and makes it a marketing event. Christmas is shopping. I thought Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ. Metrojaya in Plaza Pelangi already have lighted Christmas trees in September.

We need to rescue our church festivals from the world. Christmas from shopping and spending of lots of money and Easter from Easter bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs. We need to recover the heart of worship.

 

In the Old Testament, the Mosaic Law governed the heart of worship. In the New Testament, the heart of worship is by spirit and by truth offered by our bodies as living sacrifices. We corrupt the heart of worship when we counterfeit God’s instructions.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                       Soli Deo Gloria

 

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