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2. Jeroboam, King of Israel

October 12, 2010

 

Text:    I Kings 12:25-14:20

 Outline:           I.     Jeroboam Changes Religion                                I Kings 12:25-33

                               II.    Jeroboam Ignores God’s Signs                            I Kings 13:1-34

                              III.  Jeroboam’s Heart is Hardened                             I Kings 14:1-20

 Context/Discussion/Comments:

                 Jeroboam fortifies Shechem [where Rehoboam declared his kingship] and lives there.  Jeroboam fears the people will change their allegiance over to Rehoboam if they continue worshipping at Jerusalem so he made two golden calves and placed them in Bethel and Dan for the people to worship as they once did at Mt. Sinai.  Jeroboam built other shrines, appointed non-Levitical priests, and replaced the Feast of Tabernacles with his own feast which incorporated sacrifice to his idols. 

                 A prophet is sent from Judah to Bethel to proclaim that a king of Judah, Josiah, will kill Jeroboam’s priests and destroy his altars.  Jeroboam tries to kill the prophet but his hand shrivels up and he is forced to ask the prophet to pray for his restoration.  Jeroboam wants to reward the prophet but he refuses saying God has commanded him to return a different way.  Another prophet in Bethel hears the story, follows the prophet of Judah, and invites him to eat with him.  The prophet from Bethel accuses the prophet from Judah of disobedience to God’s Word.   When the prophet leaves for Judah, he is killed by a lion because of disobedience.  The prophet of Bethel retrieves the body of the prophet from Judah and buries him in his own tomb.  He asks his sons to bury him with the prophet from Judah when he dies because his prophecy is true.  Jeroboam was not influenced by these incidents to change his ways.

                 Jeroboam’s son becomes ill so he sends his wife in a disguise to Shiloh to visit Ahijah the prophet and learn the boy’s future.  God warns Ahijah of her coming and when she arrives he proclaims Jeroboam’s son will die and not inherit the throne because he has led the people away from the Lord God.  Ahijah even prophesies the end of Israel as a nation.  Jeroboam’s wife leaves and her son dies.  Jeroboam reigned 22 years before he died.  Nadab, Jeroboam’s son becomes the next king of Israel.

 Lessons/Applications: 

  1. Beware of God’s warning signs.  He always warns us to change our ways before exercising punishment for sin.
  2. God’s Word is truth.  What God proclaims happens.  Take heed.  Repent or perish.  Repent and live!
  3. God was willing to bless Jeroboam even though he was not a blood relative of David BUT Jeroboam placed his own agenda in opposition to God’s Will.  Therefore, God refuses to bless him and his offspring.  God is sovereign, not man.  Seek the Lord and seek His Will.  Always place God’s sovereign will over your own desires. Then await God’s blessing.
  4. Worshipping false gods is the quickest and surest means of experiencing God’s wrath.
  5. When we make wrong choices which lead us astray, God always sends someone or some thing to warn us of future consequences.  God is indeed merciful. Be alert and listen to God’s chosen servants.
  6. Any deviation from God’s Will has its’ consequences.  Know God’s Word and obey it regardless of who tempts you to do otherwise.  Do not deviate from God’s Word.  Follow God’s heart, not your own heart.  Do not be deceived even by those who you should be able to trust [see Acts 17:10-12].
  7. Our obedience to God must be based on conviction that His Word is true and unchanging.  God’s Word is not subject to change.  God uses others to confirm His Will, not to change His Will.  Follow God’s heart and not your head.  There must be unity between your head, your heart, and God’s Will.  If in doubt,  follow God’s Will.
  8. Know, obey, and follow God’s Word.  Don’t rationalize, that is put your own spin or interpretation on it.  God honors those who honor His Word without compromise.
  9. Refusing to listen to those who have a personal relationship with God results in further hardening of one’s heart and brings on disappointment and disaster to you and to those who follow your lead.

 

A Different Perspective on I Kings 13:

                I kings 13 raises many questions because we Christians understand that under the umbrella of “God’s sovereignty over all things” God is also loving, merciful, forgiving, and full of grace.  In fact, all these attributes are made known in this scripture lesson.  God’s punishment of the prophet from Judah by death for a simple act of disobedience caused by a deceitful supposedly God-fearing prophet seems unfair.  We think the wrong person was punished and that our just God was unjust.

                 But let’s look at this story from a different perspective.  Instead of focusing on the present, let us focus on the future.  Instead of focusing on disobedience and deceit, let us focus on God’s love.  Granted speculation is involved on my part but consider this……suppose the prophet from Judah was older and in God’s eyes had fulfilled his final purpose on earth, that of warning Jeroboam of his error and giving him an opportunity to repent.  Suppose that the prophet in Bethel was beginning to question his allegiance to God and was leaning toward becoming a priest in Jeroboam’s Israel.  And God, in loving sovereignty, decided to act using the prophet from Judah’s lapse in obedience to make a lasting impression on the prophet from Bethel, turning him back to obedient service to God’s kingdom and Israel.  In other words, perhaps the prophet from Judah’s days were numbered by God.  He had fulfilled God’s purpose on earth.  God was ready to call him home.  God just used a more violent and sudden death to make an impression on another person.  I believe each of us has seen a sudden death of a loved one cause another to review their relationship with God and make a choice to follow God or reject God.  This then would be a picture of a loving God taking a bad decision on the part of one individual and turning it into a good decision on the part of another individual.  God lovingly brought the prophet of Judah into His Presence and lovingly restored the prophet of Bethel to service in Israel.  Note that the prophet of Bethel stated positively the prophet of Judah was God’s prophet even though he had disobeyed God.  The prophet of Bethel had a renewed respect for God’s Word [I Kings13:32].  Perhaps this “restored” prophet of Bethel became a strong influence on behalf of the Lord God to that community.  Perhaps he was a flourishing member/leader in the community of 7000 God-fearing people unknown to Elijah [I Kings 19:18;II Kings 2:3].

                 As stated earlier, this is speculation but someday God’s perfect plans for each of us will be fully explained when we see our Lord face to face.  We tend to focus on the reasons for God’s punishment instead of focusing on God’s sovereignty and the means He uses to redeem and restore us as His Children. You see God loves us but growing His Kingdom is God’s #1 priorityGrowing His Kingdom trumps our being comfortable and having an easy life.  Growing His Kingdom meant  sacrificing His only Son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf.  Growing His Kingdom may have resulted in the sacrifice of the prophet of Judah.  Growing His Kingdom can and should result in our own personal sacrifice so others may believe, be redeemed, and be restored.  Eternity trumps the present because of God’s love and sovereignty.  Think about it!

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