Who Do You Trust? (1 Kings 11)
Who Do You Trust?
A Study of King Jeroboam
1 Kings 12:25-27
When I was 12 years old, I prayed that God would give me a Christian wife. I remember saying that prayer. I did not, at that time, want to be a preacher. In fact, up until I was a sophmore in college, I emphatically did not want to be a preacher. But, I had wanted a Christian wife at least since 12 years old.
I have joked before about not having any relationships with any girls in high school and in college and that is largely true although somewhat of an exaggeration. I did have a few short-lived & misguided relationships with a few girls. One in high school and one in college. While I was in those relationships, while they lasted only 2-3 months, I still prayed that the right girl would come along. I did not believe, in my heart, that either one of those girls was the right girl, even though both were Christians, but I did not break off the relationship for fear that I would not have another one.
I am very thankful that those girls broke off the relationship because I do not believe that I would be where I am today, in any sense of the word if I had married either one of those young ladies. But, I was patient. I kept praying. And I (mainly) stayed faithful to God. I met Rachel in the summer of 1994 and the rest is history. If there is one thing I could impress on the hearts of our young people it would be this - don’t short-change yourself out of fear that you’re going to die alone. Stay faithful to God; trust Him to do the right thing for you and He’ll lead you where you need to go and to be with and marry whom He thinks is the right person for you. I believe that; I’ve experienced that in my personal life.
Let’s take a look at a man who did not trust God’s promises and he fell very short of receiving the grace of God: King Jeroboam.
Jeroboam lived 931-910 B. C.
JEROBOAM’S PROMISING FUTURE - 1 Kings 11:26-31:
King Solomon had turned his heart away from God, motivated largely from the wives he had married who worshiped idols. King Solomon had so much potential but he failed in trusting God to provide security for him; that’s why Solomon married so many women - to court favor with the nations around him. But Solomon’s behavior angered Jehovah God (1 Kings 11:9).
As part of God’s punishment on Solomon, God raised up a man named Jeroboam from the northern tribe of Ephraim to be a “thorn in the side” of Solomon. We pick up with Jeroboam’s story at 11:26…
Jeroboam was a “valiant warrior” (11:28) and “industrious” so Solomon made him secretary of labor of the house of Joseph. This is significant because the “house of Joseph” includes the two tribes Ephraim and Manasseh so that Jeroboam has opportunity to influence a lot of people under his leadership.
One day, God sends a prophet named Ahijah to speak to Jeroboam and we read Ahijah’s message to Jeroboam (11:29-31).
Ahijah goes on to criticize Solomon in front of Jeroboam for worshiping the gods around them: Ashtoreth of the Sidonians, Chemosh of Moab, and Milcom of Ammon (11:33). As punishment on King Solomon, God is going to forcibly divide the nation of Israel into two parts and God is going to give 10 (out of twelve) tribes of Israel to Jeroboam. Let us read 11:35. Let us continue reading 11:37-38.
Solomon apparently got wind of God’s promise to Jeroboam and, apparently thinking that he could frustrate God’s plans, tried to kill Jeroboam (11:40) so Jeroboam fled to Egypt.
So, Jeroboam has a bright future. All he needs to do to have a lasting, enduring legacy reigning over a portion, the largest portion of God’s people, was to listen to what God commanded him, walk in God’s ways, and do what is right in the eyes of God, like King David had done.
JEROBOAM’S LACK OF FAITH - 1 Kings 12:25-32:
King Solomon dies and Solomon’s son Rehoboam assumes the throne. Rehoboam jacks up the tax rate on the nation of Israel which motivates Israel to rebel. And, who do they select as their leader but the former secretary of labor who has recently returned from Egypt? In 12:20, Israel makes Jeroboam king over them, the northern tribes, and he reigns for a total of twenty-two years (14:20).
I want us to read this text and note that Jeroboam did not trust God’s message to him! Instead, he followed his own heart, his own desires, his own feelings, his own inclinations. The emphasis on Jeroboam's heart is found at the beginning (12:26) and end (12:33) of this text. I have counted five errros, sins, that Jeroboam committed because he did not trust God to fulfill His own promise:
1. He consulted other people besides God (12:28). How many times do we ask other people what we should do, who we should date, who we should marry, etc. instead of praying and asking God to lead us in our choices? Instead of making decisions that will help us walk closer to God instead of walking further from God?
2. He changed the object of worship (12:28). Instead of allowing Israel to go back to Jerusalem three times a year as God had commanded, Jeroboam built two golden calves and set them up at the northern (Dan) end and southern end (Bethel) of Israel. Notice that Jeroboam tells Israel that these calves are the “gods that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” The word “gods” here is the same word that is capitalized to refer to Jehovah God. I do not know if Jeroboam was trying to add golden calves for the worship of the one true God or if he was trying to replace God entirely with false gods in the form of calves. Either way, he sinned.
3. He changed the place of worship (12:29-30). As I mentioned, Jeroboam set these two calves up in Israel, one at Bethel and one at Dan to try to keep Israel from returning to Jerusalem as God had commanded them to do.
4. He changed the priesthood (12:31). We learn in 2 Chronicles 11:14-17 that Jeroboam had excluded the Levites from serving as priests in Israel, likely because they would have told Israel what they were doing was sinful. So, Jeroboam replaced those priests with people serving as priests from any tribe - whoever was willing to do it.
5. He changed the time of worship (12:32). This, apparently, was a change in the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles from the seventh to the eighth month.
All of these things he did, the historian writes, because Jeroboam did not trust God. He relied on his own heart (12:33). Jeroboam told himself, “It seems good to me!”
GOD TRIES TO GET JEROBOAM TO REPENT (TWICE) - 1 Kings 13:1-10:
First effort - God sends a man of God, a prophet, to Jeroboam. This is the second prophet God has sent to Jeroboam. While Jeroboam was offering sacrifices to one of those golden calves, this unnamed prophet shows up and prophesies that a man named Josiah was going to be born (he reigned 641-609 B. C. - almost 300 years later!) and he would pollute that altar and destroy it. That was God’s message to Jeroboam to say that God was not at all pleased with Jeroboam’s behavior.
To emphasize that he was teaching the truth, God allowed this prophet to do three miracles. Miracle #1 - The prophet says the altar would be split apart. Miracle #2 - When Jeroboam stretched out his hand to grab the prophet, his hand immediately atrophied. Then the altar split apart. When Jeroboam briefly and in a shallow way, humbled himself and asked the prophet to ask God to restore his hand, God responded and Jeroboam’s hand was restored (Miracle #3).
All of that interaction should have been enough for Jeroboam to humble himself before Jehovah God, tear down all the idolatry that he had set up, and once again expect to enjoy the blessings God had promised to him.
But, 12:33-34 tells us that Jeroboam continued to sin, using priests who were not from the trible of Levi. Jeroboam’s example ends up influencing many Israelite kings for a very long period of time. There are many references to Jeroboam’s sinful choices in the later book of 1 Kings: 15:26, 34; 16:2-3, 7, 19, 26, 31; 21:22; 22:52; 2 Kings 3:3; 9:9; 10:29, 31; 13:2, 6, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28; 17:21-22; 23:15. The decisions we make today can have a very long lasting influence on future generations of our children and grandchldren. All because we do not trust God and live the way He says.
GOD TRIES AGAIN WITH JEROBOAM - 1 Kings 14:1-14:
In chapter 14, we have recorded that Jeroboam has a son who is sick. Jeroboam convinces his wife to disguise herself and go to Ahijah, the very first prophet who spoke to Jeroboam, and ask the prophet what would happen to their son.
In the meanwhile, God speaks to the prophet, Ahijah, and tells him that the woman coming to him, disguised, is the king’s wife and Ahijah is to tell the queen what God wants him to say. When the queen arrives, we read Ahijah’s message to the king, through his wife, and it relates to the fact that Jeroboam did not trust God and because he did not trust God, he sinned against God (14:7-9).
Notice especially in verse 8 in David: 1.) Kept God’s commandments; 2.) Followed God with all his heart; 3.) Did only what was right in the sign of God. That, family, is how we ought to live!
In verses 10-14, God promises that Jeroboam’s family and dynasty will be wiped out, destroyed. Only this very boy, who is sick, will die a peaceful death. In verse 14, God says a king will be set over Israel who will “cut off the house of Jeroboam this day and from now on.” That king is King Baasha who assumes the throne after the two-year reign of Jeroboam’s son Nadab.
In fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy, as soon as the queen arrived home, the child died, just as Ahijah had prophesied. But, we have no record of Jeroboam repenting of his sins and, of course, God’s original promise to bless Jeroboam was turned into a curse.
Take home message: We obey what Jesus tells us to do because we trust Him to tell us the right thing to do. If we aren’t obeying, it is because we aren’t trusting.