Jeroboam is nervous about being the new king of the north. He’s afraid that people will travel to Jerusalem, in the south, to worship and stop being loyal to him. So, he devises a plan.
So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, "It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!" He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan--at either end of his kingdom. (1 Kings 12:28-29 NLT)
There is a problem with this approach though. He seems to be completely forgetting two things: 1) The LORD gave him the northern kingdom and 2) The LORD promised that he would keep the northern kingdom as long as he walked with The LORD.
But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there. Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people--those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. (1 Kings 12:29-31 NLT)
Had he remembered this, Jeroboam would have been more interested in walking with The LORD than in devising and executing his own plan. He needed to remember one more thing: Scripture.
And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel...in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah...and he went up to the altar to burn incense. (1 Kings 12:32-33 NLT)
You see, some people, when reading this account, just roll their eyes, shake their heads, or cringe as they are reading it. That’s because this story reminds them of earlier Bible stories where God commanded the Israelites to do things in certain ways.
Golden Calf (Exodus 32), Priests from the Tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:1-39 et al), Festival of Shelters (Leviticus 23:33-44)
Jeroboam either didn’t know these Scriptures or he didn’t care. Either way, he didn’t follow them. Because of this rebellion against God’s clear instructions in Scripture, things will not go well for Jeroboam. He will become a rather famous failure in Israelite history.
How about you? Would you have known not to do these three things? Did you know that they were in conflict with God’s instructions in earlier Scriptures? How often do you read God’s Word in Scripture? Do you believe that the wisdom of God in Scripture IS good?