15. To Jeroboam

“God turned up” Meditations: 15 :  To Jeroboam

1 Kings 11:29-31 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, and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces. 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.

There are times when God ‘turns up’ through His representative. Sunday by Sunday, in many churches, the Lord turns up through the worship leader or the preacher (or both) or through a prophetic word, where the congregation is open to that. In our next illustration, He turns up through Ahijah the prophet who lived in Shiloh.

To put this in context, we move on from the time we considered in the previous meditation, and Solomon in old age has succumbed to the pagan religions of his many wives, and idolatry is now widely practised in the land. For this reason the Lord is now bringing disciplinary action – as He said in His previous word to Solomon – and is going to take the nation away from Solomon’s son and give it to Jeroboam.

Jeroboam was one of Solomon’s officials (v.26), a man of standing (v.28) who had been put in charge of the whole labour force. Apparently he was a good man who had risen in the ranks to a place of great authority under Solomon. Now the Lord comes to him and reveals His plans to him through Ahijah. First, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes.” (v.31) but then explains why only those tribes, “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.” (v.32). Then He makes very clear why He is moving against Solomon: “I will do this because he has 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.” (v.33)

Now we have to say that whatever happens in the future, Jeroboam has had a very clear warning. Solomon is having the kingdom taken from him because of idolatry. This must surely be something that Jeroboam should also avoid!   Then He gives him a conditional promise: “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.” (v.38) That is going to be the basis for Jeroboam’s future. All he has to do is lead the people faithfully before the Lord and the Lord will bless him and bless his children after him. It is all very clear.

Now what is frightening about these studies is that time and again the Lord comes and makes very clear His requirements, and yet time and again the individual in question fails to live up to them, despite having heard it so clearly from the Lord. I wonder how many of us hear it so clearly on a Sunday morning through the preacher or through a prophetic word, and yet go away and let the words be snatched from us by the enemy.

The parable of the Sower (see Matt 13) focuses on four sorts of ground and that surely represents fours sorts of ‘heart’. The seed is always the same; it is only the ground or the individual which is different. Are we half-hearted or even hard-hearted when we hear God’s word so that it bears little fruit in us? Or are we faint-hearted so that worries overcome us and subdue God’s word so we are not fruitful? This seems to be a challenge which comes again and again through these accounts.

You may not be familiar with Jeroboam so you may not know what happened with him. The word was fulfilled and Jeroboam was given the ten tribes but he resorted to human reasoning which led him to do something which set the course for idolatry to remain in Israel for the rest of the existence of the northern kingdom: Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 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.” 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 12:26-30)

What a terrible little phrase, he “thought to himself”. Don’t think to yourself – think before the Lord and get His wisdom if you need it. What absolute folly in this man. He had everything presented to him on a plate. He was clearly warned how to live and he did exactly the opposite. How stupid! May we be warned!

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