Thursday, June 7, 2012


Ah, good old Jereboam!
(I figured I'd throw this first part in to explain my title, lest you think I'm talking about Jeremiah or something.)
If you ask a kid what their favorite Bible story is, you're likely to get a variety of answers.  Daniel in the lion's den, the fiery furnace, Noah's ark, Esther, Jonah, etc.  And one of the most popular is David!  David is every kid's hero.  The story of David and Goliath is classic Sunday School material.  But then it just keeps getting better as he becomes king.  David is one of the most well-loved Bible characters of all time.  He's the gold standard for the king of the Jews.  Jews have upheld him for centuries, and with good reason.
But something I've noticed is I've never met a kid who mentioned Jereboam as their favorite Bible character.  Weird right?
But did you know that Jereboam had the opportunity to be as well established as David?  Jereboam actually had a great beginning, and it's an exciting story when you start reading it.  It's during the time of Solomon, and Solomon has turned away from God by allowing his wives to influence him and pressure him into building temples to all these other gods, so God says He will take the kingdom away from Solomon in the days of his son, but for David's sake, He won't take the whole thing, but will leave David's descendants one tribe.
In the meanwhile, Solomon is rebuilding one of the cities in Israel, Millo, and there's an industrious young man named Jereboam who distinguishes himself by his hard work.  (Which is the reason, I believe, God also chose him.  In Proverbs it says, 'Seest thou a man diligent in his business?  he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men.'  There's a little side application for pays to be industrious and work hard.  Anyhoo...)  Solomon notices him and appoints him to a government position.
Then one day, as Jereboam is leaving the city of Jerusalem, he is met secretly in a field by the prophet Ahijah.  This is epic stuff, hearkening back to David and Samuel, Moses and the burning bush, Gandalf and Frodo! (OK maybe not the last one.)  Ahijah is wearing a new cloak, and when he sees Jereboam, he rips it off, and tears it into 12 pieces.  Ahijah hands Jereboam 10 of the pieces, keeps two, and tells him that God is giving 10 of the tribes of Israel into his hand.  But here's the thing that stuck out to me about what he tells him:
1Kings 11:38 And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.
Jereboam had the opportunity to be established by God in the same way that David was!  We all know about what a great king David was.  In fact, David's house was so sure, that God refused to give the entire kingdom to Jereboam, solely because of David.  And later on, the Messiah was to come through David's seed.  God protected and kept David's line.  And Jereboam had the same opportunity to have just as sure of an house.  So things come to pass just as God promised, and God establishes Jereboam as the king over 10 of the tribes.
Unfortunately, when Jereboam became king, he grew worried that he would lose the kingdom that God had given him, if the people went to worship in Judah (the one tribe he hadn't been given) instead of staying in Israel.  So he set up two golden calves, one in Bethel, and one in Dan, and told them the same thing Aaron had, "These be thy gods which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt."  He made a political decision and compromised his beliefs and integrity to keep the kingdom God had given him, rather than just trusting God with the outcome.  Then later, as almost every king in Israel is mentioned, they are compared with Jereboam the son of Nebat who turned Israel's heart away after other gods.  What a different legacy than what he could have had.  This is emphasized and comes to a climax, when Jereboam's son Abijah becomes sick.  Jereboam sends his wife in disguise to Ahijah, the same prophet who told him he would become king, to find out what would happen to his son.  By this point, Ahijah is old and sick, and nearly blind.  So Jereboam's wife puts on a disguise and goes to visit him.  But before she even gets to the door, God tells Ahijah who is coming, and what she wants.  So while she's at the door, Ahijah says, "Come on in, Jereboam's wife.  Why pretend to be someone else?  I'll tell you what you came to ask, but it won't be good news."
And here is what the prophet tells Jereboam's wife, in such contrast to what was told him the first time...
1Kings 14:7-11 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, (8) And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes; (9) But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: (10) Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone. (11) Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it.
Then he tells her that as soon as she enters the city, her son will die, and he will be the only one that is honored by the people and buried like a king.  But the thing that hits me is that Jereboam had the chance to be like David.  He could have been established like David was, had he just honored God with the kingdom he received.  But instead, he lost his chance to glorify God with the kingdom because he was so scared of losing it, by making a political decision, that in the long run, actually cost him his kingdom that he didn't want to lose.
As I was reading it, I thought of the applications to us.  God has set us in certain positions to glorify Him, but sometimes we are tempted to compromise to hang onto our position.  Maybe we have a certain group of friends that God wants us to witness and minister to, but we're so scared of losing them as friends, that we compromise our beliefs.  It's ironic how sometimes people will justify hanging out with a group of friends by saying they don't want to spoil their witness and lose their chance by not being relatable, but then they try to become so relatable, that they never talk about their faith.  Or maybe we have been placed in a certain job position, and want to keep it so badly that we will compromise our faith, whereas God wants us to glorify Him in that position that He has given us.  If we just obey Him, He will establish us.  A good example of this is in the movie, Courageous, when Javier finally gets a job and is able to support his family, but his boss calls him into his office and asks him to do something dishonest in order to gain a promotion.  It looks like he'll lose his job if he remains honoring to God, and it places him in a very difficult place.  I won't spoil the story for you if you haven't seen the movie, but suffice it to say, he honors God, and God honors him in return.
This story about Jereboam means a lot to me right now, because in my own life, I can see that God has placed me in certain positions that have the potential to glorify Him.  But I can also see the temptations that could arise for me to compromise so I can stay IN those positions.  But I don't want to miss the whole reason God has placed me there.  Whether it's in my career, college, friends, family, church, or whatever, I want to seek to glorify God first and foremost, without having to worry about covering my own backside, and without thinking so much about what other people think, and I firmly believe He will take care of the rest.  Putting God first is what will establish you in the long run.