Anything to Keep Power

KEY VERSE: “The king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them [the people], It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” —I Kings 12:28

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Kings 12:20,25-33

SOLOMON RULED IN Jerusalem for forty years, and when he died his son, Rehoboam, reigned in his place. Rehoboam’s inauguration was at Shechem and all Israel came for the coronation ceremony. Jeroboam, who had opposed Solomon in his waning years of idolatry, was still in Egypt where he had fled for refuge when Solomon threatened to kill him. (I Kings 11:40) People from the northern ten tribes sent for him and together they went to Rehoboam and said, “Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.”—I Kings 12:4

Rehoboam first consulted former senior officials of his father, who advised him to lighten the people’s workload, but he rejected their recommendation. He then went to the younger men, his contemporaries who were now his new officials, and who took an opposite view. They urged that he impose an even harsher rule than his father had done.

When the people realized that Rehoboam would not listen to them, those from the northern tribes of Israel went home, leaving Rehoboam to rule over his own people of Judah who had remained loyal to him.

The king summoned his army of 180,000 to force the rest of Israel to acknowledge him as their king. God, however, sent a message by Shemaiah that they were not to fight against their brothers, but were to disband and go home.

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.”—I Kings 12:26,27, New International Version

Earlier, however, the Prophet Ahijah met Jeroboam leaving Jerusalem wearing a new garment. Separating the garment into twelve pieces, he foretold the dividing of Israel into two parts. Ahijah told Jeroboam, “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee.” (I Kings 11:29-32) On the advice of his counselors, King Jeroboam had two calves of gold made, and “he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.” He told the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”— I Kings 12:28,29

To keep control over the people, Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests that were not Levites. He instituted an imitation of the Feast of Tabernacles on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, instead of the seventh month. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made.

He also installed priests at the high places he had set up. Sacrifices were offered on the altar he had built at Bethel, and there he instituted the new festival for the Israelites who went up to the altar to make offerings.” (vss. 31-33) I John 5:21 teaches us also, to have but one God: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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