A MONTH OF HIS OWN CHOOSING…3000 years ago, the King of Israel ignored one of God's anointed Holy Days and appointed one of his own. It led to the demise of his nation. Appointed for the 15th day of the 8th month, October 25 on our 2018 calendar, it's a timeless warning to any nation who chooses to nationalize God’s Word to fit their political agenda.
The Holy Day that King Jeroboam blasphemed by appointing it to showcase himself as King, is the Festival of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Ingathering, the very day Jesus will reveal Himself as King and gather His chosen people together to live with Him.
The great irony is King Jeroboam actually came to the throne with the promise of God's blessing. “Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you.”1 Kings 11:38.
But it appears Jeroboam had an agenda from the beginning. He convinced the nation of Israel that King Solomon’s heir, Rehoboam, would continue to tax them heavily. The people succumbed to his golden political rhetoric and made Jeroboam their new King. But the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained true to their Davidic line and seceded, forming the southern kingdom of Judah. Judah kept King Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, as their new king, and Jerusalem as their capital city.
This sets the stage for the beginning of today's incredibly relevant and timely lesson in I Kings 12:26, 33: “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...On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.”
Instead of desiring God to unite His original chosen kingdom of Israel through national worship on His divinely appointed Holy Days in Jerusalem, King Jeroboam wanted to maintain the division he had accomplished when He became the now succeeded Israel’s leader. Realizing that the worship of the Almighty was an absolute necessity to maintain his status with the people, he set up his own version of worship in the cities of Dan and Bethel. He brought about his own Aaronic revival reminiscent of the Exodus days by setting up altars of sacrifice, priesthood and special days of worship.
Of course, King Jeroboam stood at the altar as high priest. The people were only too eager to embrace a worship that promoted convenience and prosperity. The shrines “built on high places” were “new and improved” and “grand and glorious”! It was a great time to be called an Israelite! And Jeroboam was their God-anointed leader!
However, God’s Word summarizes this time in history with these words: “Now this thing became a sin…” 1 Kings 12:30. Fear and the desire to have leadership that promised to deliver people from laws they didn’t like, prompted a people who had worshipped God for almost 1000 years to mistakenly place their faith and trust in things and people of the world. Unwittingly, they began to bow down and worship other gods, and began essentially waving them in the face of the Almighty, breaking the very first commandment they had received on Sinai. In fact, though they still worshipped God in the beginning, in addition to the things of the world which would benefit them, their worship quickly gave way to full-blown pagan idolatry.
This counterfeit religious system of worshipping God was followed for over 200 years by all the Kings of northern Israel. Because of this, Jeroboam is referred to in scripture as "the man who made Israel to sin." Notice the phrasing. He didn’t do it alone.
When a man known only as "the man of God from Judah" came to the King and predicted Jeroboam's demise, along with his kingdom in 1 Kings 13:1-3, no one took him seriously. "By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”
In response, Jeroboam stretched out his hand, pointed his finger and said "Seize him." He would regret that, as his finger instantly shriveled. When he called on the "man from Judah" to pray to God to restore his hand, the prophet did. Jeroboam's hand was healed. The prophet immediately grabbed the King’s full attention,
Thus began a relationship between "the man of God from Judah" and the prideful, swaggerty King Jeroboam. The "man of God" was soon worn down by Jeroboam's smooth manipulations, leaving the instruction of the Lord's Word to befriend the King who seemed to need him so much. Though "the man of God from Judah" delivered the Lord's Word chastising Jeroboam, he allowed himself to be greatly influenced by the King, ending with the prophet's untimely death.
As for Jeroboam and Israel, we have this record from God's Word: "For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.” (2 Kings 17:21-23)
Though neither he nor Jeroboam lived to see it happen, 300 years later the prophecy of "the man of God" to Jeroboam was fulfilled through King Josiah of Judah when he came to Bethel, unearthed the bones of the idolatrous priest Jeroboam and burned them on the very altar Jeroboam had built, and then destroyed the altar itself.
Today, archaeologists have uncovered Jeroboam’s high place of idol worship at Tel Dan. Nothing remains except a few of the 3000 year-old-stones and artifacts, and the lesson to be learned about the futility and danger of adding to or manipulating the spiritual worship appointed and anointed by God Almighty. It also points to the judgment of God on any nation that would attempt to do so.
A MONTH OF HIS OWN CHOOSING…