Winners and Losers: Part 18 - JEROBOAM
Jeroboam: The Man Who Set the Tone for Israel
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Jeroboam was a young man in the latter days of Solomon’s reign. Solomon had compromised with paganism, though he had been privileged to have seen the Living God two times, had been placed on the throne of David in the face of strong opposition, and had been given unprecedented power, prestige and wisdom- yet he had allowed his foreign wives to practice their idolatry in Israel and had even erected temples for their gods (1KI 11:33). Because of his sins Solomon came under God’s judgment and opposition came to him from two foreign quarters and one internal one; God raised up Jeroboam in Israel to chasten Solomon and his son, Rehoboam. The kingdom was ripped apart in the time of Rehoboam so that 10 tribes departed from him to form their own nation, and only one tribe, Judah, remained faithful to David’s line. The new northern nation, Israel, chose Jeroboam to be its new king. Jeroboam had a wonderful opportunity to make Israel a great nation: the people had separated themselves from idolatrous Judah, God had promised that He would be with Israel and Jeroboam if they obeyed Him (1KI 11:38), and the nation had a bright future (as symbolized by Ahijah’s new cloak: 1KI 11:29). But instead of returning to David’s example of righteousness Jeroboam followed Solomon’s example of idolatry. During his 22 year reign he laid the groundwork of idolatry which would eventually culminate in her death as a nation by Assyrian invasion. Why did it happen? Let’s turn to 1KI 11:26f to find out.
I. Who Was He? 1KI 11:26- 14:20; 2CH 13:1-22.
A. What was his name? His name, Jeroboam, means “may the people increase”.
B. When did he live? He reigned from 975 B.C. to 953 B.C.
C. Who were his people?
1. His father was Nebut, an Ephraimite from Zeredah in the Jordan Valley (1KI 11:26).
2. His mother was Zeruah who had been widowed (1KI 11:26).
II. What Did He Do?
A. He was a leader (1KI 11:26-12:19).
1. He was an overseer.
a. He was energetic, able and charismatic i.e. a “valiant warrior”, and “industrious” (1KI 11:28).
b. He was set over the “forced labor of the house of Joseph” (1KI 11:28) i.e. those of his tribe working on the Millo.
*Kings were allowed to conscript Jewish workers for a few months of the year for his tasks; this was predicted in 1SA 8:10-17.
2. He was an appointee
a. God sent Ahijah to commission Jeroboam to the kingship of the 10 tribes (1KI 11:29-40).
1) This was a judgment against Solomon’s sin (1KI 11:31-33).
2) This was an answer to the desire of Jeroboam’s heart (1KI 11:37).
b. God made a conditional covenant with Jeroboam (1KI 11:38).
1) Jeroboam had to:
a) “listen to God’s commands
b)“walk in God’s ways”
c) “do what is right in God’s sight”
i. by observing His statutes
ii. by observing His commandments
2) God would:
a) “be with Jeroboam”
b) “build Jeroboam an enduring house”, i.e. a dynasty.
c) Israel would be given to Jeroboam
3. He was a rebel
a. He rebelled against Solomon (1KI 11:26,27).
1) He stirred up the people
a) The house of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) had been conscripted to do the heavy work of building the wall of the Millo (the fortress built into Jerusalem’s wall), thus rekindling a long-standing animosity between Ephraim and Judah (see JUD 8:1; 2SA 2:9, 19:42).
b) Jeroboam organized [Joseph] a rebellion against Solomon to wrest the kingdom from him (1KI 11:26,27).
*JEROBOAM WAS TRYING TO MAKE THE PROPHECY HAPPEN.
COMPARE JEROBOAM’S BEHAVIOR WITH DAVID’S. DAVID HAD BEEN CHOSEN TO BE KING WHILE SAUL RULED (1SA 17) BUT HE DID NOT ACT AGAINST HIM. LOOK AT 1SA 24:6, “FAR BE IT FROM ME THAT I SHOULD DO THIS THING TO MY LORD (REFERRING TO 1SA 24:4,5), THE LORD’S ANOINTED, TO STRETCH OUT MY HAND AGAINST HIM, SINCE HE IS THE LORD’S ANOINTED”. HE SAID IN 1SA 26:9, “WHO CAN STRETCH OUT HIS HAND AGAINST THE LORD’S ANOINTED AND BE WITHOUT GUILT?” (AND HE REFUSED TO HARM THE KING AGAIN IN 1SA 26:11.)
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM?
DAVID SAID OF SAUL, “AS THE LORD LIVES, SURELY THE LORD WILL STRIKE HIM, OR HIS DAY WILL COME THAT HE DIES, OR HE WILL GO DOWN INTO BATTLE AND PERISH. THE LORD FORBID THAT I SHOULD STRETCH OUT MY HAND AGAINST THE LORD’S ANOINTED…” DAVID DID NOTHING TREASONOUS- HE WAITED FOR GOD TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
2) Solomon suppressed the rebellion
a) Jeroboam fled to Egypt, a traditional place to flee, to escape death (1KI 11:40).
b) Shishak, ruler of northern and southern Egypt, (Sheshonk I, 945-924 B.C. or 950-929 B.C.) gave political asylum to Jeroboam (1KI 11:40) as other Pharaohs had done previously to other enemies of Jewish kings. He did not have the power of past Pharaohs to wage war with Israel, though he did invade Judah in Rehoboam’s 5th year.
b. He rebelled against Rehoboam
1) Rehoboam was opposed (1KI 12:1-15).
a) The people met at Shechem to make Rehoboam king (not Jerusalem as honor dictated; 1KI 12:1).
b) The people sent for Jeroboam, who returned to Israel after Solomon’s death, to head the people’s opposition to Rehoboam (1KI 12:2).
c) Jeroboam was the grievance spokesman of the people (1KI 12:3).
i. They wanted Rehoboam to “lighten the hard service” of Solomon.
ii. They wanted Rehoboam to “lighten his [Solomon’s] heavy yoke”.
2) Rehoboam was rejected (1KI 12:16-19).
a) Rehoboam refused to grant the people’s petition (1KI 12:7-15).
b) Israel departed from Judah irrevocably (1KI 12:18,19).
c) Adoram, Rehoboam’s representative, was stoned to death for advocating reconciliation (1KI 12:18).
B. He was an idolatrous king
1. Jeroboam was made king by the people (1KI 12:20).
a. The people sent for Jeroboam and crowned him king before the assembly (1KI 12:20).
b. God upheld him: Rehoboam was forbidden to oppose him (1KI 12:24).
2. Jeroboam fortified his kingdom (1KI 12:25).
a. Shechem, a location on the mountains of Ephraim, between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, was built? and became, for a time, the capital of the northern kingdom (1KI 12:25).
b. Penuel, a town on the E. side of the Jordan River on the northern bank of the Jabbok was fortified because it was a strategic location for guarding the caravan road to Damascus and thus to defend those tribes in that area from Rehoboam or Shishak (1KI 12:25).
3. Jeroboam embraced idolatry (1KI 12:26-33).
1) He feared losing Israel through religious pilgrimages (1KI 12:27).
2) He had no trust God Who had promised him the kingdom.
*JUST AS HE HAD NOT TRUSTED GOD TO GIVE HIM ISRAEL HE NOW DID NOT TRUST GOD TO KEEP IT FOR HIM.
1) He consulted with his counselors who advised him to provide the people with an alternate worship (1KI 12:28).
*These were the same elders who had rejected God’s order in rejecting Rehoboam.
2) He introduced new forms of worship
a) two golden calves (1KI 12:28).
“Behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt” (1KI 12:28).
i. what were these calves?
* these were figures of calves above which God supposedly rode, in Egyptian Apis-worship (a fertility god in the form of a living bull, worshiped by the ancient Egyptians in Memphis: “Commentary on the Old Testament”,vol. 3, ©1978, by Keil-Delitzsch, pg. 198; “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, vol. 1, © 1975, pg. 200.)
*these were the same symbols of God that Aaron had used in the desert of Sinai (EXO 32:4), i.e. the form of alternative worship that had been used before.
ii. where were these calves?
* at Bethel, 11 mi. N. of Jerusalem on the road to Jerusalem (1KI 12:29).
* at Dan, the northernmost part of his kingdom (1KI 12:29).
b) houses on the high places (1KI 12:31).
c) a new, adulterated priesthood (1KI 12:31).
d) new feast days (1KI 12:32).
C. He a man under judgment.
1. He was rebuked (1KI 13:1-6).
a. from “a man of God from Judah”
1) a warning against the altar
2) a shriveled hand for calling judgment upon the prophet
3) a spurned hospitality invitation
b. from Ahijah (1KI 14:1-18).
1) a curse upon his house (1KI 14:11).
a) every male would be cut off
b) anyone dying in the city would be eaten by dogs: anyone in the country would be eaten by birds.
c) a new king over Israel (1KI 14:14).
d) deportation from Israel (1KI 14:15,16).
2) the death of his son (1KI 14:1,17)
2. He was chastened.
a. He suffered in war.
1) He experienced warfare with Rehoboam “continually” (1KI 14:30).
“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies be at peace with him” (PRO 16:7).
2) He endured a losing war with Abijah;
a) 500,000 of his soldiers were slain by Judah in his 18th year of reign (2CH 13:1-15).
b) He was defeated; Bethel and its villages were lost, Jeshanah and its villages, and Ephron and its villages (2CH 13:18,19).
b. He was “struck by God and he died” (2CH 13:20).
c. His dynasty ended; His son reigned only 2 years AND WAS killed (1KI 15:25,26).
WAS HE A WINNER OR A LOSER?
III. What Can We Learn From Him?
A. “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is death” (PRO 14:12).
B. “To whom much is given much is expected”.
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