A Sad Page In History
(1 Kings 12:25-33)
The divided kingdom period in Old Testament history is not an easy narrative to follow and learn. You can read and study the history of the Northern Kingdom, then read and study the history of the Southern Kingdom. Or, try to read and study about both in chronological order. In either case it is one of the most difficult sections of history to read. It can also be discouraging to read about God’s people living in such self-created chaos.
Nevertheless, there are vital messages to learn from this history. The sin of idolatry is clearly defined. The emptiness of materialism is quickly perceived. We can observe in this period the danger of trusting in political alliances with nations and men. Positively, we are able to understand the value of remaining faithful to God, though there be few. The strength of trusting in God and finding encouragement with others who serve Him is apparent in this time. Most important, in the divided kingdom period, the faithfulness of God to His people is prominent. So, though there is challenge in the task, don’t skip this part of Old Testament history.
Here’s a key event that initiated the chaos of the divided kingdom:
1 Kings 12:25 - 33 (NKJV) 25Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel. 26And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: 27If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.” 28Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 29And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. 31He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. 32Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. 33So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense."
This was all about man! This was the fear and ambition of Jeroboam. This was about human rivalry, human convenience, human will and human weakness. This movement found its power in the readiness of men to worship according to their will instead of God’s. Whenever this happens, in any dispensation, another sad page in history has been written.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 12.7; July 2005