The Sins of Jeroboam

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 14, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I noticed an interesting trend as I read through the list of the kings of Israel recently. With two exceptions, every king of Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.” The two exceptions were Shallum, who reigned for six months, and Hosea, the last king of Israel. That got me thinking: what were the sins of Jeroboam that all but two of the kings of Israel did not depart from? None of the other kings actually did what Jeroboam did, yet they did not depart from his sins. Let’s dig in.

The crime Jeroboam was guilty of is recorded in 1 Kings 12:25-33. Take a moment to read the passage before continuing. The law remained for all people to come to Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Judah under Rehoboam’s reign, for worship, the feasts, and all the other religious activities. Jeroboam was afraid that if the people, who had just rebelled against Rehoboam, would go back to Jerusalem they would in turn rebel against him. Keep in mind that Jeroboam was given the same promise as David, where if he followed the Lord, his seed would always remain on the throne.

Instead of following the promises of God, Jeroboam followed the fears of men and compromised. He built two golden calves, put one in Dan in the north and Bethel (the same place as where Jacob saw the staircase to heaven) in the south. He declared that these idols were the gods who brought the people out of Egypt and set up not only numerous non-Levite priests but his own feasts to celebrate them. What started as a compromise of convenience became a complete and total rejection of God and anything he stood for.

Jeroboam was cursed for his sin and an unnamed prophet told him a future king, Josiah, would desecrate his idols and the very bones of his priests. His son, Nadab, would be killed by Baasha, thus beginning a trend of five dynasties and a handful of individual kings who never left a son on the throne. Jeroboam caused Israel to do a mighty and terrible sin, however as bad as that was, none of the kings that followed him are recorded to explicitly turn away from this sin. Shallum had no mention of his action regarding Jeroboam’s sin and Hosea did evil, but not in the way Jeroboam did. Even these two are not recorded to have repented from the sin nor to take down the idols. The key I want to address is that all these kings, while not necessarily guilty of committing the same sins of Jeroboam, were guilty of not leading the nation a better direction.

There was only one king of Israel that even attempted to seek after God and that was Jehu. Jehu was sent to wipe out the entire line of Ahab and he zealously fulfilled those commands. However he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam. Notice that this passage emphasizes the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. Jehu successfully wiped out all worship of Baal and destroyed Ahab’s family, and the Lord was pleased with this, however he did not turn from the idols Jeroboam set up.

I do not know if these kings bowed before and worshipped these idols, but at the very least, we can tell this: the idols were never taken down, and because they were never taken down, God held them all guilty of committing the same crimes. The idolatry of Jeroboam continued through every king of Israel, and the only two kings that did not have this moniker attached to their name were Shallum and Hosea and even then, both were called evil kings. Both Shallum and Hosea murdered their predecessors and usurped the throne and neither left a son on the throne.

How does this apply to us? How many sins have our fathers committed that we have not done anything about it? I’ll tell you a major one of our nation: abortion. 1973 will always go down in infamy as the year that abortion was “legalized.” That generation is guilty of administering the crime of abortion in the eyes of God. Our generation is not guilty of setting up abortion; we are guilty of continuing it, or at the very least doing nothing about it. Some presidents, governors, and legislators have made efforts to limit the reach of abortion, however as long as it is the recognized law of the land, that sin will be upon the blood of us and our children until someone rises up to turn the nation against it. We did not commit the evil that got abortion started. What we have done (this generation) is exceedingly worse.

Slavery was another great sin started way back in the 1600s, and our Founding Fathers did not deal with it. They left it to future generations to sort out. The Civil War, according to some, was a result of judgment upon the US for that sin. I’m not entirely convinced by that argument, but it was Abraham Lincoln who was the first leader to actually turn from the sins of slavery. There were many other issues involved with that time period, but that is outside the scope of this post.

The “generational curse” is a zoomed in version of the same issue. The same besetting sin tends to haunt the same family members. One pastor I know said sexual morality was a big problem in his family and he and his father were the only ones in his extended family to not have experienced the pain of divorce. Other families deal with abuse or drinking. Sometimes it is poverty. Yes, I said that. Poverty is not just a financial situation; it is also a spiritual condition. It took one person to start the generational curse, and it takes one to break it.

Are you going to turn from the sins of your fathers? The only king to ever actually address Jeroboam’s idolatry was Josiah, king of Judah. The northern Kingdom of Israel had already fallen to Assyria and Josiah set out to execute the most significant turn-around in the history of both nations. Josiah’s full repentance and restoration of Judah even exceeded the reforms of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, and Hezekiah, who each made reforms. Josiah destroyed the altars, the idols, and even the bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people had made that into an idol. He burned the bones of the priests of Jeroboam and reform came to the whole land. It took a king from a different nation to deal with this problem. As a result, God, who had already sworn to punish Judah because of the sin of Manasseh, would delay his judgment and not bring it in Josiah’s time.

What about us? Has God already condemned the US because of our sins? If Sodom and Gomorrah were judged as they were and they only had one guy preaching any form of righteousness (Lot), how much more so when what we do is even worse than Sodom and we have numerous preachers (and more, including myself, are rising) warning us of the danger? This weekend, take time to listen to this sermon by David Wilkerson on this issue, titled “A Cry Against the Wickedness of American Youth.” It ties in directly to this post. We are deeply entrenched in the “sins of Jeroboam.” Which of us is going to lead the way to turn from them?

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