Jeroboam I, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 27, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As I introduced two weeks ago, during the 4th king of the united nation of Israel, it split into the divided kingdom. The ten tribes in the north retained the name Israel, and the two tribes in the south became known as Judah. Rehoboam, who I wrote about last week, was the last king of the united nation of Israel, and then he became the first king of the nation of Judah. Jeroboam, sometimes referred to as Jeroboam I since there was another king Jeroboam (Jeroboam II) later, was instrumental in the split of the kingdom, and he became the first king of the northern nation of Israel.

But Jeroboam’s history with the kingdom begins prior to his becoming king. Solomon was the third king of Israel, and Jeroboam was one of King Solomon’s advisors. During Solomon’s reign, before his son Rehoboam became king of the unified nation, Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon.

Jeroboam did great work to repair a problem in the wall of Jerusalem, and Solomon noticed that, so Solomon put Jeroboam in charge of a large labor force working in the city. One day while he was working, the prophet Ahijah met Jeroboam and gave him the prophecy that the kingdom would become divided and Jeroboam would become the king of ten of the tribes. This was to happen because the nation of Israel disobeyed God’s commands and worshiped false gods. They had not kept God as their one true God, so they would now face the consequences of that disobedience by having their nation divided. Jeroboam would be the king over Israel. God gave Jeroboam the same promise that He gave previous kings – that they would be blessed with an enduring dynasty if they obeyed God as King David did (1 Kings 11:26-39).

At some point after Jeroboam received this prophecy, he actually rebelled against King Solomon, and therefore King Solomon tried to kill him. Jeroboam survived and fled to Egypt, where he stayed until after Solomon died (1 Kings 11:40). Then, when Rehoboam was becoming king, Jeroboam was the leader of the rebellion against him that divided the nation, which you can read about in my post on Rehoboam or in 1 Kings 12:1-24.

Once Jeroboam became the king of Israel, he worried that the people would revolt and turn to Jeroboam in Jerusalem (in the southern kingdom of Judah) since that had been the holy city and place of worship for the nation because of King David’s legacy. So, he decided that rather than the people going to God in Jerusalem, he would bring gods to them right in their territory. He created two golden calves (sound familiar?) and set them up in Bethel and Dan in the northern kingdom. Jeroboam created shrines and festivals that centered on the worship of these false gods, and he himself participated in giving offerings and worship to these statues (1 Kings 12:25-33).

Because this was clearly against God’s ways, God send a prophet to rebuke Jeroboam and try and set him straight in 1 Kings 13. The prophet provided signs to Jeroboam that he was from the one true God, yet Jeroboam still did not change his ways. Jeroboam invited the prophet to eat and drink with him, but the prophet would not do so because it was against what God told him, and he left. Jeroboam sent a man to chase after him and invite him to a meal again. This man lied to the prophet and convinced him to come back. The prophet disobeyed God by doing this, and he ended up dead because of it.

But Jeroboam still did not change his evil ways. “Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth” (1 Kings 13:33-34).

In 1 Kings 14, we read about further disobedience to God by Jeroboam. Jeroboam’s son Abijah became sick, so Jeroboam sent his wife to Ahijah the prophet to find out what would happen to their son. Jeroboam told his wife to pretend to be someone else, and God told Ahijah that would happen before she arrived. Before telling her the fate of her son, Ahijah tells her how God will bring destruction upon Israel because Jeroboam disobeyed God and worshiped idols. Not only would their son die, but there would be no further kings from the line of Jeroboam; God would raise up another to be king instead. Just as the prophet Ahijah said, Jeroboam’s son Abijah died as soon as his wife returned back to their home.

What can we learn from Jeroboam’s story for our lives today? The first lesson is that we need to listen to God’s timing for our lives. Jeroboam received the prophecy that he would be the king of the ten northern tribes of Israel before it was to actually take place. He tried to force it by rebelling against Solomon, but that was not God’s timing.

The second lesson we can learn is to listen to the people who God places in our lives to guide and direct us. Jeroboam did not listen to the prophet God sent him, even though the prophet made it clear that he was truly from God. Instead, Jeroboam continued to disobey God. Because of his continued disobedience of lying and worshiping other gods, Jeroboam’s son Abijah died and Jeroboam’s family did not continue the legacy as kings of Israel.

Consider Jeroboam’s story and look at your own life this week. What is God doing in your life where you need to be patient and wait for God’s timing? In what ways might you be disobeying God in your life?

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