Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kings: Jeroboam and the Golden Calves

1. Lesson:
  • Review of Kings of Israel

    • So far, we have learnt:

      • David: God promised David that there will be a Forever King on his throne. 
      • Solomon: Solomon disobeyed God, so God told him that his kingdom will be taken away from him.
      • Rehoboam: Solomon’s son. Did not want to serve the people. People rebelled, and the kingdom was split into 2 — Israel and Judah. Rehoboam ruled over Judah (2 tribes) 
      • Jeroboam: God chose Jeroboam to rule over 10 tribes (Israel)
    • Today we will take a look at King Jeroboam, the King of Israel (Northern Kingdom) 
  •  Jeroboam 
    • God had told Jeroboam: “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.” (1 Kings 11:38)
    • (note: Under the Old Covenant, God’s presence and blessings were conditional — If Jeroboam obeyed fully, God would be with him and he would be blessed. If he didn’t, he would be punished.)
    • Jeroboam became king of Israel — 10 tribes. 
    • Rehoboam was king of Judah — 2 tribes. 

    • Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon, the place of worship, was in Judah. 
    • The Jews from Israel would travel to Jerusalem for their temple worship and sacrifices.
    • Jeroboam thought to himself: If the people from Israel kept going to Jerusalem to worship, they would gradually start supporting King Rehoboam and accept him as their king instead of me! (1 Kings 12:26-27)
    • So Jeroboam decided to make 2 golden calves and set one up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
    • So the people of Israel went to Bethel and Dan to worship before the golden calves, instead of going to the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a sin. God had told the Israelites to worship Him only and not to bow down to any idols, such as the golden calves.
    • Instead of following God and obeying Him, Jeroboam went on to set up his own forms of worship and create god in his own image — 
      • He built more shrines (holy places) on high places
      • He appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites (the tribe that God set aside to serve as priests)
      • He instituted his own religious festivals (copying the ones held in Judah) 
      • He offered sacrifices on the altar (the job of the priests) to the golden calves
    • God sent prophets to warn Jeroboam about his evil ways, but he refused to change … even when his son became very ill and eventually died. 
    • In the end, the prophet Abijah (the one who told Jeroboam that God had chosen him to be king) told him that because of the sins that Jeroboam committed and the sins he caused Israel to commit, God was very angry with Jeroboam and that his kingdom would be taken away from him one day. (1 Kings 14:7-9)
  • Man-made Worship vs True Worship:
    • In Jeroboam’s time, God’s Spirit was only in the Temple in Jerusalem. People could only worship God and make sacrifices at the Temple. 
    • Because he feared losing his kingdom, Jeroboam took matters into his own hands and created his own methods of worship to keep people away from Jerusalem.
    • God gave Jeroboam a wonderful offer of a great dynasty, but Jeroboam did not believe God — he ignored God’s willingness and ability to keep His promises. 
    • He forgot that his kingdom was from God anyway. He forgot God’s promise that as long as he followed God, God will give him a great kingdom and a powerful dynasty.
    • He tried to set up places of worship so people could worship God anywhere and everywhere. 
    • However he failed. That’s because man, even kings, are sinful and unholy. They cannot simply approach God and worship Him anywhere and anyhow. 
    • That’s why Jesus had to come to die for us and to wash us clean so that we can approach God freely anytime.
    • When Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman, she said, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (John 4:20) 
    • Jesus told her: “A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem ... Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 
    • Jesus was talking about a time where people would be able to approach God and worship Him anywhere in Spirit and in truth. They didn’t have to go to a temple or a mountain to worship God. 
    • When Jesus died and rose again, those who believed in Him would have God’s Spirit in them, and they would be able to worship God in Spirit and in truth. 
    • Because of Jesus, our Forever King, we can worship God anywhere and approach Him boldly and confidently! Thank you Jesus! 
  • Conclusion: 
    • Solomon was wise but disobedient king. Jesus is our wise and obedient Forever King.
    • Rehoboam was proud and refused to serve the people. Jesus is our servant King who came to give us rest.
    • Jeroboam tried to let unholy people worship a holy God everywhere. Jesus’ death made us holy and opened the way for us to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.
 Memory Verse:
    • John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
    • Simplified: John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

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