Idolatry Established
1 Kings 12:26-33
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:…

It is no less man's highest duty than his supreme blessedness to know and love and serve the true and living God: to know Him is life eternal; to be ignorant of Him is death for evermore. The character of the God who is worshipped reproduces itself in the characters of the worshippers; if He is vile, His worshippers will be vile; if He is pure, they will be pure. The essential nature of idolatry renders it, of necessity, one of the vilest and most debasing of sins. The worship of false gods has been almost universally associated with the use of idols, images, and pictures. Where you find the false god you find his image, and where you find the image there also is the false god; hence Jehovah forbids the use of material objects that have always been used in connection with the worship of false gods. He is a spirit, and His worship must be pure and spiritual. But the connection between worshipping the true God by images and the worship of other gods than the Lord is most intimate; and two generations later, and after Jeroboam had corrupted the worship of Jehovah, Ahab, instigated by his wicked heathen wife Jezebel, formally established the idolatrous worship of other gods, Baal, Ashtoreth, and Moloch, in the capital of his nation. The enormity of Jeroboam's sin is seen in the light of Jehovah's peculiar relations to him and to his people. God entered into the most solemn covenant relations with them. He was to them not only Creator and Lord and Judge, as He was to all other nations, but He was their Friend, their Guide, their Protector. Had Jeroboam been pious as he was brave, had he received the kingdom as a sacred trust from the Lord, had he ruled as theocratic king, had he relied upon the promises and protection of Jehovah, then indeed would the Lord have built him a sure house, and his kingdom would soon have absorbed the two other tribes and have endured for generations; but, alas! he took counsel of his own wisdom, not of the wisdom of God; he trusted to human power rather than to the protection of Jehovah, and proceeded promptly to organise and consolidate his kingdom. Four important measures received his immediate attention: a capital, a worship, a festival and a priesthood. He selected Shechem in the great tribe of Ephraim, and built there a city as the capital of his kingdom. But the worship of the people was the matter of greatest importance in the establishment of his kingdom. The children of Israel brought with them from Egypt many of the customs and idolatrous manners of their masters. During the period of their sojourn and bondage they had become contaminated by their daily contact with Egyptian idolatry, and the animal-worship of this ancient and august civilisation had made on their minds a most profound and lasting impression. So deeply rooted was this foul idolatry in the hearts of Israel that in sight of Mount Sinai, and while Moses was receiving the law from God and delayed to come down, the people gathered themselves unto Aaron and said, "Up! make us gods which shall go before us," etc. Jeroboam doubtless remembered this incident in the history of his people; he had this venerable precedent for his guide — a precedent established by the first high priest of Israel; whereupon he took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said, It is too much for the people to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the golden calves, and it gave colour and direction to the whole subsequent history of the northern kingdom of the ten tribes. And thus idolatry was established by the king himself as the national religion of the ten tribes, constituting the northern kingdom of Israel.

1. The wise Solomon saw the many abilities of Jeroboam, and made him, when a young man, ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph; he was a man of decision, discretion, industry and valour. But he was destitute of faith and devoid of that fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.

2. Jeroboam in thus establishing idolatry in order to strengthen the throne and consolidate his kingdom ignored the living God as a potent factor in the problem. The Divine element, which was the all-controlling one, found no place in his plans, his calculations or his conduct.

3. In the establishment of idolatry he did not openly reject the Jehovah of Israel, but corrupted His worship — with what far-reaching evil let Israel's shameful history. and ignominious end proclaim.

4. The corruption of the people proceeded, pars passu, with the corruption of the worship of God. The life of the nation began with flagrant violations of the Divine law and with an idolatrous worship, and the effects of these sins are seen in all the subsequent history of Israel. The national life was polluted at its very fountain, for the religion and worship of any people are the very innermost springs of being, development and civilisation; and so Israel passed from bad to worse with frightful rapidity and momentum, and her history is red with blood and dark with defilement.

5. Israel's idolatry led not only to her decay, but to her death. The wages of sin is death, no less for the nation than for the individual. The soul that sinneth and the nation that sinneth shall die.

(A. W. Pitzer, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:

WEB: Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom will return to the house of David.

Ecclesiastical Policy of Jeroboam
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