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Vol.  10  No. 8 August 2008  Page 8
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Priscilla's Page By Marilyn LaStrape *Editor's Note*

There Is No Right Way to Do Wrong

By Marilyn LaStrape

Marilyn LaStrape

    There is no such thing as (1) an optional command, (2) sinning in moderation, (3) it ever being necessary to sin, (4) an insignificant sin or (5) a right way to do wrong. However, the Bible gives us example after example of people who tried the best they knew how to behave in an “acceptable” sinful manner. This is painfully apparent in the account of Solomon, his son Rehoboam and Jeroboam. God has told us repeatedly this cannot not be done and remain pleasing to Him.

    The Bible says when Solomon was old and his many wives turned his heart after other gods, his heart was not loyal to God. “Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David. So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods, but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded” (1 Kings 11:6, 9-10).

    Because of his continued rebellion and disobedience, God told Solomon that He would tear the kingdom away from him and give it to his servant, but not while he was alive; however, He would tear it out of the hand of his son. God told him, “However, I will not tear away the whole kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:13).

    God chastised Solomon for his rebellion and disobedience in following after foreign gods by raising up several adversaries against him, one of those being Jeroboam. First Kings 11:26-28 reads, “Then Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam the son of Nebat…also rebelled against the king. And this is what caused him to rebel against the king; Solomon had built the Millo and repaired the damages to the City of David his father. The man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon, seeing that the young man was industrious, made him the officer over all the labor force of the house of Joseph.” First Kings 11:29-39 is the account of how Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon.

    At that time, Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem and God’s prophet Ahijah met him; he had clothed himself with a new garment and he and Jeroboam were alone in the field outside the city. Ahijah took hold of the new garment and tore it into twelve pieces. “And he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you’” (1 Kings 11:31).

    God further told Jeroboam through Ahijah the reason for this was because Solomon had forsaken Him, and worshiped the goddess of the Sidonians, the god of the Moabites, and the god of the people of Ammon; and Solomon had not walked in the Lord’s ways to do what was right in His eyes to keep His statutes and judgments as his father David. (I Kings 11:32-33)

    The promise God made to Jeroboam for obedience to Him is astounding! God had said, “Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you. And I will afflict the descendants of David because of this, but not forever” (1 Kings 11:38-39).

    God’s declaration of Jeroboam’s pending position of power and honor was most displeasing to Solomon. First Kings 11:40 says, “Solomon therefore sought to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.”

    Solomon reigned for forty years and died, and then Rehoboam his son reigned in his place. First Kings 12:1-3 says; “Now Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king. So it was, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard it he was still in Egypt, for he had fled from the presence of King Solomon and had been dwelling in Egypt, that they sent and called him. Then Jeroboam and the whole congregation of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam.”

   The people spoke to Rehoboam requesting that Solomon’s yoke of heavy, burdensome service be lightened, and they would serve him. Rehoboam told them to come back in three days for his answer; this would give him time to consult with the elders who had stood before his father Solomon. “And they spoke to him saying, ‘If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever’” (1 Kings 12:7). The wisdom of age and experience in the ways of God is priceless!

    Rehoboam then made a costly, tragic mistake! First Kings 12:8 says, “But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.” They told him, “Thus you shall speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’— thus you shall say to them: ‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist!’”

    Rehoboam took the advice of his peers and answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice that the elders had given him. When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, they departed to their own tents and left Rehoboam to figure out how he would maintain the kingdom. Where were his peers at this crucial turning point of events in which they had been central in masterminding?

    All Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, so they sent for him and made him king over all the congregation. The kingdom was now divided. Ten of the tribes were now under Jeroboam’s rule. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained in Jerusalem under Rehoboam’s rule (1 Kings 12:16-21).

    Rehoboam had assembled his warriors for battle to restore the kingdom to himself. The man of God spoke to him; and what Rehoboam had sown he began to reap as Shemaiah told him: “Thus says the Lord: ‘You shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel. Let every man return to his house, for this thing is from Me.’ Therefore they obeyed the word of the Lord, and turned back, according to the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 12:24). Earlier, the prophet Ahijah had already told Jeroboam this would happen to Rehoboam because of his father Solomon’s spiritual infidelity.

    After Jeroboam began his reign, he made one of the biggest blunders possible—he began listening to himself rather than trusting what God had already told him! “And Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom may return to the house of David. If 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.’” In light of the promise God had made to him, where did these thoughts come from? God had not told him anything remotely akin to that!

    Jeroboam’s rebellion and disobedience began by perverting the command of God when he set up idols for the people to worship. He then designated Bethel and Dan to be the places of worship rather than Jerusalem. “Therefore the king took counsel and 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! And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan” (1 Kings 12:28-29). Verse 30 makes clear what a mistake this was. “Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.”

   Jeroboam’s rebellion continued. First, “He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi” (1 Kings 12:31). God had commanded Moses that all priests were to be from the tribe of Levi (Numbers 8). Second, he introduced idolatrous counterfeits of the feasts. “Jeroboam 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” (1 Kings 12:32). In Exodus 23:14-17, God had commanded Moses to institute three feasts that the Israelites were to observe once a year. The feast of the Passover was to be observed on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be observed on the fifteenth day of the same month (Leviticus 23:4-8). Thousands of Israelites had been destroyed for worshiping a golden calf that Aaron, God’s first high priest, had made at their urging (Exodus 32)!

    Jeroboam’s abominable disobedience continued in 1 Kings 12:33: “So 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.” All of this sin and evil was Jeroboam’s idea!

    Jeroboam ignored the warning by a man of God who spoke the word of the Lord to him. However, then this prophet disobeyed God and he was killed (1 Kings 13:1-32)! This downward spiral of treachery grew worse and is summed up in 1 Kings 12:33-34. “After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but again he made priests from every class of people for the high places; whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam, so as to exterminate and destroy it from the face of the earth.”

    Extermination of Jeroboam’s immediate family and any future descendants is exactly what happens. First Kings 14:1-6 tells us how Jeroboam’s son became sick, and he had his wife to disguise herself and go to the prophet Ahijah so he would tell Jeroboam what was to become of their child. Ahijah said to her; “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news” (1 Kings 14:6b).

    Ahijah had the most devastating bad news from God for Jeroboam’s wife. He told her, “Go tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David…but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back – therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone. The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken! Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die” (1 Kings 14:7-12).

    This one son of Jeroboam’s is the only one who went to the grave. First Kings 14:13 says, “And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” Is God finding something good in all of us who claim to be His children?

    The sin of Jeroboam was catastrophic! His spiritual decline and depravity is one of the most obscene abominations in the history of God’s people. The prophet Ahijah declared their doom. “For the Lord shall strike Israel, as a reed shaken in the water…And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin” (1 Kings 14:15a, 16).

  All of these deplorable acts and events had their genesis in Solomon’s rebellion and disobedience! Sin has a rippling effect, and we suffer because of our sins or somebody else’s sins. There is no right way to do wrong; it always leads to our own confusion, vexation and shame! It accomplishes nothing but to multiply our transgressions! The perfection of God’s Word cannot be improved upon by sinful man. Any attempt to change a statute, precept or commandment of God only corrupts, because the way of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. This biblical truth is final and irrevocable (Psalm 19:7-11)!

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