Read: 1 Kings 12:1-33
Focus: 1 Kings 12:32a
“And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eight month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah.”
Let me start off by apologizing for the title. Yes, it’s corny. But, come on. They worshipped golden cows (verse. 28). I had no choice. It’s the dad in me.
There’s a TON of teachable moments in this chapter. A TON. But there’s one small thing that I want to focus on, and that is this statement found in verse 26,
“And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival…in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah.”
Before we get into this, though, we have to understand some of the context behind it. Specifically one part. The promise of God to Jeroboam. Now we don’t see the specific promise in this chapter. We have to take a look at the previous chapter for us to really see what’s going on. In chapter 11 verse 38, we see God extend a promise to Jeroboam. This is what He says,
“If you listen to what I tell you and follow my ways and do whatever I consider to be right, and if you obey my decrees and commands, as my servant David did, then I will always be with you. I will establish an enduring dynasty for you as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you.”
This was a promise. A conditional promise. A promise to give Jeroboam reign over 10 of the tribes of Israel (read chapter 11, verse 31). But as we read on in chapter 12, we can see that Jeroboam didn’t quite grasp that condition. No. What he did was forfeit that promise out of fear. Because he was afraid to lose his kingdom, he forfeited the promise of God. And for what? An IMITATION.
Jeroboam creates these golden calves (repeating history) to be worshipped in hopes that he would keep the people from returning to the true place of worship in Jerusalem (which is where God commanded the Israelites to worship BTW) and pledging their allegiance back to Rehoboam thus dethroning Jeroboam. This is would probably be a very strategic move except for one thing…he didn’t do what God said! God specifically placed a condition on this blessing, and instead of living in obedience to God and keeping that promise, he creates idols and makes sacrifices to them! WHAT A FOOL! To continue in his foolishness, after he creates these idols, he creates a festival. Why? Because that’s what they did in Jerusalem. And this is really important for us to understand. He took the traditions of the Israelites and IMITATED them (verse 32). The command of God and the celebration of His presence and in-dwelling (which is the reason for the festival) was duplicated and redirected toward false gods! This infuriates me! Seriously. But, sadly, we do it all the time.
It is too often that we, in our own desires to (ironically) see the promises of God fulfilled, create imitations. Imitations of God. Imitations of worship. Imitations of truth.
Stop it. Imitations are only temporary and (as I’m sure we will read in chapter 13) only bring about painful consequences.
Seek out the one true God. Be satisfied in no other. Stop forfeiting the promises of God for a fake. Imitations are worthless. God is the only one who truly satisfies. Find all you desire in Him today and see His promises fulfilled in your life.
Lord, help me to not settle for imitators. I desire You and only You. May Your blessings and promises be fulfilled in my life and my I be forever obedient to Your instructions. Come and make known to me all that You would desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen.