The Golden Calves
1 Kings 12:26-30
And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David:…

Jeroboam here earns for himself that name of evil repute - "the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." As the leader in the revolt of the ten tribes he was simply fulfilling a Divine purpose. "The thing was from the Lord," - the ordained penalty of Solomon's transgression (1 Kings 11:31, 38). But this setting up of the golden calves, this only too successful attempt to sever the sacred bond that bound the people of the whole land in one common allegiance to the temple and the great invisible King who sat enthroned there, bore a widely different character. This was not "from the Lord." It was wholly evil. "The thing became a sin," and the sin of Jeroboam Became the prolific source of sin in Israel through all succeeding generations (see 1 Kings 14:7-16). This transaction illustrates -

I. THE FATAL PERVERSITY OF A LAWLESS AMBITION. This was Jeroboam's ruin. God, by the prophet Ahijah, had promised to establish him in the kingdom on certain conditions (1 Kings 11:38). There was no wrong in the mere fact of his seeking to verify this prediction. His sin lay in the nature of the means he adopted. He thought it needful in order to his having a "sure house" that the people should be kept from going up to sacrifice at Jerusalem. In other words, he would strengthen his house at the expense of doing deep dishonour to the "House of the Lord." His own petty kingship was more to him than the infinite Majesty of Jehovah. Thus we see how a carnal ambition

(1) is subject to needless fears;

(2) trifles with or defies a power that it finds to be infinitely stronger than itself;

(3) thinks to secure its ends by means that actually defeat them;

(4) is deceived by its seeming successes.

History is full of examples of the way in which men have sought power for themselves, either by the abuse or the degradation of things sacred, or have thought to serve ends right in themselves by unrighteous means. This was one form of Satanic temptation to which our blessed Lord was subject. "All these things will I give thee," etc. (Matthew 4:8, 9), and his professed followers have too often fallen before it,

II. THE ARTIFICE OF A WICKED PURPOSE. This is seen in the way in which Jeroboam practised craftily, upon the religious sentiment of the people in the service of his own ambitious designs.

(1) He pandered to their idolatrous propensities. The "golden calves" may have been intended as a memorial rather than a representation of the Deity. But they were too suggestive of the base, sensuous worship of Egypt, and violated the second commandment if not the first.

(2) He made pretence of consulting their ease and convenience. "It is too much for you," etc.

(3) He took advantage of the sacred associations of Bethel and Dan, as if the place would hallow the proceeding.

(4) He instituted a priestly order as a substitute for the Levites.

(5) He ordained festivals that should rival those of Judah and Jerusalem. In all this, while affecting to do honour to the traditions of religion, he struck a fatal blow at the religious unity and integrity of the nation, turning the highest sanctities of its life into an occasion of sin. How forcibly are we reminded that iniquity assumes its most hateful form when it prostitutes to its own ends things sacred and Divine. Satan is never so Satanic as when he wears the garb of "an angel of light." The most detestable of all vices is hypocrisy. More deadly injury has been done to the cause of religion by its false friends than its bitterest enemies could ever inflict.

III. THE DISASTROUS EFFECTS OF WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES. Jeroboam's wicked policy perpetuated and multiplied in Israel the evils of which the rending of the kingdom at first had been the penalty. With few exceptions all the kings that followed him "did evil in the sight of the Lord," and the record of their reigns is little else than a story of crime and bloodshed and misery. Moreover the leprosy of idolatry spread from the throne down through all classes of the people until the kingdom of Israel was completely overthrown and the ten tribes were carried captive into Assyria. Such are the woes that fall on a land when its princes are corrupt and reprobate. So true is it that "they that sow to the wind shall reap the whirlwind." - W.

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.

Idolatry in Israel
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