By Don R. Hastines
In 1 Kings 12:25-33, we can notice 40 many similarities between the religion of Jeroboam’s establishment and the false religions of today. Jeroboam openly, and unashamedly, changed the worship of God. By this, he manifested his lack of fear and respect for his Creator (Deut. 4:2). While Solomon was still living, God promised Jeroboam that he would be king over ten tribes and would build him “a sure house” (1 Kings 11:28-39). Jeroboam was not content to trust God’s promise by keeping the law, but instead chose to change the religion of the Jews as he saw fit. He exalted his own will above God’s. Most of the people foolishly followed after him to their soul’s destruction.
Jere Frost has said, “Psychiatrists tell us that most people who are deceived, wanted to be deceived. At least they had their minds set to try to believe a certain type of message. This is the tremendous advantage the medical quack has with the seriously ill – they want to believe him. The false teacher enjoys exactly the same advantages, when he says what is pleasant and desirable to his hearers. These purveyors of false hope are not without ability and usually exercise themselves to develop a smooth, reasonable and credible presentation” (“Jeroboam’s Arguments for Innovations,” The Graphic Evangelist, Vol. 27, No. 16, Aug. 2, 1987).
Many religious leaders possess the same destructive characteristics that were found in Jeroboam. They uphold things as foreign to the word of God as did Jeroboam. Denominationalism and the vain worship instituted by Jeroboam are alike in their:
Origin: Human Wisdom. “Jeroboam ordained a feast . . . in the month which he had devised in his own heart” (text; vv. 28,33). Does this not sound like those who observe Christmas as the birth of Christ and yet have no Bible authority? It is devised by men by their own wisdom.
So, also, is the case with false religions today (Col. 2:8,20-23; Acts 26:9, 10; Matt. 15:7-9). We must look to God’s word for our instructions (2 Tim. 3:16,17; Prov. 3:5). We need to be a member in the church Jesus built, not men. We cannot come to know God through the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:21; Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12).
Motive: Selfish Ambition. Power, prestige, the need to be in complete control have invaded the Lord’s church all over this land. We don’t have to look to denominations to see this terrible problem. Brethren, it exists in the Lord’s church all across this land. Brethren, be aware of those who want their own followers. They should ‘be abandoned immediately. How sad it is that people will follow such corruption and be deceived.
Jeroboam was afraid to let the people go to Jerusalem to worship as God ordained for fear of losing their devotion to Rehoboam (text). The same motivation underlies much of the false teaching done now (Acts 20:28-30; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Tit. 3: 10,11).
Diotrephes was motivated by this selfishness. In 3 John 9,10, we can read how “he loveth to have the preeminence.” He didn’t want his popularity to wane and was afraid the apostle John might get praise if he let him preach.
This is the way many denominations started – selfish motivation and ambition. This, too, is the road to destruction for many local congregations of the Lord’s people. Some want a personal following, money, fame or power. Do not follow such a person with corrupt desire. Such, who want preeminence, are crafty, very adept at lying and deceit. Be cautious and do not lose your soul by following anyone other than the Lord.
Appeal. Convenience and Popularity. Jeroboam said, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem” (text). Bethel was located only 12 miles from Jerusalem, yet he changed where they were to go for convenience. Idolatry was very popular because of the fornication that went along with it (Ex. 20:4).
Isn’t the same appeal greatly used today? Some denominations meet only once a week. One close by my house in Dade City, Florida meets only once a month.
Some denominations do not take a firm stand against immorality. A good example of this is Catholicism. One can sin all he wants, tell it to a priest and be forgiven. Such actually lends encouragement to sinning. Yet, don’t look far off to denominations. We have it right in the Lord’s church with ones who don’t want to take a stand against immorality! I have known some to get upset with lessons on dancing, immodesty in dress and sins of the flesh. They would run off to another congregation in a given area or just quit. Brethren, we need to stand firm against immorality!
Should we worship, as Jeroboam did, only when, or where, it is convenient? Many would have fit into Jeroboam’s plans well. Some of my brethren attend if it is convenient. Are you willing to suffer hardships for the Lord (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3,9; 4:5; Rom. 8:17; Matt. 16:24)? Do we worship at a place only because it is close to our house, or has the largest number attending?
Appearance: Similar to Truth. Jeroboam’s feast was like “unto the feast that is in Judah” (text; Lev. 13:33,34). False teachers today make error easily acceptable by giving it the appearance of truth. They will say we are saved by faith only. They just happen to slip in that little word- “only” (Acts 16:30,3 1). They will teach that all churches are in Christ (Jn. 15:1-7; etc.). They make it sound so good.
Affect: Progressive Ungodliness. I claim no originality with the sub headings in this outline. This is a good, basic outline on Jeroboam that has been in my files a long time. It brings out some points that I wish I could get my brethren in liberalism to see. In Jeroboam’s blunders, it wasn’t but a few years before the Israelites complete rejected all of God’s commandments (2 Kings 17:16-18). The road away from God leads to destruction (2 Tim. 3:13; 2 Pet. 3:16). Some of our brethren have found out that if the door against error is opened just a little, it will not be long before that door is blown wide open.
Some older brethren had more vision to see what was ahead. However, some thought it would not do any harm for the church to sponsor orphan homes or the Herald of Truth. But, now many of them support colleges, sponsor all manner of recreation, speak in tongues, have choirs, and entertainment of all kind. A lot of the older ones saw that if the door was cracked it would soon bring in anything man wanted to dream up. Brethren, it has done exactly that!
Destination: Eternal Punishment. Jeroboam changed the object of worship, place of worship, the priesthood, the day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Denominations today have changed the plan of salvation, day of worship, music, time for observing the Lord’s supper, the way to make contributions, baptism, and many other things.
God’s attitude toward those who would make substitutions in his will should be clear (Lev. 10:1,2; 2 Kgs. 17:18; 2 Jn. 9). God caused Israel to fall into the hands of the Assyrians, who killed many and carried others into captivity (2 Kgs. 17:20-23). Hell is the eternal destination of all false worshipers (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:41, 46).
Jeroboam knew that God was not pleased with his disobedience for a prophet from Judah prophesied against the altar of Bethel (1 Kgs. 13:1-6). In spite of this, he stubbornly proceeded in his unrighteous ways (1 Kgs. 13:33,34). Some today come to a knowledge of truth, but will not turn from their ungodly ways. Turn to Jehovah, through obedience to his commandments, so your worship can be acceptable to him (Jn. 4:23,24).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 8, pp. 243-244
April 21, 1988