Rehoboam's foolish decision regarding Israel's request for a tax break costs him the kingdom. Ten tribes of Israel rebel against his leadership and turn to Jeroboam, Solomon's former officer, and make him their king. Jeroboam breaks all ties with Jerusalem, "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" (1 Kings 12:27).
Jeroboam also establishes a religion that resembles Judaism, but is completely idolatrous:
Jeroboam's religion redefines the Holy One. He makes two calves of gold and introduces them to the people, "Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt" (12:28). His is a religion of "tolerance."
Jeroboam's religion redefines the place of worship. He offers alternate places of worship, "He set up one [golden calf] in Bethel (about five miles from Jerusalem), and the other he put in Dan" (12:29). Because he does not want Israelites to travel up to Jerusalem, he offers convenient worship centers at the northern and southern borders of his kingdom. His is a religion of convenience.
Jeroboam's religion redefines the holy servants. He diminishes the priesthood requirements by opening up the office to anyone with a desire to serve in this capacity, "He . . . made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi" (12:31). His is a religion without standards or conviction.
Jeroboam's religion redefines the holy days. Jeroboam gives Israel's holy days new meanings, "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" (12:33). His is a religion of imagination.
Jeroboam's religion redefines the holy offerings. Jeroboam offers sacrifices and burns incense, as do those in Jerusalem's temple, "He ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense" (12:33). His is a religion of works.
What does Solomon discover at the end of his life about God and life?
Describe Rehoboam's leadership style.
How does life differ for those living under Rehoboam's leadership and those under Jeroboam's leadership? What does this reveal about life under leaders who don't fear God?
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