5.55 1 Kings -- The Sins of Jeroboam
There is no point in spending much time on Jeroboam as king, since he contributed nothing positive to the work of God on earth. His very first act was to build two golden calves for the people to worship, one in Bethel and one in Dan. This was to counteract the influence of the Temple in Jerusalem. Now there was no need for people to make pilgrimages, and so come under the influence of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:26-27). Isn't it interesting how, in our fear, sometimes we bring upon our own heads the very disaster we hope to avoid?
Jeroboam's problem was that though he was Israelite by ancestry, he was pagan by choice. He did as much as he could to undercut the worship of God in Israel: building altars and high places, consecrating non-Levitical priests. Even the word of an unknown prophet at the altar in Bethel, cursing that altar and the priests who served it, had no lasting effect on him. Yet, when his son was sick, he was not above sending his wife in disguise to seek out Ahijah, the prophet that had called him to be king. Ahijah was not fooled, and God delivered a scathing judgment on Jeroboam and all his offspring:
"I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country. The Lord has spoken!" (1 Kings 14:10-11)
One cannot get more graphic than this! Did Jeroboam really think he could put one over on God, that after a lifetime of apostasy, he would manage to sneak his son onto the throne after him? But the prophetic judgment included more than just Jeroboam and his heirs. All Israel would bear the brunt of God's wrath. For the first time, there was not just the warning of future punishment, but an explicit declaration of Israel going into exile:
"And the Lord will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their forefathers and scatter them beyond the River, because they provoked the Lord to anger by making Asherah poles" (1 Kings 14:15).
So the people of Israel could not escape responsibility for their own sins by blaming Jeroboam. God came to the conclusion that their sin was beyond healing. A change of leadership would not help, subjugation under their surrounding enemies would not cure them. Only an "ultimate solution" was adequate to deal with the perversion in the land.
This word was a sentence of death passed upon the 10 tribes who followed Jeroboam. Even though it took 200 years to be fulfilled (by Shalmaneser V in 722 BC), their destiny was sealed. It is another example of the "casting aside" that God has done throughout history in fulfilling His purposes for the blessing of Abraham: Lot was not chosen, Ishmael was passed over, Esau was rejected, the 11 brothers were subjected to Joseph (as were David's brothers 700 yrs later), the Canaanites were dispossessed.
Now within the holy nation itself a winnowing occurred: 10 tribes were cut off, doomed to be lost in the anonymous tides of humanity that swept through these regions. This is the converse of the process known as "ingathering," when God's people are taken from many different peoples and locations. When Ahijah delivered God's judgment, the ten tribes became just as lost as the foreigners around them, people who had no knowledge of the true God. They eventually lost their stake in the Covenant and their identity as the chosen people of God. Just like the fig tree Jesus later cursed (Mat 21:19), whose leaves and figs withered and died, so did northern Israel wither, die, disintegrate and blow away.