2 Chronicles 11:13-17
13 And from all their territories the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him.
14 For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the LORD.
15 Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.
16 And after the Levites left, those from all the tribes of Israel, such as set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel, came to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD God of their fathers.
17 So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong for three years, because they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years.
Solomon was dead, and Rehoboam his son ruled Judah and Israel with a heavy hand. (2 Chronicles 10:1-16) But Jeroboam, once a mighty commander and officer under Solomon, was told a prophecy that he would reign over ten of the tribes of Israel (1 Kings 12:29-39), and so he rebelled against Rehoboam, and the nation of Israel was torn asunder. Jeroboam had been assured that if he followed the ways of King David and served the Lord, then the kingdom would stay in his family forever, but Jeroboam was jealous of Rehoboam and jealous of the Lord, so he turned the people to idol worship.
1 Kings 12:27-28
27 “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.”
28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”
But as we can see from today’s verses from the Chronicles, not everyone followed after Jeroboam’s sin. The priests and Levites fled to Judah, followed by “such as set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel.” (v.16) That didn’t stop Jeroboam from creating new priests to serve at the altars in the high places he set up (1 Kings 12:31), and the Lord repaid Jeroboam for his sin and took the kingdom from him. But as Israel fell, the kingdom of Judah was strengthened by the people who fled there from the other tribes, “because they walked in the way of David and Solomon.” (v.17)
Many people of Israel knew that it was the Lord their God who brought them out of Egypt, not the two golden calves of Jeroboam. Not everyone was taken in by the idolatry around them, and not everyone felt the need to serve the twin gods of lust and pride. So, rather than fall for Jeroboam’s lies, they fled to Jerusalem, the city of the peace of God, and by serving the Lord they strengthened the king and the kingdom.
What gods do we serve today? Yesterday I was reading about a survey of college-bound high school students, and psychologists found that this next generation has a high sense of entitlement. That is, they feel as if the world owes them something, that they themselves are more worthy than others. It doesn’t take a genius to see that such pride is a recipe for disaster. As Solomon himself said, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Our children will be the ones crying out to a Rehoboam, “Lighten our burden,” and instead the kings of this world will make their burdens heavier. Will our children then turn to the Lord God and seek His ways? Will they strengthen the kingdom by serving God instead of serving their own lusts?
As Christians living in an age and a place full of lust, greed, gluttony, pride, envy, anger and sloth, we are uniquely positioned to guide people away from the high altars and to the Cross of Christ. We can be a new generation who strengthens this country by serving the Lord. We can be a people who will not be swayed by false prophets who tell us that riches, fame, and power are our right and the gift of God. We can be a people who flee pagan lusts and instead fill our minds with whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8) We can be the people who flee the altar of self-importance and self-service to serve instead at the altar of repentance and humility.
Will we follow the Jeroboams of the world, or will we follow God? Will we allow people to distort the Word of God to serve the ways of the world, or will we cleave unto the proven doctrines that come pure from the Bible? Will we allow our children to become servants of two masters, or will we lead them to the one Master who will never leave nor forsake them?
The choice is ours today and every day, and in this place and this time we can either bow down to Satan or lift our eyes to Christ. We can either be burdened by the sin of rebellion or lay down our burdens to take up the yoke of Christ. We can either die once and for all or be born again in Christ through His Resurrection. We can be a people who serve whatever lusts we have for the day, or we can be a people who “set their heart to seek the LORD God of Israel.” Which will we be?
Holy Father God, please bless this nation and this people. Help us to train our children right, so that when they are older they will serve You and not depart from Your ways. Teach us, Lord God, to flee from worldly altars and instead seek the Cross, to have Your Son and His Resurrection always before us as our vision and our hope. Draw us near, O Lord, as we seek to draw near unto Thee. Amen.