Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own, sufficient for each day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6: 34
“I heard a voice at evening softly say,
‘Bear not thy yesterday into tomorrow;
Nor load this week with last week’s load of sorrow.
Lift all thy burdens as they come,
Nor try to weight the present with the by and by,
One step, and then another,
take thy way--Live by the day’”
Julia Harris May
Today’s Study Text:
“So when all Israel saw that the king (Rehoboam) did not heed them, they answered the king, ‘What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David!’ So Israel went to their tents…Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there…Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. If this people goes up to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to sacrifice, then the heart of this people will turn again to their Lord, to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.’ So the king took counsel and made two calves of gold…and he set the one golden calf in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.”
1 Kings 12: 16, 25-29
“Commitment or Compromise” - Part 1
Two Bulls and Two Cities
Definition of commitment: To bind. To obligate. To entrust. Something pledged.
Definition of Compromise: A concession to something that may be harmful or depreciative. Something resulting from a settlement.
“There are very few who in their hearts do not believe in God, but what they will not do is give Him exclusive right of way. They are not ready to promise full allegiance to God alone.”
D. L. Moody
What in my life am I committed to?
In what ways have I found myself compromising in order to get ahead?
“I feel that, if I could live a thousand lives, I would like to live them all for Christ, and even then, I would feel that they were all too little a return for His great love to me.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Compromise is always wrong when it means sacrificing principle.”
Rehoboam had laid down the law! His law. He was boss. He was in charge. And he wouldn’t be pushed around by the delegation led by Jeroboam who came to his palace, representing the ten tribes in Northern Israel. And so, as our study text tell us, Jeroboam and his committee left the court of Rehoboam in Jerusalem with a new agenda of their own. They would break away from Jerusalem and all it stood for and the sooner the better. After settling in Shechem, Jeroboam decided to get some ideas from the tribes he would lead and so he gathered with his own advisors and “took counsel.”
What became very clear up front, especially to Jeroboam, was the fact that if he could talk the people in the ten tribes of Northern Israel to follow his rulership, it was also quite possible, that if and when the tide turned, and it became more popular to join together with Rehoboam in Jerusalem, it could likely take, with very little prompting, a short time for such a turn-around to happen. It’s easy, when people aren’t totally committed one way or the other, to move them by opinion or sweet-talking or promises. It happens all the time. As Stuart Holden points out, “We have been accustomed to the sacrifice of the ideal on the altar of the convenient and immediately profitable.” This is exactly what prompted Jeroboam to come up with a little scheme of his own, which he believed would keep the Israelites he ruled, happy and content in their own homes close by, rather than in Jerusalem.
Let’s look closer at the dilemma Jeroboam faced and the techniques he used to solve the situation.
Jerusalem was where the temple of Israel was located. This meant that at the time of the religious holidays, people from all over the country would make the long, sometimes arduous journey, to worship at God’s house. The problem was that in a divided kingdom, every time all of Israel met together, Jeroboam feared that a call could and potentially would be made for everyone to join in a spirit of unity and harmony. With the Temple as the focal point, it would be easy to see how such a condition could develop.
With a great deal of subtle encouragement, Jeroboam skillfully devised a plan that deftly wove the history of Israel from the time of Moses, into his current-day need to protect his own skin as king of the ten tribes.
His plan involved making two calves of gold. Then he appealed to the children of Israel with this claim, “It is too much for you to go all the way up to Jerusalem.” No more inconvenience. No more threat to your safety. Worship from here on is easy and nearby! But Jeroboam didn’t just stop with, “Worship is right at your back door.” He continued with this impassioned reminder. “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.”
Talk about a bunch of baloney -- a downright lie. But unfortunately, it stuck! It was believed. And this is what happens when we aren’t firmly committed to the truth -- we’ll compromise anything. We’ll even believe a lie! By placing the two golden calves in Dan and Bethel, two cities with strong links to the spiritual history of the Israelites, Jeroboam thought he could rewind the loyalty of his subjects from the God of David, the Lord God Almighty, and place it in something different. First, he would have two new cities as places of worship rather than Jerusalem. And second, and much worse, he would replace the worship of God with devotion to two inanimate objects. Jeroboam had come to the conclusion that worship of some object that represented a god, and worship celebrated in a city with a ‘holy” history, would suffice in keeping his subjects happy and at home.
I found these thoughts shared by Dale David in his commentary on 1 Kings bring a rich heavenly illumination to what transpired under Jeroboam’s rule:
“(Jeroboam) must hold on to ‘his’ kingdom, and, since he cannot simply trust Yahweh’s word for that, he must make himself secure. That is the stimulus here for false religion. If you cannot trust God, you will use religion. In Jeroboam’s case, what matters is not truth but position, his position…Jeroboam’s religion: it is sheer invention -- why lend it any credence at all? Worship either rests on the prescriptions of divine revelation or on the preferences of the human heart. It sounds simplistic, but it’s scriptural.”
The author J. R. Lumby very clearly sums up Jeroboam’s take on worship in these words: “You’ve been going up to Jerusalem long enough…You needn’t bother with the Jerusalem Connection, and all the distance and expense; we can make religion much handier for you than that.” And then he continues, “You have chosen a new king, choose also new places of worship.” As Dale Davis insightfully adds, “Jeroboam does not announce the real reason for the change (his fear vv.26-27) he is, after all, a politician and deals in propaganda rather than candor.”
Where does this leave you and me, today in the 21st century? Well, just like Jeroboam and Rehoboam, we too, face daily decisions, many of which are covered by the subtlety of compromise, which when uncovered by the light of truth, reveals to us the hidden snares that can draw us in to a position where without a totally committed heart, we will fall for anything. Even two golden calves.
May our prayer be that of the great Dr. Albert Schweitzer who said, “Here, Lord, is my life. I place it on the altar today.” All of our heart -- not a divided heart -- but a committed heart. As St. Anselm so beautifully prayed: “I am wholly Yours by creation, make me all Yours, too, in love.”
“All to Thee is yielded,
I am not my own;
Blissful, glad surrender –
I am Thine alone.”
E. May Crawford
“My God (oh, let me call Thee mine,
Weak, wretched sinner though I be).
My trembling soul would fain be Thine;
My feeble faith still clings to Thee.
Not only for the past I grieve,
The future fills me with dismay;
Unless thou hasten to relieve,
Thy suppliant is a castaway.
I cannot say my faith is strong,
I dare not hope my love is great;
But strength and love to Thee belong:
Oh, do not leave me desolate!
I know I owe my all to Thee;
Oh, take the heart I cannot give;
Do thou my Strength, my Savior be,
And make me to Thy glory live!”
“My heart I give You, Lord, eagerly and entirely.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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