Royalty and Ruin


Jeroboam Leads Israel Back to Idol Worship

Under Solomon’s rulership, Jeroboam had shown ability and sound judgment. His years of faithful service fitted him to rule with wisdom. But Jeroboam failed to trust in God. RR 36.1

His greatest fear was that his subjects might be won over by the ruler occupying David’s throne. He reasoned that if the ten tribes often visited the ancient seat of the monarchy, where the temple services were still conducted as in Solomon’s reign, many might renew their allegiance to the government at Jerusalem. He determined to reduce this probability with one bold stroke. Within his newly formed kingdom he would create two centers of worship, one at Bethel, the other at Dan. He would invite the ten tribes to worship God in these places instead of at Jerusalem. RR 36.2

In arranging this transfer, Jeroboam thought to appeal to the imagination of the Israelites by some visible object to symbolize the presence of the invisible God. He placed two calves of gold in shrines at the centers of worship. In doing this, he violated the plain command, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image. ... You shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Exodus 20:4, 5. He failed to consider the great peril of setting before the Israelites the symbol their ancestors had known during centuries of Egyptian slavery. His desire for the northern tribes to stop their annual visits to the Holy City led him to adopt the most unwise policy. “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem,” he urged. “Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 1 Kings 12:28. RR 36.3

The king tried to persuade the Levites within his realm to serve as priests in the new shrines at Bethel and Dan, but in this he failed. So he elevated men to the priesthood from “every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi.” Verse 31. Alarmed, many of the faithful fled to Jerusalem, where they could worship in harmony with God’s requirements. RR 36.4