Bible in a Year – Day 107: Counterfeit Religion, Counterfeit Wisdom
Counterfeit. That’s the word that comes to mind as a read about Jeroboam’s golden calves and his installed priests. Jeroboam was creating a counterfeit religion, complete with counterfeit places of worship and counterfeit leaders. The sad part is, he may not have even recognized them as counterfeit. He was simply trying to keep his place as king.
The Bible reveals Jeroboam’s motives in verses 26 and 27:
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.” (1 Kings 12:26-17)
You see, Jeroboam didn’t necessarily have a problem with the people worshiping God. He didn’t really seem to have a desire to create a new religion. He was simply trying to come up with a solution that would keep the people from having to go back to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. He was being proactive and doing what he thought was best to preserve his kingdom.
However, he would come to find out that self-preservation shouldn’t necessarily be at the top of the list for any king, let alone one who desires to serve God. We have to remember that God never wanted any of this king stuff in the first place. Way back before Saul became king of Israel, God warned that installing a king would create nothing but problems for the people.
And now, once again, God is proven right. Once again, Israel is divided into two kingdoms. Once again, there are two kings who not only despise each other, but who end up straying from God. In their attempts at short-term self-preservation, they are doing long-term harm to their nation. They simply refuse to honor God by doing the things he has told them to do – things which are, ultimately, in their best interest.
In fact, the situation has gotten so bad in Israel that two of God’s prophets get caught up in the deceitfulness. Here, we are reminded that even those who are used in powerful ways by God are just as prone to sin as anyone else. The elder prophet lies to the younger prophet to get him to join him for a meal (who knows why he was so intent on eating with the man that he would lie to him about a word from God). The younger prophet, though he knows that God has told him not to turn back and not to eat in that place, rejects God’s word in favor of the old man.
Here’s the problem. In each of these cases, there was a human being relying on the wisdom of human beings rather than the wisdom of God. Solomon had it right when he said that the greatest gift God could give him was wisdom, because wisdom that comes from God plays well within the creation that God has set in place. And yet, we continue to try to rely on our own wisdom – to think that we know better.
I’m reminded of my own shortcomings as a teenager, when I was certain that I was smarter (and more reasonable) than my parents. In my immaturity, I relied on the wisdom that I had gained in my 15 or 16 years on earth and trusted that my wisdom exceeded that of my parents who had been around 3 times as long. To think that I knew better than they did was a ridiculous notion and yet, we can perhaps excuse that kind of behavior in a teenager. But for grown adults to behave in a similar fashion toward God is simply ludicrous…and yet we do it all the time.
What would happen if, instead of relying on our own wisdom, we relied on the wisdom of God? What if our first inclination when faced with a decision was to pray for guidance. What if our first source of research was the Bible? What if our greatest concern was how all of this would affect the Kingdom of God and God’s work in the world? I would guess that some of our decisions would be dramatically affected…others would probably stay the same. What I know is that if we followed this kind of wisdom, our world would look more like the coming Kingdom of God and less like the chaos caused by sin. Personally, I would rather live in the former.
- Bible in a Year – Day 285: Don’t Bury It
- Bible in a Year – Day 251: One More Time…With Feeling
- Bible in a Year – Day 207: Meaningless or Not?
- Bible in a Year – Day 206: Freedom in Not Knowing
- Bible in a Year – Day 204: Just a Brute
- Bible in a Year – Day 201: The Value of Truth
- Bible in a Year – Day 200: A Price to be Paid
- Bible in a Year – Day 198: God? Money? Sure!
- Bible in a Year – Day 196: Sister Wisdom
- Bible in a Year – Day 195: Get Wisdom