In this sermon we look at the sins of Jeroboam, and try and figure out why they were so bad, and why they are recorded in Scripture for us to read. What are we supposed to learn from Jeroboam? What warnings might we find?
[Peter Eddington] The topic of the sermon today is something that I found to be very interesting as I was working on it and putting this together. It’s a mix of history and modern times. To this very day, the whole world knows where the Jews are, where the tribe of Judah has migrated to around the world. Of course, there is the modern state of Israel that contains a large number of people from the tribe of Judah, but also in New York City we find entire suburbs lived in mostly by Jews. And you can go into Russia, Germany, Hungary, and other countries of the globe and find Jewish towns and communities and cities.
And because of the sign of the Sabbath day in the biblical festivals, even Jews who did not take the religion very seriously are still identified. And they’ve kept their identity down through the millennia and across the globe. It’s an amazing story of people who have been blessed, admired, cursed, persecuted, murdered by humanity. The average person believes that the terms “Jew” and “Israel” are synonymous. Without a little bit of study, it’s easy to assume that the Jews of today comprise the nation of Israel, especially since the modern Jewish state is also called Israel. But they are two different groups of people, the Jews and Israel. There are 10 other tribes that also took on the name of Jacob, the name Israel. And those 10 other tribes have mostly disappeared from history, and each of those tribes is much harder to find today.
And this story of the dividing of the descendants of Jacob into two main factions: Judah and Israel, goes back 3,000 years, actually more than that, to the time of King Solomon’s death. Yeah, about 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon’s death. And the rise of two men: Rehoboam and Jeroboam. From one of these men comes the biblical phrase, “the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat”. It’s found 14 times in the books of Kings in the Old Testament. What caused the legacy of Jeroboam to be so harsh? In the sermon today, we’re going to look at the sins of Jeroboam and see why they were so bad, why other kings were likened to him, and why they’re recorded in scripture for us to read. What are we supposed to learn from Jeroboam? What warnings might we find?
I’ve titled today’s sermon, “You, Me, and the Sins of Jeroboam, Son of Nebat.” They always put the little son of Nebat on the end, every time. And I’ve divided the sermon into two main sections: the first is the history lesson, and the second is how it applies to us today. So let’s get to the beginning of the story in 1 Kings 11, 1 Kings 11. As we look at you, me, and the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat. 1 Kings 11:26 1 Kings 11:26And Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite of Zereda, Solomon’s servant, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow woman, even he lifted up his hand against the king.
American King James Version×, “Then King Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite from Zereda, whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow, Jeroboam also rebelled against the king.” We don’t know exactly all that Jeroboam did to rebel against King Solomon, but he fell into disfavor with Solomon.
Verse 28, “The man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon, seeing that the young man was industrious, made him the officer over all the labor force of the house of Joseph.” So the house of Joseph were the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Of course, Ephraim and Manasseh were the… we’ve become the descendants often in the English-speaking world of Ephraim and Manasseh.
Verse 29, “Now, what happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem,” he had some work that he was doing in construction in Jerusalem for King Solomon. And on his way out of Jerusalem one day, “the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and the prophet had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two of them were alone in the field.”
Verse 30, “Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and he tore it into twelve pieces.” So I guess you can imagine walking home from work, and a guy comes up to you in a long robe and then rips it in 12 pieces. You go, “What on the earth is going on here?” “And he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord the God of Israel: “Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten of the tribes to you, Jeroboam.”’” So the tearing of the new garment into 12 pieces was symbolic of what was about to happen to the whole nation of Israel.
Verse 33 answers why 10 tribes are going to be given to Jeroboam. Why? Verse 33, “Because the nation of Israel has forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtareth…” or Ishtar or Easter as the translation is today, “the goddess of the Sidonians, have also worshiped Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and worshiped Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments, as did Solomon’s father, David.” So Solomon’s whole empire had become total paganism. Sure they still had the temple and they still kept some of the Holy Days and sacrifices at the right times, but they had mixed all that in with all of this pagan worship. And God said to Jeroboam, “This is not good. I’m going to rip this apart. I’m going to give you 10 of the tribes.”
Verse 35, “I’ll take the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give it to you — ten tribes.” Verse 37, “So I will take you, Jeroboam, and you shall reign over all your heart desires, and you shall be king over Israel. Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, do what is right in My sight, keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did.” Then God says, “I’ll be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and I’ll give Israel to you, Jeroboam.”
Wow, what an incredible offer, what a fantastic offer. Of course, there are a few caveats there, weren’t they? “You’ve got to keep my commandments and obey me.” But what happened? After Jeroboam received these promises, did he do what was right in God’s sight and keep God’s statutes and commandments like King David did? No, he strayed from the commandments of God. And so then the phrase, “the sins of Jeroboam” starts to take shape. It’s found 14 times in the Old Testament and all, every case that’s in the book of 1 and 2 Kings. Any future king who did badly was told, “You’re just like Jeroboam. Your sins are just like the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat.” It was almost like a curse to be called that.
The once united kingdom of Israel under King Solomon became split between two people: Solomon’s son Rehoboam, that’s Rehoboam became king over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south. The Jews, primarily, who have kept that identity ever since. And as promised by God, Jeroboam reigned over the remaining 10 tribes to the north, and so the kingdom of Israel became a divided kingdom. It was called Israel to the north, it was called Judah to the south. So this is where that all happened in history. Of course, many people today think Israel just means Jews. No, in the Scripture it’s often the 10 northern tribes after this happened.
So let’s go to 1 Kings 12 and look at how he governed these northern 10 tribes. Let’s see how well Jeroboam did. 1 Kings 12:25 1 Kings 12:25Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelled therein; and went out from there, and built Penuel.
American King James Version×, “Then Jeroboam built the city of Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim…” because he was an Ephraimite remember. He was one of the sons of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasseh. And Jeroboam “dwelt there in Shechem. Also he went out from there and built Penuel.”
Notice verse 26, “Then Jeroboam said in his heart, ‘Hmm, now the kingdom may return to the house of David: if these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem. Hmm, if everybody has to go down to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices, they might return to the house of David down in Judah. Then the heart of these people will turn back to their Lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, then they’ll kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.’” So Jeroboam is worried about losing control or losing some power here if everybody keeps going to Jerusalem for the feasts and for their sacrifices.
Verse 28, “Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, ‘It’s too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel. These are the gods which brought you up from the land of Egypt!’ And he set one up in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.” Verse 30, “Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.” So they stopped going to Jerusalem.
And verse 31, “He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every other class of people, who were not the sons of Levi.” He came up with his own priesthood now. And verse 32, “Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month.” He ordained a feast that was a counterfeit to the Feast of Tabernacles. So it’s like the feast that was in Judah. “Yeah, like the Feast of Tabernacles down there,” “and he offered sacrifices on his own altars. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made.” So Jeroboam erected new shrines and he placed golden calves in those shrines.
So this was Exodus 32 times two now. Not just one golden calf, let’s do two. And he established a new priesthood in place of the Levites. The national Feast of Tabernacles was changed from the seventh month to the eighth month to widen the bridge between the kingdoms, to preserve Jeroboam’s own power and influence over the people. And these verses here that we just read describe the act that is so often referred to with horror in the Scriptures here in the books of Kings as the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat.
This actually reminds me of our former association which in many places in the U.S. and around the world now keeps this Feast of Tabernacles in the month of August because “it’s more convenient when the children are not in school” they say. To Jeroboam, nothing would appear more natural or political than this conduct. He had actually been driven to Egypt by Solomon at one point because of their disagreement. He had been driven to Egypt, and Jeroboam had there married pharaoh’s daughter, and no doubt become familiar with the worship of Apis and Mnevis.
According to the Septuagint, Jeroboam’s wife was an Egyptian princess called Ano, A-N-O. So he married into pharaoh’s family. What were the gods, Apis and Mnevis, down in Egypt? It’s actually very interesting, they were gods that were bulls. Bull cults were popular in Egypt about 3,500 years ago. Maybe this sheds some light on why Moses’ brother Aaron, and now Jeroboam, was influenced by Egyptian theology to create golden calves for worship because worshiping cattle was very common in Egypt. The most famous of the bull cults is that of the Apis bull. The powerful and virile bull was associated directly with being a pharaoh.
As early as 3100 BC, the king is depicted in the form of a bull on Egyptian artwork. From ancientegyptonline.co.uk, we read this, ancientegyptonline.co.uk, “A sacred Apis bull was identified by specific sacred markings and housed in plush quarters. Given only the best food and provided with the harem of the best cows. The lucky animal would live in the lap of luxury until its death, where it would be mummified and buried with full military honors in a manner befitting royalty in a stone sarcophagus that could weigh over a 120,000 pounds, a 60-ton sarcophagus.”
It continues, “The Mnevis bull was the sacred bull of Heliopolis. The bull was usually completely black, and the bull was associated with Ra, the god Ra. Two Mnevis burials have been discovered dating from the reigns of Ramesses II and Ramesses IV.” So archeologists have uncovered these sarcophagus of these ancient idols. So when Jeroboam fled to Egypt and married pharaoh’s daughter, he would have become intimately aware of these Egyptian gods. So now he returned to Israel, found himself the ruler of the northern 10 tribes, and the first king of the separate kingdom of Israel. Recognizing as he did the religious tendencies and memories of the people, he saw that the national assemblies for worship down at the temple in Jerusalem would sooner or later unite the people again under one king, probably and eventually knocking him off the throne. So despite God’s promises, he thought, “I’ve got a better way to make sure that I’m able to stay in power.”
Let’s go to 2 Kings 17. 2 Kings 17 gives the summary of a lot of history, but in particular what we’re looking at here now of why Israel went into captivity. And it’s kind of a recounting of this story that we just read. Israel went into captivity many years after its first king, Jeroboam, led the people away from God into idolatry of all kinds. And the reason is that subsequent kings after him acted in the same way in what is called “in the ways of the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat.”
2 Kings 17, look at verse 13. “The Lord testified against Israel and against Judah,” so God testified against both halves of this kingdom, ”by all of his prophets, every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes according to the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent you by My servants in the prophets.’” God said, “Please obey me.” Verse 14, “But they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers,” you’ve heard of the stiff-necked Israelites, right? “Who did not believe in the Lord their God.”
Verse 16, “So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven,” astrology and everything else, “and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire.” We’re talking about child sacrifice. Israel was doing child sacrifice, “practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.” So that’s a recounting of what happened when the northern 10 tribes were captured by the Assyrians and only Judah was left to the south.
Verse 19, “But also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God either, walked in the statutes of Israel which they had made.” So Judah just ended up doing the same thing. As you know later then the Babylonians took them away. Verse 20, “The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, delivered them into the hand of their plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David,” going back to the time when He “made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king,” reminding us that “Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them,” So subsequent generations did the exact same thing that Jeroboam started.
Verse 23, “until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight,” as He had said, “as He had warned by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.” And so you all remember the northern 10 tribes being carried away by the Assyrians. A couple of 100 years later, the Jews carried away by the Babylonians as punishment for all of this idolatry and sin and commandment breaking. The punishment for following the sins of Jeroboam was conquest by the Assyrians. And eventually, it hit Judah too. They were carried away to Babylon. And here, let me list to you the kings of Israel specifically listed in scripture as having led the nation in the same way as the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat.
So here are some kings from the northern 10 tribes that came later: King Ahab led the people in the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat; King Jehoram, led Israel in the sins of Jeroboam, the son Nebat; King Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Azariah, Zechariah, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah. All those are listed specifically in the books of kings of being just like Jeroboam, the son of Nebat.
So what exactly were the sins of Jeroboam in modern day language? Looking at the Scriptures, we come to conclusions on what the sins of Jeroboam were and how we may be guilty of entertaining those same sins today. Some like idol worship are quite obvious, right? But others may be a bit more subtle. So let’s move from the history part of the sermon into the modern day application. I have four main points for us to consider, and each of them can be very appealing to us. Number one is, it was an appeal to take matters into one’s own hands. It was an appeal to take matters into one’s own hands.
God promised that Jeroboam would reign as long as he walked in God’s ways. Promised him the world practically, but Jeroboam decided to take matters into his own hands to ensure that he remained in power doubting or discounting what God had said. In effect, Jeroboam said, “Why should you men of Ephraim be dependent for your worship on Judah? Why should your tribute, why should your taxes, why should your tithes go to support their temple? Let’s have a place of our own right here.” And for you and me today, it’s not a lot different because we need to trust in the word of God and His promises and follow the way He said to walk and forsake the counsel of men when it goes against Scripture.
We must not take matters into our own hands and deal with the problem ourselves just because the people who are responsible for dealing with it have failed to do so. Well, just because we think maybe we’ll do it better. In society, this could be very dangerous. We should not go after a criminal ourselves because we feel the police are not doing their job, get you in trouble real fast. But we should not spread news about a fellow church member’s sins because the pastor is not handling it correctly. We should not take it upon ourselves to police iniquities of our ministry and send emails to prove it or take it upon our self to show others how they should be doing their parenting.
There is a lot of modern day applications to where we think we should just get involved, stick our nose in. Reminds me of Romans 12:19 Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.
American King James Version×. If you want to turn there, you can. I’ll read it to you. Romans 12:19 Romans 12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.
American King James Version×, Paul told the Romans “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” There are some things that God needs to fix. And Philippians 4:6 Philippians 4:6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
American King James Version×, Philippians 4:6 Philippians 4:6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
American King James Version×, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God.” Take it to God. There are some things that only God can correct if those people responsible for fixing it are acting recklessly. So to a brief point, but don’t be appealed to take matters into your own hands if it’s not your place to do so.
This leads us on to number two. It was an appeal to self-importance. It was an appeal to self-importance. God had commanded that His people must keep certain Feasts on certain days, yet we find Jeroboam changing those dates. And the Levites were the ones who offered the sacrifices and burned the incense and Jeroboam changed that too. After all, he was in charge, wasn’t he? “I can make some new rules. Surely wouldn’t want the people to have to go all the way to Jerusalem!”
Let’s turn to 2 Chronicles 11. It’s a bit more about this story. 2 Chronicles 11:13-15 2 Chronicles 11:13-15 13 And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office to the LORD:
15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.
American King James Version×. 2 Chronicles 11:13 2 Chronicles 11:13And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
American King James Version×we read, “And from all their territories the priests and the Levites who were in all of Israel took their stand with him.” Rehoboam, so the Levites, even the ones living up in the northern 10 tribes, decided that they should be giving their allegiance to Rehoboam.
Verse 14, “For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the Lord.” So Jeroboam kicked the Levites out. And Verse 15, “He appointed for himself priests for the high places, priests for the demons, priests for the calf idols which he had made.” He met with his own pagan priesthood. The Levites fled back to Jerusalem where they’ll be able to continue in their service.
As we all know, the worshiping of idols is forbidden, that’s pretty obvious. It’s like demon worship, we read here. “And in all these sins and more did Jeroboam follow.” And today, it’s the same. Man does what he pleases, this world does what it pleases, and ignores what the word of God says. It’s rejecting what God has said for personal indulgence and often personal convenience, like keeping the Feast in August. Kids don’t have to get out of school, it’s a lot more convenient. And Jeroboam really had a sense of self-importance, an exaggerated sense of his power and his own value and importance.
Reminds me of the praying Pharisee in Luke 18:10-12 Luke 18:10-12 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
American King James Version×. Luke 18:10 Luke 18:10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
American King James Version×we read, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other” one, what was considered a horrible “tax collector. So the Pharisee stood up and “it says, “he prayed with himself,” basically, “God, I thank you that I’m not like other men — extortioners like that tax collector, unjust, adulterers.” He said, “I fast twice a week, not just on the Day of Atonement, I fast twice every week. And I give tithes of all that I possess and give extra money to the building funds. I’m extra good.” The Pharisee felt very self-important, didn’t he, in that story?
Then God said, “I don’t even know him.” Here are some top comebacks found online for people who have an inflated sense of self-importance, like Jeroboam perhaps. “I’m pretty sure the earth revolves around the sun, not you.” “Congratulations on your uncanny ability to take something that is not at all about you and make it all about you.” Here is another one, “You might want to get over yourself. Everyone else has.” “If you were as important as you think you are, you would be a lot quieter.” And “You need a big flag on the hood of your car with H.B. on it for Humongous Bighead.” That’s actually from a Harry Potter book, I found that one. Hadn’t read the book, but saw the quote. Here is T.S. Eliot from The Cocktail Party , “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important.” And then, of course, it goes all wrong, doesn’t it?
Turn to Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×and read this reminder, once again from the apostle Paul this time to the Ephesians in his letter to them. In Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×we’re reminded, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” What God has offered for us: salvation, eternal life, His mercy, and forgiveness is not because of anything we’ve done, it’s because of His grace. So don’t get the bighead because you understand the truth. Don’t get the humongous bighead because you know things that others don’t about God’s plan of salvation, because it’s only through the grace of God. It’s not because of anything you’ve done.
In the book, The Beautiful and the Damned , F. Scott Fitzgerald said of a person that he was describing, “He thinks himself rather an exceptional young man. He thinks of himself thoroughly sophisticated, well adjusted to his environment, and somewhat more significant than anyone else he knows.” That’s getting the bighead.
Let me read to you from Isaiah 14:13-14 Isaiah 14:13-14 13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
American King James Version×. Isaiah 14:13 Isaiah 14:13For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
American King James Version×we read, “For you, Lucifer, have said in your heart” ‘I’ll ascend into heaven, I’ll exalt my throne above the throne of God; I’ll also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest side to the north; I’ll ascend above the heights of the clouds, and I’ll be like God.’” That’s the most humongous of bigheads of self-importance was from Lucifer. We’ve got to be very careful of the sin of self-importance which got to Jeroboam.
I do have one quote here that I just heard this past week. It was said by Darth Vader in the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Imperial Director Krennic had come to Darth Vader to tell him what a great job he himself had been doing. And Darth Vader looked at director Krennic and said, “Be careful not to choke on your own aspirations.” I thought it was a great quote. “Be careful,” said Darth Vader, “not to choke on your own aspirations.” So point two, don’t be appealed to self-importance. As we read in Isaiah 14, it’s of the devil.
Number three, it was an appeal to former memories, it was an appeal to former memories. There are some fascinating conclusions and thoughts we can make from this point. Jeroboam made Shechem his capital, a place associated with Abraham and Jacob. Such a religious sounding place with great history. He erected one of the calves at Bethel, what does Bethel mean? House of God, that town was called the “house of God,” great place to put a golden idol. It was a holy place there on the borders of Benjamin and Ephraim. No doubt, his design was to appease those who were proud of past history and former memories, the good old days.
Remember what we read in 1 Kings 12:28 1 Kings 12:28Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
American King James Version×, “The king asked advice,” and got bad advice back, “made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “Here are your God’s, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” So say the people, “Perhaps it really was the golden calves that saved us on our way out of Egypt. Take us back to the garlic and the onions.” Do we sometimes entertain the thought of going back to Egypt ourselves? Going back to our past life, dabbling just a bit in past religious traditions? It reminds me of syncretism. Syncretism is “the combining of different beliefs especially in theology and the mythology of religion, asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths.”
An inclusive approach, blending a bit of this, a bit of that. “There is no harm, we can all get along. There are many ways to, you know, the kingdom. All religions are equal,” we’ve heard said. It’s syncretism when you start to blend these together, an inclusive approach. But salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given by men, given to men, by which we must be saved than Jesus Christ. That’s in Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
American King James Version×, there is only one path to salvation, not many. We can’t start blending different beliefs like Jeroboam did.
John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×, “Jesus replied, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
American King James Version×, so there is only one way to salvation. You can’t start blending different beliefs and stuff from Egypt, stuff from whatever today. Today, we find Christianity blending biblical teachings with the unbiblical and pagan customs of Christmas, Saturnalia, Easter, Valentines, and New Year celebrations. It’s a syncretism of old and new, pagan and biblical. It’s like the golden calves today, an appeal to former memories.
Let me read to you some excerpts from the Vancouver Sun . It’s an article by Randy Shore from December 26th which was I guess the day after Christmas in 2008. And he wrote a piece which is a little bit humorous called, “Pagan Party: New Year’s traditions that hail from the depths of antiquity.” New Year’s traditions that hail from the depths of antiquity. Let me read you a couple of excerpts from it. He says, “If your head really hurts on New Year’s Day, you could point your finger at the Babylonians who started this New Year revelry nonsense. Though the ancient Romans added the idea of alcoholic excess, or at least perfected it.” So he says the Babylonians and the Romans took it on, this whole New Year’s idea, perfected the whole idea of excess and alcohol.
He continues, “Julius Caesar fixed the start of the year on January 1 by letting the previous year run to 445 days rather than the traditional 365.” You wonder why? He says, “The Roman citizenry made their winter festival Saturnalia a celebration without rules. So, let’s blame the Romans.” So what he’s saying is that New Year celebrations are based on pagan Saturnalia idol worship. They even changed the date of their New Year to match. That’s what Julius Caesar did. He says, “Any way you slice it, New Year’s is among the very oldest and most persistent of human celebrations. The western world celebrates the new year on January 1, in the early weeks of winter, which is about as sensible as a wooden fireplace.”
As you know, God’s calendar begins in the spring, right? He says, “The Catholic church has at times banned revelry around the new year, ignored it through the middle ages and even tried to schedule its own holiday to replace it with the rather unappetizing Feast of Christ’s Circumcision.” But he says, “At the stroke of Midnight, as the old year passes into the new, only one tradition is left: the kiss.” He says, “Thank the Romans again. They loved kissing and incorporated it into their Solstice and Saturnalia celebrations. Thus kissing as a New Year’s Eve tradition persists today in most of their empire, and as a result, it has spread throughout the new world.” It’s the end of my quote there from him, from Randy Shore.
So yes, New Year’s celebrations are a throwback to Solstice and Saturnalia pagan god celebrations filled with sin and excess. And as we look today, we’d have to say, not much has changed. In many respects, it may have even got worse, in some areas. So this point we’re discussing is an appeal to former memories. And here is one of the biggest deceptions and throwbacks to an appeal to former memories and former traditions, that of the depiction of Jesus that we see in art today. There is an article in the BBC Magazine from last year December 24th, day before Christmas. December 24th, 2015 by Joan Taylor titled, “What Did Jesus Really Look Like?”
Joan Taylor is professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London, and she’s the author of the The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea her book. Here is what she says, just some excerpts from this long piece she wrote about, what did Jesus really look like? She says, “Everyone knows what Jesus looks like. He’s the most painted figure in all of Western art, recognized everywhere as having long hair and a beard, a long robe with long sleeves (often white) and a mantle (often blue). Jesus is so familiar that he can be recognized on pancakes or pieces of toast. But did he really look like this?” She says, “Probably not.” In fact, we would add, definitely not, right?
And she says as I skip down a bit further, “In fact this familiar image of Jesus actually comes from the Byzantine era from the 4th Century onwards, and Byzantine representations of Jesus were symbolic - they were all about meaning, not historical accuracy. They were based on the image of an enthroned emperor.” So she’s saying these were not actual representations that got painted. They were based on symbolism. And she says that based on the image of enthroned emperor. Because of course, we wanted Jesus to be king, right? To look kingly in these paintings.
She says, “Jesus is dressed in a gold toga. He is the heavenly ruler of all the world, familiar from the famous statue of long-haired and bearded Olympian Zeus on a throne…” Now, if you’ve been to Greece and seen statues of Zeus, guess what they look like? The outlook of Jesus today. She says, “Byzantine artists, looking to show Christ’s heavenly rule as cosmic King, invented him as a younger version of Zeus. What has happened over time is that this visualization of heavenly Christ - today sometimes remade along hippie lines - has become our standard model of the early Jesus.” But she’s saying, “No they’re actually just modern representations of an idol, Zeus, in Greek mythology.”
She says, by contrast, she says, “When early Christians were not showing Christ as heavenly ruler, they showed Jesus” in artwork “as an actual man like any other: beardless and short-haired.” So there is some early artwork in the first couple of centuries that show Jesus without a beard and with short hair. She says, “In the 1st Century Graeco-Roman world, being clean-shaven and short-haired was considered absolutely essential.” And later on, “A beard was not distinctive of being a Jew in antiquity. In fact, one of the problems for oppressors of Jews at different times was identifying them when they looked like everyone else” in the empire. Jews looked just like the rest of the population of Greeks and Romans and everybody else. Hard to even pick them out of a crowd. Remember Jesus was hard to pick out of a crowd, remember that?
So Joan Taylor then goes on in the article to show that even the white robes and other pieces of clothing that we see in artistic depictions of Jesus are not what he would have worn. They were actually what those Greek and Roman kings wore from times way past. They’re trying to make Him look like a kingly ruler. No other man of Jesus’ day wore clothes like that. In fact, Joan Taylor goes on to point out that He would have been accused of being a transvestite if He did so. That was not what men wore, was what women wore. What a throwback to paganism that we have with us today.
So don’t be appealed to former memories, and be very wary of modern Christian traditions that are not biblical or godly, but rather full of paganism. So we mentioned New Year’s, we all know about Christmas and Easter and the rest. We’ve got little ways in our life where things start to creep in. What compromises are you making in your life that are a throwback to the past before you became converted? What are you slipping into your life that are unbiblical traditions, beliefs, and former memories promoted by the world around us? You have to think about that a little bit as you go about your day-to-day activities.
Number four, the last point, it was an appeal to deceive the people. What Jeroboam did was an appeal to deceive the people. Jeroboam pretended that it was the old worship reestablished, that God was really represented by calves. He said, “These be the gods that brought you out of the land of Egypt.” He was pointing people in another direction than to God. He gave them new laws, new commandments, new days of holy time. Appealing to gods made of metal or stone, astrology which they’re accused of, witchcraft which they’re accused of, and having people depart from the paths that God has told mankind to follow is deceitful when you just paint it with gold. Do we do this today in looking for another way than what God has said we should go? Sure there is a better way to do this, but remember the leader of this world is the master of deceit, a whole lot more deceitful than Jeroboam ever was.
Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×tells us, that Satan deceives the whole world. Satan deceives the whole world, in Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×it says, “…and he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” So who’s here right now running things? The master deceiver, until Jesus Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords, the devil has a certain amount of influence on everybody.
Let’s turn to Mathew 24. I’d like to turn to that one for a moment here. Mathew 24:23. Let’s have a look at this one here about being deceived. Mathew 24:23, talking about the end time, “If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!” or ‘There is the Christ!’ do not believe it.” Verse 24, “For false christs, and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the very elect.” Could even deceive the church members. Verse 25, “See,” He says, “be warned, I’ve told you beforehand.” We’re warned ahead of time to look out for deception, especially the deception of the elect, you and me.
But deception starts out in small almost imperceptible ways. It’s the little things that don’t seem all that big or that important to start compromising on, that we’re fretting over. Little golf on the Sabbath, we’ve heard about that before, compromising on the Holy Days, a little spiritual dabbling. Not too much at first, it seems. There is a big budget series on Netflix right now called The Crown . It’s a huge, expensive production that rivals the best of movies. It’s about the rise of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in the 1950s. It’s actually more about the meaning of the crown than Queen Elizabeth herself. And as we understand, the crown is related directly to the throne of King David which we are told would exist until the return of Christ. I believe that the British throne is that extension of David’s throne that we are told would always be here until Christ returns.
In episode seven, the queen’s private secretary cautions her against choosing a less experienced secretary as his successor. So he’s about to retire, and it’s time to choose a successor. And she wants to choose a young fellow, a buddy of hers from when she was princess. And he cautions her and says, “Don’t choose someone who may compromise on the long-lasting values and history of the crown.” And listen to this fascinating exchange between the two of them. The private secretary says, quote, he says to the queen, “There is a way of doing things here, an order developed over time and generations, and individuality in the house of Windsor, any departure from that way of doing things is not to be encouraged.” So he’s saying, don’t go back to former memories.
He says, “It results in catastrophes like the abdication.” You see, the queen’s uncle, two kings previously, had to abdicate because he wanted to marry a divorcee. In fact, she was a double divorcee which is against scripture and the allowances for marriage, and also against the Church of England’s doctrine as well. And the queen or the king are the head of the Church of England in Britain. So he had to abdicate because he insisted on marrying this gal, Wallis Simpson, you may have heard of her. So the king only was in power for 10 months. He actually didn’t even get coronated, he never made it to his coronation, he was king for 10 months.
So then the queen says to the secretary, “Abdicating the throne and choosing my private secretary is hardly comparing like with like.” And here is what the wise private secretary who is retiring said, he said, “I disagree. I served your uncle as you know. And it’s in the small things that the rot starts. Do the wrong thing once, and it’s easier to do it again. Do the individualistic thing once, and it’s easy to do it again. Now, in the case of your uncle, it started with wanting to use Buckingham Palace simply as the office and York House as his home. Then he stopped attending church, decided he wanted to sell Sandringham. He dismissed courtiers who had served under his father in favor of younger, sycophantic supplicants. Of course, no one saw the abdication coming then, but the ego, the willfulness, the individualism, the rot had set in.”
So you have to be very, very careful of deception getting a hold in your life. For ourselves, we don’t want the rot to set in. It’s like when the mold gets in the corner of the shower, you know, get the bleach in there and get rid of it before it takes over like the whole bathroom. Usually mold goes crazy, the rot sets in. You see, it starts with a hurt feeling or the position you wanted at church. Someone else was asked to organize the church social. You want to be noticed. Or you want it done your way, not in the way of the person in charge. “After all, I’m an individual with talents. Why can’t I carry the Passover down the aisle? Or the Passover wine down the aisle? Why can’t I be in charge of the tape library? It’s time for some new deacons around here, and who said he should be ordained anyway?”
But there is an even greater warning for us than individualistic motives of sycophantic supplicants. Don’t you love the British language when they start using all the words they know over there? Oh, I tell you. There are some words in that series The Crown that I got to get out my dictionary and say, “What on earth was that word?” It’s a very clever script. But there is a greater warning for us than our own individualistic motives. The Bible warns of a great apostasy at the end time. It’s much more than two golden calves. There is coming a huge end time appeal to deceive the people of God.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2, you may want to flip over there for a moment. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 2 Thessalonians 2:3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
American King James Version×he wrote, concerning the return of Jesus Christ to this earth, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day that the time of Christ return will not come unless the falling away comes first.” And here in 2 Thessalonians 2, he proceeds to explain this falling away in much greater detail. Paul then talks about the man of sin. He says, “Some man is going to style himself as greater than God.” Some man here on this earth in the end time is going to say I’m better than God, greater than God, he’ll pretend to be God even — God on earth. And people will believe him.” You say, “Why, I’m not going to believe that.”
Notice 2 Thessalonians verses 9 through eleven, why? “Because the people did not receive the love of the truth.” That’s how you get deceived when you don’t receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. “And then, for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.” “I’m not going to believe the lie.” How do you know? The way you know is if you love the truth, then you won’t believe the lie.
Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
American King James Version×, I’m not going to turn there. But Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
American King James Version×describes this powerful religious leader as the false prophet, working with a political leader called the beast. And Daniel 7 even says that this false prophet and this beast “will persecute the saints of the Most High,” will persecute the true people of God in the end time. And says that “he shall intend,” says in Daniel 7 “to change times and law.” That’s what Jeroboam did, isn’t it? Change times and law. And of course, we’ve already seen that happen throughout modern day Christianity, haven’t we? Laws have been changed, commandments have been changed, holy time has been changed. A whole bunch has been changed, and more than a billion people say, “Sounds good to me.” But the saints of the most high will be persecuted for their beliefs. Remember Jeroboam changed Feast days, and laws, and commandments of God.
So in contrast to the deception of the people of Israel by King Jeroboam, an end time deception is going to be so, so much greater. There will be an end time appeal to deceive the people of God if they do not love the truth. Paul says to the Thessalonians, “You have to love the truth to not be deceived.” In Jeroboam’s time, it was an appeal to deceive the people, and is coming back, but in a much greater way in our world in the end time.
Let’s wrap it up right now. All four of these points from the life of Jeroboam are very appealing to people. And looking at the Scriptures and his story, we come to conclusions as to what the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat were, but also start to think about how we might practice the same sins today. It was an appeal to take matters into one’s own hands. It was an appeal to self-importance. It was an appeal to former memories and beliefs, and it was an appeal to deceive the people, and each of them can be very appealing to us. You and I must stay pure in a society that mixes truth and error, that encourages religious syncretism. How easy it is to be sucked in at different levels by persuasive arguments that are appealing to our human nature. So as the apostle Paul said, “Don’t believe the lie, love the truth.”