June 6, 2011 by Chris French
During Solomon’s reign he forced the 12 tribes of Israel in manual labor to build the temple. Each tribe had to work a set number of month on the temple then they could go home and return to their lives. Solomon also raised the taxes. So by the time Solomon dies the people are tired. When Reheboam, Solomon’s son, takes the throne they want him to cut down on how much they’re paying. He eventually refuses and the 12 tribes split. 10 go with Jerobaom to the north and 2 stay with Rehoboam in Jerusalem.
This article is all about Jeroboam because, well he’s interesting! Solomon put him in charge of all the slaves from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (I Kings 11.28). Jerobaom was from the tribe of Ephraim himself, but more interesting than anything is the fact that God has promised the 10 tribes to Jeroboam before Rehobaom takes the throne. You can read about the interesting way a prophet of God conveyed His message about the kingdom to Jerobaom at I Kings 11.29-39. Solomon hears about God’s promise to Jeroboam and tries to kill him, but Jeroboam runs to Egypt (I Kings 11.40). When Solomon dies Jeroboam returns just in time to listen as Rehoboam raises the taxes. Ten of the tribes do indeed split off and go with Jeroboam to the north (I Kings 12.16, 20). God promised that if Jeroboam followed him God would set up a dynasty for Jeroboam just like He had for David. Jeroboam had his mind on other things though, namely himself. He set up idols at Dan & Beersheba, the northern and southern ends of his new kingdom. He told the people to worship those idols. They were the ones that brought them out of Egypt and not Yahweh. This practice would continue for another 200 years and 20 more kings. In fact it would continue until the northern 10 tribes, called Ephraim from here on out in Scripture, were made to stop because of exile! The main thrust of this article is about Jeroboam’s influence so we’ll look at some of the kings who followed him and how they matched up to God’s standard.
Jeroboam did have a son. His name was Nadab. It’s almost unimaginable that anyone would name their son Nadab after the Leviticus 10 incident, but that was his name. Anyhow he walked in all the sins of his father until he died (I Kings 15.25-26). The man who killed him, and all the rest of Jeroboam’s line, Baasha, became king. He was king for 24 years. He too walked in the sins of Jeroboam until he died (I Kings 15.33-34). His son Elah took the throne after him. He only reigned 2 years. Scripture never explicitly says he followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps, but he died because he was drunk. The guy who commanded half his chariots, Zimri, killed him and wiped out his entire line (I Kings 16.9). Zimri takes the throne, but doesn’t even last as long as Elah. Zimri only lasts 7 days! Israel makes Omri, the commander of the army, king and he goes after Zimri who shuts himself up in the king’s palace and burns it down around himself (I Kings 16.18-19). Omri did follow Jeroboam in his sins (I Kings 16.25-26) as did Ahab, Omri’s son (I Kings 16.30-31). This is the famed Ahab that Elijah had to deal with.
I’m not sure if you caught it or not, but Jeroboam set the standard and all the kings who followed him met his standard! He didn’t make those kings follow his sins. He didn’t make a decree that every king after him should worship idols and follow the cult practices. He just started doing it and the others followed!
You’re a lot like Jeroboam in that respect. You set the standard and the people around you live up to that standard. Parents set the standard for how holy their children will be. Do you come to church regularly? Are you always studying your Bible? Do you MAKE time to meditate on God’s Word? You set the standard! It’s not just parents though. We all set the standard for what’s appropriate around us. If you openly disapprove of someone’s profanity or actions they most likely won’t do those actions around you. How do you do this though! Let’s look at how Jeroboam did it.
When he wanted to change who Israel worshipped he made a proclamation (I Kings 12.25-28). He let everyone know what appropriate actions they should take when around him. Those actions were sinful, but the point still stands! We need to make a proclamation about what kind of thoughts, actions and vocabulary are appropriate around us and don’t take anything less! What kind of reaction would Jeroboam have had if the people said, “Your new idols are stupid and I’m going back to Jerusalem”? He’d blown up all over them, right? There’s no way he stands for that! We have to be the same way. We set the standard for the people around us. Let them know what is appropriate around you and don’t take anything less!
Jeroboam’s name became almost synonymous with sin. In fact, every time he is referred to in Scripture after setting up the idols he is called, “Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin”. Don’t let your name be synonymous with sin! Make it synonymous with being holy!