And Jeroboam said in his heart, “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, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.” Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense. (1 Kings 12:26-33)
A Religion Of Convenience
Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel divided north and south under the leadership of Rehoboam, son of Solomon and Jeroboam, son of Nebat. The history of the northern tribes would be marred by the leadership of every king rebelling against the Lord. Judah and Benjamin would have periods of good kings and bad kings. What set the northern tribes on their collision course with annihilation was the foundation of worship by Jeroboam. The Law of Moses had been established for many years as the single authority of truth among the people of God. There was no question the word of the Lord came to Moses at Mount Sinai giving Him the Law. During the journey to Canaan, subsequent conquering of the land and periods of Judges and reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, the Law of Moses was understood as the only message of truth for the people to follow. However, Jeroboam had a problem. If he did not take drastic measures, he would lose his grip on the hearts of the people. His solution came directly from the beguiling lips of Satan.
The king did not change the word of God but simply made it more convenient. He convinced the people that travel to Jerusalem was too much and they should worship in a much more expedient place. It was unfair for the Lord to expect the people to make such an arduous trip just to offer some sacrifices and say some prayers. Think of the time they would save for themselves by not having to make that long journey south. Appealing to the scriptures, the king reminds them of the worship of the golden calf at Sinai, suggesting like Aaron, these golden calves were responsible for delivering the people from Egypt. Sadly, the people readily accepted the lie.
To further solidify his hold on the people, Jeroboam allowed anyone who wanted to be a priest to become one. Why be bound by the Law allowing only those from the tribe of Levi to serve as priest? Every class of the people would be allowed to don the priestly garbs. It was also necessary to change the time of the feast. Instead of the feast being on the 15th day of the 7th month as prescribed in the Law of Moses, Jeroboam set up the feast on the 15th day of the 8th month. The king became a symbol of the wickedness of this new religion by making sacrifices himself on the altar. There is nothing more appealing than a religion of convenience. The scriptures affirm all of these changes came as a result of what Jeroboam devised in his own heart.
False religion comes in the same fashion as Jeroboam’s reform. The church of God began on Pentecost two thousand years ago. Now, there are many churches filling the landscape of the country with their different forms of faith, worship and practice. Men have a desire to worship God as they want and change the word of God to fit their needs. The religion of convenience is the greatest tool Satan has used to corrupt the minds of men. It is easy for the church of the Lord to point a finger at those who have so corrupted the truth they have fallen far away from the pattern of scripture. The real truth is the religion of convenience is alive and well within the minds of God’s people today.
Church services are becoming more convenient to the needs of the people. Less time spent in worship together, less Bible being taught, more emphasis upon the pleasures of life are norm. God’s word is being challenged to form a religion of acceptance that truth is relative to the needs of the social culture of the day. Immodesty abounds in the lives of God’s children, social drinking and fornicating are not uncommon and acceptance of any divorce is expected. Musical instruments are heard blaring from the places of worship. Acceptance of women taking the role of leadership within the body of Christ is debated and accepted. For many, the church is an institution of fun, frolic and finding personal happiness.
What Jeroboam started ended with destruction. The further the church of Christ becomes an institution of convenience the farther away from truth it will slide. Thankfully, the grace of God will never allow the church to be destroyed. What will happen are the thousands of local congregations of God’s people who will assemble to offer sacrifice to the golden calf of modern American religion will become nothing but a stench of Satan’s touch. Jeroboam’s folly is the future of many of God’s people.
In every age of Christianity since it was first preached, there has been what may be called a religion of the world, which so far imitates the one true religion as to deceive the unstable and unwary. (John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, I, 1843)