Wednesday

“You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough.” (v. 28)

1 Kings 12:25-31 Wednesday 8 June 2016

Psalm: Psalm99


Background

Jeroboam's time for taking over the northern tribesof Israel arrived when Solomon died. Solomon's son, Rehoboam, triedto establish himself as King over both Israel and Judah withill-advised, heavy demands. Jeroboam returned to the land and hadlittle trouble in being installed by the ten tribes "as king overall Israel" (1 Kings 12:20). Only Judah remained inRehoboam's control.

However, Jeroboam's rebellion led Israel into adark period of its history. Was it religious fervour for Baal, ormore likely a political attempt to dissuade the northerners fromgoing to Jerusalem, that caused Jeroboam to make some importantstrategic decisions? First, he established his capital at Shechem(verse 25), not without importance for the patriarchs, but theCanaanites before Abraham had cult shrines at Shechem. Secondly,Jeroboam made two gold calves and altars in Dan (in the extremenorth) and Bethel (11 miles north of Jerusalem, on the pilgrimroute) (verse 29) so that the people could worship these images,without needing to go to all the way to Jerusalem.  All imageswere of course forbidden by the law of Moses. Political andreligious rebellions were reinforcing one another.

Who might redeem such a situation? In chapter 13, a "man of God" from Judah confrontsJeroboam at the altar in Bethel. The reader is thus introduced tothe prophets, the only people who seem either able or willing tostand up for God's laws, whilst a succession of kings drifts awayfrom the God of Israel.

For Christians redemption truly comes with thecoming of Jesus, although this happened 900 years after the eventsin 1 Kings. In the Gospels we read that Jesus acknowledged the needfor political rulers, but kept emphasising for all groups andindividuals the importance ofGodly behaviour such as personalintegrity, lack of hypocrisy, care for the disadvantaged, a senseof justice for all. Underpinned by belief in a compassionate God,Jesus summed up the way to redemption as, 'Love God with your wholebeing, and love your fellow human beings as much as you loveyourself'(paraphrasing Luke10:27). It remains the Christian blueprint.


To Ponder

  • Can politics and religion ever completely mix? Or does onenecessarily inform/influence the other? Why? Or how?
  • Which political leaders in the world today do you feel calledto pray for? Take a moment to pray for them today.


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