Today: [1 Kings Chapter Fourteen]: Exchanging God’s Gold for Brass. In this chapter God speaks through the prophet Ahijah against the idolatry of the Northern Tribes. It is predicted they will go into captivity because of pagan practices. In Judah as well pagan rites have taken hold. Because of this the king of Egypt wars against Judah and takes the shields of Gold from the house of God. Gold represents the divine nature of God. Rehoboam replaces them with Brass a symbol of judgmentalism. When we have idols in our heart we exchange the presence of God for religious judgmentalism. The answer to breaking the outward threats against us is a return to simplicity before God.
[1Ki 14:1-31 KJV] 1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. 2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there [is] Ahijah the prophet, which told me that [I should be] king over this people. 3 And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child. 4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age. 5 And the LORD said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he [is] sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself [to be] another [woman]. 6 And it was [so], when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself [to be] another? for I [am] sent to thee [with] heavy [tidings]. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, 8 And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and [yet] thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do [that] only [which was] right in mine eyes; 9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: 10 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, [and] him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
After the death of Solomon his son Rehoboam reigned in his place. Because of Solomon’s idolatry the Lord purposed to take the Northern Tribes from the line of David. Jeroboam was the son of one of Solomon’s servants. He was approached by a prophet who prophesied by the word of the Lord that he would lead an insurrection against the line of David and become king over the Northern Tribes. Jeroboam however was not willing to allow the Northern Tribes to go to Jerusalem to worship. Therefore he erected an altar in Bethel and installed a golden calf for the people to pay homage to. Because of this the jealousy of the Lord burned for the people and king Jeroboam’s house was punished. Jeroboam’s son Abijah became ill and Jeroboam sent his wife to a Judean prophet to find out “what will become of the boy…”
Names in the scripture are very meaningful. The child’s name was Abijah which means “God is my father…” Jeroboam no doubt named the child this when he was sincere in heart toward the Lord but now he has turned to idolatry. What is an idol? In 1 John 5:21 John exhorts a fine Christian family “…keep yourselves from idols…” This stood out to me because the people John describes that his letter was written to were very devout believers. It wasn’t conceivable that they were actually tempted to go and bow down in a nearby pagan temple. The Lord spoke about this to me. He said “idolatry proposes the dwelling place of God to be somewhere other than the human heart…” He further clarified: “Idolatry is any outward dependence that takes the place of inward reliance upon who I AM in the heart of an indivual…” In other words idolatry is looking to man for what you should be looking to God for. God wants us to anchor our sense of self and well being in who He is in our life and not any outward or contrary circumstance, relationship or dependence. I remember as a pastor the major shift in my life and ministry when I became willing to help people become more dependent upon who God was in their life than in who I supposed He was in the church. Finding our security in Christian culture or religious infrastructure is no substitute for the living reliance upon who God is in your own heart. Jesus in Luke 17:20,21 said this emphatically when He declared – “the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU…”
King Jeroboam was raised up from the servant class to be king over the Northern Tribes of Israel. Yet out of fear and insecurity he raised up an outward dependency – a golden calf who harked back to the golden calf the people cavorted naked before while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Decalogue – the ten commandments. What was the result? His son – a symbol of his prior dependence on God as his father becomes deathly ill. Jeroboam’s wife goes to the prophet who initially prophesied that he would be king. Though the prophet Ahijah was blind in old age he got it by word of knowledge that she would be coming and called her name out before she came in the door. Notice also that Jerboam’s wife did not come before the prophet empty handed. The prophet receives her gift but still can only tell her what God gives him. The child will not live. Is this God’s fault? No the problem arises from choices that Jeroboam made in spite of God’s determination to bless him and make him a king.
11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken [it]. 12 Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: [and] when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found [some] good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. 14 Moreover the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now. 15 For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. 16 And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin. 17 And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: [and] when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died; 18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet. 19 And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they [are] written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. 20 And the days which Jeroboam reigned [were] two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.
In his prophecy to Jeroboam’s wife Ahijah gives a long range prophecy that the Northern Tribes will eventually be carried away captive to Babylon. Solomon led the people into idolatry – even worshipping Chemosh the Destroyer on the Mount of Olives itself. Jeroboam erects the Golden Calf at Bethel – the house of God and all the people following this example turn to rampant idol worship. As leaders we can bemoan the sinfulness of God’s people but the prophet Ahijah points out that the accountability first lay with the leaders who exempted themselves from God’s requirements and set an example of laxity and excess before the people. Verse 16 says that because of the sins of Jeroboam (the leader) the people would be given up. So we must look first at ourselves as leaders and those called to set an example before we point the bony finger of judgment at a sinful world or a sinful church.
21 And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam [was] forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name [was] Naamah an Ammonitess. 22 And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. 23 For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. 24 And there were also sodomites in the land: [and] they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. 25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, [that] Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: 26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. 27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed [them] unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house. 28 And it was [so], when the king went into the house of the LORD, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber. 29 Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 30 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all [their] days. 31 And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And his mother’s name [was] Naamah an Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.
Rehoboam was born one year before Solomon became king. He was only half Jewish being born of an Ammonite mother. This is interesting because in Jesus’ day Herod hoped to be accepted as king over Israel but was rejected because his mother was a Gentile. Herod appealed to Rome and was made governor and king by force however he was also a student of scripture – he knew that Rehoboam, Solomon’s successor was a half-Jew even as he was. So we see how Solomon’s weakness for foreign wives created a thread of controversy right down to Jesus day, even to the day that he stood before Herod prior to his crucifixion. Solomon made hedonistic choices and those choices had generational consequences on a scale that can only be measured by the value of the life of Jesus Himself when He stood condemned before the king who claimed his authority on the basis of Solomon’s sinful character.
Rehoboam allowed idolatry to persist in the land and eventually even the sin of Sodom because a part of the social landscape of Jerusalem itself. To clarify the word sodomite here is not an unambiguous reference to homosexuality. The word sodomite comes from the Hebrew word “qades”. The root word of “qades” is defined in the Hebrew as “that which is sacred”. Most of us would find that confusing? In short qades is the Hebrew term for a male person who would have served as a temple prostitute either in heterosexual or homosexual acts. This widens the scope for us of what a biblical understanding of “sodomite” is. Remember that when Lot tried to dissuade the men of Sodom from sexually molesting the angels that came to his house that he offered his own daughters. He knew these men, they were his neighbors. He would have understood that though they wanted to sexually assault the angels masquerading as men they would also normally been just as willing to do so with his daughters. So sodomy from a purely biblical standpoint describes the sexualization of a group of people to the point that it is a focus even in places of worship. Think about this for a moment. It has been said that “sex sells”. Does this hold true even in Christian culture? When is the last time you saw thousands of people standing and cheering in front of a sexually unattractive Christian musician? Something we must think about when we realize that when sexualization invades and influences even our culture of worship we are vulnerable to what the bible defines as sodomy.
Because of these choices the nation becomes vulnerable and the king of Egypt wages war against Judah. So the people became corrupt in sexualized, idolatrous worship and were invaded by nations east of the Sinai. Is that not what we see in the encroachment of Islam today against the west? Does this mean that Islam is righteous? No of course not. Homosexuality and brutal practices of sex trafficking are rampant in Islamic countries. As a result of their own guilt their hatred of the openly sexualized cultures of the west is unbridled and murderous. What is the answer? Solomon’s hedonism and idol worship caused the people to be divided and eventually taken captive to other lands. We must identify not the outward threat but the inward flaw that has made us vulnerable. It is an error to look outwardly pointing the finger of accusation when it is inward sinfulness as a nation and as individuals that ultimately makes a people captive to unforeseen consequences and outward judgments.
Lastly we see that Egypt took the golden shields out of the temple. Rehoboam in embarrassment replaces them with shields made of brass. Gold represents the divine nature, the nature of God. These shields were in the temple. God has placed his divine nature in us. Egypt is a type of the world who took from the temple (which we are) that which represents the divine nature of God. Sin always robs us of God’s character and presence in our lives. How do we know this has happened? When we replace gold with brass. Brass represents judgment and judgmentalism. Remember that shields are for protection. Rather than finding protection in the nature of God manifest in our lives we turn to judgmentalism and finger pointing as a defense mechanism against that which threatens us. This is a vain defense. The only answer is a return to the simplicity of the faith and identifying and rejecting the idols in our lives.
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