And the king (Jeroboam I of Israel) 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, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! And he set the one in Bethel, and he put the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan. And he made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordered a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah. And he offered on the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 1 Kings 12:28-32
Through the blessing of Facebook we were able to locate and fellowship with two sets of friends in the Kansas City, MO area, We also met and talked with some Facebook friends we have never met in person in the Denver, CO area. One issue that has come up repeatedly this year, and also came up several times within the last week, is the state or condition of Christianity in America.
I believe that the church in America, as a whole, is worshiping the golden calf instead of the Lamb of God. When we think of the golden calf, we usually think of the one Aaron made while Moses was on Mount Sinai. Moses destroyed that one immediately after it was made, but the two golden calves of Jeroboam I existed until the Northern Kingdom was taken into captivity by the Assyrians.
Our daughter graciously obtained for us tickets for a Voice of the Martyrs conference in Tulsa, OK. We were grateful for the opportunity and also attended the services of the host church the next day. The Sunday School lesson was on children honoring their parents. The question we spent the entire time on was, at what point does this honoring stop? Most members of the class were our age and in our position; having elderly parents who needed to be cared for and adult children raising their own families. Many good points were made and we were thankful for the lesson.
But the Pastor’s sermon was, at least in our minds, just the opposite. He used Psalm 33 as a text and emphasized music being loud. He said that teenagers today would only sing and listen to CCM. (By the way, how is a style that is over 50 years old “contemporary?”) But the important point, in our minds, was the insistence on changing the worship service to give the least mature people in the church, the youth group, the authority to dictate the type of worship. The congregational singing, except for 2 verses of “How Great Thou Art”, was both difficult to sing and unfamiliar. From the number of mistakes the choir made, it seemed to be too difficult or perhaps unfamiliar to them also.
The church has two thousand years of tradition in music, proper attire, attitude, and conduct during a worship service. Yet in church after church, it is all being set aside to “reach more people.”
Part of that desire to “reach more people” is a true, genuine love that longs to reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But part of that desire is to pay bills when the church is not making its budget. Has your church reached the point where you have enough people to pay the bills but have abandoned a clear presentation of the Word of God?
Before he made these golden calves, Jeroboam I took counsel. “And the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold..” Do we not hear that before anyone commits a great sin and rebels against the Lord that he “takes counsel?” Sometimes it might be a proclamation of a fast, as Jezebel did before producing false witnesses to destroy Nabal and get his vineyard for King Ahab. Sometimes it might be an annual denominational conference, but rarely do people rebel against the Lord without some kind of support from others. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were supported by 250 other Israelites when they opposed Moses.
First, Jeroboam I lied. “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Behold your gods, O, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” Decades earlier, when Solomon turned from the Lord, God prophesied to Jeroboam I through the prophet Ahijah from Shiloh that he, Jeroboam, would be king. Yet as soon as he was firmly established as king, he set up the golden calves. Jeroboam was eager to tell his companions when he was anointed king, when they implied he was lying about what had been said to him. But by the time he truly became king, honesty was no longer important to Jeroboam I. Jeroboam I was afraid that if the people of the land continued going to the required feasts in Jerusalem, they would turn from him. He displayed no confidence at all in the Lord’s promise through Ahijah that he would be king.
So he appealed to human laziness and lust. It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. False religion, apostasy, and rebellion against the Word of the Lord, are always the easy choices, at least at first. 500 years ago men and women prayed and searched the Scriptures for both the proper way to worship and the proper way to live their lives. Today, Christian churches have little or no emphasis on obeying the Word of God in lifestyle or worship. The message is on doing what is comfortable and easy to “grow” a big church.
The next action Jeroboam I took was to place these idols at the borders of his kingdom for “ease of access.” This was in keeping with the rest of his policy of lies to make his false religion easier.
Jeroboam I also modeled his idols after the idols of the nations around them. The Egyptians worshiped the Apis Bull. The Sidonians worshiped Baal. The Philistines worshiped Dagon. This new worship style “fit in.”
None of this would have worked except for the removal from office of those who knew and understood the Law and replacing them with people willing to “go along” or “follow orders.” Of course this meant new houses of worship, all at the state’s expense. These new state schools became very effective indoctrination centers. And he made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, who were not the sons of Levi.
Once the entire false worship system was set up, false feasts, worship services, were set up to run counter the true worship of the Lord in Jerusalem. Americans have been assaulted by a variety of Jeroboam policies from the federal government for well over a hundred years.
What is relatively new, at least only a few decades old, is that the golden calves are no longer just the state schools. Now the idols and the false worship are inside the Church. Men willing to stand for the principles of the Word of God have been removed and churches are led by men who worship in the “new style.”
Except, as Solomon said, “Is there a thing of which it may be said, See, this is new? It has already been in days of old, which were before us.” Ecclesiastes 1:10
“For in much wisdom is much grief; and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:18
Image Credit Wikimedia Commons US Public Domain Jeroboam sets up two golden calves, from the Bible Historiale. Den Haag, MMW, 10 B 23 165r Date 1372