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POLITICIANS AND FALSE RELIGION
-- AUGUST 15. -- 1 KINGS 12:25-33. --
THE RELATIONSHIP OF POLITICS AND RELIGION--THE REVOLT OF THE TEN TRIBES A GREAT MISTAKE--JEROBOAM'S POLITICAL WISDOM -- GOD'S DEALINGS WITH TYPICAL ISRAEL -- THE JEWISH REMNANT IN THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH -- THE DIVINE PLAN DID NOT FAIL -- SPECIAL THOUGHTS FOR THE PEOPLE TODAY.
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image."--Exodus 20:4,5.
JEROBOAM was not a bad man in the sense
of sympathizing with viciousness and crime,
nor in the sense of wishing to bring his
people into slavery. On the contrary, he
was a man of courage and love of liberty,
who desired to deliver his people from what
he considered to be oppression in connection
with the new king Rehoboam, Solomon's
successor. Under his leadership, the
ten tribes of Israel revolted from the House
of David and established themselves as a separate kingdom,
with the avowed object of being free from the
oppressions of the kings.
In many respects this would seem to have been a
noble procedure; but it was a great mistake, as is every
move which ignores God and His arrangements. The
Divine arrangement for the nation was that its affairs
were all to be under God's care as God's kingdom, with
the family of David as God's representatives. Under
these conditions the religious interests had gradually
gathered more and more about the vicinity of the Temple
at Jerusalem. The more religious of the people liked to
be near it, especially as it was obligatory under the Law
that they should go up there to worship at least once or
twice a year.
Whatever were the good thoughts of Jeroboam respecting
the preservation of the rights and liberties of
the people, he quickly manifested the spirit of a politician.
He reasoned that the going of the people to
Jerusalem to worship yearly would mean that sooner or
later they would again be drawn back to the kings of
the line of David; and that in order to preserve his own
power he must break off the religious connections with
Jerusalem by establishing a new religious cult.
Two golden calves were prepared, the one located in
the northern part of the territory, and the other towards
the southern part, that thus the people might have the
general thought that worship and sacrifice could be performed
at one place as well as at another. Moreover,
he arranged for religious festivals, at times different by
about a month from the times of celebrations at Jerusalem.
This was skilful political wisdom of the kind
which would appeal to the majority of rulers not deeply
imbued with faith in God. Alas, it seems too true that
much of the religion of the masses is but a form of
godliness anyway! That King Jeroboam was not very
different from the people whom he ruled is manifest by
the fact that they readily fell in with his plan, and that
it was successful.
WERE GOD'S PLANS DEFEATED?
Many might be inclined to say that God's plans were
thus defeated by an ordinary man; but the Scriptures
show us that the very opposite was the case--that God's
plans were forwarded by this opposition of Jeroboam.
Let us see what God's Plan is.
God accepted Israel as the typical people of His favor.
He had made the Promise to Abraham that through his
posterity ultimately all the world should be blessed, which
[R5732 : page 221] implied great exaltation to Abraham's posterity of the
line of Isaac. Four hundred years elapsed before any
movement was made in this direction. By that time
Israel was numerous and in bondage in Egypt, and God
sent word to them through Moses that if they were so
minded He was ready to fulfil to them the Promise made
They rejoiced greatly and followed Moses to Mount
Sinai, where the Lord entered into a covenant with them,
that if they would keep His Law perfectly He would
give them everlasting life and qualify them to be the
Seed of Abraham who would inherit the promise of
qualification for blessing the world. They entered the
covenant, but like all imperfect men were unable to keep
the Law--unworthy therefore of everlasting life, and of
being the favored Seed of Abraham to bless others.
Later on, when they were discouraged, God promised
to send them Messiah, whose Kingdom would bless them
and afford them an opportunity of sharing in the Promise
made to Abraham. God's dealings with Israel, therefore,
were of a typical character. Their Atonement Day, their
Law, their mediator, their sacrifices, all typified better
sacrifices, etc., under a better Mediator, Christ. The
entire dealing of God with Israel was with a view to
raising them up out of their fallen condition to as high
a standard as possible for them, that thus they might be
prepared, when Messiah would come, to be associated with
Him in His Kingdom, as His Bride class. Let us see
how this fits in with God's dealings in this lesson:
The deflection of Jeroboam and the majority of the
nation had the effect of separating from the ten tribes,
and of driving into the territory of the two tribes, the
most faithful and loyal of the Israelites. To these the
idolatries established by Jeroboam were properly repulsive.
They were willing to forsake their earthly interests.
They refused the opportunities of the politician,
remained loyal to God and His institutions, and were
thus at a disadvantage. This continued for years, until
in God's providence the ten tribes went into captivity to
Babylon, at which time more and more of the people
gravitated towards the territory of Judah and Benjamin,
known as the kingdom of Judah. Later on, God overthrew
the kingdom of Judah, and allowed those people
also to go into Babylonian captivity; but they preserved
in large measure their religious sentiments and interests
while in the land of Babylon.
THE RETURN FROM BABYLON
Later, when the Lord delivered the people from
Babylon through the instrumentality of King Cyrus, matters
had so changed that there were only a few who
considered it advantageous to return to Palestine. The
great mass of the ten-tribe kingdom had become thoroughly
incorporated with the Gentiles, and no longer
professed the religion of their fathers or had faith in the
Promise made to Abraham. Many of the Judean captivity
similarly lost faith and became Gentiles. As a
matter of fact, only about 50,000 altogether returned to
Palestine; and they represented the faithful, who trusted
in God and sacrificed all Babylonian advantages and
privileges, coming back to a desolate land and the city
These became the nucleus of a new people, who, in
the days of Jesus, were in wonderful readiness for Him,
as compared with the remainder of mankind. In a very
few years approximately 25,000 accepted Christ, with a
full consecration unto death, as His footstep followers.
The remainder of the nation being then cast off from
special favor, the door was opened to the Gentiles, that
they might hear the Gospel Message and become fellow-heirs
of the same Body, or company, with these 25,000
consecrated of Israel, representatives of all the tribes.
If we lacked evidence of the value of the Divine dealing
[R5733 : page 221] with the nation of Israel in preparing them to accept
Messiah, we see it in the fact that so many were ready
to receive Him in so comparatively short a time; whereas
it has required 1,800 years to gather from all the other
nations of the world the remainder of the elect company,
the total of which, according to the Scriptures, is 144,000.
Our lesson, thus seen, indicates no failure on God's
part, but wisdom, in permitting the rebellion of Jeroboam
and the ten tribes of Israel. Surely it will eventually be
seen, as the Bible declares, that all of God's good purposes
will be accomplished; and that the word which has gone
forth out of His mouth shall not return unto Him void,
but shall accomplish that which He pleases and shall
prosper in the thing whereunto He sent it. (Isaiah 55:10,11.)
Soon the elect Church, the spiritual Seed of Abraham,
will be completed; and then God's Promise to Abraham
will begin to be fulfilled. (Galatians 3:8,16,29.)
All the families of the earth will be blessed by the
Kingdom of Christ and His Church.
"WAIT UPON THE LORD"
Modern Jeroboams may be found all along the paths
of history--men who, under guise of respect for religion,
are really politicians, seeking their own advantage, and
willing to sell the people to any religious system which
would work to their benefit. Every one familiar with
history must realize that religion has been made a cloak
for all kinds of political intrigue, and always, as in the
case of Jeroboam, under pretense of giving the people
The special thought for the people today is the one
which would have been the safe one for the ten tribes
of old; namely, to wait for the Lord to overrule their
affairs and to deliver them from the bondage of kings in
His own way. This is the Lord's message to us now.
God's people are forewarned not to use carnal weapons,
and not to trust in such weapons in the hands of others.
The trust of God's people is to be in God. They are to
realize His faithfulness and the truth of His promises,
which assure them that all things are working together
for good to them that love God, to the called according
to His purpose.--Romans 8:28.
To these God is now saying, as in olden times, "Wait
ye upon Me, until the time that I rise up to the prey; for
My determination is to gather the nations, that I may
assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation,
even all My fierce anger; for all the earth shall be
devoured with the fire of My jealousy." This will not be
literal fire devouring the literal earth, but a symbolic fire
of trouble devouring the political, financial, social and
religious structure of the world, and preparing them for
the great blessings of Messiah's Kingdom. These are
referred to in the next verse, in which the Lord declares,
"Then [following the fire of trouble and national distress]
I will turn to the people a pure Message, that they may
all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with
one consent."--Zephaniah 3:8,9.
That pure Message is what the Bible elsewhere speaks
of as the still small voice of God, which will be heard
amongst the people during the thousand years of Messiah's
Reign and which will effect their full deliverance
from ignorance, superstition and sin back to harmony
with God. And the Scriptures declare that whosoever of
all mankind will not obey that voice of God through the
great Messiah will be utterly destroyed from amongst the