READ: 1 Kings 12:27-33 Focus on the sentence: “This was blatant sin.”
(27) “As soon as these people resume worship at The Temple of God in Jerusalem, they’ll start thinking of Rehoboam king of Judah as their ruler. They’ll then kill me and go back to King Rehoboam.”
(28-30) So the king came up with a plan: He made two golden calves. Then he announced, “It’s too much trouble for you to go to Jerusalem to worship. Look at these–the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” he put one calf in Bethel; the other he placed in Dan. This was blatant sin. Think of it – people traveling all the way to Dan to worship a calf!
(31-33) And that wasn’t the end of it. Jeroboam built forbidden shrines all over the place and recruited priests from wherever he could find them, regardless of whether they were fit for the job or not. To top it off, he created a holy New Year festival to be held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month to replace the one in Judah, complete with worship offered on the Altar at Bethel and sacrificing before the calves he had set up there. He staffed Bethel with priests from the local shrines he had made. This was strictly his own idea to compete with the feast in Judah; and he carried it off with flair, a festival exclusively for Israel, Jeroboam himself leading the worship at the Altar.
THINK: Israel at this time was split into two sections: the northern and the southern kingdoms. Jeroboam was ruling in the northern kingdom. He erected two golden calves (as Aaron had at Sinai in Exodus). In addition to calves, he erected forbidden shrines and created a sacred holiday.
Instead of placing his entire trust in Yahweh, Jeroboam chose to erect idols to be the center of worship for the people in his kingdom. Under his leadership, the significance of worshiping the Lord God was lessened and eventually lost.
Sneering at such blatant disrespect of the living God is easy for us. But even though we don’t erect golden calves, our focus on certain things eclipses our worship of God. John Calvin said that our hearts are idol factories.
Meditate on some of the golden calves in your life that eclipse your worship of God. These could be reputation, power, wealth, identity, fame, church, relationships–anything that takes your eyes of God.
PRAY: Spend time confessing your golden calves. Ask the Holy Spirit to pinch you each time you turn to them.
LIVE: Be aware that your heart is an idol factory. Recognize that idols come in all shapes and sizes. When you find yourself bowing a knee to them, return to the Lord in humility
Since April 2011, God has been showing me just where my golden calves are. For a good while, I chose to ignore Him, thinking that I was okay; maybe I was being too hard on myself for something (I didn’t know what). But over the course of my marriage of almost-21-years, I’ve been shown many idols: my relatives; my reputation; my kids; my spouse; my comfort; my convenience; my dream; my wishes; my plans. Having these pruned from my life has been painful. Sadly, I can’t say that all the cutting away of those things is done yet. I think that’s something we can’t know for sure unless and until the pruning starts again. That being said, it is not fair to say that these things are not from the Lord. What is not from the Lord, however, is the importance that I place on them when they have priority over God in my life.
Think about it for a minute or two. Have you ever chosen the path of least resistance when God called you to step out in faith? Have you ever chosen to keep quiet when you should’ve spoken up? Have you ever spoken up when you should’ve kept quiet? What was your motivation? If obedience to God was not the motivation, then it’s possible what prompted the disobedient choice has its root in something that is an idol in your life. For instance, I don’t like tension in my house. I have done many things to keep the peace in my house. Many of those things have been at my own personal expense just to keep from rocking the boat. What has eventually happened in some instances – not all – is that I’ve compromised so much of myself away that I found myself smack dab in the middle of a situation that I could not stand, and had nobody to blame but myself for letting things get so far out of hand. Then, I’ve had to reclaim the ground that God had given me to stand on that I sacrificed in the name of “keeping the peace”. However, what I had really done was placed the idol of my immediate comfort in a place of greater importance than God’s will for my life.
How about this one? Have you ever just jumped right into your routine when you know the Lord was beckoning to you to spend time with Him? When I was away at Liberty, with the television off, I had “plenty of time” to do this devotional every day and really hear from God. But, when I got home, I found that I had settled into a routine in my new life. I’ve never been much of one for watching the news, but I have been for the last 18 months or so. That’s become my new morning routine. I get up, pour my coffee, and go watch the morning news until the early program ends at 9. I start my day. When I was away at school, I didn’t do that. As a result, I had plenty of time to get my devotional done and to really ponder it, throughout the day, and while I was just hanging out in my room. Devotional time was how I started and ended my day, apart from reading to my kids before they went to bed. It was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. But now, I’m back at home, and that morning “coffee-news” routine has sucked me back in so far that, now, my devotionals are sometimes a day late (or two). Taking into consideration that I can be, very much, an “all-or-nothing” person, posting these entries every other day is still better than what I was doing this time last year. Also, posting this everyday can, just as easily, come to take the place of God in my life if I am just doing it because I want to accumulate posts in my blog. I started this because I needed a way to make sure that I was going to do this everyday. I knew if I didn’t blog my way through it, if I only journaled it on my computer or in my notebook, it would be too easy to give it up because there’d be nobody to read it and ask me about why I had stopped posting. So…why don’t I just get up a little bit earlier in the morning and take care of this before I go watch the news? Well, that’s another set of idols: the idol of my comfortable bed added to the idol of my entertainment (staying up too late the night before, not going to bed on time to want to get up earlier in the morning).
I have no way of knowing what your idols are but, I figure, since your human, yours look pretty much the same way mine do. If not, if your’s is something else, fine. But we all have them, and God means for us to be mastered by nobody or nothing but Him. So, rest assured, He will begin working on that idol in you in due time. It’s just what He does. If you don’t know what your idols are, ask. God will show you.