One thing I’ve learned in my reading so far is that God takes his honor very seriously. After God made David king of Israel and David disgraced him by killing Uriah for his wife, he was severely punished. See the reading note. The crime of being put in a place of authority by God and abusing his power for murder was not treated lightly.
The same is true of Jeroboam. God gave him 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel to rule and he responded by building idols for the people to worship – a worse thing than David had done. God responded with the kind of sweeping destruction that he had brought on David.
The Crime: God gave him a kingdom and he used his power for evil and to turn the people away from God, forgetting who had given him that power in the first place.
“Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back…” – 1 Kings 14: 7 – 9
The Punishment: Complete destruction. God promised that there would come a time when there would be no male descendant of Jeroboam.
“…therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free in Israel, and will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the Lord has spoken it.”’ … Moreover, the Lord will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today. – 1 Kings 14: 10 – 14
The great flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, David and Jeroboam all bear one thing in common. They are examples of cases where God saw a sin so great that he ensured that the punishment would be visible to everyone. So they could look and say, “This is what happens to those who go against the God of the universe. See it and fear him”. Everyone who saw that destruction should have understood what a terrible thing it is to fall into God’s hands. But their mistakes were repeated over and over again.
The people of Judah also continued in the idolatry the Solomon in his later years had started. So, Solomon’s sin became the spark that would burn down Israel. The wealth he had built up by following God was taken away when king Shishak of Egypt attacked Judah. And it was downhill from there.
If we learn nothing else from this, we should all remember not to cross God – especially if he has given you authority. He will forgive you anything from murder to idolatry as long as you repent, but if you continue, he will make a very scary example out of you.