1 Kings 12 (cf. 2 Chronicles 10 and 11)
This chapter presents the fulfillment of God’s discipline on Solomon for his idolatry (1 Kings 11). After the death of Solomon, they make his son Rehoboam king over all the tribes. They give him the opportunity to keep the kingdom as a whole and fails due to lack of godly counsel. The people, tired from corvée, ask Rehoboam to lessen the taxation on finances and bodies. If this is done, the people say they will stay as a united kingdom. He asks Solomon’s advisors who counsel him to do as the people desire for Solomon was wrong in doing this to them. He then asks his friends for advice and they tell him to become even more demanding to show the people who is truly in charge. He takes the advice of his friends over the wisdom of age and experience. The northern ten nations separate from the kingdom and for the nation of Israel. From this stage forward, Israel does not represent the entire nation, but it represents the northern ten. When Judah is mentioned, it refers to the Benjamin and Judah, the southern kingdom.
It was Jeroboam, the man to whom God would give the northern tribes and who revolted against King Solomon because of corvée, who sought a unified kingdom giving Rehoboam opportunity to maintain the entire kingdom. The representatives walked away proclaiming they have nothing to do with the house of David, which is the southern kingdom of Judah. Rehoboam decided to go to war with the northern kingdom, but God intervened and stopped him from starting the war.
Jeroboam begins to make altars for the people to make sacrifices so they would not go to Jerusalem to make them. His logic is good, but his outcome is bad. He knows if the people go to Jerusalem to worship and make sacrifices that they will want to reunite the kingdom. If he could get them to seek an easier form of worship, he could capture their hearts. He sets an altar in Bethel, which is at the southern border of the northern kingdom just above Jerusalem. He sets an altar in Dan, which is at the northern border of the kingdom. He makes it easier for them to worship. They do not have to travel as far to perform the rituals. He offers them what they desire mixed in with God’s requirements. This is syncretism. If you think about it, it is also the very thing Satan offers us as he tempts us. He did the same with Jesus in Matthew 4. His methods remain the same because they work, unless our eyes are on something greater.
- Map: Dan and Bethel