July 30, 2017
Reheboam, who succeeded his father Solomon without opposition in 937 B.C., met with questioning citizens in their ancient city of Shechem. In the fortress-sanctuary they laid out their grievances with Jeroboam tapped as the main spokesperson. The present generation basically didn’t want to work as hard as had under the reign of Solomon. They wanted a season of rest. The bewildered Rehoboam took three days to decide. He consulted with sage old veterans of political and social matters. They wisely assessed the volatile environment and gave the new King timely advice.
“If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants forever.”
Then he went to the brash younger group, men of counsel needing to prove something, still working theories into well practiced experience. And they stood anxious to make a name for themselves. Giddy faces. Smirks and arrogant shrugs. Clucking tongues and presumptuous sighs. Dismissive tones. All of this a mixing recipe of disaster. For their insolent counsels was, “Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”
There was no Nobel Peace Prize given out that day. Jeroboam simply led the disgruntled tribes away from Shechem, rejecting the brash King’s hardnosed approach. And a two headed monster was born, antagonistically biting at each other until the Babylonian and Assyrian empires swept them away a few hundred years later.
Jeroboam took his new empire to a dangerous place. He constructed two golden calves and placed them in Dan and Bethel. Every morning when sunbeams warmed the new formed gods, forged from fire and tempered by hate and injustice, Israel bowed in reverent submission. Jeroboam got his long awaited power and the boiling vindictiveness in his heart against the house of David spilled over into the most outlandish display of idolatry to date. Golden calves sat as substitutes to the Ark of the Covenant. They were erected in gold which gave them a sense of wealth and prestige. The bulbous eyes. The thin lined lips stretched with a demonic grin. The superior posture as the strong front legs stiffly imposed on the seeker an air of royalty and supremacy. The stiff back. The risen nature. The shiny gaze and sun reflecting prowess. Golden gods for a brazen people. Calf worship in place of Shekinah fire. And over time the gleaming gods would be smudged here and there as adoring worshippers kissed their hellish hooves. Listen now…