It was an opportunity for greatness that ended in a great disappointment. The great prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite, met a man of valor, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and rent a garment into twelve pieces, giving him ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. That this division was Divine is unquestionable for God’s anger was kindled against His idolatrous people, “because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments” (1 Kings 11:33). God’s patience has its limits; and this was it. Jeroboam would be given a large portion of the kingdom, but what he did with it was up to him. It was the beginning of the end for the kingdom of Israel, and a springboard to infamy. What he did was deplorable.
With an apostate’s characteristic lack of trust in God’s will, and his fear that his position was threatened by the true worship of God, he innovated. He set up a golden calf in both Bethel and Dan, garnished with an argument of convenience: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28).
To date, Jeroboam’s everlasting heritage is, “And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin” (1 Kings 14:16). What a tragedy: to be known throughout history as the culprit responsible for Israel’s demise as a kingdom, to know that faithlessness and fear created an example of condemnation.
Faithlessness and fear continue to keep souls separated from God and there is something outrageously audacious when the clay attempts to impose upon the will of the Potter (Jeremiah 18:6). Who is feeble humanity to decide on a whim that adjustments or amendments to God’s Word will be acceptable? How mistaken we must be to believe that what is good for me must necessarily be good for God! Any deviation from God’s Word, any unauthorized embellishment, and even the minor modification is condemned, and relegates us to the unenviable station of Jeroboam, the man “who made Israel to sin.”