1 Kings 12:25-33 (Part 2) – The Definition of Insanity

Posted: January 15, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 12:25-33 (Part 2)

Jeroboam Makes Gold Calves

There’s an old saying that goes, “the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over again and expecting different results!” Some old sayings, you wonder where they came up with the logic behind it. However, this one is so very true.

Just as an illustration from the sports world. Recently, in the college football national championship game, one of the key plays in the game was Clemson snuffing out a fake field goal attempt by Alabama on a 4th down play at the Clemson 22 yard line. They had six yards to gain for a first down. It was a gamble of the highest order. If Alabama was going to go for it on 4th down, they would have been better served to leave their offense on the field and either use the throwing talents of their Heisman runner-up quarterback or one of the bruising running backs that were averaging at least 6 yards a carry on the night. However, they went for a fake field goal. The odds of success of fake field goals are less than 40%. Less than half the time, a team makes the yardage to gain. And you guessed it, Clemson guessed correctly and tackled the runner for a two yard loss on the play. Alabama never recovered from that gamble. It was the third of four times that night that they had been inside the Clemson 25 yard line and came away without a touchdown. Three of the four times, they came away with no points at all, of which this fake field goal was one. The insanity rule would tend to tell you that a fake field goal is not the answer. Further, Clemson seemed to know it was coming by the way they lined up in a regular defense for the field goal try. Knowing the odds are stacked against you and bullishly going ahead with the plan is insanity also.

I bet each one of us could come up with a situation in which we have done the same thing over and over again and expected different results. How often have we seen our past odds of success and seen that they were low and do the same thing over again. Also, how often do we repeat the mistakes of our parents without even realizing that we are doing the same dumb thing that they did when they were our age? How often do we get advice not to do something but we do it anyway? With that in mind, let us read this passage, 1 Kings 12:25-33 once again, now:

25 Jeroboam then built up the city of Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and it became his capital. Later he went and built up the town of Peniel.[a]

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”

28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people,[b] “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”

29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.

31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month,[c] in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

In this passage, we see that Jeroboam and his advisers did not learn from Israel’s previous disaster with a gold calf (see Exodus 32). Perhaps, they were ignorant of the past, or, maybe, they knew about it and decided to ignore it. There’s a lesson in that for all of us as Christ followers. It is through the study of God’s Word that we understand and become aware of God’s acts in history. It is through that study that we become more acutely aware of the ways of God and the ways of sin and then apply the important lessons we gain from Bible study to our own lives. If we learn from the past, you will not face disaster as a result of repeating the mistakes either others have made or that you have already made one or more times in your life.

Jeroboam thought this time things would be different, maybe? Maybe, he thought since the circumstances were different than when his people were in the desert that the results would be different? Or was Jeroboam just being selfish and driving people toward allegiance to him, personally, instead of God. Whatever the motivation, we know from the Bible that things never work out for people who set up idols and worship them rather than God. The people of Israel know this well. Even if Jeroboam was not truly a man of God and did not read the Torah as he should have, he had to have known just through conversations with family and friends and so on about the golden calf incident in the desert. It all boils down to placing his personal desires above understanding God’s Word and applying it to his life.

How often do we put our personal desires over what God’s Word says and then try to rationalize away why it will work for us or why God will excuse our deviation in this area or that area because of what we have been through or are going through in life? As Dr. Phil on television would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Why can’t we all just learn from God’s eternal Word and zig when it says zig and zag when it says zag. It is, after all, the timeless Word of God. It is tried and true. It is proven. But yet we think it’s different for us than for all mankind of all time just because it’s us.

Father, help us to learn from the past through your Word and then actually apply your Word to our lives. Let us not separate our understanding of God’s Word from its real life application to our lives. Let us begin to apply the wisdom gained from seeing the mistakes that God’s people make. Let us apply the wisdom gained from seeing the victories of God’s people when they obey God. Let us learn that because of your great love for us that you not only gave us your Son to reconcile us unto you but you gave us Your Word to help us to understand you and the way you want us to live through Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen. mine/ne

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