Jeroboam, son of Nebat.
Jeroboam, son of Nebat.
Tsk, tsk, tsk.
This man deserves dishonorable mention in this here column, methinks.
No doubt you’ve come across him several times, among the chronicles of the ancient Kings of Israel;
Jeroboam son of Nebat did more evil than all who were before him..
Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat..
Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat..
Ahaziah did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam son of Nebat..
Jehoram did evil in the sight of the Lord, and persisted in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat..
Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin..
And on it goes.
Bar Nebat, it appears, certainly made his mark as the gold standard for gross misconduct, as far as Israelite Kings were concerned.
It happened quite accidentally mark you, as no-one would like to be remembered thusly, I would imagine.
Picture this with me, if you will;
Wise King Solomon is nearing the end of his reign, and, according to certain impeccable sources, is soon going to rest with his fathers.
Young Jeroboam, an industrious gent in the service of the King, decides to take a stroll one day.
He exits the city of Jerusalem, perhaps on official business, perhaps not, walking purposefully, I presume, as industrious young gents ought.
Shortly, a man comes along – an older man – nicely bedecked in a fine new robe.
He approaches Jeroboam with powerful authority.
He is a man of God, a Prophet.
The man stops, takes off his brand-new robe and, to Jeroboams’s utter bewilderment, rips it into twelve pieces.
“Take for yourself ten pieces,” he commands, “for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:”
“Behold, I will tear the Kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you..”
Jeroboam is awestruck.
Him? King? Over ten tribes?
Bar Nebat slowly begins to behold some intriguing possibilities.
Meanwhile, in short order, and to no-one’s surprise, the impeccable sources turn out to be, well, impeccable.
Old King Solomon dies and is gathered peacefully to his people.
And his successor, his son Rehoboam, makes a foolish decision which leads to the immediate secession of the said ten tribes.
Tragically, the once united Kingdom of Israel is no more.
Instead, two new Kingdoms emerge – one in the North, the other in the South.
And, of course, the wily son of Nebat rises promptly to the occasion, and secures his place as one of the most nefarious kings to ever sit on the throne of this Kingdom.
The next phase of Jeroboam’s life, dear reader, is very well documented in this fascinating portion of Scripture.
The man, once a faithful, dependable officer in the courts of King Solomon, soon becomes a seemingly new creation.
For fear of losing power to Rehoboam, his Southern rival, Jeroboam institutes a new system of worship, post haste.
He sets up two golden calves in the towns of Bethel and Dan, a most cunning way to direct his subjects away from Jerusalem, no doubt.
He installs “priests” of his choice – unscrupulous men from tribes other than the divinely-elected tribe of Levi.
He proceeds to device new religious rites, replacing those in Jerusalem, and declares strange new sacrifices and feasts.
In short, dear reader, he leads his people deep into pagan worship.
Once in the grip of witchcraft and sorcery and all its attendant wickedness, the people of the North sink deeper and deeper into apostasy.
And soon the worship of the One True God is all but forgotten.
A most evil calamity, is what our man Jeroboam turns out to be.
Here is a grim summary of his eventual spiritual legacy;
So they (the people of the Northern Kingdom) left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
Sadly, the evil effects of Jeroboam’s “leadership” continued to be felt for several generations.
And more than 200 years later, the Scriptures say, God finally had enough.
At the Lord’s command, the Kings of Assyria swooped down, destroyed the Northern Kingdom, and took away its inhabitants forever.
And here, ladies and gentlemen is the final epitaph:
For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets.
So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.
Tsk, tsk tsk.
It is said that the people of the Northern Kingdom, once captured by Assyria, were dispersed throughout the Assyrian Kingdom, never to be seen again.
They became what is now known as “The Lost Tribes of Israel.”
The story of Jeroboam, their first King, is described 1 Kings 11-13.
He is also mentioned several other times in the Biblical account of the Israelite Kings.
Not surprisingly, he is not mentioned in the most flattering of terms.
Picture Credit: Sweet Publishing