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Two Calves for a Dollar

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Idolatry finds it roots when we cheapen the worship of God to objects like golden calves.

Notes & Transcripts

Introduction

Good evening and welcome back!
If you would like, start turning in your Bible’s to .
Tonight we are going to continue our travels with Elisha but we are going to take a detour to a passage we were able to just scratch the surface at this morning.
Tonight we are going to revisit Bethel and the roots of their abandonment of God that prompted both their jeering of Elisha that we read about this morning and God’s response to that jeering.
And like we talked about this morning, by the time Elisha got there, Bethel had became one of the leading, if not THE leading center of idolatry in all of Israel.
And the time had came for God to deal with Bethel, which he did through Elisha.
But, just how did it get that bad?
Why did they end up the way they did?
After all, Bethel wasn’t always this place of sin and idolatry.
And they didn’t just wake up one morning either and decide, “today, I’m going to walk away from God.”
No, it was a slow erosion of their relationship with God that led to their downfall.
Satan didn’t just come and knock on the door one day and then they decided God wasn’t enough.
No, Satan slowly and methodically lulled them to sleep and lulled them away from God.
Fed them lies and deceptions that slowly convinced them that they didn’t need God and that they could take care of everything themselves.
Exactly what James talks about . . .
James 1:13–15 NIV - Anglicised
13 When tempted, no-one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:13-
Temptation gives way to desire.
Desire gives way to sin.
Sin gives way to death.
Kind of reminds me of what Paul said, the wages of sin is death.
But, people are deceived and convinced that “that happens to other people, not me!”
No, if we are not following God it happens to all of us.
And it sneaks up on us and we become prisoners.
We then say things like, “I can’t help it so God understands.”
Paul says though . . .
Romans 6:1–7 NIV - Anglicised
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:1-
And we need to realize that we have been set free from the bondage of sin.
We are not the prisoners of sin and we are not subject to it.
Sin only has power over the Christian if they allow it.
And these people in Bethel had allowed sin to become their master.
And they were led there by their king.
So, if you have found 1 Kings 12, stand with me as we read verses 26-33.
Again, that is .

Scripture Focus

1 Kings 12:26–33 NIV - Anglicised
26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom is now likely to revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.” 28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there. 31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32 He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

Background

Now, this morning we talked about some of the excuses that King Jeroboam used to establish the golden calves and his alternative religious system, but we didn’t really talk about the background behind why he did what he did.
At the center of all of this was a church split of massive proportions.
At the time Reoboam, who was the son of Solomon was the rightful king, but earlier Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s officials had fled to Egypt and later returned with a plan to divide the kingdom.
The result was a split with 11 tribes going with Jeroboam forming the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who’s capital was Samaria and then Judah forming the Southern Kingdom.
So from the very beginning those in the Northern Kingdom had already began to abandon God and go their own way.
As Jeroboam began to firm up his kingdom and the boundaries, something began to bother him. In verse 26 of our text the Bible tells us ...
1 Kings 12:26–27 NIV - Anglicised
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom is now likely to revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
1 Kings 12:26 NIV - Anglicised
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom is now likely to revert to the house of David.
1
1 Kings 12:26–27 NIV - Anglicised
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom is now likely to revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
1 kings 12:26-
1 Kings 12:26–27 NIV - Anglicised
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom is now likely to revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
he began to get scared that people would abandon him and go back to Judah, primarily because the Temple was in Jerusalem and they would have to go there to worship.
So, he began to get scared that people would abandon him and go back to Judah, primarily because the Temple was in Jerusalem and they would have to go there to worship.
he began to get scared that people would abandon him and go back to Judah, primarily because the Temple was in Jerusalem and they would have to go there to worship.
And if enough of them returned to Judah, he would be powerless against them and they would kill him as a traitor, so he has to do something about it.

“Expert” Advice

1 Kings 12:28–29 NIV - Anglicised
After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan.
And this is where things begin to really get interesting and they stray completely off the track.
He goes and seeks advice.
The Bible doesn’t tell us who he is seeking advice from, but from other examples in the Old Testament is is probably form a soothsayer, false prophet, or could have even been a witch.
What we do know is that this advice was not from God.
Instead of praying and asking for God’s will, he went down to see Miss Cleo instead.
And why not, they had already been disobedient to God and were slowing turning away from God.
So his advisors, whoever they were told him to make some idols, so he made two golden calves.
And once he had made these calves he had to sell it to the people, because unless they were on board it was a complete waste of time anyway.
And what he does here is play on their need for convenience.
It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. It’s too far, too hot, too cold, “too this,” “too that...” Every excuse in the world for the people to NOT go to Jerusalem, NOT go to the Temple, and NOT worship God.
And the people bought it hook, line, and sinker.
After all this is their King!
They didn’t want to bother with a little inconvenience, so the king took care of it for them!
Instead of going to worship God, “I offer you this alternative! Two Golden Calves!”
And the reason golden calves was because they were symbols that were familiar to the other tribes of other people that the Israelites were co-mingling with .
Those that God had told them to drive out.
Jeroboam was an equal opportunity idolater.
And to make it really convenient, you don’t even have to leave town. Won’t it be so much fun!
And to calm any fears about God and worshipping God, these calves are going to replace God....Here your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.
And so people wouldn’t have to travel far from their home he set one up in Bethel in the southern part of the kingdom and one up in Dan in the northern part.
He had it all figured out but God wasn’t on board with his plan . . .
1 Kings 12:30 NIV - Anglicised
And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.
1 Kings
And this sin was not just Jeroboam’s sin, it was the sin of all the people, because if they hadn’t approved and participated, it would have never happened. So, they were all responsible for what was going on.

But Wait, There’s More!

So, setting up the idols was the first step, which was designed to serve as a replacement for the Ark.
But what about the temple, the sanctuary of God?
Step #2 . . .
1 Kings 12:31 NIV - Anglicised
Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.
1 Kings 12:31
He had that covered too.
He built these shrines and appointed priests from all sorts of religions, but like we said this morning, there was not one single Levite.
And there were no Levites because they refused to abandon God.
In fact they all left and returned to Judah.
No problem, he would just substitute some of his own!
But there is one more piece to this puzzle.
He had to do something to account for the Jewish festivals. . . .
1 Kings 12:32–33 NIV - Anglicised
He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.
1 kings 12:32
Now, even though this festival was held on a day of Jeroboam’s choosing, it was conveniently held exactly one month after the Jewish Day of Atonement.
But I am sure that was just a coincidence.
Just like ti was a coincidence that during this festival they offered sacrifices to these golden calves, just like they did on the Day of Atonement.

The Great Counterfeit

Do we see what is going on here?
Jeroboam had take the Jewish religion and carefully fashioned a counterfeit religion that was just like Judaism except for one thing.
Instead of worshipping God they worshipped the idols.
And the people were so fractured from God they did not even realize what was going on.
Their worship of God had been reduced to religious routines that they did out of convenience and out of obligation, but they were not connected to God.
And all Jeroboam had to do was throw something in there that they were familiar with and they were on board.
And the only thing it accomplished was leading them further and further away from God.
And how similar are we today?
We have all kinds of different religions in the world today, all with something everyone would be familiar with.
And all carefully crafted to be a counterfeit of Christianity.
After all Satan is a liar and the father of lies ().
Everything God does, Satan offers a counterfeit to distract and confuse people.
But what is worse is that this has infiltrated the Church and believers who have lost all ability to discern the truth from a lie and are falling for a lie left and right.
They are abandoning God and the true worship of God for the sake of convenience and political correctness.
Paul tells Timothy . . .
2 Timothy 3:1–5 NIV - Anglicised
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
People’s attitudes will shift away from God and toward themselves.
They will even go to church out of obligation or maybe out of familiarity but they will only have a form of Godliness but will deny it’s power.

Altar Call

I wonder tonight if any of us have fallen into that trap.
We are serving God but really don’t even know why.
Just sort of going through the motions or maybe just doing it because we think it’s the right thing to do.
What we need is a refreshing, a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.
You can have that tonight if you are willing and if you don’t let Satan rob you of what God has for you.
It is available, will you accept?
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