It would be almost comical if the situation weren’t so tragic. As it is, it’s almost unbelievable that someone could have had such an encounter of the divine kind as did Jeroboam, and yet be so dense as to the things of heaven. And so, in a round about way, I’m brought to amazement and worship as I consider afresh the wonder of regeneration.
Stepping back . . .
Solomon’s heart has been turned away from the Lord as he gives his affection to many women of foreign nations and, in so doing, gives his heart to their handmade non-gods. The LORD then, in His sovereign purposes, determines to judge Solomon’s unfaithfulness by dividing the kingdom of Israel after Solomon’s death. God reveals his intentions to a very capable man, Jeroboam. God speaks through one of His prophets to clearly reveal to Jeroboam that God is about to “tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes” (1Kings 11:31). He even let’s Jeroboam know the reason for such judgment, “because they have forsaken me” and worshiped other gods (11:33). Pretty amazing one-on-one encounter with the Creator.
Solomon dies . . . his son Rehoboam takes over the throne . . . civil unrest develops . . . the northern ten tribes secede from the nation . . . and Jeroboam becomes their king. All as the LORD had determined. But then things in the north go south really quickly. In order to cement his grip on the kingdom, Jeroboam feels he needs to create an alternative to the God of Israel’s deliverance and the place of His worship, lest the people, in going to Jerusalem to worship, reestablish an allegiance to the king of Judah (12:1-33). And so, after direct revelation from God . . . after suddenly rising to power, just as God had revealed to him . . . Jeroboam creates fake gods to worship. That is, Jeroboam does what God told him Solomon had been judged for. Huh?
But it gets crazier. Reading in chapter 14 this morning, when Jeroboam’s son gets really ill, Jeroboam tells his wife to go to the same prophet that had revealed to Jeroboam God’s plan for him. But, he says, “disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam” (14:2). How goofy is that? Sending your wife to hear the voice of God . . . but telling her to put on a disguise so that the Sovereign of the Universe doesn’t recognize who she is. Hello!?! Anybody home?
Here’s a guy who has not only experienced direct revelation from God, but had also experienced God’s moving just as foretold. And yet, he is dead to the things of God. Somehow thinking that two golden calves equals one Yahweh . . . somehow believing that if his wife puts on a little more makeup and a wig, God won’t guess who she is. Unbelievable. But there, but for the grace of God, go I.
And I’m reminded that revelation, unless it is accompanied by regeneration, cannot, in itself, turn a man’s face toward God. Doesn’t matter how much knowledge someone has about God, without a new heart, they can’t know God. Doesn’t matter how much they’ve experienced the moving of God, without becoming a new creation in Christ, their encounter with God is of no effect.
Praise God for the gospel. That by the finished work of Christ on the cross, I am, by faith, not only saved from the penalty of sin, but that, by the life giving work of the Spirit, I am also born again. That I have been given a new dimension of understanding, the mind of Christ, that I might know the God of my salvation. That, by the power which raised Christ from the dead, I too am raised in newness of life able to commune and, in some measure, comprehend the King of glory.
A new creation in Christ. Alive to the things of God. O the wonder of regeneration. By His grace . . . for His glory.