Bible Order: Job 29–31
Chronological Order: Proverbs 16-18
New Testament Only: John 12:9–36
We Worship THE Rock
It is amazing how God works! Do you remember way back in 1 Kings 12? Solomon died and the kingdom was divided. Jeroboam ruled the Northern Kingdom, called Israel, and made two calves of gold and made temples on high places and appointed priests to minister his man-made religion. In Bethel, as Jeroboam made sacrifices to the golden calves, “a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 12:27). And this is what he said:
1 Kings 13:2-4 ESV
“And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’ ” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken: ‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.’ ”
Jeroboam ruled the Northern Kingdom, Israel, in about 930 B.C. A prophet from the Southern Kingdom, Judah, came to the Northern Kingdom and told Jeroboam that a king of Judah would one day come and tear down the high places he had created. The prophet specifically stated how all of this would occur. Josiah was king of the Southern Kingdom around 640 B.C. and here is what he did:
1 Kings 23:15-16 ESV
“Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.”
The prophet of God stated who would tear down the high place erected by Jeroboam 290 years before it took place. That’s longer than America has been a country! Sometimes I think God is just showing off but the fact is He is just being Him. He is all powerful. He is all knowing.
The reason Jeroboam had set up these false religious practices was to keep the kingdom divided. He was afraid a regular trip to Judah by his people to worship in the temple would cause them to reunite leaving him out of a job. His answer to this problem was to mislead the people into worshipping manufactured gods so they wouldn’t make the trip. Do you understand how abominable Jeroboam’s behavior was? He was deliberately attempting to keep the descendants of Abraham from worshipping God. I wonder how he likes Hell.
The fact that Josiah has torn down these high places in the Northern kingdom shows that Josiah is gaining back ground lost to the Assyrians. As we read earlier, the majority of the people of the Northern Kingdom have been carried off into exile. The Assyrian power, however, is waning. Babylonian power is on the rise, but in the vacuum created by this super-power face off is the opportunity for Judah to regain some of the Northern Kingdom lost years before.
It was not God’s idea for Israel to have a king. It was not God’s idea to split the kingdom in two. It was not God’s idea to send Israel off into Assyrian exile and then into Babylonian exile. These two exiles in lands that were not their home remind me of the consequences of living our lives outside of God’s plan. When we live contrary to God’s plan we find ourselves living in a land God did not intend for us; we end up living in a land foreign to our intended home. We are in exile.
2 Kings 23:5 ESV
“And he deposed the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places at the cities of Judah and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.”
Did you notice the reference to those that burned incense to “the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens”? These were religions that worshipped the creation rather than the creator. When I read this I was reminded of the founding of the Islamic faith. Mohammed had been raised for a time by a Christian bishop. He developed his religion and preached it first to the Jews in the Holy Land. The Jews laughed him out of town which didn’t sit well. His religion has been pretty “anti-Jew” ever since. He went so far as to make his day of rest the day before the Jews so that it would be hard for Jews living in lands controlled by this new religion to prepare for their own Sabbath.
At any rate, Mohammed went home to the birthplace of his mother to lick his wounds and sell his story to his tribe. He then used the strength of his tribe to conquer others; particularly those in his birthplace, Mecca. Mecca was home to a meteor that had fallen from the sky. Polytheism was rampant in that time and placed as it had been for hundreds if not thousands of years. Mohammed was extremely pragmatic and he realized that to further his ambitions he needed to unify the nomadic Arabs by unifying their religion. This he did by creating “Allah”; a conglomeration of the most popular pagan gods; the most popular of the popular was the god represented by this meteor I mentioned earlier.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the tall, thin, square building in Mecca that is the focus of the annual pilgrimage but inside that building is that meteor. The symbol we Christians use for our faith is the cross. The symbol the Jews use is the Star of David. The symbol the Muslims use is the crescent (it is sometimes a crescent and a star together). Ever wonder why the crescent? Looks like a crescent moon doesn’t it? The shape represents part of the moon. The meteor came from the sky; it is part of the moon or a star. So, from long before the birth of Mohammed we have these pagan practices of worshiping the “sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens”.
Christians and Muslims do not worship the same god. Our God did come from Heaven but not as a chunk of cold inanimate rock. He came as living breathing human being who is our flesh and blood Rock. We worship the creator, not the created.
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 5/1/10)