The Influence of One Man
In the Old Testament, following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided by two rival kinds. This was due to the following sequence of events:
- 1 Kings 11.1-11 — Solomon’s disobedience
- 1 Kings 11.26-40 — Jeroboam’s rebellion agains Solomon
- 1 Kings 11.38; 14.8 — Ahijah’s message
Rehoboam was the son of Solomon and took his father’s place on the throne. In Egypt, Jeroboam heard of the death of Solomon and returned to Israel. In fulfillment of the words of the prophet Ahijah, ten tribes of Israel gave their allegiance to Jeroboam. Then prophet had told Jeroboam, “Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in my ways, and do what is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as my servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you” (1 Kings 11.38). Jeroboam did not follow after these words (1 Kings 12.25-33). Instead, he set up tow golden calves for the people to worship and serve as the gods who brought them out of the land of Egypt. He allowed priests to come from any tribe, and he “ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month.” He did more evil than all those who were before him, and because of his actions, set the tone for the following kings of Israel. Ahijah prophesied that God would “give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin” (1 Kings 14.8-16).
The influence of this one king would se the tone for the history of the northern tribes of God’s people. Second Kings 17.6-18,21-22 summarized the history of Israel. What do we see from this?
All the remaining kings of Israel followed the pattern of the predecessors. All followed in the way of Jeroboam. The destruction of the kingdom of Israel was completed by the Assyrians when they invaded the land and took the ten tribes away, never to be a united people again: “And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them from his sight. For he tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Neat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them” (2 Kings 17.20-22).
The lesson in this sad history is that the life of one man can impact many. Jeroboam’s works followed him after he died. The evil he practiced in his life was not contained only while he lived, but continued on for generations to come. Consider how many lives were lost because of his influence. Think of all the lives that were given over to evil because of his inFluence. The powerful influence of an evil life destroyed a great nation.
While the influence of Jeroboam affected many generations, I want to make this observation: Jeroboam was a religious person. His changes were not a discouragement to religion. They encouraged it, for the appealed to the comforts of the people. Notice his words in 1 Kings 12.28: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem to worship.” This mindset opens a door that cannot be closed.
When man assumes the role of decision-making in religion, then he assumes a role of authority that belongs only to Christ. When man assumes this authority to decide what is best, or how to worship God, it will always result in moral decline. Today there are so many deviations, and such diversity among denominationalism, that the freedom to do as one’s heart desired continues to plunge man further into immorality.
As those of Jeroboam’s day didn’t know that Jeroboam’s innovations were wrong, many today do not understand that much of the theology and philosophy being taught today are uninspired men’s views (Matthew 15.8-9). The church that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16.18 is identifiable foremost by its doctrine. The pattern contained in the New Testament is to be preached so that unity, love, and reverence for God will prevail and carry a greater influence on society. In this way, righteousness will flow as God promised.
Consequently, is people will be the “head,” not the “tail,” as Moses told Israel in Deuteronomy 28.13,44: “And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” Spiritual seed will produce after its kind as does physical seed (Luke 8.11).