The Hardest Rebuke to Hear

It’s so much easier to just say, “Your code is stupid, my life hacks are working, stay in your lane and leave me to my own business!”

The idols which are the most pernicious and hard to fell are the ones still working. When our idols come up empty and we see them for what they are it isn’t nearly as difficult to abandon them (usually for another shiny thing). But it’s really hard to hear a word of judgment (truth) when we are in the midst of prosperity. “Maybe we were right to move our moral compass—look at how great the economy is going!”


One of my favorite memes are those of the There, I Fixed It variety. I enjoy them so much because there are likely things around my house which could make it on their website. I am slowly waking up to my propensity to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort “fixing something” which would be far better to just replace.

It’s amazing to me the dedication that I’ll put into making an old rust bucket still functional. It’s a rust bucket! But it was my rust bucket. And in that moment it seems far easier and more frugal to come up with a life hack than to admit that I need to get a new one. It still technically “works” even if it’s not up to a certain code.

Jeroboam was one of those There, I Fixed It guys. He had a political problem and came up with a great life hack. The Law of Moses called for worship in Jerusalem. But that was in the Southern Kingdom—that wasn’t a good idea for him to allow his people to see the glorious temple of Solomon. That would have led to them questioning the wisdom of breaking away from the family of David.

So Jeroboam grabbed his duct tape and got to work. He crafted two golden calves—one for Bethel and one for Dan. Then he tells all the people—“It’s too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt”. No sense in going to Jerusalem, the building code is just a suggestion anyways. God is everywhere so why not just set up a temple here and worship him in our homeland?

Jereboam made religion a matter of convenience. He allowed the people to set the plumb line. God’s Word was no longer the standard because Jeroboam had come up with a genius fix. It was no longer about what God wanted—or what was right—it was now about what worked. Bethel was shorter, so worship there. It’s easier.

Religion became convenient and then it also become non-judgmental. They forgot the God of justice. They weren’t hating on Jerusalem. It was fine to worship there. Bethel is fine to worship at. So is Dan. It doesn’t really matter…so long as you are sincere.

And it’s “working”. At least practically speaking. The Northern Kingdom experiences a time of great prosperity. There isn’t much conflict. Everybody is getting along just fine. “No judgment here”. So apparently God doesn’t care much about where he is worshipped. It’s a new day…a new era.

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