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Idolatry

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KING JEROBOAM INTRODUCES IDOLATRY

Scripture: 1 Kings 12:25-33, 14: 1-16; Matthew 4:10

Memory verse: Matthew 4:10
"For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' "

Lead-In

Begin the lesson by distributing lined paper and pens to the students. Instruct them to list the 10 most important things in their lives. The lists may include God, people, pets, possessions, or activities. Tell them no one will see the lists, not even you; this is a personal activity. When they have finished, tell them to number the entries on their lists. #1 indicates the most import and #10 signifies the least important on the list.

Now have each student make a list of what he considers to be an idol or false god. Explain that an idol is anything that comes between a person and God. Stress that if God is not first in their lives, they have allowed something else to become more important to them than He is. That something else is an idol. Stress and discuss the important position God must have in the lives of all who accept Him as Saviour.

Tell the students that this week’s lesson is about a king in the Bible who let something come between him and God. During the lesson they will learn the trouble this caused.

Hearing God’s Word

God’s people were in a much different situation than they were when King David ruled. David’s grandson Rehoboam had told the people they would have to work harder and pay more taxes. This made 10 tribes of Israel so angry, they rejected Rehoboam as king and chose Jeroboam to be their ruler. Now Rehoboam ruled the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the Southern Kingdom. Jeroboam ruled the remaining 10 tribes in the Northern Kingdom.

Jeroboam’s Problems

Since the palace and all the work of governing had been done in Jerusalem—in the Southern Kingdom—Jeroboam had a lot of work to do. He quickly began to build up the cities of Shechem and Peniel as important centres in his new kingdom.

Something else concerned King Jeroboam even more. Jerusalem was the place where everyone went to worship. Solomon’s Temple was there. Yearly feasts were held in Jerusalem. In fact, the law stated that people had to go to worship in Jerusalem three times a year. That created a problem. Jerusalem was located in Judah, the Southern Kingdom.

Jeroboam was afraid that when the people went to Rehoboam’s territory to worship, Rehoboam would influence them to come back to him. Then the 12 tribes would be united again, and Jeroboam could not be king. Jeroboam decided something had to be done. He took matters into his own hands instead of asking God for help and trusting Him to protect his kingdom.

Jeroboam’s Mistake

To avoid the risk of losing his power, Jeroboam built two centres of worship so the people in the Northern Kingdom could worship without going to Jerusalem. One place of worship was built in Dan, another in Bethel.

But something was still missing. The temple at Jerusalem was built as a place to worship the one true God. The ark of the covenant was in Solomon’s Temple, and God’s presence dwelt there. But there was no ark of the covenant to place in the worship centres at Dan and Bethel. Jeroboam knew the people would still want to go to Jerusalem unless he did something to make the places at Dan and Bethel seem more important. So Jeroboam put a golden calf at each centre and encouraged the people to worship them as their gods. “Behold your gods which brought you out of Egypt,” Jeroboam lied to the people. He even scheduled religious feasts at the same time feasts were held in Jerusalem. In that way he planned to keep the people of the Northern Kingdom at home. If they never went back to Jerusalem, he wouldn’t have to worry about losing his position as king.

Ask: “How do you think God felt about Jeroboam’s actions?” (Allow responses.)

God had given Jeroboam the Northern Kingdom in the first place. Now Jeroboam had turned away from God simply because he was afraid he would lose the kingdom if the people continued to go to Jerusalem.

Jeroboam showed by his actions that he didn’t believe God was able to help him be a good king to whom the people would want to be loyal. Jeroboam cared more about keeping his important position than he did about loving and obeying God.

God is never pleased with sin, and selfishness is sin. Allowing something else to become more important to us than God is also sin. Jeroboam had let his position as king become more important to him than God. If he had stayed true to God, God would have helped him solve the problem in the proper way. Our memory verse reminds us that God needs to have first place in our lives. (Repeat Matthew 4:10 with the students several times.)

Jeroboam’s Son Is Sick

One day Jeroboam’s son Abijah became sick. Although Jeroboam wasn’t obeying God as he knew he should, he knew God—not the golden idols--was the only One who could heal his son.

Jeroboam told his wife to go find Ahijah, God’s prophet. “There is a prophet at Shiloh who told me that I would become king. His words have come true. Go ask him what will happen to our son. But be careful not to let him knows who you are. Act as if you are someone else.” (Ask a student to read 1 Kings 14:2, 3.)

A person can never fool God. He sees who we are and what we are doing, whether we wear a disguise or not. God told Ahijah that Jeroboam’s wife was coming. He gave Ahijah a message for her to give to Jeroboam.

When Jeroboam’s wife arrived, Ahijah said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why are you pretending to be someone you are not. I have a message for you. God says Jeroboam is more evil than all the other kings. Because he has introduced other gods and images to the people, God will raise up another king to replace him. Israel will be rooted up from the land of their fathers and scattered elsewhere.”

Ahijah had even more sad news. “Get up now,” he said, “Go to your house. When you enter the city, your child will die.”

Jeroboam Forgets God

Jeroboam couldn’t take matters into his own hands any longer. Although he had built places of worship and placed false gods inside them, these gods could not help him now. He had rejected the only One who could help him. Now he had to pay the price.

What a sad picture of a king who forgot God! Jeroboam didn’t forget God overnight. He had a chance to put God first in his life, but instead he allowed his own selfish interests to get in the way. He was so afraid of losing his kingdom he forgot God.

Other Idols People Worship

An idol can be anything that takes first place in our lives. Sometimes even Christians allow someone or something to become their idol.

We need to constantly check our lives to see if we are letting something or someone come between us and God. If we are, then we have an idol. Jeroboam’s first idol was not the golden calf, but his throne. His fear of losing the throne caused him to build golden calves in the new places of worship so the people would stay loyal to him.

Ask: “What are some things that could become idols in our lives:” (Allow responses.)

Many of these things are good if they are used in the right way. It isn’t wrong to enjoy friends and participate in activities. In fact, we should enjoy the things we have. But sometimes, if we aren’t careful, these same things can rob us of time we should be giving to God. Church attendance and daily Bible study and prayer should never be put aside for something else. That is time to be given to God alone. It is easy to give our own selfish interests first place just as Jeroboam did.

Jeroboam Loses His Kingdom

Because Jeroboam and the people worshiped idols, God said Jeroboam’s family could not continue as king. Besides that, the people of Israel would be uprooted from their land and scattered to other places. The throne Jeroboam fought so hard to keep would be taken away – all because he did not put God first.

God wants to be King of our lives. Our memory verse reminds us of this. (Repeat the memory verse again with the students.) Nothing or no one else should become more important to us than God. Only then can He help us and bless us as He wants. God will be close to us when we give Him first place in all we do.

Accepting God’s Word

Inform the students that God wants to have first place in all our lives because He loves us so much and wants to have a personal relationship with us. He knows that only when He is first will we have the peace in our lives that no one or nothing else can give.

Explain God’s love and His plan of salvation. Ask if there is anyone that would like to accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. Pray individually with each who does.

Hausa Chief: A Tour Guide

The local village chief frequently visited us at the mission house. He was a Muslim and married to four wives. Our religious views were different, but we became good friends. I remember the first time he and three village elders came to the mission house to welcome us to the village. He was dressed in a colorful robe, wearing an expensive turban. He was an impressive leader.

The mission house had a large, screened-in porch with several ordinary chairs to accommodate a number of guests. We were new missionaries and had brought a leather reclining chair with us from the United States. It was large, and very comfortable. Since the chief was an important guest, we invited him into the house and invited him to sit in the recliner. I showed him how to extend the lower part so he could stretch out his legs and to push back the upper part in order to lay back and relax. He loved it!

Every time the chief had important visitors, he brought them to our house to greet us. He always invited them to sit in the recliner as my wife served them tea. He was an excellent tour guide. It allowed us to meet other chiefs and political leaders from the area, and to freely move through the village presenting the gospel.

REMEMBER TO PRAY!

Pray for New Hausa Believers

1. Fellowship with other believers in Christ Jesus.      
2. Develop the habit of reading their Bible every day.
3. Receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the disciples did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

Prayer Promise

"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit..." (Acts 2:4).

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Study 9 | God's Character/O.T. Kings | africaatts.org/go-teach

 

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