Summary: Let's not repeat the error of Jeroboam.
AVOID THE WAY OF JEROBOAM
"1 And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’” 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.” 1 Kings 13:1-3.
The ancient town of Bethel was formerly known as Luz. Jacob changed the name from Luz to Bethel. In Hebrew, it means "House of El" or “House (or place) of God.” Bethel is first mentioned in the Bible in connection with Abraham, who built an altar to God there. Genesis 12:8. His grandson, Jacob, also had a mysterious encounter at Bethel. While traveling from Beersheba to Haran in other to escape his brother Esau, Jacob stopped for the night in Luz. As he slept, he dreamed of a ladder that stretched up from earth to heaven and the angels of God were climbing up and down the ladder. Genesis 28:10–22. God spoke and revealed Himself to Jacob in Bethel. Then he set up a sacred pillar, and consecrated the site as a place to worship God. Bethel also housed the Ark of the Covenant during the period of the Judges. Judges 20:18, 26–28. Bethel was a place of renewal, reorientation, and transformation. It was the place of God’s presence and glory. Bethel was a place of consecration and sanctification. It was a place of divine intervention and answered prayer. Bethel was a place of repentance and seeking the will of God. It was a symbol of communion. Bethel was a sacred place! Sadly Jeroboam defiled the altar of God in Bethel. He set up a golden calf there. Jeroboam turned Bethel to a place of idolatry.
"Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made." 1 Kings 12:32.
After the division of Israel into two, Rehoboam became king of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; while Jeroboam was made king of the remaining ten tribes called the Northern Kingdom (Israel). Jeroboam's ascension to the throne was a part of divine purpose. 1 Kings 11:38. The Lord had promised him that if he would keep the Laws, he would be blessed and his family would continue to rule over the land of Israel. But he began to give way to fear! Jeroboam was afraid that if the people were to worship God at the Temple in Jerusalem, they would end up rejecting him. So, he set up an alternate places of worship in Israel. Jeroboam did not trust that God could help him to continue on the throne, yet it was God who gave him the kingdom. He created worship centers, in Dan and Bethel, to prevent his people from going to Jerusalem. 1 Kings 12:28-29. Not only did he establish idolatry in Dan and Bethel, Jeroboam also established himself as the High priest. 1 Kings 13:1. God had chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place where He wanted His people to worship Him. Psalm 132:13; 2 Chronicles 6:6. Yet, Jeroboam built altars in Dan and Bethel. He offered sacrifices to the golden calves in Dan and Bethel. Jeroboam corrupted the worship of the True God. Besides, Jeroboam violated the commandments of God on priesthood. 2 Chronicles 11:14. The Levites were rejected as priests. Jeroboam appointed all kinds of people as priests in Dan and Bethel. 1 Kings 12:31. Again, the Lord commanded the children of Israel to observe the feast of Tabernacles on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. Numbers 29:12. But, Jeroboam created his own day of feast! He did evil and caused Israel to do the same. There are no less than thirteen kings of Israel whose idolatry is traced back to Jeroboam. Year after year, despite God sending many of His prophets to warn them they persisted. Israel did not depart from the ways of Jeroboam. 2 Kings 17:22. So Israel was carried away into exile. 2 Kings 17:21–23. Bethel fell to the Assyrians, along with the rest of the Northern Kingdom, in 721 BC.