As promised, in this post I’ll be sharing what The Lord showed me in 1 Kings, chapter 12 concerning my dream about the two churches. If you need a reminder of the content of this dream, you can refer to my last post, “A New Place of Belonging.”
We begin in 1 Kings 12:25, when, because of Solomon’s sin, God divided His people into the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, giving the ten tribes of Israel over to Jeroboam, which means “the people will contend.”
God promised to establish and bless Jeroboam—providing he keep God’s commands and follow Him. But Jeroboam decided to do things his way. He built two cities for himself.
Pay close attention to the names in this story. First, in the high country of Ephraim, meaning “I shall be doubly fruitful,” he built Shechem, meaning “back” or “shoulder,” as in burden. Then he went out from there and built Penuel, meaning “facing God,” however, one of the root words can also mean “to turn away.”
Jeroboam’s new found power and authority quickly became his new god, replacing The Giver of all power and authority. He was so afraid of losing it, he told the people it was “too much” for them to go all the way to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and worship The Living God, and he had two golden calves made for their “convenience,” saying,
“Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, ‘double siege.'”
He set up one calf in Bethel, “house of God,” and the other in Dan, meaning “a judge,” but coming from a root word also meaning “to contend or strive.”
The words “two” and “double” jumped out at me as I read because in my dream there were two sides of the church I was in. On the one, the old school, which tends toward tradition and legalism (Schechem-a burden on the back or shoulders), and on the other all the razzle-dazzle. They have espresso bars in the lobby, and rockstar worship teams. They look good on the outside, but have no substance (Penuel-the turning).
Both sides are in the house of God (Bethel), and both are contending (Dan) with The Holy Spirit for control. They are clock watchers, serving the whims of the congregation instead of the direction of The Spirit. They remind me of the dead church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6, and the compromising church of Pergamos in Revelation 2:12-16.
Jeroboam appointed his own priests and invented his own feasts, imitating God’s ways. It all looked authentic, but it was counterfeit.
Yet, God’s people gladly followed.
Then, as now, God sent warning. He did not want to punish His children. He wanted them to come home. Jeroboam’s reaction was to lash out at God’s prophet, and God caused his hand to wither. Jeroboam cried out for mercy, and God restored his hand. God is good. Still, Jeroboam did not turn from his sin.
“And He [The Lord] will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.” 1 Kings 14:16
Even God’s prophet eventually fell for the lie of a false prophet, and died as a result.
How sad. And unnecessary. Will this be the fate of today’s church?
“Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:16,17
“Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:3-6
I believe that those who have ears to hear, will!
God’s grace and peace be yours,