In our reading today we watched the division of the two kingdoms. Rehoboam would not listen to the council of his older advisors and angered the northern tribes into separation. They placed Jeroboam on the throne as their king. Jeroboam in a move to ensure complete separation from the southern kingdom erected golden calves, one at Bethel and the other at Dan. His purpose was to keep the Israelites from returning to Jerusalem to worship God. He feared that if they did, they might turn back to Judah, and begin to follow Rehoboam as their king.
What I wander is why did Jeroboam not learn from history? It may have been one thing to erect an entirely new temple, even modeled after the one in Jerusalem. It may have been one thing to keep the temple free of graven images, and simply make it a place to come and worship. Now God may have entirely rejected that and looked upon that decision as sinful. But it would have been far better than his choice. Did he not remember the reaction of Moses when seeing Aaron’s Golden calf? Did he not remember the course of action and how that angered God? Moses had to beg God not to destroy the people! So why didn’t he learn from the generations before?
It would be wise for us as Christians to learn from the mistakes of those who have come before us. Whether it was the justification many used to allow and support slavery in our country. The thought of it continuing today should sicken us. Whether it is division of churches over color of skin: we should work hard to learn from that and incorporate all people into our churches. We could even look back at the Catholic Church in the middle ages in Europe and see the sins of the Crusades and be careful to never repeat something similar. Learning from the sins of the people before is not what Jeroboam did, but it is certainly what we should do.
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