Remember the gold calves that were created? Jeroboam made two gold calves and said it was “too much trouble” for them to go to Jerusalem to worship. The gold calves he said were to represent “the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” He wanted the people to believe they could worship these two gold calves rather than travel to Jerusalem and worship the one true God. It was a shorter trip.
But the gold calves were not about God at all. If you read the text, he was not making these two gold calves to save them a longer trip to worship in Jerusalem. The king was fearful about both his position and his life. God was not first in his life—he was first. He feared that if the people would go to Jerusalem to worship they would return to King Rehoboam and they would eventually kill him as well.
There are moments in our lives when we make gold calves. We have a great excuse for them—and our reasoning makes it sound legitimate. But often, if we evaluate things closer, if we strip down the pieces, we find that there is something else at the surface. Today, look at your own life. Are there any gold calves lying around?
“So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’” – 1 Kings 12:28 [NLT]
I just finished working on this new project, Settling Down With God: A Study of 1 Kings. Funny enough, when God gave me the title, I initially thought that He wanted me to write about coping with AdHd in a biblical manner, because AdHd is something that both my daughter and I have learned to deal with over the years. Nonetheless, I waited for His direction and later learned that I was way off course.
I was very excited to dig deeper into 1 Kings for this project, as it is always a book I enjoy reading. There is so much there; I am always amazed.
For my first three books, and my 4th book (the Daily Good complimentary 14-day Devotional), I actually used my own personal photography. Each of the photos on all four of those books were taken in Australia. I wanted to do things differently this time around. My daughter is quite the artist and I asked if she could design the book cover. She merely was told that it was a Bible study book on 1 Kings.
As my daughter completed the book cover, I was working on the text. When we both were finished, my daughter sat by my side and helped to edit the cover till it was as she thought best for her vision. She told me that the puzzle pieces were used on the cover because it represents how each one of us is a special piece, we each are different, but we belong to one body. Then she said at the same time, our lives are made up of different pieces. I was so impressed by what she has already learned so far, to see her vision brought to life, and to work with her on this project.
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“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.” – 1 Kings 14:25-27 [NIV]
We read that “Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (v. 21). Then the passage mentions high places, sacred stones, Asherah poles, and even male shrine prostitutes. The people were engaged in horrible, sinful acts. The people were committing idolatry. Then the judgment for their actions followed. The king of Egypt attacked and the treasures were taken. The gold shields that Solomon had made were carried away, and Solomon’s son has them replaced with bronze shields.
When we look at this replacement of the shields, it reminds me of something that a criminal does, replacing something real with something fake to pretend that the fake item is the real thing. At the end of the day, the deception is deception and can never be truth. Even if the shields were replaced, it was easy to see that they were not the original gold shields. Solomon made those gold shields when he was doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The shields were just one of many things that pointed to the splendor of Israel when following the Lord.
Today let this be a reminder of what truth is and what is not considered the truth. Let us remember that we have the option of having a true, real relationship with God. We can attempt to fake it by having a Bible on our bookshelf or attending church on Sunday, but there is no replacement for the real thing.