Right God/Wrong Worship

In I Kings 12 the Bible says that King Jeroboam “made two golden calves, and he said to (the people), ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.'” What is instructive about this passage is that Jeroboam was not leading Israel to worship the “wrong” God, but rather to worship the “right” God in the WRONG way!

Jeroboam did not create “other gods” in a sense, for he said of the two golden calves, “Behold your gods O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” It wasn’t that he directed them to worship “other” gods, as much as to worship the “right” God through graven images. But Yahweh had specifically prohibited this kind of worship in the 2nd Commandment (Exodus 20:4). Jeroboam also told his people that they did not have to worship in Jerusalem, but could worship in Bethel and in Dan with the images — although God had placed His house of worship in Jerusalem. In addition, :31 says he “made priests who were not of the sons of Levi”, and “devised in his own heart” a feast day.

The Lord made it clear, however, that it was NOT “ok” to worship Him in these divergent ways. They were to follow the directions given in His word. In fact, God told Jeroboam in 14:9 that “you also have done more evil than all who were before you” and that the images had provoked Him to anger.

We should be careful lest we succumb to the same error. Many today seem to believe that they can worship God “any way they please” and it will be acceptable to Him regardless, as long as it is “from their heart.” Somehow we have gotten the idea that “creativity” is a desirable trait in worship — whether the worship activity we “create” has any basis in scripture or not.

That is a serious regress into the error of Jeroboam, which God described as “evil.” Scripture is full of principles and commands for the true worship of God: “in spirit”, yes — but also “in truth” (John 4:24), through Jesus Christ only (John 14:6) and in accordance with the principles of His word.

Jeroboam should be a warning to us: you can indeed worship the “right” God in the wrong way!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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