Jeroboam would have fit nicely into the modern religious climate. That’s the climate that approaches church from the marketing viewpoint. The primary goal is to attract the masses. And, in order to attract the masses, you have to give them what they want and avoid anything that might offend their sensibilities.
A church that has adopted an “accepting” atmosphere, decorated its building to mimic a popular television show (complete with a waterfall and bamboo ladders), and added a 300-seat snack bar, is just such an example. Yes, their numbers have swelled in a three-year period to ten times their original size. They are attracting the masses.
Now, back to Jeroboam. His concern was to reach the masses. He thought that his recently-formed kingdom (known as Israel, carved from Rehoboam’s kingdom, which was called Judah) would be in trouble if it’s inhabitants continued to travel to Jerusalem (located in Judah) to worship. So, he provided not just one but two conveniently-located alternative worship centers at Dan and Bethel in the northern and southern ends of Israel. He resurrected an old, popular religion from Egypt and dropped the restrictive and exclusive Levitical priesthood in order to make priests of any who desired (1 Kings 12:25 – 13:34).
These modern religionists have nothing on Jeroboam! What today is promoted as “cutting edge” is actually old hat. It is not a new approach at all. The remarkable thing is mankind’s insistence on returning to this tried and failed formula.
Some say you can’t argue with the numbers. Apparently God doesn’t agree. He “lost” the numbers game in the flood (1 Peter 3:20), with Gideon’s army (Judges 7), after Jesus fed the 5000 (John 6:66), and He’ll “lose” it at judgment, too (Matthew 7:13-14). There was no question as to God’s feelings about Jeroboam’s efforts, no matter what the masses might think.
Jeroboam became the most remembered king of Israel, but it was as the man who caused Israel to sin (stated no less than 21 times). Why? Because he did what “he had devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 12:33). By contrast, David, whose lineage remained on the throne of Judah, is Judah’s most-remembered king. He’s the one whose heart was “wholly devoted” to God (1 Kings 15:33) and was even described as being after God’s own heart (Acts 13;22).
It appears that the question is, “Whose heart will decide what we do?”