There were many different factors that led up to the division in Israel that left that nation split in two. We read of this split in 1 Kings 11-12. There were the usual attempts to make the northern ten tribes to be convinced that they were right. They were wrong, but they tried to justify their new divided state and what they were now doing.
In the New Testament John mentioned that those that “went out from us were not of us”. In other words, they had been in a mental and spiritual drift away from us long before they decided to relocate their bodies away from the faithful brethren. There are brethren today like that. Some have left for liberal churches, and some have left to join denominations. Some are still physically among us but their heart is not with the authority and teaching of God’s word and with brethren who seek to maintain the authority of scriptures and the commitment to “prove what is acceptable to the Lord”. They will be leaving soon but they want to see if they can take whole groups with them. Please notice the parallels to be seen in the division in Israel and the divisions among spiritual Israel today.
Jeroboam made the following mistakes:
1. Trying to appear legitimate by outward honor of special historical places. 12:25
2. Cutting off the house of David. V.26
3. Cutting off exposure to truth. V.27
4. Making his religion more appealing, liberated, and convenient. V.28
5. Ignored the “example” of David, the nature of “specific authority”, and hated the idea of seeking authority first before acting. V.31,33; 13:33-34; 14:7-10
6. Employed the doctrines and commandments of men. V.32
How can the people be led to worship with a different place of worship, with a priesthood that is not from Levi, and in the manner so different? How does such a change become accepted? I can see that all it would take is to lead the people to question the “old hermeneutic” and those who interpreted the scriptures incorrectly all this time did so because of “traditionalism” and “legalism”. The change agents can keep criticizing the old practices as “traditionalism”. The old “traditionalism” of worshipping at Jerusalem was because the “legalists” had been very arbitrary in WHICH examples they followed. Because of “traditionalism” and the blindness of the old hermeneutic and being so arbitrary in which examples to follow, they had neglected these important places like Penuel and Shechem.
The 10 northern tribes can say, “We will not be legalists and traditionalists that think their traditionalism is the only way. If others were more open-minded they would realize that we should have never neglected places like Shechem, Penuel, and Bethel. Here are some examples that they have not been keeping. They are so inconsistent with which examples are binding”. In view of the way change agents today are operating, I can begin to see more clearly how such a large segment in Israel could have gotten swept into the change and justified it in their own minds.
Today there are change agents that use Facebook and other social media to gather “friends”. But, like the northern ten tribes, they then begin “cutting off” brethren who might question their views on this media. These brethren grow their number of friends, appealing to the weak and undiscerning, cut off dissenting voices as “traditionalists”, “Pharisees”, and” legalists”, gathering sympathy from the undiscerning, blocking friends who do not agree with their views. By cutting of dissenting voices and keeping only those who approve or will say nothing negative, and feeding prejudice against faithful brethren by such terms as “legalists”, “Pharisees”, and “traditionalists”, the crowd they keep on their list are now swallowing the Kool-Aid. Those are points two and three in Jeroboam’s program of justifying his promoting and maintaining the division in Israel he was now leading.
Look at the six mistakes listed above again. Point three is cutting off exposure to truth. To maintain a sense of legitimacy, Jeroboam could not afford to let his people be exposed to the truth taught by the old traditionalists in Judah. So, he cut off the opportunities for his friends to see and hear discussions where his views could now be challenged. It is easy to say the Levites in Jerusalem were “traditionalists” using a faulty hermeneutic, but that cannot hold up well is actual discussion where the change agents have to prove their own hermeneutic is correct and where they are actually called on to “prove what is acceptable to the Lord”. Prejudice does not work as well when someone can answer them. So, the change agent must always back away from actual discussion and debate with the old “traditionalists”. They could never stand up in the kind of discussion and “much dispute” seen in Acts 15. They know it too, and so their mode of operation must always be to cut off those voices of truth that might expose them.
The modern change agents cut off any on their “friends” list who might expose the weakness of their teachings, or those who might give their readers a different impression of the change agent. Thus, they create a cult of personality and use the old “promise liberty” routine that false teachers have long used in the past (2 Pet.2) to “allure” people into the changes. The change agents promise liberty from misguided, hypocritical “traditionalism”, and they have their “friends” swallowing the bait and regurgitating it to each other as they now have little or no voices on their list who might reel them in and provide a needed scriptural rebuke and effort at correction.
Look at the list of mistakes Jeroboam made again. We have seen parallels in those first three items. There is an amazing similarity between the mistakes of Jeroboam and the modern change agents. I hope you can see what is happening now and how it is moving among brethren in so many congregations. The bodies may still be together, but soon those who have influenced them the most through social media will have convinced them to change the local church or move out from those close-minded traditionalists. The devil has been at work. He is seeking to devour you and any church that still believes in “proving what is acceptable to the Lord”. We will consider the last three items on the list in our next post. Please, give it careful attention. Terry W. Benton