Choosing Our Altars

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This is the altar Jeroboam built in Northern Israel.

Most of my sins are spontaneous, not premeditated. I don’t typically craft a plan for sinning. Sometimes, but not usually. But Jeroboam did, at least on one occasion. He was the newly crowned king of the newly founded nation of Israel, of the divided kingdom, and he was greatly troubled. What troubled him was the idea of his people going to Jerusalem, in Judah, to worship at the temple. His concern was that they might not come back. So he thought about it and came up with the plan to build two altars: one in the North and one in the South. Having built them, he then needed priests to serve at the altars since all the Levites remained in Jerusalem. So he appointed anyone who volunteered. That was the only qualification for serving. He must have felt confident that he could keep his loyal subjects loyal by making worship convenient. His actions violated the Law of Moses, dishonored the Aaronic Priesthood, and ushered Israel into deeper idolatry, but none of this seemed to bother Jeroboam.

It’s when our hearts are laid bare and our intentions uncovered that the premeditation is evident. It’s the justification for trading what is right for what is popular, pleasurable, or politically savvy. Premeditated sin almost always ends in chaos, conflict, and pain, it happens all the time. I’ve done it and it’s never worked out well for me. I end up broken, seeking forgiveness, and so very grateful for grace.

God told Solomon:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Jeroboam wasn’t humble, praying, or turning away from wickedness. Whatever face he was seeking, it sure wasn’t the Lord’s. His plan ultimately failed because his intentions and actions were wrong. It destroyed him and his family, and plunged Israel into ruin. 

It’s never too late to do right. Never too late to turn our hearts back to God. If we are considering how to sin and get away with it, then we need to wake up and turn from our wicked ways. We choose humility and we seek His face. We seek Him still.

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