July 27, 2023
“Jeroboam said to himself, ‘The way things are going now, the kingdom might return to the house of David. If these people regularly go to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple...”
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“Jeroboam said to himself, ‘The way things are going now, the kingdom might return to the house of David. If these people regularly go to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, the heart of these people will return to their Lord, Rehoboam, king of Judah. They will murder me and go back to the king of Judah. So the king sought advice. Then he made two gold calves, and he said to the people, ‘Going to Jerusalem is too difficult for you. Israel, here is your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 1 Kings 12:26-28 (HCSB)
Whether apostasy offends the masses depends on how it is pitched. In the 1930s, a horse liniment named Absorbine was plummeting in sales. An advertising man named Obie Winters had the liniment lab tested, and they found that it would work on ringworm of the foot. Nobody wanted to admit they had ringworm on their feet, so, with a stroke of genius, Winters made up a whole new name for such ringworm – “athlete’s foot.”
There is such a difference in the way a condition is marketed! Who would want to admit they had ringworm, even if there were a cure? But “athlete’s” foot? One would almost be disappointed if one did suffer from it periodically. It proves we’re athletic!
That was, tragically, Jeroboam’s genius. He was a great advertising man! Linking his new cult with the bull worship at Sinai seems to have cast a mantle of legitimacy over his innovation. Can’t you just hear him now? “The problem with Israel’s past bull worship was not its apostasy; the problem was in its lack of diversity: Now, we have TWO bulls! Plus, bull worship has roots in our nation’s history. It harkens back to our ancient independent, pioneering spirit!” As any politician will tell you, people seldom care about the truth, and political success depends on how you spin the story.
The more successful false religions major in the subtle spin instead of declaring blatant heresy. Cults use terms like redemptive, reconciling, atoning, relevant, etc., to promote positive emotive values without their proper Biblical context. Mormons won’t approach you directly, alleging that Jesus was born from sexual relations between God and Mary, that he is Lucifer’s spirit brother, or that Jesus Himself celebrated His own marriage to both Mary and Martha. No, they will run cute commercials on your local radio station, urging fathers to spend more quality time with their families. False religion always wants to appear both congenial and justifiable.
That is why our daily pursuit of God’s Word (the Bible) is so important. It is hard to dupe the Biblically literate! Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness are pretty easy to spot. But there are even more subtle heresies within the church, all promising to make your worship easier, more culturally relevant, or personally engaging. Remember: the 1st step away from God’s Word is the 1st step toward apostasy. (Psalm 1:1-2)