Put God First

Turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Kings 15.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1 Kings

The two books 1 & 2 Kings focuses on the actions of the Kings of Judah and Israel. Under King Rehoboam Israel – God’s Holy People – had a terrible civil war that tore the nation into two parts. Ten Tribes or States in Israel separated and followed Jeroboam – a King not from the Tribe of Judah. Judah and her neighbor Benjamin stayed true to the Kingdom of David’s grandson Rehoboam. So what should have been one people – Israel – became from the moment of revolt two different peoples – referred to in the Holy Word as ISRAEL and JUDAH. Both Israel and Judah had Kings. Judah’s kings came from the line of King David, whereas Israel’s kings did not.

What should have been one people was two. What should have been a victorious, powerful, unified people was divided and weak. Why? Why would God’s people be a broken and not a victorious people?

Because they tolerated the High Places in their midst.

The Bible Books of 1 and 2 Kings chronicles the lives of the Kings of Israel and Judah. We read in:

1 Kings 15:9-14  And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.  [10]  And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.  [11]  And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.  [12]  And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.  [13]  And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.  [14]  But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.

Here we see two kings mentioned. “In the twentieth year of Jeoboam”. This is the Jeroboam King of Israel, the same Jeroboam who led the revolt against Rehoboam. Jeroboam has an interesting history. He was from the Tribe of Ephraim, and traced his heritage back to Joseph’s son Ephraim. Joseph named his son Ephraim because he said:

God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering (Genesis 41:52)

1 When God Is The “High Place” Then He Takes Us To A High Place. Ephraim – and the tribe that came out of this son – was to stand for the blessings of God in the midst of suffering. Falsely imprisoned and sold into slavery by his own brothers Joseph kept his eyes on God. God was the High Place in Joseph’s life, and God blessed Joseph. Sold a slave, Joseph kept his focus on God. He rejected all other gods, and humbled himself. Joseph did as the Apostle bids we as believers do:

Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  [2]  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

God is to be the High Place in each believer’s life. The Church looks on at an America going darker all the time and cries out “Why, O Lord, is the darkness so great”. God cries back to us. “Why am I not your High Place!”

When Joseph humbled himself and made God the High Place then God made Joseph a King on the earth. And Jeroboam – the descendant of Joseph –

how did Jeroboam get to be King of Israel?

Jeroboam did not start out as King. Jeroboam was the servant of King Solomon. He was the son of the widow Zeruah, a boy raised in a single parent family. He was a skilled worker, a man who loved God and who was industrious. He was a person who lived for God, and who exemplified the command of God:

Colossians 3:23-24 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

As with his forefather Joseph, Jeroboam worked to honor God. God was his High Place, so much so that King Solomon saw his works and put Jeroboam in charge of the household of Joseph (see 1 Kings 11:28). King Solomon watched and promoted Jeroboam. But Someone Else was watching Jeroboam.

That someone was God. We read:

1 Kings 11:29-35  And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field:  [30]  And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces:  [31]  And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee:  [32]  (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:)  [33]  Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.  [34]  Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes:  [35]  But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes.

God was watching Solomon, and saw that Solomon – wise king that he was – allowed the High Places to remain in Israel. Solomon had many wives and many concubines. His heart was not like his father David’s, and he compromised just as his son Rehoboam would compromise. So God told Jeroboam that He was going to “take the kingdom out of Solomon’s son’s hand and give ten tribes to you, Jeroboam”.

It is God Who blesses. King David knew that …

Psalm 75:7 … God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.

The Prophet Daniel, exiled and imprisoned in Babylon knew that God …

Daniel 2:21 … changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

God is to be the High Place. God watches us. He watched Solomon. He watched Jeroboam. He watched Rehoboam. God watches. God watched from Heaven and repented that He made man. God saw Noah and commanded him to build an Ark. God watches. God sets up, and God tears down.

When Jeroboam led the ten tribes away from Judah it was because he made God his High Place. God told Jeroboam:

1 Kings 11:38 (ESV) And if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did, I will be with you and will build you a sure house, as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.

God promised to bless Jeroboam if Jeroboam would make God first.

2 When God Is Not Our High Place We WILL Be Brought Low. God must be our High Place. It is in the very first Commandment that God said:

Exodus 20:3-6  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  [4]  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  [5]  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  [6]  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

God will not bless those who will not bless Him. There is a sort of nonsense that is running through the Church in America today that says “Once you’re saved, you can live any way that you want to live. God does not see your sins if you are a Christian. You are free to do as you will.” This is hogwash that is not supported by Scriptures.

God will not tolerate toleration toward sin.

The Bible says:

Romans 6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; …

James 1:15 … sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Illustrate Sin is the magician – death the rabbit in the hat. Sin goes “TAH DAH” and death comes out in its bony hand!Sin and death always go hand in hand.

Rehoboam lost the Kingdom because he committed idolatry and put other gods in the place of God. He allowed the High Places. So God gave ten tribes to Jeroboam.

And then Jeroboam foolishly did the same thing.

Jeroboam did not obey the Lord. You would think that he would, having seen what happened to Rehoboam. But we have an odd way of examining our own sins with closed eyes while putting the sins of others under a microscope. Jeroboam had two golden calves made (1 Kings 12:25-33). The reason he did this is because the Temple was at Jerusalem, under the control of Rehoboam. He began to DOUBT GOD’S PROMISE. He thought:

IF the people return to Jerusalem to the Temple to worship,

THEN they may return to following Rehoboam,

THEN I will be killed.

Do you remember the time that Moses went up into Mount Sinai to receive the Law of God? While he was gone those 40 days the people demanded that Aaron make a Golden Calf. Aaron did so, the Elders of Israel said:

Exodus 32:4 (ESV) … These are your gods, O Israel, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt …

When Jeroboam allowed fear to paint the promise of God to be a lie, he turned from honoring God to making his own gods. Having these two Golden Calves made Jeroboam said almost to the word the same thing that the Elders of Israel said while Moses was in the Mount.

1 Kings 12:28 (NKJV) {Jeroboam said} “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

Have you ever noticed the SIMILARITY of SIN? There is nothing new under the sun. The Bible says:

Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Galatians 6:7 (KJV) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Rehoboam turned away from God. He made other things High Places, and God was not his High Place, and so God removed his Kingdom and gave it to righteous Jeroboam. Then Jeroboam took God from the High Place and put Golden Calves in HIS Place. The same Prophet that brought blessing to Jeroboam came back to him and said:

1 Kings 14:10-11 Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone. 11 Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the Lord hath spoken it.

When God is our High Place then we will be blessed. When He is magnified – glorified for all He has done for us – then He showers blessings upon us.

IF we make the created the Creator …

                   and trade the TEMPORARY for the Eternal …

                                love an IDOL instead of the Great I AM …

                                            and MAKE a Golden Calf rather than bow to Him Who made us

… THEN we rob ourselves of blessing and bring the curse of God into our households.

Jeroboam rules 22 years in Israel. He started well, but finished badly. God raised him up because he raised God up, but he failed to keep God in the High Place and so he himself went to the low place.

Does that apply to us today?

Absolutely!

The greatest example I can think of is the Church at Corinth. The Corinthians – though saved – turned from making God their High Place and began to magnify themselves rather than the Lord. They even took the Lord’s Table and made it not about Christ but about themselves. The Apostle told them:

1 Corinthians 11:29-32  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  [30]  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  [31]  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  [32]  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

We who have believed on Christ are His and His alone. The Lord is to occupy our High Place. The Lord is to be glorified in all that we say and do. Let all darkness be dispelled, and the Light of God our Savior shine on us.

For He is risen, and we are resurrected people.

He has given Himself for us, saving us from Egypt and the idols of it. Let us praise Him!

3 What Is The Life That God Blesses? The Life That Looks To God. To see a life that God blesses we need to look to the rest of our text, to the life of King Asa.

1 Kings 15:9  And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.

Asa was the third King of Judah, the grandson of Rehoboam, the fifth King of the House of David. What can we know of the life of Asa.

a He Had Bad Examples Growing Up, But Followed The Lord Rather Than His Family. He was the great grandson of Solomon, the grandson of Rehoboam. We learn from verse 10 that

his MOTHER’S name was Maachah

In verse 12 we read:

he removed all the idols that his FATHERS had made

and in verse 13:

also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.

His heart was focused on God His Savior and Lord. He did not justify idolatry nor sin because his family did it. God was his Father – his primary Father – and he sought to honor God regardless as to what others – even his family – might say or do. He even deposed hiw own mother as queen because of her idolatry. Jesus told us, His people, that:

Matthew 10:37-39 (NLT) If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

Asa was a believer in God, a man who gave up his life for the Lord. The Bible says of Asa that:

1 Kings 15:11 … Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.  [12]  And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

Asa followed God. Asa took all active idolatry out of the land. And God blessed Asa. His reign was about twice as long as Jeroboam’s reign. God honored Asa, because Asa honored God. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said:

“When our convictions are yielded to Him completely, He is able to give Himself to us in all His fullness. Until that is so, He cannot trust us. How true it is that we often miss the joy and strength of our Christianity because, by withholding ourselves from Christ, we make it impossible for Him to give Himself to us in all the fullness of His grace and truth.” (Today in the Word, April, 1998, p. 23)

b Asa Put God First, Whereas Jeroboam Put Himself First. God wanted to bless Jeroboam. God wanted to bless Asa. God wants to bless us. But we must give ourselves wholeheartedly to God. The High Places must go from our lives. Pride must go. The Apostle Paul said:

2 Corinthians 10:17-18 But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

God must be first. God must be glorified. He must be lifted up. His Cross must be our focus. Jesus said “If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). Jesus Christ is our High Place. It is through Christ that we are raised up (Ephesians 2:6).

c “Asa DID that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father”. Asa had a relationship with God through His Word and Prayer. He did as his great-grandfather David did. David wrote:

Psalm 119:11 (KJV) Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

David studied and heeded the Word of God. Asa studied and heeded the Word of God. Where there are weak, fallen, lukewarm Laodicean Christians you will find that many of them never open their Bibles. David said:

Psalm 119:9 (KJV) Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.

Psalm 119:105 (KJV) Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

We stumble in the darkness where God’s Word and His Presence are not. God’s Word is His Law. People today – and often shamefully Christians – say “well that was then and this is now”. The Bible, however, says “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The Father says “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).

d Asa Sought God With All His Heart. King Asa Was Devoted To The King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords. We read:

1 Kings 15:14 But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.

I do not know why the High Places were not removed. Asa destroyed all idolatry, but left the High Places. Perhaps it was because he wanted others to see the broken and burned idols in those places. But the latter part of the text tells us that “Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD ALL his days”. The broken High Places that he left were not sinful.

Asa’s heart was perfect PERFECT with the Lord ALL his days. The New American Standard says ….

nevertheless the heart of Asa was WHOLLY DEVOTED TO THE LORD all his days.

And God blessed him and those around him. God will bless you if you make Him your High Place! May God touch your hearts with His Word.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. I am looking for the Church. Most of what I see today is not the Church, but clubs, where members sit in padded pews and drink deeply of self. I am looking for a people willing to be righteous not self righteous, serving not served, In short, I am looking and praying for a people who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. I hope I find this people before it's too late.
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