MISTAKES OF MEN OF OLD
(From a sermon of Bro. Julius Adewumi, 4/26/96)
I want to talk about the mistakes of some kings in Israel in the old testament. Some men can be too liberal while some men can be too harsh that they go into the other extreme. I have three examples here which I will refer to in the old testament.
First I want to talk about the sin of Jeroboam. (1Kgs.12). Why do I call this a mistake? If you study the story of Jeroboam, when he was still a servant of Solomon, he was prophezied unto by a prophet of God that God will sever the kingdom from the house of David and give ten tribes to Jeroboam. When the prophecy was fulfilled and Jeroboam became king over the ten tribes, he decided politically that it was unwise to allow the Israelites to continue to go to Jerusalem's temple to worship God: "And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah." (1Kgs.12:26-27).
The important theme here is "let go, and let God". Jeroboam wanted to hold unto the throne at all costs and he forgot that it was God who gave him the kingdom in the first place. Now he was devising means to hold unto the throne: worldly means, and bypassing the God who gave him the kingdom. Sometimes people can make terrible mistakes in not letting things go and letting God do His will. They will have a strangle-hold on something and will refuse to let it go to their regret.
"Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one even unto Dan." (1Kgs.12:28-30).
Imagine how misguided this step of Jeroboam was! Ahijah, the prophet, who prophezied to him that he would be king was still alive! (1Kgs.14:2). Jeroboam did not consult with such men concerning how to let the people go and worship God in Jerusalem, yet he took counsel with some sinners who encouraged him to set up those calves for Israel!
Look at Jeroboam's excuse for setting up those calves! What was his excuse? Political! When men get hold of something, they'd say "I don't want to let this thing go". He forgot that it was God who gave him the throne. He didn't get it by political means. The inferences I will like to draw from this mistake of Jeroboam is that "in many things in life, don't ever lose sight of the fact that you did not get to where you are by your own wisdom, if you are a christian. Some folks in the world will climb the ladder of opportunity, will become great people and then they will try to remove the ladder so that others cannot come that far to overthrow them. Let go and let God!
"Trust in the Lord with all of thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Prov.3:5).
For my testimony in my engineering career, even though I studied for many years in college to become an engineer, I still don't attribute any success I may have in any engineering project in my work to my intelligence. The Lord is always my helper. I never believe one bit that it was the intelligence I gained in the college which helps me to do anything. I will never forget this testimony: I was invited to take an engineering contract from a large corporation as an independent contractor. The first day when I reported for the work, I was in a conference with some of the engineers in this corporation who were to brief me on the requirements and what needs to be done. When they were presenting the project and all such stuff, I was sitting there like a "dude"; as if I had not been in engineering at all. My brain was blank: they must be talking above my head, as when a capenter is brought to the midst of tailors. Whereas it was my field of expertise! This is somebody with master's degree in the same engineering field! My brain was blanked temporarily. Do you know what I did? I just looked up into heaven and said quietly "Lord, help me!" I will never forget this because it was an experience in my christian walk! When I said "help me Lord", like a flash, a wisdom just came to me, and I suddenly understood all they were presenting: it was like the Lord removed a faulty compiler and replaced it with a working compiler in my brain-computer. Now I could understand and contribute to what they were saying as if I had worked in their company all along. Otherwise they would have said "are we sure this man can do this project? We'd better look for somebody else!"
Yea, don't attribute any success to your knowledge. "In all thy ways acknowledge the Lord, and he shall direct thy paths." (Prov.3:6).
This is why I said Jeroboam forgot that he did not get that throne by himself. Now he was working it out sinfully to make sure that he didn't lose the throne.
In applying this example to our life, some parents must learn how to let go and let God into the life of their children at some time in their life. Give them some monitored freedom to make some decisions. All you have been teaching them for years, let's watch them apply it by themselves. We are not saying you should let them do the bad things if they want to. That is why I said "monitored freedom". In the christian walk also, the Lord expects us to teach believers the steps of faith. They are to practise the steps themselves and also teach others. A friend who always followed me to preach in the villages told me one time that he didnot realize he had learned so much of the word of God by just following me to preach until he was confronted by a critic and he had to defend the word. He said, words were just flowing from his mouth to his amazement.
If you have trained your kids all these years and now they are about to leave high school and go to college, trust God. Also be prayerful! We are not going to be liberal either. When we say "let go", it does not mean let them go back into sin. The word which has been planted into the kids shall not fail. When they step out, we should step back and expect good things from the kids. Amen! Expect the good from the children. That is the way to let go. Even while we are training them, expect the good from them. Faith uses expectation. It also means we must control how we rail on them when they make a mistake while practising what they have learnt.
Jeroboam forgot how he got his throne and he made up sin in trying to keep the throne. From that day forward, no king of Israel (the northern kingdom) ever returned from that sin.
Let's look at another example in Jehu the son of Nimshi, who took over the kingdom. His own mistake was similar but diferent. God had spoken to Elijah the prophet to go and anoint Jehu, the son of Nimshi, to be king over Israel, and it was Elishah who finally carried out the instruction. (2Kgs.9 & 10). Jehu became king. It dawned on me that, "why couldn't this man do better than the other kings before him? why couldn't he return the people back to the God of Israel?" Jehu became king. He wiped out the descendants of the former king Ahab in his zeal for God, and in carrying out what God has said. And God even remarked through a prophet to Jehu that he has avenged the Lord of the house of Ahab, and Jezebel, and over all the priests of Baal. "And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou has done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." (2Kgs.10:30). What a great promise! But now look at the next verse: "But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin." This is what I want to point to in this story of Jehu. With all he did in his zeal for the Lord, he even told one friend, Jehonadab the son of Rechab, "come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord." (2Kgs.10:16). When he wiped out all the priests of Baal, one would have said, waoh, God has got a revival going on in Israel. A revival was going on, Jezebel was killed, eaten by dogs, Jehu destroyed all Baal worshippers, he destroyed all the relatives of Ahab the evil king. A revival indeed! But he didn't complete it! He wanted to serve God, but he didn't complete the revival because he did not return from that sin of Jeroboam. It could only be for one reason: He must have agreed with the idea that he also did not want these people to go back to Judah and Jerusalem to worship. He agreed with the political manouver.
With all the zeal he had for God and the great promise God gave to him, and Elishah the prophet was there, why couldn't he just consult Elishah to ask "what else can we do to return to God?" He didn't do that! He could have consulted Elijah and said "we have done all these things and taken away Baalim from Israel, what else can we do to return to God so that the Lord God can return fully to Israel?" He didn't do that. He didn't inquire from the Lord so as to bring the people back to God. He didn't let go of the people to worship the Lord in Jerusalem either. He also was holding tight on what God said he had given to him. If God has given it, let's relax, and not add sin by holding it too firm. God will take care of it. Of course there are some things we ought to keep for the Lord such as our holiness. Adam was entrusted with something which he did not keep. He lost the glory. But if there are physical things of this life which God gives, we should not forge out some sinful means, which bypass God, in order to keep them. Apostle Paul said "I know whom I have believed; that he is able to keep that which I have commited unto his hand against that day."
The third example is about a king who was really on fire for the Lord, yet he made one mistake also. Jehoshaphat did wonderfully in following the Lord God of Israel. Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah who led the people into a battle with songs of praise to God, instead of swords and spears. And the Lord defeated the enemy for Judah. (2Chronicles 20). We all remember the great saying of Jehoshaphat when they were going to this battle, how he stood and said "Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." (2Chr.20:20).
But Jehoshaphat made one simple mistake which I want to point out in this exhortation. This mistake is what I will call "being too liberal" in this area of his life. When one is too liberal, and perhaps one does not control the children enough, it can become an offence.
If a parent does not let go when he should begin to allow the kids to make some decisions, it will backfire; also if a parent is too liberal allowing the kids to do whatever they like, it also will end up in trouble. Even in our christian walk, after being in Christ for many years, the Lord has been allowing us to make life decisions by ourselves according to the wisdom he has built in us from the word of God, and considering the signs of the times. Some times we expect the Lord to tell us whether a business step is worthwhile according to the signs of the times. He often leave the decision to us, knowing the times.
We know the great things Jehoshaphat did for God. But I want to point out that Jehoshaphat became friend to Ahab, the idol worshipper, king of Israel, and he became friend to the son of Ahab who was the next king after Ahab. Not just being a friend, there was a mistake he made, when he allowed his own son to marry the daughter of Jezebel. It may look like "what is the mistake in that?
"And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab (and Jezebel) was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the Lord." (2Kgs.8:16-18).
Such a great king Jehoshaphat who was after God's own heart! He allowed his son to marry the daughter of Jezebel. You may say, "well, they were family-friends". But not the same religion! Jezebel was a practising witch. That was a danger! The danger manifested years later. That is the liberality of Jehoshaphat which I am pointing out here. One might have said, "they were all Israelites", or "it would forge a better relationship between the two kingdoms", and so on. Excuses!
It may look like the woman was nice since she was married to their family! But the daughter of the witch showed her real color many generations later. Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel who was married by the son of Jehoshaphat. Not immediately, but the danger of marrying the daughter of Jezebel occured after she became a grandma. Sometimes when God gives warning, it may not be for the present time. The word of God searches generations to come, because you may all have been done and gone, but God is here now and will be there when the evil of your choice will begin to look your grandchildren in the face. Amen! God looks way ahead. It may look like "what's the big deal? what's the problem there? She has been nice since she was married to our family!" Who knows what she will become when she turns to be a grandma? Exactly what happened in the case of Athaliah!
After Jehu took over in Israel and killed the king of Judah also who was the son of Athaliah, the witch spirit in Athaliah rose up and she took over Judah, and she destroyed all the royal seed of Judah to make herself Queen. I mean she killed all her grandsons! "When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal." (2Kgs.11:1). See? She wanted to destroy the seed of David. See how the devil tried again to sneak in through marriage to destroy the messianic line? "But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain." (2Kgs.11:2). He was hid till he was six years old.
What I am pointing out is that Jehoshaphat allowed his son to marry the daughter of Jezebel, and it was only Jehoshaphat that could have stopped it. Jehoshaphat must have thought it was okay. But years later, we know it turned sour. That was liberality of Jehoshaphat which almost destroyed the seed royal of Judah.
Some people won't let go, while sometimes others will let go too much until they are too liberal. Those are things we should watch. We saints of God need to watch our ways along with the ways of our kids. If Jehoshaphat have been watching the ways of his own kids, he wouldn't have let his son marry Athaliah.
Let's just keep an eye out for our flocks and also be prayerful. We cannot say "let go", and not watch! Jehoshaphat could have been busy talking to king Ahab, but his son was busy talking to the daughter of a witch. Let's keep an eye out for our children. We must do our part in watching over them.
"Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not forever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?" (Prov.27:23).
The verse simply says "be on the lookout for all we have"; our children are our flocks.
Also we must remember to learn when to let go and allow them to exercise the wisdom they have been acquiring from our training for years. It's like a classroom test. After the teacher has given a day's worth of instruction, he gives a test or quiz. Why? It's to determine how much they have assimilated. They will now use their intelligence, they will now have to work out the arithmetic, or whatever the quiz.
The same thing in life. If you show your daughter how to cook. She has been watching you mix the ingredients for years. Now let her practise. It's the same thing in science! Nobody will know anything unless they practise these things. It's only by practice and we made mistakes that we ever learn all those stuff in the college. So there will be a time, after we have trained the kids, they must practise what they had been taught. We must not keep them on a strangle-hold in that stage of their life. We must also not be too liberal that we are regretting. We must keep an eye out even when we let go and trust God for them as they step out of the house to go into college.
I pray that all the saints in the household of faith will be well balanced in our lifestyle. The Lord said "if ye are neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." May we not go to the extreme like those who took their guns and shot the abortion doctors. Such extremists gave the fundamentalists a bad name. The Lord said "be harmless like a dove". I pray that the true seed of God will be well balanced in the word of God, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bro. Julius Adewumi.
Gospel Distribution Ministry